Wednesday, August 19, 2009

31 Secret Agent

TITLE: Seriously, Sadie
GENRE: High-concept women's fiction

Bethany is stalking me outside my cubicle. She’s sauntering back and forth like a slinky tiger. Her shoes, sleek and shiny and sharp-toed, are like silky claws. The pointy heels dig into the bland blue-gray carpet.

As soon as I hang up the phone, Bethany plops down on my desk. “What is Jack doing here?” I point to his closed office door a few feet down the hall.

We just hired Jack as Vice President of our Product Management department a month ago. His nameplate isn’t even outside his office yet and his family is still living in New Hampshire. They’re having a hard time selling their house since the economy is worth shit right about now. He works from home mostly and comes to Chicago here and there.

“Sadie, you can’t tell anyone,” Bethany says, her eyes wide as she leans into me. “I’ve been waiting for you to get off the phone forever.”

Bethany works in MarComm, which is short for Marketing Communications. She’s not super busy and has loads of time to hang around my cube. I’m a Product Manager, and I’m in charge of setting the vision for our online software tool. My job requires me to go to a lot of meetings where I make decisions on product updates and keep tabs on the development team. This requires giving direction, which I love, but not giving performance reviews, which I imagine I would hate. Who wants to say bad things about someone to their face?


  1. Wow. The slinky and sleek and shiny and silky made me feel like I was reading a tongue twister. LOL!

    I'd recommend finding a different opening paragraph...something that's more interesting than four sentences about somebody's walking.

    And why does she point to his door when Bethany asks her question?

    Does Bethany really "lean into" aka: lean against her?

    FYI...agents say that first-person present tense is a REALLY hard sell. I think it's because backstory sections (like paragraphs #3 & #5) really stand out, even more than third person and/or past tense.

    Good luck!

  2. I'm sorry...

    As I mentioned earlier, I normally don't have a problem with present tense. Here though it seems rough and distracting. Also there is something rough about the pov as well.

  3. It's not immediately apparent who's speaking in the second 'graph -- I had to re-read it to be sure. The last 'graph felt like a job description -- way too much information about the job, way too soon. My suggestion would be to introduce this level of detail in a different way, maybe through conversation or through showing it (interaction among characters).

  4. Not hooked: Who was talking in the second paragraph? Also a lot of telling that dragged down the flow of the narrative.

  5. I like the voice, very chatty and relaxed. It feels very Rom Com to me, which I love. I'm curious why Jack is there, but I think some of the details, backstory could be sprinkled in later, to launch us into the story faster.
    However, like I said - I really liked the voice. I'd keep reading!

  6. I love the feline imagery at the beginning. Everyone knows someone like Bethany (I can almost smell the over-powering spicy perfume! lol) I love alliteration and it works really well here. And I like the mystery of 'Jack' behind the closed door. Whatever he is, he is going to be complicated, and he's going to stir up the office dynamics regardless of how much time he spends working from home.

    I think the last chapter has a lot of information that could perhaps be dispersed a little later in the chapter. But the thing with having only 250 words to hook a reader is you're tempted to pack as much in as possible! It's so hard! I'd like to hear the two women talking some more. They come across as opposites and that's perfect for witty dialogue. Maybe Bethany could give Jack's background then? Or wheedle Sadie for more info? Or ask Sadie about what kind of performance review she's giving someone they both know?

    It's realistic and fun and it's already established three characters in the first couple of paragraphs.

    I'm hooked!

    Good Luck!

  7. This is well written but I found it difficult to get hooked, mainly due to all of the titles, job descriptions, etc., which seemed more like clutter. Even so, this is a writer with a great voice and style, so good job despite my inability to feel hooked!

  8. I'm not hooked. The first and last paragraphs were really dull to me. A lot of that back story could be worked in later on because we don't really need to know all the details Sadie's job right now, do we? And the first sentence tells us all we really need to know. It sort of makes the next three sentences seem repetitive. But the middle paragraphs were good and I'd definitely read another few pages.

  9. This is a lot of backstory about job descriptions. Get a juicy emotional component going first. It's obvious you can write well and wittily. Just get the 'hook'part going faster!

  10. At the outset, this idea doesn't feel different or unique enough, and I'm concerned it might veer into chicklit. I also had some trouble with the six S-words in the second line. Too much! I'm afraid I wouldn't keep reading.

  11. Thanks everyone for all the great feedback! This has been a very helpful process and I've learned so much. And special thanks to the Secret Agent for taking the time to participate!

  12. The s words sort of distracted me as well, I'm afraid. And a little too much infodump as well. On the other hand, I definitely liked your voice in this, so I might read on a bit further to see where it went.

  13. Cut the first paragraph. It overuses similes, is hard to read, and distracts us from the rest of the story--and the focus character.

    There's too much backstory breaking up the current story here.

    Not hooked.

  14. This didn't really interest me, from what I read here. It had too much backstory. It's hard to tell without knowing the story, but I'd cut the third and fifth paragraphs.