Wednesday, August 27, 2008

#17 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Pieces of Mind
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

Blind dates were the work of the devil, and Presley Gordon's best friend was the devil's apprentice. Oh, she might look innocent enough with those soulful eyes and that gentle demeanor, but Presley knew better.

Lori Meade was the antithesis of innocence when she was on a mission.

She was a demon, pure and simple. A demon with one thing on her devious little mind. Achieving her goal no matter the obstacle presented to her. And for the past six months – ever since she'd entered into a world of perpetual bliss with those fateful words, "I do" – her mission was to pair up all of her single friends so they, too, could live an idyllic life with their soul mate.

It didn't matter if they were on a different path than hers, opting for single-hood over coupledom. Nor did it matter if they had moral objections to swapping dating war stories with an equally dysfunctional stranger. Once Lori set her mind to something, there was virtually no stopping her.

Unfortunately for Presley, she was at the top of Lori's list of friends in need of partners.

Along with the "perfect guy" she was to meet that night for dinner and drinks at a new restaurant called "Le Bistro."

Well, that was two strikes against him already, Presley thought as she re-checked her makeup in the rearview mirror of her Prius.


  1. I'd definitely read on. This read really smoothly and had energy. My only quibble was with the name Presley - I thought it was a male character until two thirds of the way through the page so it was jarring to find out he was a she. It's a cool name, but maybe you should get the gender established right up front so the reader isn't confused. All in all though a very good entry.

  2. Not for me. The first sentence is really good, but then it quickly falls from one small cliche to another; the demon bit, the married girl who wants to hook up her friends, Presley being at the top of the list, the horror of blind dating, the "two strikes" because of the choice of restaurant... Sorry.

  3. I'd keep reading. I think you overdid the whole devil/demon thing though. The first paragraph was okay, but to continue on calling her a demon two or three times after calling her the devil's apprentice, etc is a bit much. But overall I liked the tone and would turn the page. :)

  4. I agree with serenissima and would read on too, and I certainly don't think it's cliched. Good writing overcomes any cliche on the first page throughout the whole story or whatever. Telling a story about the horrors of being set up on a blind date will always be interesting if the story's told well!

    Anwyay, I do have a few quibbles...

    I thought Presley was a male character too, so if you don't want to change the name, you can knock that problem out of the way with the opening sentence i.e. Presley hated her friends for setting her upon blind dates (I'm sure you can come up with something a little more eloquent, but you get the point).

    Also, the opening paragraph needs Lori's name as the subject. Otherwise it's ever-so-slightly disconnected between the opening and the, "Lori Meade was the antithesis...". Placing the word Lori right after "best friend" in the opening sentence keeps it all connected.

    The first three sentences of the third paragraph (demon stuff) showcase your writing skill but they're unnecessary and they hinder the opening. Cut them all.

    The 2nd-to-last sentence that begins "Along with the perfect guy" is an awkward standalone sentence. Rework it to fit better with the sentence before or after it.

    Despite my quibbles I would keep reading. It flows well and you've got a tight, clean voice. Good work.

  5. Wait... Presley is a girl?

    No- One, I'm confused by the ambiguous gender names.

    Two, this story has been done to death. Jane Austen write this, before her someone else probably wrote in Latin. Somewhere there is probably a pyramid with this story illustrated in glyphs.

    It isn't original and the character is not engaging enough for me to want to read a known story all over agin.

  6. Forgive me for my rant against Just_me (or anyone else who uses the words original or unoriginal in their crits on this blog).

    There is NO such thing as originality in fiction writing. Everything any writer writes today has been done before. A thousand times before. Shakespeare was the last original writer and some of his stuff borrows from Virgil and Homer!

    Not a single writer in the 20th century or 21st century wrote something completely original so can we all agree to retire this as a critique? Talented writers can write a book FULL of cliches or rewrite an old story and get away with it (in fact, they ALL do it).

    It's never about originality as much as it's about the writing, the voice or the slightly different slant the writer takes on the genre.

    Finally, to critique one of these posts and claim an entire manuscript is totally unoriginal by judging the FIRST PAGE is ludicrous.

    Thank you... rant over.

  7. This was delightfully voicey, well executed, and I can see readers reclining with this smelling like sunscreen and rum. Although I can tell this is not for me as far as my list is concerned, I would highly recommend you sneak a peak at the previous SA’s contact info and pop off a query to her. If she loves it, she is very good with this type of humorous women’s fiction, and has the stack of contracts to prove it! Keep at it!

  8. I thought it was a bit confusing, but I liked where the story was going...EVERYBODY has blind-date horror stories, so the reader should be able to relate.

    As for cliches...touchy subject!
    I was told in the FIRST "Hook" contest that I had too many...I whole-heartedly agreed.

    Now in real life, I am a walking cliche-spewer...most people are. We spout out the same tired lines till a new one strikes our fancy.

    I have read some books that were chocked full of cliches, some made me groan and roll my eyes, some made me giggle, and some I related to on a personal level.

    And then we have that whopping 250's just that, 250 words. It's hard to put enough detail, and yet not confuse the reader with such a small amount of text.

    I think everybody that is taking their time to give crits is ONLY trying to be helpful, and sure, opinions will vary. I say the writer takes what resonates, and moves on to make their work stronger!

    We should all agree to disagree, as we all have such varying tastes, backgrounds, and writing styles.

    :) Terri

  9. I really enjoyed this and I'm pretty tough to please. 8^) Presley being a girl was a bit jarring, but I got over it. I didn't find anything cliche and I loved the voice. Nice job!

  10. I quibbled about the name "Presley" too, only because it brought on mental images of Elvis. :O

    And I'm not sure if I get the "two strikes against him" thing at the end.

    I'm not sure if I like Presley enough to read on... I mean, if she's set on singlehood, why did she agree to a blind date? She just sounds like a contradiction by the end when she's fussing over her makeup.

  11. I liked the light friendly start - you can tell that Presley is very fond of her friend even tho she calls her a demon. I'm generally am a mystery/suspense/thriller type, but I like the occassional story that's more fun than serious. I'd pick this one up.

  12. This is good...strong voice. It's just not my cup of tea. I'm not hooked only because I couldn't get into it, which has very, very little to do with the writing.

  13. Sorry, but I wasn't hooked. There was so much internal monologuing and nothing really happening in the here and now, that I lost interest by the end of the selection. Sorry.

  14. I thought this was extremely well executed, and just plain charming. If I was being super picky, I'd say the second paragraph of the demon analogy was a bit much. I thought it was perfect on the first go and was ready for you to move on to another quirk of humor by the next graph.

    Really fun voice though! I wish you all the best with this.

  15. I agree, I liked your voice, and I would read on to see what happened with the date. Great job! :D

  16. Sorry not my thing.

    I can't read Jane Austen either, as I find it hard to care about who marries who, or how.

    Agree with the merging (or cutting) of the third para demon/devil thing. It's over done, don't ruin your joke by overworking it.

    Not that my opinion counts for much... but good luck anyway.

    And just a comment on the cliche thing: so long as it's a new take on old idea you're fine. Many people like to know what they're getting, yet they also want to be pleasantly surprised.

    Me: I don't want to read the same story again - even if your is better than the one I read before, so I'm somewhat in sympathy with Just_me. I avoid cliches "like the plague".

    (sorry, couldn't help myself)

    Good luck!

  17. You soooo have me! Hook, line, and sinker! Great opening. Can't say more.

  18. Not my thing.

    But, it has a very strong voice, and a confident direction of plot. Well done.

  19. Take everything I say with a grain (or handful) of salt because I am not a fan of chick lit (or anything else you want to label it today).

    I'll add my voice to those who have said they were cofused about Presley's gender. While you definitely have a distinct voice, it seemed like I had seen all of this a thousand times before and I just wasn't interested enough to read on. Maybe if there were less cliche's at least on the first page, I might feel differently. If it was that Blind Dates Are Hell + Newly Married Best Friend thinks everyone should be in a relationship + The Guy must be a loser because it's a first date. Maybe if you focused on one or two, my mind might be changed.

  20. I'm hooked. The name Presley tripped me up a bit, but it's not that big a deal. I did find myself wondering what the second strike against her blind date was (the first, I'm assuming, being that he was picked out by her best friend)?