Wednesday, August 27, 2008

#20 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Unlawful Persuasion
GENRE: Thriller

Charles Franklin Wright always liked firsts. During the first minute of the first day of his first term as President, as he first sat in that big leather chair, which accompanied the Resolute desk on the edge of that historic room, Charles found himself uncharacteristically overcome with utter feelings of awe and reverence.

One minute later, the sensation wore off, and Charles became the first person to desecrate that illustrious political office on the very same day that he swore to honor and uphold its integrity. He did so by blackmailing two Senators, three Congressmen, and a lobbyist into championing his first piece of legislation using illicit information acquired surreptitiously during his first term at the CIA.

President Wright was certainly a man who loved firsts, and of being first, in particular. But this day was different. This was his last day in that chair, and in that office, and in that job, and his early departure was one that was completely unplanned, and totally unforeseen. The reasons for his resignation were a first for the record books, yet this was one first he neither wanted nor relished.

Now, as he slumped into that big leather chair which was no longer his, these last few regretful minutes begrudgingly borrowed, he began scouring with tired eyes that picturesque, oval-shaped room seeking to capture one final indelible memory.

He didn't dare turn on a television, radio, or even open a newspaper; that would be too painful.


  1. I'm not sure, but I think you have a tense issue here. i had to read twice to understand that the first two paragraphs referred to a distant past. I think those paragraphs need to be in past perfect. Once i got past that, I actually really liked this. I would read on, yes.

  2. Well, sorry, no.

  3. Cate, if your not one already, I would highly suggest that you consider becoming a literary agent.

    The ability to generate terse, vague responses to writers hopeful submissions is all that's required. ;)

  4. Possibly.... I think this is a good lead in but I want to get to the action quick. I'm hooked enough from this piece that I would turn the page, but you've got to do something fast to make me buy the book.

  5. It took me a second to realize the opening section was in the past and today was his last day. Also, I can appreciate the establishing decree that he loves firsts, but the word first was just overused. But you have something here and the things that snagged my eye are easily remedied….I would read on just to see where this goes hoping that going back and tweaking the opening would be the biggest issue.

  6. *gasps in horror at the length of the first sentence* I do like that first sentence, but it should really be chopped to pieces. And some of the others here too.

    I don't really know. It seems like this is geared towards making us feel sorry for this guy, because he's on his way out. But going by the second paragraph, he reminded me of a couple real presidents who I REALLY DIDN'T LIKE.

    Also, I thought that he wouldn't personally do the blackmailing, but a group of his advisers would probably do all of that for him. He wouldn't HAVE to be part of the CIA. He could just have a former (and crooked) member of the CIA on his team.

    I'm not sure if you have a strong hook here.

  7. Sorry, but nothing really grabbed me (except that he likes 'firsts'.

  8. I'm actually intrigued. Yes, there's a lot of Telling, but I think it works in this sense. And I have a real weakness for bastard characters, and Charles seems to fit the bill nicely!

  9. I understand why you're doing it, but so many 'firsts' were really annoying to me. I think I would rework that. I also had trouble with the timeline. I think if you started with him on his last day in office, and went from there, I might be more hooked.

  10. Sorry no.

    That first sentence is too long and self-conscious. The repetition of firsts was a bit much for me too.

    I really liked the second para. It was punchy and funny, and the fourth follows this up well, but I found the para starting "Now, as he slumped..." over-written, and thought you could sharpen it up.

    I thought you did well to cover the rise and demise of the character in one page, but I too was confused about the "now" being the end of his presidency.

    Anyway it does look like it could be an interesting story, so good luck.

  11. Thanks, Rick. :)
    I was trying to come up with something constructive, but I felt I was just being mean.
    I really didn't like this at all. I thought I would just throw in a "nay" vote, since I couldn't be particularly helpful. It might just be my taste.

    Plus the question is, "Are you hooked?" the answer, No.

  12. I'd keep reading. I want to know why he's leaving office. Did he get caught? One thing though, more showing, less telling.
    But yeah. I'm almost hooked.

  13. I'd say this is a maybe for me.

    I'd whittle down the "firsts," and I'd make the whole part set in the past shorter and more succinct. I'd also rethink having him in the CIA -- that pushes the boundaries on my suspension of disbelief.

    The voice is good, though, and I'd want to read on to see what the plot was.

  14. A thriller with a corrupt President as the MC makes me want to read more.

    But, this opening does not. That he liked firsts, became extraneous and repetetive after the first para, and really wanted the story to get to the action.

    The voice is good (not melodramatic or overly remeniscent,) so I feel like this is a thriller that won't get too bogged down or slow.

    So, premise; hooked. First 250; not hooked, needs more work.

  15. Yes, I would definitely read on. I agree with lori, I don't mind the telling. Quite frankly, I think telling a story is often the best way to write it, and I don't agree with the taboo that has seemed to grow up about it. I agree with some of the other constructive ideas, too. I would cut down on the number of firsts slightly and shorten the first sentence. I am hooked.

  16. I'm hooked, despite a few hang ups. I too had an issue with the tense in the very beginning and didn't immediately realize all the "first" bits had taken place a while ago and this was actually his last day. I was amused by the character, though, and I'd want to find out a little more about why he's leaving office.

  17. I very much like your opening. It's great the way you let us think this is so great and wonderful and then one minute later it all goes pear shaped. But it was spoilt a little by the fact that all the bad things he did that day, were not done in the minute. Maybe - it wore off in that minute because he knew he had to desecrate his political office? But the set up - I like.

    Then it's his last day and its another doozy and it makes perfect sense to me that you've taken a jump in time. I don't see a problem there. But I'm not drawn in to know why he's had to resign - though that's probably because I'm not very keen on political thrillers. Sorry! Still, I think its well crafted and nicely written.