DELIVERING DANGER Rebecca Rector Science Fiction/Middle Grade
I don’t read MG, and I’m not sure of the tropes and formats. But I really love this piece. It wouldn’t fly on the adult level (though it could with some changes) but the characterization is strong, VOICE is stronger and you hit the ground running with a couple of potential threats/issues (nice to mix it up) that get the Brain Crave going.
So important to train kids to READ. I think it’s been mentioned in this class, but I think many reasons children don’t glom happily onto reading is the old classics that are shoved at them are written to old set-ups, and today’s kids are mega into the brain-crave mode. This nails it.
You do a nice job of SHOWING rather than telling, and letting other characters (naturally) provide the launch pad for just enough needed backstory and description:
“Not a very good pickpocket, are you?”
“What? No! Going to work. Wasn’t trying to-”
“Work?” The second guy looked me over, from ragged hair to bare feet. He sneered.
“Dirty kid like you? You steal those skates?”
“No!” Found my skates in an abandoned house before those scavenging freegans picked it dry. Almost fit me, too, and they were top quality. Made of Velancore, tough and light, despite the weight of the blaster cells and traction belt.
And I wasn’t dirty. I’d washed up this morning in the men’s room at the old subway station. “I pick up deliveries. Don’t steal.”
The info about the components of the skates fits in naturally and, I’m assuming, how they’re constructed will become a key part of the plot. If It’s Not… then you can whittle that down a bit because “anything you describe in detail the reader will remember” (Jack Bickham) and if this detail is NOT important, then it needs much less airspace. If it is, it’s done right.
You do a good job introducing his friend-not-friend:
“What’s up?” I nudged Marlowe. Didn’t have friends. But Marlowe was okay. Kinda
goofy with his face paint, but okay.
He turned his blue face to me. Today he’d added a bright yellow sun on his forehead and a cloud on his nose. “Hands Only just came in,” he muttered. His grey fuzzy hat slid sideways as he shoved his shoulder into Mannie’s back.
We see him just enough, and we see him because you structured the description naturally. It’s not an info dump but his face was blue today, with a yellow sun… Changes. Humans (and alien characters written by humans) don’t notice the usual; we notice the change, the different (BECAUSE THE BRAIN IS WIRED TO RESPOND TO… all together now, class… CHANGE.)
This is another use of what I call my Break It/Make It Malfunction tip (as noted in another comment yesterday).
The flip side of this–if you didn’t want to have the character repainting his face every day–is to note that his face paint, now probably a week old, was peeling around his eyes… or something like that.
Nicely crafted. Is the MS finished?
//Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance//