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    Mike Revell

    Member
    September 4, 2020 at 11:51 am

    There’s definitely something here – it sounds like a great story!

    A couple of thoughts that popped up for me: when you say string theory and linguistics are two key themes, what do you mean by that? How they come into it will be important.

    My immediate reaction was that these two terms would both be too advanced for middle grade readers, certainly at a blurb level. But if you frame string theory through the eyes of Barbara and her voice, you can make it more accessible in the story itself.

    I would trim your lists back to use the “rule of three”, as this tends to make them more impactful. Like you’ve done here: “Armed with only a couple of hair ribbons, a bag of baby carrots, and a sarcastic ego, Barbara must hop through the Ribbon Road” – cracking line!

    “Her mother abandoned her, her uncle is incompetent, school is best avoided, friends are non-existent.” – Could you combine school and friends here, or leave one out? You could also add more character by mentioning the uncle’s name, perhaps. Also, the idea of the uncle being incompetent doesn’t ring true when we soon find out that he can throw her into a (magic?) invention that houses so much awesome stuff. Could an incompetent person build all that, assuming he did build it?

    “Barbara must hop through the Ribbon Road, unite enemies, defeat assassins, save her uncle, and repel the monster trying to eat the planet, and that’s just to have a chance at getting home.” – while I do like this, it’s a long list, and looking back it’s actually the fourth list. Again the rule of three could help, or if you remove 1-2 of the earlier lists, this will have more punch.

    • I really like the opening, up to the real world has other plans.
    • I would suggest one or two lists max, not four.
    • At some point in the second half I get a little bit lost in all the awesome things, and it’s hard to picture exactly what is happening and what the stakes are. Why does her uncle suddenly need saving, for example?

    Could you compact some of the end? It could become…

    When her uncle throws her into one of his inventions, Barbara discovers more than she ever imagined possible.

    Armed with only a couple of hair ribbons, a bag of baby carrots, and a sarcastic ego, Barbara must hop through the Ribbon Road, defeat assassins, and repel the monster trying to eat the planet – and that’s just to have a chance at getting home.

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