Open Pen

Untitled (Middle Grade): An Open Pen Critique

Today, we have a piece from MaryAnn who blogs over at The Other End of the PenCurrently, MaryAnn does not have a title, but her piece is an excerpt from a novel she is writing to a 9 to 11 year old audience. So please keep this audience in mind as you are critiquing.

MaryAnn is looking for a narrative critique that does not focus too much on the small details of her piece. She would love to know if the pulling out to real life is distracting or done too often and if the diary/journal style appropriate. However, she did say that any critique is welcome!

Thank you for taking the time to make a few comments on her piece. Even short, simple comments are very helpful.

The current queue for Open Pen is as follows:

  1. Gabby
  2. Readloveexpress22
  3. Elizabeth Dearman
  4. Red652
  5. Rachel Kimzey

If you would like to submit a piece of writing to be critique, you can read the rules and submit on the Open Pen page.

God bless,



Untitled (Middle Grade Fiction Excerpt) by MaryAnn

Day 1

I decided to start a journal. Adiana told me it would be a good idea. So here’s my first entry.
I live mostly in a fantasy dreamland. It’s my hideout, when reality gets too bothersome, which is a lot. Time stops while I’m there, which is a good thing, otherwise I’d probably have been reported as missing my first time. I have friends there: Ajagar, a dragon, who I’m raising and Adiana, a unicorn. It’s always peaceful and reflects the current season. Spring is my favorite, when the flowers are in full bloom, the grass is a rich green, and it’s pretty warm. I love warm places.

It’s a magic place. Adiana says that I can control it with my mind. I’m still not sure how it works, but it does. Today, I made a flower grow. It was light blue, almost white. I put it in my hair.

I tend to drift off into dreamland at school. None of my friends really understand when I come back all zoned out, but they go along with it. Adiana says if I get strong enough, I’ll be able to bring them in with me. Soon, hopefully. Marissa, my best friend, would love it. For now, though, I go and bathe in the sunlight, lie in the grass, and sleep. And train Ajagar.

Ajagar is the sweetest dragon I’ve ever met. He’s also the only one, I suppose, but that’s beside the point. He’s still really sweet. Adiana says he’ll grow up to be a fighter. I don’t know why he’d need to be. To train him, I send him on flights and tell him to do certain things. It’s almost like training a dog, I think. I’ve never had a dog, though, so I’m not exactly sure on that.
Tomorrow, I need to ask Adiana what my fantasy land is called. I never thought about that before.

Day 2

I asked Adiana what the fantasy land is. She said it’s called Satama. Adiana also said I need to write down my name and stuff. I told her there’s no point, because I’m never going to let anyone read this, but she said it would be the right thing to do, so I will. My name is Elisabeth, although everyone calls me Elis. It sounds like Alyss from the Ranger’s Apprentice series, which is cool. That’s one of my favorite book series. I don’t have any sisters or brothers, but that’s okay. I’m 12 and I live in California, in Delmoro, although really I think I live in Satama. I go to Oak Grove Middle School because I’m in 7th grade. Last year, I went to Lincoln Elementary.

Ajagar killed a rat today. Adiana told me to tell him to. It was fat and he ate it after he killed it. He seemed happy, and Adiana told me that was good. It was weird. I’ve never seen a rat like that here. Adiana says I need to wish all rats away from my land. She said in a month or two, I’ll be strong enough to.

I made some more flowers grow today. It is kind of hard, but that’s okay because it makes me stronger and I want to be able to take Marissa and Angela here. Maybe Michael and Nick, too. Michelle might like it, but she’d probably be scared. Marissa will be the first one, though, because she’s the one who will believe me the most.

Also, today during math, Michael told me that his baseball team is going to New York for some game, I think. Travel baseball sounds really hard if they have to be good enough to go to New York! Mom is calling, so I have to go.

February 20, 2012

I should probably start writing the dates that I write my journal entries. I’m not going to write every day, because I just missed a few days. I can’t remember whether I started Wednesday or Thursday last week. Anyway, today is Monday. I didn’t have any school because of President’s day, so I have a bit more time to write in my journal.

The day after Ajagar caught the rat, Adiana taught me how to play with water. I took me two days to learn how to do it. Right now, I can make a ball of water float above the stream. Ajagar kept trying to catch it. It was really funny. He kept growling at it.

I asked Adiana why I can grow flowers and things but can’t make animals or make baby ones grow older. She said it was very complicated, but because animals have brains and plants and stuff don’t. Also, some animals are easy to control, like little bugs and stuff, and others, like rats and birds and bunnies, are still able to be controlled, but it’s really hard. And then bigger animals, like horses and bears are almost impossible. Adiana and Ajagar can’t be controlled at all, and neither can humans. Actually, all unicorns and dragons can’t. Nothing that can speak and think can be controlled. Ajagar is still a baby. That’s why I’m raising him.

Adiana told me yesterday that Ajagar should be able to start though-speaking soon. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but she said he will be able to talk to only me. That makes me feel special, but also nervous. What if he needs to ask Adiana something? I asked her and she said everything would be fine, though.

I told Marissa that it would be awesome if she could come with me and she said it would be amazing. She likes to write stories and has one with mermaids, I really like it, but she would love being in Satama. I think she doesn’t believe that it is real, but I think she wishes it could be. Angela would probably start saying how everything was like Lord of the Rings. She loves the movies. I like it, too, but being in Satama makes it different, I think.

I have a lot of homework. Mr. Bear, which is short for something I can never remember, keeps giving us tons of worksheets and stuff. I have to write an essay on the importance of food. I should probably do that. I think I’ll do that before I forget.

* MaryAnn, you’ll notice that I reformatted your piece a little bit. You might consider making these changes to the format of your novel. It will make it much easier to read and look nicer.


5 thoughts on “Untitled (Middle Grade): An Open Pen Critique”

  1. Great piece for your target audience! I love the imagination and creativity! One thing to think about though, at the top of your entries it says “Day 1” and “Day 2” then then next one is an actually date. I don’t know if you did that to show time has passed but I (personally) would do one or the other.


    1. Thanks! The first entries were based on something I tended to do, start off by labeling it one thing, then change it. The rest of the entries are in date format. I do think I’m going to change it, though. Inconsistency drives me crazy. 🙂


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