So Tuesday I found my way to Camden/Mornington Crescent to the office of the agent. I got there early, as I left really early to give myself plenty of time to find it. The agent was really nice and friendly. She gave me lots of comments about Allie and here is what she has suggested and what I have learnt. I should set the scene for the first vision Allie has, and I said that I had suggests for that, which included either a prologue or inserting something that I had put in an earlier draft about Allie overhearing her mum on the phone to the headmistress about testing her. She felt that it needed more magic and more obstacles for it to be fun and entertaining esp for 8-12 year olds, so I should let Allie practice her magic more and recruit more girls to her team to battle against the teachers. I should develop the character of the art teacher more so he is against Allie most of the time, so she has more obstacles and more drama. I need to give Allie more emotional reactions, make her more vulnerable. I need more strands to the story as it is too linear at the moment, more magic and more involvement with the parents and teachers. And a change of title. Allie and the Messy School isn't that appealing to that age. This is something which I have already decided I think I will do. It was near the start of the feedback that the agent asked me what age range it was for and I told her middle grade, and she told me that she was only interested in YA fiction. Oh yes, she also suggested that maybe I could find a child that could read my work to find out what works and doesn't.
Here is what I have thought about doing - a change of title, something on the lines of Allie, Queen of Green. I am going to put more magic in it, and get Allie practicing the magic at school and home, as she becomes aware she needs to hone her powers. I will develop the art teacher and get him to go against Allie, inc inserting a scence that I'd taken out, and make him be manipulated first remotely then by touch by the new girl. I will give Allie more team members, so more magical powers. I am now getting rather excited about going back to working on Allie again, and this time I shall have a critique buddy to help me along the way, and I might try to find a young girl to read my work to see if it works for children or not, once I get revising/rewriting again.
All in all, I came out quite disappointed not having an agent and a bit despondent about writing for children, but now I am excited with full of ideas (which I started writing during the night) about how I can add magic and fun and drama to Allie, with a new title that goes to the current market. So watch this space.