Wednesday, August 27, 2008

#9 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

Title: Not What She Seems
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Emily's back ached from lugging the suitcases up from the car. She wasn't going to tell Richard that though. He'd harp on her about being ungrateful that he'd gotten a hotel room instead of making them sleep in the car again.

Richard opened the hotel room door and walked in, leaving Emily to catch it before it slammed in her face. Connor clutched at her sweat pants.

"Sweetheart, let go so I can get your toothbrush. It's past your bedtime." She closed her eyes and put her hand to her forehead. "My purse is in the car."

"So? You don't have no cash," Richard said as he kicked off his shoes and sat on the bed closest to the television. "You and the kid get the bed by the air conditioner. The noise will keep me up all night."

"Connor's toothbrush is in my purse," Emily said.

"He can skip it tonight."

Frustration built up inside her. "And will you be the one taking him to the dentist when he gets a tooth ache?"

Richard scowled, his long blonde hair hanging in his face. "Well, go get it then. Here's the key card." He tossed it in her direction. "And take the kid with you."

She took Connor's hand, leading him out to the hallway. He perked up as soon as Richard was out of sight. "Can I go push the elevator button, Mommy?"


Connor took off down the hallway.


  1. Richard sounds like a jerk, and I think that's what your conveying, but I'm not drawn to the MC either because of her willingness to take his crap.

    This is a strong scene, and I think I'd read on, but I'd embellish (to the extreme) the MC's irritation toward Richard.

    It would make her more likeable, I think.

  2. Well since I've read the whole novel - its tricky for me to comment because I know the background to these characters.
    I like the first paragraph. Instant sympathy for Emily and disdain for Richard.
    I got that Emily and Connor followed Richard but I didn't understand why she then mentioned the toothbrush and then the purse. It felt a bit odd to me. I know you go on to say that the toothbrush is in the purse but it adds complication where its not needed IMO.
    You do set up the question - why the hell is she with this guy - well. But since I know the story - I have to wonder why she doesn't just take the car and run. Or can't she drive?

  3. There were a few things that I found confusing about this opening. In the first sentence you say that she lugged the suitcases up from the car, so I thought that meant she'd climbed stairs, but later they're waiting for the elevator. Also, if she has suitcases, why isn't the toothbrush in them? Why is it in her purse, unless she's using it as a ruse to get the car keys (which reading the comment from FLICK I see is not the case). Unfortunately these pulled me out of the story, more than they left me wanting to know more (but I do understand that everything might be addressed in the next 250 words, and that this impression might be the result of the truncated nature of the posting).

  4. This is compelling, so I'd say I'm almost hooked. It felt a bit contrived, though, when Emily says her purse is in the car and it has the boy's toothbrush. For one thing, I find it odd she'd leave her purse behind in the first place. Considering her relationship with Richard, I'd think she'd cling to such a personal possession that likely contains her identity.

  5. Although this is well written, I didn't feel like the tenseness of the situation was conveyed with enough intensity. I don't think it would be difficult to fix, but if the whole novel has the same problem...well, hopefully not!

  6. Hmmm, this one was a miss for me, as the opening just didn’t grab me. There is something weird going on about dragging suitcases up the stairs but then taking the elevator and I thought the purse in the car was a set up so she could leave this icky guy she is with. What is everyone’s relationship? In the end, this opening wasn’t as crisp as would need be to truly stand out in a pile.

  7. No- unless the back of the book promises that Richard dies in the next three pages I'm not interested in reading about an abused wife.

  8. Why didn't they take the elevator up?

    I also agree with everyone about the purse. It seems like she purposefully left it in the car, which is odd. Did you maybe trim out a bit where she realizes she left it behind?

    I think if I wasn't so distracted with these little things, I would totally be hooked.

  9. I'd say no on this one. Richard simply annoyed me too much to want to read anymore. And I really felt no connection to Emily yet to sympathize with her. No woman leaves her purse behind unless it was an excuse to leave, but there was no indication that was the reason.
    Good luck.

  10. Not enough happens for me. With suspense, I feel like a certain mood should be established early on, with something heavy hanging over everyone's head.

    I just didn't feel that.

  11. Yes... :)

    Again, this is cheating, since I've read a bulk of this already. And I like this<:

    Putting my nitpick hat on, I think maybe there could be some editing in spots -

    Why did the hotel room door slam in her face? They don't normally have springs/coil-thingies.

    Maybe more description of what she sees and feels as she steps into the room. Maybe the walls closing in...

    And have her look over at Richard and give us something to think about him besides his oafish behavior here. Give us a hint why she's not in a hurry to run away. :)

  12. I'd give this a tentative yes. I'd at least read to the end of the chapter to see if Emily would do something daring and plot-driven.

  13. I read this story, too, so I can cheat. I think you can deduct from the comments that this may not be the best opening for your story. I'd say open with Steven running into Emily at that hotel. Just my opinion.