Wednesday, January 14, 2009

49 SECRET AGENT

TITLE: Crevan Fox
GENRE: Middle Grade


Crevan Fox strutted away from the beach of Crescent Moon Bay, shaking the sand off his feet once he reached the sidewalk. He looked back at the red and white striped lighthouse at the other end of the beach, shook his head in disgust.

“It had better only be a rumor,” he said to himself. “Dad will know.”

A laughing toddler ran right into him, spilling her root beer float down Crevan's leg.

"What in the heck are you doing?" Crevan barked, stepping back as she dropped her cup on his foot. He scowled as the girls' bottom lip quivered. Great, here come tears.

“Stupid tourists," he mumbled as the parents ran over. “Making me late.”

"I'm so sorry," the mom said, frowning. She took napkins from her husband, shoving them at Crevan.

"This wouldn't happen if you'd watch your brat better," Crevan said, snatching the napkins.

The man picked up his weeping daughter and patted her back. "Settle down, son. Accidents happen. She’s just a baby,” he said, bouncing her around. He scowled at Crevan. “You weren't watching where you were going either. I saw you admiring the lighthouse."

"Admiring?" Crevan snapped. "I was not!" He bent to wipe at the sticky mess on his foot and flip flop. "I mean look at it. There’s no windows, no doors. It's never been used." He stood up, gestured at the lighthouse. "No one even knows who built it. It's just a big stupid eyesore."

33 comments:

Chelle said...

I loved the beginning, but you sort of lost me when he became mean to the child.

I'm also wondering do you really need the child if that's not going to be important to the story. from what I read, it seems the lighthouse is going to be important. I might suggest spending less time on the kid and her parents and more time building the conflict.

Sissy said...

I tend to agree with previous poster. An MC with an attitude is okay, but he's being unkind, and to a small child - I don't like the idea.

But I do like the idea that there's something up with the lighthouse, and that it's got Craven consumed to the point where he would blow up at a child.

I just wish you could find a way to let us know he's irritated, or afraid, or whatever, other than hurting a child. Sorry.

Charlie V said...

Good questions about the lighthouse. Builds a great mystery. But I guess I can see the comment about the loosing the child. If she isn’t going to enhance the story, get more to the meat of the conflict.

LMT said...

I like the begging and am curious about the lighthouse. However, if something happened to make Craven lash out at the child, I would like to know more about it. Otherwise, he does come off pretty mean.

Mora said...

I agree with Chelle, 100%. :)

I would probably stop reading there, because why would I want to spend X amount of pages with someone who seems so unpleasant? Maybe he's not always like that, but there needs to be some indication of WHY he's like this now. Otherwise he just seems like a jerk.

Maybe you could let the reader into the character's head a little more? A tighter 3rd person POV?

Sarah Jensen said...

I agree with the others. I like Crevan up until he hollered at the kid. Not that he can't be angry, I just need to know why, and since I can't read any further, I don't.
Maybe have him think about the lighthouse, and if the child is important, put it in after the lighthouse thoughts, or him mumbling about the LH as he walks.
IDK.
But I would continue to read to see what happens.

Secret Agent said...

A lighthouse is a very potent image - mysterious, old, warning of danger. So a great topic, but you're losing a lot of the impact because a) we just don't warm to your (nasty) protagonist and b) we get all caught up in the child's approach. You need to slim and trim. Start, perhaps, by focusing right in on that lighthouse through Crevan's eyes; give us time to see what he sees. And even if other characters have reason to hate Crevan, we, your readers, need to understand his p.o.v.

lilianamama said...

Yeah, interested in the lighthouse. Especially since it has no doors or windows and has never been used! But you've made me hate your MC and that's not likely to make me want to continue.

Amber J said...

I'm afriad that mean characters are really hard to get people to read about and I have to agree with the other posts on here. Not only is Craven mean but it's very hard to tell how old he is through this passage. At first I got the feeling he was really young when he was talking about his father knowing about the lighthouse but as the time went on and he got so angry with the kid, I questioned his age. Seemed more like an older man by the end so that's something to look out for. As it currently is, I'm not hooked. Sorry.

Barb said...

I would read on. You started right off with letting us know there was something about that lighthouse, and then the child comes along. and Crevan's reaction to her let's us know exactly what kind of person he is. It could maybe be tightened up a bit, but I thought it was a great way to show his character. And then you pull us right back to the lighthouse.

The problem, I think, is that most people don't want to read about people who aren't nice. I'd read on because I'd want to know more about the lighthouse, as well as why Crevan is so mean.

Eng151 said...

Why so mean? That creates a kind of mystery in itself. I might want to read on to see what happened to
make someone so nasty - but I think I'd need a bit more before deciding.

Angela said...

It's a shock that he's so mean to the girl and talks the way he does to complete strangers. It would take a lot to do that, and it makes me wonder what happened to make him that way. I think you can have a character like this and make it work, but I would need to see something to make me understand him at some point or the attitude would turn me off too much.

Karrie said...

I found Crevan's reaction to the child part of his temperment, but, I believe there was too much about it and it took away from the lighthouse.

C.N. Curtin said...

Maybe it's just me, but mean kids should only be mean in a MG novel if:

A) they're the antagonist
B) have a bad childhood, bullied at school, abused, killed his dog by accident and hides his guilt by being mean, etc.
C) is love-able mean (we understand you're mean, but it's OK)

Crevan was mean to a toddler and we don't enough about him to forgive him. But since he's so mean, I don't want to continue reading. Sorry, not hooked.

C.N. Curtin said...

sorry - blogger hiccuped while I was in preview mode:

Maybe it's just me, but mean kids should only be mean in a MG novel if:

A) they're the antagonist
B) have a bad childhood, bullied at school, abused, killed his dog by accident and hides his guilt by being mean, etc.
C) is lovable mean (we understand you're mean, but it's OK)

Crevan was mean to a toddler and we don't know enough about him to forgive him. But since he's so mean, I don't want to continue reading. Sorry, not hooked.

anotheranon said...

I think MG is a hard balance, because the MCs have to be very sympathetic, almost like an "everykid."

Love the lighthouse, though. And I thought the writing was quite tight. The "mean" to the child is so easily fixed it doesn't warrant more comments by me. Good luck with this.

Megs said...

Not sure....

The protagonist isn't very likable for one.

The other thing is I can't figure out his age. If this is middle grade, you want the kid to be 9-14 years old. He actually sounds like an old guy from the way he interacts here.

Jarucia said...

The writing is quite good, but your MC is totally unsympathetic. He's not only not 'saving the cat' he's stomping on it with his attitude. You've explained his mind is otherwise preoccupied, but he seems like quite a jerk. And, maybe he is. But I'm not so interested in reading more about him.

ink wench said...

Pretty much what everyone else said. The mystery with the lighthouse draws me in, but the MC pushes me away. He sounds like a grumpy old man instead of a kid. Making an MC mean, yet sympathetic, right off the bat is a hard task. I think you could do it, but this isn't there yet. Good luck with it!

beth said...

An interesting premise that almost hooked me, but I found the narrator too mean and unappealing for me to sympathize or like him. Since I didn't like him or care about him, I also didn't care about his story.

Trish said...

Well, I would read on just to find out why the kid is mean, and if he regrets it further along. If he stayed mean throughout the story, I probably wouldn’t read it though. I also want to know if he’s going to live in the lighthouse with his father. I’d give it a go.

mermensing said...

I'm not hooked.

I love the name, "Crevan Fox".

But I don't find the scene believable. If an older kid collided with my toddler and behaved that way, I would be in his face. I wouldn't be appeasing, as the father is here.

Being "disgusted" seems such a strange emotion to have about a lighthouse. I can't get over the dissonance.

I have a feeling you have an unusual story. Let your characters tell it!

ColoradoKate said...

I like the way this points us towards the lighthouse and makes us wonder about it... but I have to agree with other posters about starting with this mean, grouchy MC. Is there another side of him that you could show? Is he really even the MC, or is he the antagonist? I'm wondering if you could start at a different point, I guess. I love the hint about the rumor, though--I do want to know what that's about.

Anette J Kres said...

Doesn’t hook me…
Because the first paragraph is not catching at all, the guy is a jerk so I have no sympathy for him. The only thing that interested me was the odd lighthouse. Not hooked.

Kat Harris said...

Your MC seems a little too cranky for my liking.

Give me a reason to like him before he starts getting mad at kids.

Lisa M. said...

I'm going to echo what others have said. I like that something mysterious is going on with the lighthouse, but the MC seems mean. Maybe there's a reason for that attitude. And that might make me read a little bit more.

Lori said...

Sorry, but not hooked. There's no clear conflict, your MC kinda shows out as a jerk, and the end info about the lighthouse is all infodumping. Plus, there are several grammatical and punctuation errors you might want to review.

Suzette Saxton said...

Oooo, good advice from Secret Agent.

This is well written but doesn't feel like MG.

sally apokedak said...

I love his name and I'm wondering why he's so upset about the lighthouse and what on earth the rumor could be.

I don't like him calling the little girl a brat and I wonder at his boldness to yell at her parents like that and call her a brat to their faces. It seems like a kid might be more likely to mutter under his breath if he thought the little girl was a brat.

I think if you really make her a brat, he can get away with calling her a brat, though. I mean, if she didn't just accidentally bump him--if she deliberately poured he soda on him and stuck her tongue out at him then he could get away with it.

But she may have nothing to do with the story. if not, you might do best just cutting her.

But I'm definitely wanting to know what is up with that lighthouse. How can a lighthouse have no windows and no doors?

John Zeleznik said...

Didn't hook me. The protagonist seems like he's something of a nit and what kind of parents let their toddler have root beer??? ;-)

Anyway, it just didn't grab me the way it should have.

dragonlady said...

I find your mc a bit harsh, and, even if he is "teenage kid with a 'tude" he doesn't need to hurt/scare a small child to establish that. Find another way to establish why he has a 'tude - and, like others have said before - find a way to really focus on the lighthouse (which I am certain is a big focus of the story).

mjb said...

Sorry, not hooked. MC's meaness turned me off, however...everyone has a bad day and I'm a tad curious what made this one so cranky.

danceluvr said...

Would a toddler even be allowed an open cup?

Since Crevan's so unpleasant, I don't want to spend more time with him.