FRIDAY FEEDBACK – House Invader: The Best Surprise Ever

Tanya Suffolk has submitted today’s submission for Friday Feedback. It’s a piece from her junior novel, House Invader: The Best Surprise Ever aimed at children 7 years and over.

House Invader: The Best Surprise Ever

Chapter 1

Life’s pretty good when you’re a cat. Relaxing twenty-four hours a day is definitely one of the many benefits. There are some days that are extra special for pets like me. Today is one of those days. It’s Christmas and every year Melody, my girl, spoils me rotten. This year Melody is finally going to give me the best Christmas present of all… a new name! I’m sure of it! Now that she’s ten I think that she finally understands that Princess Boo Boo, the name she gave me when she was three, has to change. I am a boy after all!

For now though I’m going to make the most of this long summer holiday sleep in. I rub my soft, brown cheek against Melody’s warm hand. She sleepily starts to scratch behind my ear. Yes, life is good when you’re a cat!

‘Merry Christmas Princess,’ Melody yawns.

MY FEEDBACK

Life’s pretty good when you’re a cat.

Love this opening line, but then the tension falls away in the next bit, partly because the voice becomes older when you use words like ‘definitely one of the many benefits’. This is also telling not showing. You could show why life is good for this cat – and relate it to something kids would appreciate.

Perhaps you could say something like. “You get to watch television whenever you want and just by breathing mouse breath all over everyone, you get to sit in your favourite chair.”

There are some days that are extra special for pets like me.

I’m wondering if this cat would see himself as a ‘pet’ or whether he would see his humans as pets.

Today is one of those days. It’s Christmas and every year Melody, my girl, spoils me rotten.

This last part of the sentence is ‘telling’. It would come alive for the reader so much more if you showed how your character gets spoiled. Perhaps where your character is here and now shows how spoiled he is. Perhaps Melody put a rug over him while he is curled up on her bed…or slipped his food bowl next to him and he has accidentally put his head in the food. There is room to develop the character more and use even more humour to show his world to the reader.

This year Melody is finally going to give me the best Christmas present of all… a new name! I’m sure of it!

I think you might need to mention how your character might know this. Why does the character have this expectation? Just because Melody is getting older isn’t a strong enough connection. Perhaps Melody has given ‘Princess’ a hint – or something he takes to be a hint, but isn’t really one at all.

Now that she’s ten I think that she finally understands that Princess Boo Boo, the name she gave me when she was three, has to change. I am a boy after all!

There is a point of view issue here. How does he know this unless he can read her mind…or unless she has said something? Perhaps a friend has teased her about giving a boy a girl’s name? This seems to be an important part of your character’s situation so take the time to explore it more and show why Princess is making this assumption.

For now though I’m going to make the most of this long summer holiday sleep in. I rub my soft, brown cheek against Melody’s warm hand. She sleepily starts to scratch behind my ear. Yes, life is good when you’re a cat!

‘Merry Christmas Princess,’ Melody yawns.

Love this last paragraph. It shows humour and has a great hook at the end.

Tanya you have a great premise and some fabulous humour in your story that I think young kids will love.

I felt that your character was speaking directly to me and Princess came through to me with a strong voice. You need to make sure that his voice doesn’t sound too old in parts – and also show his character not just through talking, but through actions and reactions as well. Show things happening directly to him. Reflecting on things that have happened (like being spoiled at Christmas) slow the pace of the story down, which isn’t always a bad thing, but you need to be careful of overdoing it at the start. Readers want to get to know your character and their story straight away.

The text flows well, but try to minimise character’s ‘explaining’. You can say how they feel, but usually in response to a piece of action. Try to use actions where possible For instance, show how much he hates being called Princess by making him behave in the way that cats do when they are annoyed with you – perhaps he turns his back or swishes his tail.

I can see a lot of potential with this and that it would definitely appeal to your target age group. A lot will depend on how you develop your characters and incorporate the action into the story. Have you read the Selby books by Duncan Ball? These are about a talking dog. There are also the Jack Russell Pet Detectives series by Sally and Darryl Odgers which you might find helpful.

Normally you wouldn’t complete more than one book to submit a series. You would submit the first manuscript, a series outline and a synopsis for the first three books. You might even submit a ‘series bible’ showing who the characters are and where they live. You need to check out the guidelines of the publishers you want to submit to – perhaps even ask them how they would prefer you to submit your series proposal. Here’s a link to a great guest post by Alessah Darlison at this blog about how to plan and pitch a series.

Good luck with your writing, Tanya. I hope you have found my suggestions helpful.

If you’d like to submit your 150 words for Friday Feedback, please email to Dee*at*Deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Feel free to mention if you have a particular problem or question with the piece you have sent. Can you also please include age of intended readership and approximate word count of intended manuscript and put FRIDAY FEEDBACK in the subject line of your email.

Thanks.

Happy writing:)

Dee

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2 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEEDBACK – House Invader: The Best Surprise Ever

  1. Thanks so much for your advice Dee. It’s certainly helpful and I really appreciate the time you have taken to be so thorough. Looking forward to applying your advice and reworking my manuscript. Kind regards, Tanya

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