All Comments

All Comments
A return to ''The Room'' of kids' books - The Adventures of Archie Reynolds! - a truly special kind of awesome awfulness
Fun fact. New Jersey is a state with a lot of toxic waste dumps. Just saying...
Jinxmenow
^[Joking Mode]I will fight you over that.[/Joking Mode]
doctrainAUM
I live in New Jersey. I'd heard the jokes about our state. Within the state, there's a shirt that says "New Jersey, where only the strong survive!" and a bumper sticker saying "New Jersey and corruption, perfect together", a play on a Chris Christie slogan.
BonsaiForest
late comment but... the "flowering" girls description wins the award for "creepiest thing ever put in a book in the history of literature"
dreamedkestrel
What? Flowers? Must have something to do with a flower contest during the summary of the book.
sabrina_diamond
A twelve year old waking up at 7 on a Saturday? During summer vacation? I'm guessing this is magical realism.
Jinxmenow
The reason I didn't harp on the story for that is because it said he had a newspaper route as his summer job.

However, you're going to see more weird unkidlike behavior later in the story, believe me.
BonsaiForest
I'm surprised the acknowledgements didn't end with "and last, Gifford Bailey would like to thank God. Thank you, God."

I remember waking up at 7 on Saturdays. To watch cartoons, not climb fences.
Morgikit
"And, of course, I'd like to thank the Academy."
Jinxmenow
"I'd also like to thank those three New Jersey educators from the last page who were stupid enough to say something good about my book."
CompletelyNormalGuy
I think I remember writing something like this when I was in elementary school (except not really like this, because I've never felt like pretending I had any sense of scale). :/ One day, I read some of that stuff over again and said, "I am not gonna be a writer."

  1. Two words: Siamese twins.
  2. Been trying to slog through Sword of Shannara (I've read most of the rest of the series, but never the first trilogy); I mean, don't get me wrong, it's interesting stuff and decent writing and all, but something I've noticed in it is Brooks's fondness for measuring time in minutes where seconds might've made more sense. F'rinstance, short fights that don't even warrant blow-by-blow are often described as taking "several minutes," as are short pauses in conversation where somebody suddenly trails off and zones out thinking about something else.

I'm starting to think some people just think minutes and seconds are as interchangeable in prose as they are in casual speech (which they obviously aren't).
Knowlessman
Writers Cannot Do Math? This writer certainly can't. And speaking of bad time scales, it gets worse later. Just hold on, because we're in for one hell of a ride.
BonsaiForest
This author is just fascinated by fences. Maybe the reason that he has such a hard time writing kids is that he is, in fact, a fence disguised as a human.
Jinxmenow
I can't get past the bully keeping snowballs in the freezer.
Morgikit
Snowballs in the freezer. I'm pretty sure Strong Sad did that once. [lol]
lee4hmz
" to sufficiently wet the target"

It's a water balloon, not an SCP
Jinxmenow
It has since achieved the desired effect.

Which is the drenching of Ziggy or Huie. Preferably both.
BonsaiForest
i thought that the hyped-up gadget he got would be some sort of laser pen he would use to permanently blind the bullies

i guess getting them temporarily wet is good too tho
dreamedkestrel
He desires that effect.
BonsaiForest
"Hang the Pirates! Hang the Pirates!" Ziggy shouted meanly.

Man, "mean" is a word that was just never meant to be an adverb.
Jinxmenow
There are multiple things wrong with that very sentence. It's one of the most mangled single sentences in the entire book.
BonsaiForest
Maiden's Tears. How on earth did this thing get published?
Ellowen
It was published through the magic of Vanity Publishing.

Through vanity publishiiing,
you can publish anything! ♫
BonsaiForest
So Ziggy is your captain? You're addressing Ziggy with a formal title that places him over yourself, just after he tried to beat you up and you stopped him.

I suspect Archie was mocking Ziggy, but that may be giving the author too much credit.
Morgikit
Bit of a shame this installment wasn't released three days ago...
doctrainAUM
Well.

I don't remember acting anything like these kids when I was twelve.
IchigoPockyChama
The only explanation for how Gilbert Morris could be this misinformed about the behaviors of children is if he sprang fully grown out of the womb, like the Greek goddess Athena.
Jinxmenow
just grab the flashlights and explore the tunnel already. its a tunnel, you can explore it, youre twelve years old, and the alternative is physical activity.

i want tunnels!
dreamedkestrel
@Doctrain: Sorry, I was busy this weekend. I don't know that I'll have a new entry up every day, but I will definitely finish this book. How could I not? It's too much fun.

@Pocky: What, you don't remember being baffled that a ladder was used to climb up or down, or the whole boy-girl rivalry and "eww cooties" thing all middle school kids have?

@Jinx: Gifford Bailey's understanding of kids is indeed unorthodox, but who knows, maybe he did live like that in rural New Jersey 50 years ago.

@dreamed: You'll get your tunnels, trust me. I've read this book before, and I'll give the author credit for this: he doesn't leave plot threads hanging. He may have removed the bullies, but they're less a plot thread, and more an "episode".
BonsaiForest
I never had issues with the boys in my neighborhood not wanting to play with me, but that might have been because I could kick their butts at anything from "sword fighting" to capture the flag.
Ellowen
I like the creepy expression Archie has in the illustration.
Morgikit
Did this guy ever write another book after this? Did he... dear gods... make it into a series?
Knowlessman
With every chapter that passes, I keep getting the feeling that the author is deliberately exaggerating every stereotype of autistics and aspies. I probably see this in too many authors, but it's particularly strong here.
doctrainAUM
I dunno. garden hoses on a hot day can be mighty fun. but then, we had a hose that had different nozzles that made it mist and stuff. but other than that...yeah. wow. you know what would have been great? If the rotten apples had had wasps/bees inside them. the apple tree in my yard did sometimes, and we learned real quick not to screw with apples on the ground.
Ellowen
@Know: Nope, not a series, and no other books after this. Too bad, since a series would have been awesome. But he's already made his mark on the world, so I can't complain.

@doctrain: I was going to explain later in the liveblog how I'm 100% convinced the author has autism (and I have it myself, so it's not like I'm trying to insult people who have it), but you figured it out. No, he's not deliberately exaggerating every stereotype of autistics; it's more like he's writing what he knows, and he just doesn't know how people really act.

That said, what do you mean about seeing it in too many authors?
BonsaiForest
@Ellowen: You mean you didn't juggle them? :P

I'm thinking that Jeffrey must have accidentally set the garden hose on "mist" and that's why the kids are so relaxed. [lol]
BonsaiForest
@Forest: There have been times, not on the internet, where I start to think that an author has Asperger's, even when I have very little evidence that this is the case. Maybe I just like to have something in common with my favorite authors.
doctrainAUM
how do they manage to make finding a tunnel and crates and buried boxes so boring???

Ellowen (edited by: Ellowen)
...I just now realized that Archie and the Yes-Man Hivemind are the only protagonists of this book; I've been waiting in suspense for the rest of the crew to show up and make the book actually feel populated.

This book basically has as good as one protagonist, maybe one-and-a-half. Hasn't the author ever read anything more complicated than See Spot Run? A book can have one protagonist and not be shit, even without regular supporting characters, but this is not accomplishing that. This is pretending to have multiple protagonists, but two of them don't even count because there is nothing to differentiate the personality of either one of them from that of the main character.
Knowlessman
Archie could just have the most boring case of multiple personality disorder in fiction, and the feel of this book would be absolutely unchanged.
Knowlessman
Exactly, Knowless. I was thinking that one thing that makes stories fun is seeing character interaction. Characters who have different opinions and personalities, who play off each other in fun ways - this book has none of that. I've seen books where I've complained that the characters had no personality because they had flat personalities... here, they have NO personality! Billyhank is virtually not there! And Janetcindy is even less there, due to having no dialog!

Even a story with only one protagonist can still be good if that character's thoughts are shown and they're interesting. But this story can't accomplish that. Archie, Billy and Hank are airheads.
BonsaiForest
In order for him to have multiple personality disorder, he'd have to have multiple personalities. The key word here is "personality" moreso than "multiple".

Archie, Billy and Hank have no personality, and are basically the same character. So if Archie had multiple personality disorder, he'd only be imagining that two other people who share his opinions and have none of their own are standing with him the whole time, and sometimes he's really them.
BonsaiForest
BonsaiForest

I agree that character interaction makes things interesting. When I write, I often like having characters interact when their personalities mesh well in certain ways, whether being similar or starkly contrasting. It seems as though, with very little in the way of character personalities, nothing like that could happen here.

On a side note, this liveblog has nice commentary, and it's good to see it updated regularly. Keep it up.
Valiona
Yeah, lack of character personalities means that this is 100% a "what the characters do" story. While obviously what characters do is important, this author doesn't seem to understand anything else. And he fails even at having that part make sense.

And thanks! I'll try to keep up the consistent updates, one chapter a day. Some chapters pack so much amazing stupid into them that writing them takes hours. But knowing that people are enjoying the blog makes it worth it!
BonsaiForest
Graveyards can totally have streets, you know. My grandfather lies in a big military cemetery that does.

Of course, I wouldn't expect that in a small-town churchyard.
Medinoc
Also, your Idiot Plot comment is probably tainted by having read the book in advance, because here at least there's a good explanation:
  1. Burglars rob house, find safe and clue.
  2. Burglars tape clue to safe.
  3. Burglars hide stolen safe in their hideout, and go hunt for a street corner (or simply more houses for now).
Of course, maybe you know from already having read the book that it can't be the case, but here, it's as if the upcoming "shocking twist" that it's the burglar hideout is being "subtly" foreshadowed with all the grace of an anvil.
Medinoc
Added: after reading the liveblog to its end, it turns out my assessment was inexact, and the actual story made much less sense.
Medinoc
Lol, it was indeed the burglar hideout, though, and I doubt I'm spoiling anything by admitting that in the comments! You're right that while that one aspect of the plot was accurate, the actual story makes less sense because of all the details surrounding it.
BonsaiForest
The author is from another dimension where cemeteries have streets with names. That is the only reason I can think of why this dude wrote that sentence. Also, sorry I haven't commented on this sooner!
BrokenArrow01
wow, the sheer amount of stupid is mind boggling. Also, this is a small town, yes? why is the cemetery closed, what if someone dies? seems silly. and unless these blocks are like the blocks where I live ( a "single block" can be a quarter of a mile or longer) a minute a block seems odd.

Wow, the river. so tense. It could have been very scary, if it had been told right. a two foot wave might not sound like much, but it really is. Sadly, the writing just. flops. ah well.
Ellowen
That river scene is just so fundamentally poorly written. The word "therefore" belongs in a thesis paper, not an intense action scene.
Jinxmenow
it took me 4 minutes to read this
dreamedkestrel
Who did the artwork for this installment?
doctrainAUM
@Ellowen: Even calling it "a two foot wave" takes away from the impact. It could have described the wave in terms of comparing it to the size of something else, since that's how other books do it. They call upon metaphors the imagination can use instantly, instead of expecting the reader to be a math and measurements expert (which the author isn't) and be able to know what it looks like.

@Jinx: Exactly! The writing is so matter-of-fact that it kills the action. Is this a court report or an action scene in a book?

@kestrel: Are you making fun of the author's tendency to confuse seconds, minutes and hours (assuming he doesn't literally think the characters stand around doing nothing for minutes, or celebrating for a half hour)?

@doctrainAUM: I hired an artist on dA. She wanted me to credit her by her real name and link to her Tumblr (I added her info to the first page). She's Sam Pointon.
BonsaiForest (edited by: BonsaiForest)
I've seen a cemetery with paved roads inside it. One-lane, private property roads—glorified driveways if you prefer—but still roads. I don't remember exactly, but they may even have been named. And this was in Nebraska, one of the many towns that wasn't Omaha or Lincoln—that is, it was not a very big town.

Just because it's possible to walk from one end of the cemetery to the other, doesn't mean you should have to.
MetaFour
These illustrations are glorious.
Tuckerscreator
This book honestly sounds more like a point-and-click game than an actual, published piece of literature
AccidentalHermit
@Accidental Hermit: You mean, because of the random dream logic type events that occur, and the bizarre solutions to problems? You have a great point! Point-and-clicks were infamous for not making any sense.
BonsaiForest
BILLYHANK SEES YOUR SOULS. AND HE WILL FEAST ON THEM.
BrokenArrow01
spot on about the way stories are usually told. detail is good, but the clinical, emotionless way this book does it is jut terrible.
Ellowen
"We are many. We are legion. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated in precisely 14 and a half minutes."
Jinxmenow
What if... in the first draft, Archie was the only protagonist. All the dialogue was the same, but it was just Archie vocalizing every thought in his head. When the author showed off the first draft, his readers told him the story needed more characters. So he added Hank and Billy, attributed some of Archie's dialogue to them, added some bits of them agreeing with whatever Archie said... and then forgot to make them do anything that wasn't already in the first draft.
MetaFour
Wow. I thought Ranger's Apprentice overexplained during action scenes but this really tops anything I could have imagined. It's the kind of writing I do when I try to make my essays sound acceptable to turn in.
AccidentalHermit
I'd like to see some examples of Ranger's Apprentice's overexplaining, actually. I'm curious how bad it is compared to this, even if this is worse!
BonsaiForest
JEWEL THIEVES STILL SOUGHT:
REWARD POSTED

The author's already proven that he can't write children's dialogue convincingly, and now he demonstrates that he can't write good news copy either. "The situation you're already aware of continues to be a thing that's happening. (Also, there's a cash reward now.)" Pretty impressive, burying the lede in the headline.

Ever since Archiehankbilly threw rotten apples in the pool, I've been siding with the girls in this unnecessary gender war. Pity their victories are always so short-lived.
MetaFour
I am so glad that I never had to deal with "wouldn't hit a girl" nonsense. the girls, we gave as good as we got, and got as good as we gave—that said, it was pretty much all a huge game, and not a 'fight' but still, we were equals.

second point: STOP WASTING EGGS. eggs are food, yummy food. brats. you'll be sorry when Ma tries to make a cake and you've used all the fricken eggs. why is this a thing, I have never gotten why egging people is a thing.

noo, don't throw people in pools. just don't. between wearing shoes and clothes that get sodden very fast and things like going into shock by sudden, unexpected contact with cold water, and/or children throwing things that are their size being hard, which could have led to concussions—someone could have gotten very hurt. bad Author! bad! no treat! don't encourage this! I am 150% on the side of the girls at this point.
Ellowen
suspension of disbelief is dead. If I ever crossed something out in a journal, no one would ever be able to read it. ever. period.

I also never understood the "they only tease you because they like you" bullshit. Yes, Scott left a headless stuffed hamster on my desk after learning that my hamster was dead because he liked me, of course he did.

this book.
Ellowen
and these are the ids who "read the paper" and know about the jewel thieves. in the area. woooow.
Ellowen
It's funny that the kids are more concerned about the tunnel collapsing (even though they talked about how well-built it was) than they are about the tunnel's makers returning or noticing their intrusion.
MetaFour
  • the combination didnt work!* *he tried the same combination more carefully* *the combination worked!*
this masterful writing
dreamedkestrel
they are talking about breaking people's legs and LOOT. Maiden's Mercy and Moon's tears, how are they that friggen stupid? Ok, I have a theory: in this universe, books and movies don't actually exist. novels and tv shows don't either. that's why they read the newspaper and do dumb shit like party in a garage for two hours, because there is nothing better to do. it's also why they don't put two and two together, because they've never seen an action movie or a treasure hunt movie or read a comic book or anything.

Ellowen
They did not know who the men above were, nor could they distinguish what the men were saying. Not that it matters because the previous paragraph just told us both those things. Genius writing.

2 hour parties are the wildest parties.
Tuckerscreator
Sluggo became a mobster? What's Nancy going to think?
Aldo930
Maybe Archiebillyhank is an idiot for hearing those jewel thieves talk about breaking someone's legs to extort them, and concluding they must just be "neighbors". OR maybe Archiebillyhank lives in a really messed-up neighborhood, and all their neighbors are like that.

I wonder why our heroes assume that these jewels, underground in a locked box, are free for the taking.

I'm beginning to think the kids' parents are mobsters, too.
MetaFour
those mobster names make them sound like joker henchmen, the kind he would have fight batman or just shoot himself if he felt like it
dreamedkestrel
at this point I'm not sure who has the lowest IQ: archie, the crooks, or the so called author. good gravy.
Ellowen
I've noticed that in any story involving a conflict between two factions, the losing faction will inevitably have to make a mistake at some point to bring the conflict to an end, and even the winning faction will likely make a few missteps to preserve dramatic tension.

Of course, said mistakes have to be believable. If they're not, the former might bring a sudden and contrived defeat to the faction that was doing well for most of the story. The latter might end up prolonging the conflict or, worse, make you wonder why the winning side ended up coming out on top.

And, of course, it's worst of all when the plot can't exist without idiotic mistakes, as the only reason that Archie and the others learned about the jewel thieves was because of a few mistakes they made. It's significantly worse than writers accidentally writing themselves into a corner and getting out by making a character do something stupid, since it's there from the start and affects the entire work.

As such, the main problem with something having an Idiot Plot is that it becomes hard to care about what happens or take it seriously if everyone not only is unbelievably stupid, but has to be for the plot to work. I thus have little confidence in the author writing an interesting and believable resolution to this, but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on it.
Valiona
Who closes a crate with tape? These guys use an actual combination lock to secure their jewels (which aren't actively trying to escape) but just tape on a kidnapping victim?
MetaFour
@Valiona: In real life, any conflict between two sides tends to end when one side makes a mistake, assuming that it isn't a matter of one overpowering the other through sheer force.

The author's resolution for this story isn't believable, but let's just say I found it amusingly interesting indeed.
BonsaiForest
I honestly wonder if that detail is accurate.

It is. I'm amazed that this dumb-as-a-brick kid somehow knows about this.
Tuckerscreator
@Tuckerscreator: Maybe that's just one of those things you pick up on when your dad's a mobster.
MetaFour
Still feeling pretty convinced that this is a point-and-click adventure game put into the form of a book.
AccidentalHermit
@Hermit: It is certainly looking that way more and more. Ironically, if a point-and-click adventure was made this way, with this exact same plot and exact same solutions, it would probably be considered a classic of the genre.
BonsaiForest
Then, suddenly, all remained quiet for well over a minute.

Something that "remains" <adjective> is pretty much the opposite of "sudden".
MetaFour
@MetaFour: Yes, that's very true. More bad writing I should have caught. I think I'll bold that.
BonsaiForest
The hive grows. The hive will conquer. THE HIVE WILL CONQUER
Tuckerscreator
@Tuckerscreator: If only Hank were there. Then it would be Archiebillyhankamanda.

And we have yet to hear any dialog whatsoever from Janet and Cindy. Remember them? They've ceased to exist as far as the story is concerned.
BonsaiForest
It says bad things about me that I wanted the crooks (moon's tears who says 'crooks' ???) to get them. I know it does. and yet.
Ellowen
I feel like this author needs a copy of How Not To Write A Novel crushed on his head.
Jinxmenow
i think, and i am no expert on childrens narratives, but maybe having the bully stuff and even the girl antics have more to do with the main story than literally nothing would have helped. i feel like my time was wasted, or like my time was wasted through your time being wasted, or whatever.

maybe a gift from his grandpa could have helped them defeat the bad guys instead of the inconsequential bullies.

maybe they could have caved the tunnel in on the bad guys, hearing their cries of terror being muffled by dirt as they suffocated

or you know, whatever
dreamedkestrel
@dreamedkestrel: Caving the tunnel in on the bad guys makes me think of how, from what I'd read, early Nancy Drew books had Nancy using dynamite and blowing things up at times. Ah, the times when kids' books had balls...

What kind of gift from his grandpa could have helped him defeat the bad guys?

And I disagree about the bullies and girls having nothing to do with the story being a bad thing. I think the idea, to have the book be semi-episodic, was actually a decent one.

@Jinxmenow: If not for the authors saying that every part of How Not To Write A Novel was created by them specifically, I'd say they could use this book as a perfect example! Murphy's Law incarnate. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.
BonsaiForest
I'm not sure offhand how to have Archiebillyhank get the best of the jewel thieves without the Idiot Plot. How are a bunch of 12 year olds supposed to realistically outsmart adult criminals?

The kids ought to figure out on their own, a lot quicker, that they're dealing with thieves. That much is obvious. But then you need some plot contrivance to explain why the kids don't immediately go to their parents or the police.

Maybe the kids could discover the lock combination by eavesdropping on the thieves, rather than through that bizarre subplot with the gravestone.
MetaFour (edited by: MetaFour)
I agree that plot contrivances are usually needed for kids to defeat adults. We're talking about something that happens rarely (though it does happen on occasion) in real life, after all.

Eavesdropping would probably work best. Though when would they talk about the combination? I think instead, it would be better for the box to either not be locked (it's buried already!) or be locked in a different way. But how? If it has a keyhole, wouldn't the fact that it's buried result in dirt filling the keyhole? Come to think of it, how is it openable even now??
BonsaiForest
The conclusion seemed somewhat rushed, especially if they skip over so much of the talk with the cops.

I'm also autistic, and my style of writing differs from that of the author on some regards, while being similar on others.

  • My language is often "matter of fact," and slightly "formal" (for example, one person took note of my using a salutation in a PM).
  • I tend not to use exact time amounts, typically using "a few minutes," or "shortly after," among others.
  • I try to be more self-aware, and have actually been told that Character Development and getting inside the heads of the characters I write are strong suits of mine.
  • I tend to like to talk about interests of mine, and often make liveblogs for the purpose of discussing works that I find interesting for one reason or another.

I'm somewhat more hesitant to diagnose other autistic people by reading their writing, since I know that people with this condition can vary from one another.

It's nice to see you give this a two star rating in the end and acknowledge some of the things it did well.

As for fixing the Idiot Plot, eavesdropping might work well as a means of helping the heroes find out how to open the box, particularly if one of the thieves has to be reminded of the conversation. Granted, it's still somewhat contrived, but criminals generally have to be very stupid or very unlucky to lose against children.

All in all, despite not having read or heard of this series before, I enjoyed this liveblog pointing out the many things this story does wrong.
Valiona
to be fair, I know lots of guys who weren't into girls at age 12 for many reasons. And I would have called the fence hopping a secret passage—until I found the tunnel—but. I mean, I named paths in the forest near my house "tar monster trail" and "The birdnest" and uh..." the secret passage"( in my defense, it was a more hidden trail.) AND my city has an actual, on the maps pathway through the hills called "Covert Path" Covert meaning secret.

That said, yeah, so many issues. I do like that there is some closure though—it doesn't just end with them bursting into the police station or something. we find out the cops got arrested, and they get the reward money, and start to make friends with the girls. if it had been written better, it would have been a good ending.

also, as someone seriously into sending coded messages and vague information only someone in on whatever it was would be able to figure out, the fact that he spelled out his mom's name and stuff to be where the code was is just. so. stupid. maybe the crook's partners could never remember how to spell the last name? maybe they were out of town on a Job when he got the lock and...nah, I give up. but if he'd been smarter we wouldn't have had that much of a plot so. meh.

would have commented sooner but I had to go to a friend's because my internet is Spectacularly sucky today.
Ellowen
@Valiona: I like being honest with reviews. Even stuff that's considered great has flaws, and stuff that's considered awful sometimes did do some things right. And honestly, it's refreshing that the pacing in this book keeps things happening when so many other books can't manage even that.

I'm sure almost no-one has ever heard of this book before! I wanted to share this little "treasure" I'd discovered with everyone, which is why I made this liveblog.

I'm thinking my next book liveblog will be an obscure gem called Samantha Stone and the Mermaid's Quest. It's really weird, but I enjoyed it. Rather than mocking it, I'd likely be pointing out its weirdness while being much more positive.

@Ellowen: I would have thought that at least one of the three boys would have been interested in girls. But it's possible. Named paths does make sense, but I think it would have worked better if the book had gone into more detail about other named paths. It did actually mention an alleyway known as "the minefield" due to all its, uh, dog doo. Like the two separate piles of doo that Jeffrey slipped and fell in, defeating him.

I agree about the closure. That's another thing I can say about the author; while he fails on so many of the basics and all of the specifics of writing a story, he actually got some of the basics done very well. The pacing, and the fact that there's a real conclusion. So more congratulations are genuinely in order.

It really sucks that an Idiot Plot was the only way this could work. It's hard to come up with believable ways to make the major story events happen. They're either based on people being dumb or the world being unrealistic. How did no-one discover that tunnel in the backyard of that house when the slate covering it is bright as day and made of stone? There's got to be a better way of covering it up. I'll at least buy the idea of a tunnel being built under a home if it was handled more plausibly.
BonsaiForest
I'd argue the thieves should have been present in person earlier and been more dangerous. It'd make a nice contrast from idyllic suburban kid to fun to suddenly turning more serious and scary. The kids didn't feel like they were in any danger during this.
Tuckerscreator
Good point, Tuckerscreator. The closest we got to the feeling of danger was the boat scene (which is entirely the kids' own fault for being dumbasses). The bullies were more of a threat than the kidnappers were. And that's taking into account what happened to poor Amanda, which isn't something the heroes ever had to experience.

So the threats we got were:

  • The bullies
  • Amanda's big brother, Jeffrey
  • The dangerous storm on the river while they ride the inflatable boat
  • The actual bad guys

And yet, despite Amanda's ordeal, the actual bad guys feel like a more abstract concept than a real upfront threat. The river scene was killed through awful writing. Well, the whole story was, but honestly, the suburban mean people feel like the biggest threat in the story.
BonsaiForest
Here's an idea that might spice up the story a bit: The kids discover the buried jewels before they learn about any thieves. I think that would make it more believable that they would conclude that these jewels don't belong to anyone. (Maybe you could work the pirate theme back into the story by making Billy or Hank obsessed with pirates—and he convinces the others that this must be buried pirate treasure!)

Only after hauling the loot back to his garage does Archie hear about the thieves. He puts two and two together immediately—and realizes that he's in big trouble. The thieves might know who he is, and that he has their loot. But if he goes to the police, the police might decide that he's the thief, since he has all the stolen jewels! (A mistake on Archie's part, but a believable mistake, I think.) Archie has to sneak back to thieves' base again, either to gather more incriminating evidence, or to return the jewels.

And if the thieves aren't idiots, then they've beefed up their security since Archie stole their loot... or it's a trap, and Archie winds up captured.
MetaFour
I love all these ideas! They'd really improve the story a lot. Having only Billy or Hank be into pirates would be one thing to differentiate their personalities.

Instead of Archie rescuing Amanda, him getting captured would add the story some much needed genuine threat to the protagonists that it was lacking.

I think these ideas would do great to change the flow of the story into something workable, while keeping its main elements. Ziggy and Huie would presumably become more regular bullies, and I wonder what would happen to the subplot with Amanda, Janet, Cindy, and Jeffrey.
BonsaiForest (edited by: BonsaiForest)
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