Wednesday, October 14, 2009

39 Secret Agent

TITLE: That Guy, That Girl
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Remember That Guy in high school? The one who knew he looked good and used it to his advantage? The football jock who got the team to the championship and led them to victory? The guy whose biggest decision was to choose which “lucky” girl would get to do his homework? That Guy?

Okay. Now, remember That Girl on the honor roll? The mousy, intellectual editor of the high school paper? The slightly pudgy girl who didn’t go to school dances because nobody asked her?

That Girl was me, Jennifer Rainer Nichols—also known as “Brainer” in my formidable grade school years. And also running extremely late for a job interview.

And That Guy was Ryan Ridgeway, who just happened to be standing in front of me in line at Wal-Mart in Oxford, Mississippi.

He turned to his right to make a last-minute gum or mint selection. His sandy blond hair fell over his forehead, just like I remembered in high school. I bit my bottom lip. The years had been kind to him.

I mean, he looked good. He stood at about 6’3”, a polo shirt covering his broad shoulders. The image of him wearing his football uniform popped into mind, but flitted away when his green eyes flickered to mine.

I sucked in my breath. Did he know me?

His smile, while polite, was not one of recognition.


  1. I might be concerned that the two main characters seem more like types right now, but you have time to fill them out.

    I'm also puzzled about why Jennifer would be in line at Wal-Mart when she's running extremely late for a job interview.

    But overall, this does a good job of scene-setting, and has a pleasant tone. I'd keep reading.

  2. Too much like the movie - Never Been Kissed.

    Other than that I did want to read more.

  3. Moderately hooked, although the plethora of questions in the first two paragraphs kind of threw me off.

    I think it's a matter of excess: Every extra question diminishes the punch of the previous one/ones.

  4. I like the tone, but I agree that there are too many questions. Since you're painting in broad strokes, one will suffice.

    For "That Guy" why the differences in italics? In one both words are italicized, in another only one is. And "That Girl" is not italicized at all.

    I'd love to know why she's in the Wal-Mart, too, but it might come out in the next few paragraphs, and whether or not Oxford is their hometown. I'm semi-hooked.

  5. Sorry, not hooked. Feels just too cliche' of a story/plot. I thought the voice was okay, though.

  6. Nicely drawn scene, but didn't see anything special that would hook me. Too stereotypical, from the characters to the scene, although this could obviously change in the very next para we haven't had a chance to see.
    Good luck with this, you've certainly got the voice and talent to write a gripping scene that might have pulled me in with just a little something extra to either the characters or the situation

  7. The two paragraphs of questions were a definite turn-off for me. And the "that girl"/"that guy" aren't interesting yet.

    The most interesting part: why is she in Wal-Mart when she's late for an interview? Perhaps start there?

  8. Despite the stock characters and abundance of questions at the beginning the writing has a pleasant tone. Like this might be a fun, light-hearted romantic comedy. I'd think of some more unique ways to describe your characters at the outset.

    I'd keep reading to see what happens, it has a nice voice. Plus, I've never read any women's fiction from Mississippi so the setting is intriguing as well.

    Good luck.

  9. Also not hooked, sorry. Premise seems a bit too conventional, and the lead-in with the questions didn't do it for me--I'd rather be put in the scene first.

    But yeah, voice is good. If I could get a better sense about what makes this story and characters unique, I might read on.

  10. Totally hooked.

    I agree with the comments that there are too many questions that muddy it up. I like using "That guy" in italics with one salient detail, and "That girl" in italics with one salient detail (the "Brainer" nickname was really good).

    I would definitely read more of this.

  11. What's your story about? Right now, there's 'that' guy and 'this' girl and way too much description.

    Now, you're opening grabbed my attention . . . but you lost it quick enough also.

    Does Jennifer, years after high school obviously, still have a crush on him? If so, maybe start with something about that - what's she feeling when she sees him in line at the Walmart? Is her heart racing? Her palms sweating? Is she worried about her appearance? Is she surreptiously checking her reflection in one of the impulse buy mirrors at the check-out stand? Her breath?

    Put me inside Jennifer's head as she's suddenly staring at her high school crush, who she still has feelings for. : )

    Best of luck.


  12. I know That Guy and I was/am That Girl. If had recognized her in the checkout line, you would have lost me immediately!

    That being said, you'll have to be really careful not to fall into the stereotypes and cliches this storyline evokes.

    I like your voice and would read on.

  13. Agree with above: too many questions and I'm confused about the job interview and standing in line at Wal-Mart. Story borders on cliche, but your voice is good. I'd read further but I'm not too invested yet. Good luck!

  14. Agree, if putting that guy in italics, put that girl in italics.

    I loved Brainer twist on the Rainer name, that sounds so like what kids would do and still likely carry through to high school. Once you're labled one thing, it's hard to overcome that.

    So, I'm wondering is the MC still pudgy, or is she some knockout gorgeous person all of a sudden?
    I'm sure she'd drop dead now.

    I'm hooked on 6'3", broad shoulderd, green eyes. Make them aquamarine, and he's my first unrequited love of my life.

    I like that she's at Wal Mart and late for a job interview. It shows she's a mess, or not a morning person, or she's forgetful, or she broke a heel and Walmart was the closest place to get a shoe before heading to her interview. It sounds like something I would fall trap to. Then I'd be there pissed off at slow poke in front of me. Then I would notice he was hot and maybe my anger would cool off a bit. And then I would die and completely forget about my interview when I realized it was my long time crush. Unless I was desparate for the job, I may forgoe the thing and decide to play some head games with Mr. Hottie, since he didn't recognize me at all...

    I don't get so hung up on stereotypes or revisiting already told plots. I mean, there are no new ideas out there since people have been writing. Just how will this one be different, or at least what about the characters will trap me into the story? I'd read on to find out.

  15. Hooked. I like the voice and flow.

    However, I'm also concerned about the cliche plot.

    I'd definitely keep reading, hoping this offers me something different.

  16. I am hooked, though I agree with most of the above comments. I'll throw two more things in The sentence "And also running late for a job interview" seemd awkward and forced. It interrupted the flow and made me reread. I'd find a better way to insert the info.
    Also, "The years had been kind to him. I mean he looked good." I don't like it. It seems awkward and timid.
    Other thsn that and avoiding cliche' characters, I think it has promise.

  17. I think everyone else has spelled out my concerns: too many questions at the start, why is she in Wal-Mart when she's running so late, and it sounds a bit cliched. The first concern can be easily fixed, the second could be explained as the story progresses and the third will also depend on how the story progresses.

    I think you write well and I like your voice.

  18. The opening needs re-ordered.
    You need to answer the question after it's asked. Start with remember that girl, followed by " that Girl was me" then move onto "that guy" followed by he was "Ryan."

    That Guy looking good is cliche`. If he doesn't look good that's cliche` too because the idea itself is cliche`.

    This one where I don't think 150 words is enough to know whether it's good or not. But I do think you'd need to show us something new and interesting soon.

  19. For me to be hooked and continue through the 'telling' part of the first page, I'd have liked the image of the 6'3" guy at the beginning. It moves very slowly to me, almost like a whisper. I would probably continue but if the pace didn't pick up, I'd stop.

  20. I like the voice, but I'm really hoping for a unique twist to set the story apart. Also- do we really need the background right up front? Maybe "Ryan Ridgeway, ruler of such and such High happened to be standing in front of me...

  21. I wasn't wild about the opening full of questions, to be honest. But I think it has potential to be very cute. It's a fun way of introducing two character who might otherwise be your run-of-the-mill stock characters. I'm not totally hooked, but would probably read a few more pages. I'm curious to know what the twist is on the mousy-girl-gets-a-second-chance-with-the-jock story.

  22. The questions bothered me too, only becasue I hate it when the MC talks to the reader. I want my characters to stay in their own little world.

    Other than that, I thought you had a great voice and the writing worked.

    It's not compelling, but I'd probably read a few more pages to see if anything unusual happened that might get me involved.

  23. The writing has a nice quality to it so as long as the story takes an interesting turn, I might stay with it.

    A couple of suggestions: no need for the choice between "last-minute gum or mint selection." Choice one and see how much better it reads. Also "The years had been kind to him" is cliché.

    Good luck.

  24. If I opened this at the bookstore I'd read on to see what happened. It reads very smoothly and I like the informal tone. The voice seems very real, like a little anecdote I'm being let in on. Good job.

  25. This doesn’t feel like women’s fiction to me. In fact, the voice feels young and at first I thought this was a YA novel. If not, then I’d assume it must be romance. The voice is fun and casual and the tone is lighthearted. I like it.

    There are a lot of technical issues with the writing that prevent this from being really good. The first paragraph is too long—you probably need only two questions.

    I’d prefer a symmetry in your first four paragraphs. Right now it goes Guy-Girl-Girl-Guy. I’d prefer you make it parallel. That Guy-that girl, that guy, that girl. Or opposite, starting with That Girl.

    Third paragraph—running extremely late for a job interview is a bit confusing because up until that sentence, we have not been oriented in a time or place. I’d delete that sentence.

    It’s awkward to say “gum or mint selection.” Just use one or the other.

    You don’t need “I mean,” just dive in with “He looked good.”

    I’m not sensing a whole lot of originality here—for example, you could certainly find a more interesting location that WalMart—but if this were a breezy romance, it could possibly work. I’d read a little more.