Thursday, December 8, 2011

Can You Guess My Character's Age?

Brenda Drake Writes is hosting the Can We Guess Your Character's Age Blogfest! I'm supposed to post the first 250 words of my manuscript and here, and everyone can guess how old he is in order to find out whether his voice matches his age. See more details about the contest here.

Meet Jack Cooper, from my newly untitled (I'm working on coming up with a brand, spanking new title) manuscript . . .

It wasn’t every day that Jack Cooper got the tar beat out of him, or even most days. But it happened often enough that his mother merely sighed when he walked in with a bloody nose and holes in his semi-new jeans. Jack shot her one sullen look as he dropped his book bag onto the kitchen table and grabbed a pack of frozen peas from the freezer. She put down the fluffy, white miniature poodle she held and fussed over her son.

“What happened pumpkin?” Lissy Cooper asked, pushing the peas aside to better inspect his nose.

He pulled his chin out of her hand and placed the cold bag back on his aching face. “I tripped and accidentally ran into Ricky Navardo’s fist.”

She puckered her lipstick pink lips in concern. “Oh, baby. Do I need to speak with Principal White again?”

“No mom, I’d rather you not tattle on me,” he snapped.

“Okay okay,” she held up her hands in acquiescence. “But someone needs to do something about that nasty Navardo boy. He’s picked on you for nearly two years now.”

Jack rolled his eyes. “Something tells me discussing it with the principal won’t help.” He headed for the back stairs leading up to his room.

“Where you goin’ hon?”

“To throw myself out a window,” he muttered.

“Well, if you want something to eat later just come down and I’ll make it for you,” she called to his disappearing back.

Not bothering to answer, Jack shut his door and dropped onto the bed. His mother had a point; Ricky Navardo was a menace.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think Jack's age is (or any other comments you may have)!


  1. I think he is about 11 since his mom calls him pumpkin and he doesn't wince and he uses the word menace when he thinks of Ricky, and an 11 year old would use the word menace.

    ok, when are you going to reveal his age?

  2. I'm useless at ageing people when they're stood right in front of me... okay, I'm going to plump for 13?

  3. I was going to say 11 too because of the mom wanting to get involved but letting him take care of it himself.

  4. The word tattle led me to believe he's about in fourth grade. 9ish.

  5. I think 11. And the only thing I would change is that first line. Just leave off the 'even most days'. Sort of gave me pause.

    This sounds like the story I want to read though. i really like the voice and already I feel bad for the mc.

  6. This is a hard one because the mother uses childish pet names: pumpkin, baby, hon.

    But Jack uses older words and phrases: merely, I tripped and ran into Ricky's fist, acquiescence, menace. "Tattle" is a word I associate with an elementary age kid, so not sure what to do with that one.

    I'm going with something around 14. Poor kid!

  7. I thought he was little older than his mother was treating him, especially with his very sullen parting comment of throwing himself out the window. I'll go with 14.

  8. I'm going to guess fourteen. He had his mother being worried, but he's kind of sarcastic and wanting her to butt out. I liked his snarky comments. :D

    My pointers would be a couple of edits, mostly with missing commas. (Erm, I hope you don't mind--I do editing, so these things really stick out at me):

    “What happened pumpkin?” --There needs to be a comma between "happened" and "pumpkin" because you always have to have names (or terms of endearment when they're used in place of a name) with commas before or after them.

    “No mom, I’d rather you not tattle on me,” --Same thing here. A comma between "No" and "mom", and additionally, "Mom" needs to be capitalized.

    “Okay okay,” --Comma between the "Okay, okay"

    “Where you goin’ hon?” --Again, a comma between "goin'" and "hon".

    I hope Jack gets things sorted out with the bully!

  9. *sullen look* and talking about throwing himself out the window make me think 15, but terms like *don't tattle on me* and the endearments make me think younger, like 10.

  10. I would say middle school age. Somewhere between 11-13. This is a very interesting beginning, too :D

  11. Some of the words he uses make me think angsty teenager, around 15 or 16, but the rest makes me think 9 or 10, like a little kid on the verge of being an angsty teenager.

  12. Oh wow, you all are giving me SO MUCH to think about. Especially since the ages seem to vary A LOT haha! I already have a few ideas for tweaks I think I'll make...

  13. The situation makes me think he's young (11 or 12 maybe), but his internal dialogue makes me think he's older (closer to 15 or 16).

  14. I'm going to go with 14-15 because of the sulkiness, throwing himself out of a window...general reticence.
    I like this intro a lot. I would definitely like to know more about the bullying situation and how Jack deals with the guy. Also why he's being bullied! :) Strong voice.

    A couple of quick notes on writing-- watch out for the word "that", which is very rarely necessary and slows down the forward movement of your prose (Found it twice in the first couple of sentences).

    Also, just a couple of quick things I stumbled over while reading that are no big deal and easy to fix:
    "lipstick pink lips"--I would ditch lipstick. If you said magenta lips or flourescent lips or something along those lines, it's a much more vivid image and it's less bulky.

    Also in this sentence: "Not bothering to answer, Jack shut his...", I would delete not bothering to answer. It makes the sentence a passive construction and we know he didn't answer because he doesn't say anything back.
    Good job and good luck!

  15. My guess is 13. I get this mostly from the way his mom speaks to him.

  16. I'd guess about fifteen? I love your voice :)

  17. This is a teenage problem, but his mom speaks to him like he's very young. I would guess 14 or 15. Good luck!

  18. I'd say 11 or 12, but he's a bit sarcastic for that age. He's definitely still young, though. Maybe 13 at most?

  19. Great entry. I enjoyed reading this excerpt alot. I'd say he is 14-15.

    I'm following you back.

  20. Hmmmm....I'm thinking 12 or 13? The way he spoke made me picture a younger kid, like 12 or 13, but the 'jump out the window' comment feels a little more angsty, like he could be more of a true teen. Either way, it's a great start! I think both characters here are interesting.

  21. Wow! This is really good! I was drawn into the story right away:) I'm going to guess that Jack is 10 or 11.

    Great job and thanks so much for commenting on my blog and following me.

    I'm also following you now.

  22. 12?

    Nice job. I enjoyed this one. :)

  23. What a touching scene!

    As a mother, I'd say the kid is in Kindergarten or 1st grade because I don't talk to my daughter that is in 2nd grade like that. Pumpkin is a very baby name. Mother's don't "fuss" over older kids. We've gotten over that by the time they hit 1st grade.

    I'd change book bag to backpack because kids don't know what book bag's are. At least my three said "WHAT?" when I called it that once.

  24. 73? After getting beat up by the mean kid at the old folks home and failing to tattle to the principal/owner of the home, Jack heads home to the comnfort of his aging mother.