Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Beginning 162 (midgrade novel)

Upon his son Sylvester’s seventh birthday, Mr. Chester had a white picket fence built around his yard. “Now,” he said to his wife as he described all he’d done that day, “We have the perfect family. Two children, a boy and a girl, a nice home and a white picket fence. But, we lack one thing. One very big thing. I think, Imogene, that it is my job to obtain it.”

Mr. Chester scratched his forehead. “What we need now is a nice big brand new sports utility vehicle. That way we can go camping and explore the wilds of nature. How else,” he asked, “will we get to the top of all those mountains?”

Mr. Chester, convinced of his need for an SUV, began his long search for the perfect vehicle, all the while missing the many small problems that brewed in his own home.

On the first day of his search, while Mr. Chester visited the Ford dealership and considered the finer points of the 2007 Expedition, Sylvester was putting the finishing touches on his acetone-based bomb and testing it out on the Martins' doghouse.

On the second day, as Mr. Chester was testing the off-roading capabilities of the Dodge Durango, little Euphenimia was picked up for soliciting.

But it wasn't until he had brought home the Chevy Suburban, with its superior cargo space, that Mrs. Chester pointed out to him that the SUV was just another substitute for his sexual inadequacy, that “those mountains” were a Freudian metaphor for his physical dysfunction, that the picket fence was his only successful erection in months.

The biggest worry, of course, was the children. Sooner or later they would want to know why Sylvester looked so much like Mr. Gonzales, the gardener.

Opening: Judy Gregerson.....Continuation: Daisy, ril


pacatrue said...

Overall, I like what the author is trying to do here. It does take a little wrapping your mind around however. The dialogue is hopelessly fake, but then that is the obvious intention. This is going to be something that people either like or don't like. And while that may seem true of all things, it is not. Most items that come through get a ho-hum reaction. I think this is one where the agent is going to roll her eyes and toss before getting to the end of the page, or she will find the over-the-top voice silly and intriguing and read on to find out if a good story goes with it. I think it will help that a mid-grade novel should be fairly short. As the Snark says, query widely.

In other news, here is the continuation I submitted when I realized our character was named Sylvester Chester.

"A lot of things were beginning to pester Sylvester. Number one was his sister Hester. Number two was a scab that had begun to fester. And even worse were the neigbors next door, Mr. and Mrs. Wester, a pair of empty-nesters. In short, The Westers, two empty-nesters, and his sister Hester pestered Sylvester Chester as his wound festered."

McKoala said...

This is very well written, artificiality and all, but is it a voice that will appeal to its audience? Is Mr Chester the MC or will it change to Sylvester? Will Mr Chester survive until the end of the chapter? All these questions and more will be answered...

Great continuation from ril and daisy. Pacatrue, kudos, but your continuation did my head in, as we say in Scotland,

Anonymous said...


How could you NOT work in some referenece to a molester?

What a jester.

Anonymous said...

So that's what Chester the Cheetos Cheetah's off camera life is like. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Author, I apologize, but I cannot think of anything really nice to say about this. It just lost me entirely at the picket fence.

While the writing itself is clear, I was immensely irritated by the writing because 1)it sounds fake and forced; 2) the language sounds like adult parody, not mid-grade reading; and 3) why is the author going on and on and ON about an SUV to a mid-grade audience?

Anonymous said...

Urg! I think I just lost my long rambling comment! Just as well... Here's the short version.

1. Your voice is fine, but midgraders like action. So put in a couple of zombies, who peep through a crack in the fence. No? Fine.

2. Have Sylvie do something, right in the beginning. If he climbed the fence and tripped it over in the process, you'd get a bunch of things:

Mr C is furious that his fence is ruined. Also, we see a bit of the flawed daddy character. He thinks he can, but... you get it. Also, he's got temper.

Or, if you wanna twist it around a bit, make Mrs C furious, and like... REALLY furious.

Sylvester has a broken arm/leg/whatever. And he's GROUNDED! Injury and insult, yahoo! Kids can comiserate.

Sylv is a troublemaker. Hey, he's got character, and troublemakers are likable.

You might get a chuckle from those semi-evil children, you know at the big-butt, that tripped the fence...

You know, those evil souls, editors and agents(not to mention readers) are picky. They get bored easily, and thirst for something new.

BTW, my fence suggestion is not something 'fresh' its just an example.

On the bright side, you got a perfect voice for the audience. Just make sure they're awake.

Anonymous said...

I liked the voice. It reminded me of Harry Potter's aunt having a nice long neck, the easier to peer over the fence into the neighbor's yard.

I would expect the real continuation to have a huge contrast to happy shopping daddy.

Anonymous said...

I see Sylvester's here, but where's Arnold?

Anonymous said...

I probably would have liked it when I was the appropriate age. Of course at that time we had to haul clay tablets home from the library, so I don't know how it will read to a modern kid.
At my current age, I'm wondering who the story will turn out to be about. So far it's about Dad and his SUV, but the last line suggests the real story lies elsewhere - so I'd turn the page, and see whether the arch tone got annoying or something happened.