Sunday, June 10, 2018

1st 5 Pages June Workshop- Lukas Rev 1

Name: Ariadne Lukas
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Title: The Great Mouse Prophecy

Kenny crawled up the carpeted wall in the trunk of the Mustang. He pulled himself partway through the rusty hole in the trunk’s lid, his long tail dangling below. Stretching his neck into the cold air, he wiggled his nose.

Engine fumes prickled his throat. The human machine roared in the distance. Its tires crunched over the snow, creeping closer.

Just a whisker more, Kenny thought, stepping a paw out of the hole and stretching his head for a glimpse. It visited after every snowfall, snaking up and down the rows of broken cars, scraping its teeth across the gravel, piling towers of snow along the roadsides.

Kenny flattened his ears as the rumble filled the air and a silver bumper slid into view, followed by a wide red front end.

That’s not the snow scraper. Kenny gulped a breath of fumes. It filled his pounding chest as the red monster crawled to a stop in front of the neighboring car.

Oh no! Not the blue Beetle. The pads of his paws grew hot and sticky on the hole’s metal edge as the tow truck’s door flung open, and a man clothed in black from head to toe jumped out. His heavy boots crunched in the snow as he tramped to the back of the tow truck and pulled out a thick silver chain. He heaved it to the front end of their neighbor and hooked it under the blue Beetle’s bumper.

The Squeaker family’s seven pups were only six moons old. What if they were still curled up asleep?

I need to warn them, Kenny thought suddenly, creeping out farther and eyeing the snow covered ground. He took a deep breath, bent his hind legs, and pushed.

YANK on his tail tumbled Kenny into the straw nest below.

“My turn to look,” Big Benny said, trampling over him to the hole.

“But it’s…it’s not the scraper.” Kenny pushed to all fours and sprinted back up to where his brother’s big bottom clogged the hole. “It’s the big red truck!”

Big Benny kicked his hind leg at Kenny. “Even better.”

Kenny had no choice. He opened his mouth wide and bit down on his brother’s bottom and pulled. Big Benny’s thick squeal echoed throughout the trunk as he tumbled down.

Already soaring out the hole, Kenny crash-landed in the snow and circled around to the back of the Beetle. Startled, he jumped, as Ma Squeaker dove off the Beetle’s back bumper.

“This way!” Kenny called. “Hide in our trunk.”

Her wide eyes caught on his. She shook her head, swished her tail, and called, “Quick now!” to her pups who tumbled off the bumper. The littlest toppled out last with a nudge from Pa Squeaker’s nose.

“But where are you going?” Kenny asked.

“To join the rest,” Pa Squeaker called. “You better get back inside.” He turned to follow his trail of pups who disappeared over a mound of snow.

To avoid the man, Kenny sprinted the long way around the Mustang. He scrambled up to the hole, where Big Benny’s head poked out, his eyes filled with amusement.

“Were you just gonna watch them get taken away?” Kenny asked.

Big Benny snorted. “I knew they’d get out safe.”

“Where do you think they went?”

“The forest. Maybe another car. Does it matter?”

It mattered. Of course it mattered. Their colony was dwindling away. Most of the mice in the lot had left moons ago. Shouldn’t they stick together?

The man stood, tall as a tree, and lumbered to the tow truck. He swung his branch-like arm up, hauled himself into the driver’s seat, and slammed the door shut.

Clunk. The chain began to crank the blue Beetle to its doom.

“This is gonna be creepy good,” Big Benny said, his whiskers quivering.

The flatbed groaned upward and locked into place. Engine roaring, the truck pulled away, its tires crunching across the snow-covered gravel toward the front of the car lot.

“Goodbye, blue Beetle,” Kenny whispered, sniffing the icy March wind. Far away, the tow truck screeched to a stop. After a clang and a bang, the ear-piercing crunch of metal started. Kenny flattened his ears as the car crusher chewed and chomped on the poor blue Beetle, its final squeal signaling the end of their neighbor.

Big Benny snickered. “That was pawsome!”

Kenny stared at the empty gravel square surrounded by snow. Why didn’t Big Benny care that all the mice were leaving? And why didn’t Pa take his family to join them? Kenny was going to be eleven full moons soon. He was old enough to know what was going on. To be part of family decisions. But, no, Pa was stubborn as a hangnail.

Deciding to face Pa in protest, Kenny squeezed past Big Benny and jumped down into the straw. He sprinted to the glove at the other end of the trunk, men’s size XXL, where Ma and Pa slept. He bit down on the cuff, and jerked.

“Pa! Wake up.”

The glove stirred.

Kenny tugged impatiently. “Pa!”

Pa’s snout finally poked out. “Can’t a fella get a wink of sleep around here?” He dragged himself out, stretching his hind paws. “What’s going on?”

Ma followed, and his sleepy siblings, Denny Jr. and twins Jenny and Penny, gathered around, muttering about the commotion.

“It’s the…the red truck. It took the blue Beetle.”

In a single wink, Pa’s eyes grew from sleepy to startled. He looked up to where Big Benny’s bottom hung out of the hole. “Get down. It’s not safe right now.”

“But, Pa—” His brother bounced down into the straw and kicked his angry hind feet through Ma’s tidy straw carpet—on purpose.

“Don’t but-pa me.” Pa sprinted up to the hole as everyone gathered around waiting to see what Pa would have to say about it.

In two swishes of his tail, Pa jumped down and eyed Ma with that knot of worry pulsing in his jaw.

“Oh dear,” Ma said. “The Squeaker family…did they—?”

I made sure they got out,” Kenny said, turning to stare Pa in the face. “And now we must be the only family left in the lot. When are we—?”

“I’ve told you.” Pa’s whiskers twitched. “I’m working on a plan.”

“Why can’t we move in with our grandparents and cousins?” Kenny asked. Wherever that was. Because Pa wouldn’t tell them that either.

“For now, your Ma and I feel safer here. This car’s not going to the crusher. It’s in too good of condition.”

“But where has everyone gone?” Penny jumped in. “Why can’t you tell us?”

Pa looked at Ma.

“Isn’t it time you…you told them?” Ma said.

Pa’s eyes softened. “I’m just trying to protect them.”

“Yes, I know. But…for their safety…it might be better if they knew.”

Kenny and his siblings crawled closer around Pa, their attention sharp as pine needles.

Pa took in a long breath, then blew it out and looked from Ma to Kenny. “Okay, but you have to make me a promise first.”

“We promise.” Kenny looked at his siblings. “Right?”

They nodded up and down, all chiming yesses.

“That place…it’s…it’s a dangerous place. And you must promise you won’t try to sneak there. Ever.”

“Sneak where?” asked Denny Jr., who’d been quiet until now. “What danger?”

Pa’s pupils turned sharp. “Behind the lot, there’s a garbage dump. And it’s filled with sickness and predators. Mice running wild…without anyone to lead them.”


  1. I think you've made your opening much more dynamic while better showing us what's going on in the junkyard. It might add something to have Kenny do something to help the Squeakers in their escape, especially since he makes a big point that he made sure they got out.

    I think the description of the dump beyond could be strengthened with more specifics than sickness, unnamed predators, and mice running wild. Is it a Sodom and Gomorrah of mousedom or more of a mouse Road Warrior, for example.

    On a minor note, is a hangnail something a mouse could get or would know about? I like that the mice act a bit countrified but I'm not sure even a smart mouse would think that.

    I think you've made a lot of progress. Good luck.

  2. First of all let me say that "pawsome" made me snort laugh. It's cute! I love the new revision. You managed to explain what's happening in the junk yard while making it more urgent compared to the first draft. Plus, Kenny seems active now with choosing to warn the other family and confronting his father. Good job.

    A few thoughts:
    You used "crunch" a lot. Usually it wouldn't stick out to me but since it was used to describe something moving across the snow, it became repetitive. Maybe another word would work.

    When Benny said, "that was pawsome" I'm assuming he can see the crusher from where they are. Though he could be reacting to the sound or the car being towed away.

    This might be just me, but it was a little odd that Kenny and his siblings made a promise before knowing what their Pa was going to say. It's a minor thing but I wanted to point it out.

    I'm curious about the dangers at the dump. Is that where the other family went? Why is it bad that mice don't have a leader? I'd read on to find out.

    It's cute that they all have matching names. And giving some of them lines brings them to life a bit more.

    Nice job on this revision. I'm excited to see the next.

  3. Wow! So impressed with this revision -- you have tightened this story and ramped up the activity and Kenny's role in it. At this point, for the next revision, read each sentence out loud and look for places to keep tightening and continuing to make the language richer and more active. Look for places where you could use a different word instead of one you've used before. You did a lot of work in this last revision so this next one can be more a more gentle refining process. Congrats!

  4. I loved that you changed the conversation between Pa and Ma to having Pa tell the kids about the garbage dump. I feel like this conversation does a better job of building up the book's premise and leaving the reader itching for more details.

    Details such as "six moons old" and "pawsome" are great - I think you do a good job of really getting the reader to get to know this world. I think adding more details to the dump earlier in the story and why it's so scary might help with the buildup as to why it's bad that they are leaderless. What exactly happens when no one is leading? And who is leading this family, Pa? It'd be nice to have more background so we can see why it's so terrible.

    All in all, great updates and can't wait to read next week!

  5. Sorry I'm late in commenting, Ariadne. I've been traveling. I hope you get a chance to read my comment, because I think you did a fantastic job revising!!! Your opening is so much more dynamic and full of peril! You've resolved the issue I had last week with the mice thinking too much like humans, and you've created an immediate conflict and intrigue--it's now very clear to the reader that the mice are in a precarious position!

    And I love that you can already get a sense of Kenny and Benny's personalities in just those few pages!

    I have to say, I don't have a whole lot to suggest at this point. Definitely work on smoothing out any rough spots. Things like the repetition of "crunched" to describe sounds in the snow.

    Well done!