Wednesday, September 9, 2009

21 Secret Agent

TITLE: How to be a Geek
GENRE: Middle Grade fiction

My name is Peggy White, Peg for short.

I guess my name is ok, but it’s so, you know, old. Lucy, my best friend, has an old name too, but at least hers was cute.

She was walking beside me as we made our way into my middle school. Now, let me tell you about Lucy. Well, actually, she’s pretty much an athletic Aryan. A nice one, mind you.

Now here’s me: Peggy, the not fat, but not really skinny either, brunette with green slimy eyes and one stupid B in stupid math who couldn’t kick straight to save her life. Yep, pretty bad. But I’d gotten used to it.

Here was something else I had gotten used to: John, this nerdy dude, was reading his textbook at one of the lunch tables (no joke). Emily was reading something more exciting, leaning up against a wall. Kayla was talking to Rachel over by Mrs. Smith’s room, probably about some other poor soul that they decided they hated, and Jennifer was doing something disgusting to Gabriella’s bag that I cannot even talk about.

And where did I fit into this? Well, I was the girl who nobody really knew, besides Emily. I guess I was a geek by nature. I could probably write a guide to being a geek. I am obviously not the popular type.

I know you’re thinking that I’m completely stupid for caring about stuff like that, but let me tell you this: I only have six friends.


Keren David said...

Love the title! I think the rest needs a really good trim. Also it seems to waver between past and present tense. And I don't like the word Aryan in this (or any)context.

jenniferneri said...

Has tense issues. Great idea!

Catherine Kariaxi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine Kariaxi said...

Hmmm..... seems kinda chatty up front - like somebody talking at me.

There are other issues that I noticed (like tenses). This just needs a little more work.

Sarah Erber said...

I liked it, with one thing to add, I don't think most agents like a laundry list of character description. Try to weave those details into the story as it goes.

Good luck!

Amy said...

This voice sounds so authentic to me--my daughter is a couple years younger than your main main character, and she and her friends talk and write JUST LIKE THIS.

That said, I wasn't super hooked--it's just not my thing. I bet my daughter would be, though!

Barbara said...

As a lot of people have said, it has tense problems, and I personally dislike stories where the MC talks to me.

You say her best friend is Lucy, but nobody really knows her except Emily. Why does Emily know her better than her best friend? And why don't any of her other six freinds know her?

And then there's - here's something else I'd gotten used to - and you name what all these kids are doing. Is that what she's gotten used to - Jon reading a textbook, others gossiping, etc, or has she gotten used to the fact that they're all doing it without her, that she is alone? Or might it even be something else?

I'd suggest starting with - I only have six friends, then mention a little about her nerdiness, and hop right into the story you want to tell.

ajcastle said...

I felt a bit confused reading through this. The voice was okay for me, it felt genuine for the age group, but kind of annoyed me to be honest. I also noticed the tense issues.

Heather Lane said...

She said nobody understood her, and then that she only had six friends? That seemed like a lot of friends. I would have assumed that somebody in this set up would have had one or two friends. That confused me.

Heather Lane said...

But, I do think she has a good MG voice.

catspit said...

Just too many characters introduced all at once.

Tighten this up, and it'd hook me.

Devon Ashley said...

I'm gonna agree with catspit on this...too many characters too soon. Stick with MC and Lucy for a bit, then weave in the rest later.

"Now let me tell you about Lucy." didn't. All we got was athletic and nice.

I do like your voice; it actually sounds like a middle grader talking to me.

Shadowfeet said...

You lost me at Aryan, didn't really want to read after that, but I did.

I liked the voice, felt there were too many characters introduced all at once. Truth is, if I picked it up in the store, opened it to scan the first paragraphs as I always do, I'd have dropped it like a hot potato on Aryan. No way am I going to like that character or anyone who wants to be her friend.

Anonymous said...

this is all tell and no show. Nice voice though.

PatEsden said...

Moderately hooked, but this isn't a genre I read.

Aryan interested me. I made me wonder about the MC's parents. And it felt like a topic for discussion. The voice felt real.

In the second paragraph they are walking into the school and in the fourth they are in the lunch room, but I felt like I missed the transition from one spot to the other.

Snazel said...

I decided I liked this one with the line. "and Jennifer was doing something disgusting to Gabriella’s bag that I cannot even talk about." So teenager! I also like the gripe about "I only have six friends," since I'm someone who had NO friends. :P Sets up her mindset beautifully.

And I think, though it might vex people, kids of that age would use Aryan with no idea of what weight it carries. Though maybe that's why she has so few friends. :D

shelley said...

I agree with the tense concerns and that 6 friends seem like a lot for a tween girl who has friendship worries.

I don't have a problem with the mc speaking in the second person. I actually like it and think it helps to draw in young readers. And you definitely have a mid-grade voice.

My main concern with this piece is the likability factor of the mc. Kids want to read about someone they'd like to be friends with.

Amy said...

I have to say, six friends is a lot for someone to say "I only have six friends." I think most people would consider themselves popular in similar circumstances.

It has a nice tone to it, but I think I personally would have liked it more if the characters were introduced more gradually. Good luck.

Sara J. Henry said...

Maybe a few too many names in this passage: eight.

Aryan threw me a bit - does it have some significance that we learn later?

Let me explain something about geekdom: You don't have six friends. If you did, you wouldn't complain about it. You'd keep your mouth shut because you'd know it was a miracle you had six friends.

Geeks consider themselves lucky to have one friend, or two.

melody colleen said...

Not quite hooked, sorry.

I simply don't feel for your character, one way or the other, and that's key to hooking me.

So she only has six friends - big woop! Where I come from, six friends would make me ecstatic.

But she does sound typical for the age, so you've nailed that one.

Best of luck with this.

Cat said...

And with six friends she's very well off. I used to be the geek at my school and I never had more than one friend - and it wasn't really a friend more a pal or playmate. Even today, I only have three people that I can justifiably call friend. Six would have been heaven when I had been in hell (sorry middle-school).

Other than that, I liked it.

Secret Agent said...

It has tense problems, and it feels rushed, like we have to set the scene immediately.

Secret Agent said...

It has tense problems, and it feels rushed, like we have to set the scene immediately.

Bron said...

I loved the voice, it sounds very authentic. But as others have said, it has tense problems and there's a lot of characters introduced straight up. And I'll second everyone saying that six friends isn't a low amount for someone who's really geeky.