Thursday, November 13, 2008

38 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?



Getting away was easier than she thought. She put the kids in the back seat and headed west on Interstate-Ten. As the Houston skyline receded, Rene took a deep breath and let it out slowly, her damp hands gripping the steering wheel.

Glancing in the rear view mirror, she flashed a nervous smile at her daughter. Sara chanted in a little sing-song voice. Rene couldn’t hear the words but it involved some sort of finger play. The sweet, pure tone wafted to the front seat to compete with the hum of the air conditioner.

Seth was another matter. Grim best described his mood. His brows were knit and his form of finger play involved biting them until they were pink and ragged. He kept turning in his seat to peer out the back window as though searching for signs of impending doom. Too much pain for a seven-year old who had suffered too much already.

I should have done this a long time ago. Maybe he won’t follow.

Rene glanced in the rear-view mirror again, this time scanning the highway ribboning out behind them. She bit her lower lip.

Maybe hell’s frozen over.

“Are you kids hungry?” She forced a note of gaiety into her voice.

Sara clapped her hands with glee. Seth remained silent. Poor kid. This took a long time in coming but it was happening too fast for him.

Rene changed lanes, checking her mirrors for a dark blue Lexus.

He probably doesn’t know we’re gone yet.


  1. Good job so far!

    Keep it up! :)

  2. I'd definitely keep reading. One nitpick: I think I-10 or Interstate 10 looks better than spelling it out.
    Great job.

  3. I agree with ac about I-10.

    I'm also a little uneasy about
    "until they were pink and ragged." It conjures visions that this kid is actually gnawing off the tips of his fingers.

    "Until they were pink and his nails ragged" might be better. I don't know. It might just be me too.

    I'd definitely keep reading, though. Good job.

  4. I'd keep reading!

    My favorite line was "...too much pain for a seven year old who had suffered too much already." This promises an interesting backstory.

    Loved the contrast of her daughter's sing-song voice to the panic that the MC is feeling. The note of "forced gaitey" in the MC's voice when dealing with the kids gives great attention to detail.

    Yum! Good luck.

  5. I liked this. You've got me nervous and boy do I feel for little Seth.

  6. Awesome! Nice work - I'm hooked.

    I imagine that this is an abused wife taking the kids and running. You put a woman and children in danger right off the bat, and drew them convincingly.

  7. Great job. I like how each of your characters felt distinct. I'd keep reading.

  8. Good writing. I have a hard time reading suspense where children are involved so I might not read on but I think it promises to be an interesting story.

  9. Awesome! I'm hooked. Excellent job.

  10. I agree about I-10 (plus I'm from Texas and never hear anyone call it by its full name!(: ), but I definitely would keep reading! You do a great job with keeping tension high.

  11. The action has already happened—Rene left a bad situation and this is just the drive away, thinking about the bad things. Not much happens here plot-wise; it’s just Rene reflecting on plot points that have already happened and then thinking about her kids. It might be more interesting for your reader to actually see Rene escaping the situation, rather than hearing about it after-the-fact.

  12. I'm hooked. I'm also from Texas, and I've never called it interstate :P

    While I love the line "...too much pain for a seven year old who had suffered too much already."

    "too much" is .... too much to be said twice. Maybe "...too much pain for a seven year old who had suffered a lot already." or you know, something else. I don't read this type of genre, but it's solid writing with solid characters.

  13. Thanks for all the great comments. I wasn't sure about the I-10 thing; chose to spell it out, but I was apparently wrong. Thanks for calling it to my attention.
    And, Lori, I had actually written the opening starting farther back in the story, but a major editor told me to start it on the road because Rene's leaving is the inciting incident and to feed the rest in as backstory. Like a kaleidoscope...manuscripts change

  14. Oooh! Woman in danger, with kids yet. I'm hooked! You told us a lot about the family dynamics right up front. It seems that the mom is used to putting on a front for the kids. I'm pulling for her already.

  15. I'm definitely interested in learning more about this family and why they are running. I'd like to get a better clue of how old Sara is, maybe by mentioning her car seat or booster seat would give up an approx age. Some of the internal thoughts should be in italics or underlined, but it wasn't distracting. I'm hooked.

  16. Very nice opening! I disagree that this isn't action. I think there is clear action here: she is putting her life in jeopardy doing this, and the suspense is thick from the first sentence.

    The only thing that pulled me out was the sentence:"Grim best described his mood." The order of words seemed very awkward. Otherwise, I really liked it.

  17. I think this does a great job of ratcheting up the tension, and makes me want to read more. I would be careful of one thing, however. A lot of writers have a tendency to think that every noun needs a modifier. This isn't true; spare is better in many cases.