Wednesday, October 14, 2009

5 Secret Agent

TITLE: Misconception
GENRE: Women's Fiction

“I’m sorry,” I say into the receiver the morning the nurse calls. The boys are running through the house, chasing the puppy, screaming at the top of their lungs with a dog toy chirping in each of their hands. “I didn’t hear you.” They pass through the kitchen and up the stairs, where, coincidentally, the puppy isn’t allowed to go. “It’s mass chaos here. For a second I thought you said I was pregnant.”

There is a pause on the other end of the line, just a slight hesitation, but enough to tell me I heard right. “I did say you’re pregnant, Mrs. Kelly. Just got the labs back this morning. Six weeks along.”

Suddenly the noise disappears, like it had been swallowed into a vacuum and the only sound is the buzzing in my head. “Wait…,” I struggle to get the power of speech back. “That can’t be right. My husband’s had a vasectomy.”

“I’ve seen it happen before. You two didn’t follow the doctor’s orders and use condoms until they could test and make sure it’d worked.”

“I’m sorry, nurse…”

“Butler. Betty Butler.”

“Nurse Butler, my husband had a vasectomy three years ago.”

The silence on the other end of the line isn’t just a hesitation. No, it’s more like a cavern of deep contemplation. “Oh…”

“Listen, there has to be some kind of mistake. I know I haven’t been feeling quite right, but I’m not pregnant.” I don’t know if I’m trying to convince her or me.


  1. This has me hooked. I like the voice and think you did a good job of setting the scene without going into to much detail. Anyone who had ever lived the chaos of small children underfoot while on the phone will know it was dead on. I thought the imagery of the noise being sucked away when the nurse says the MC is pregnant was good.

    I would definitely read on to see if she'd had an affair, been impregnated by aliens, or what!

  2. Oops! She's got some explaining to do.

    Good description of the noise in the house while trying to talk to the nurse.

    I'd read on.

  3. Hooked! I definitely would read on. Ms. Kelly is in trouble!

    Just a few things caught my attention.

    I would remove suddenly in the third paragraph.

    Instead of telling us "the silence on the other end...." show us. Maybe Ms. Kelly could hear Nurse Butler breathing or static on the line.

    Great job!

  4. I'm hooked.

    Love the set up of the hectic household, felt like I was at home.

    The title is great based upon what I've read so far.

    Loved how it was a tornado of household activity and then all of it was sucked into a vacuum, was very effective.

    Can't wait to find out how, why, or by whom or what she became pregnant.

  5. Hooked. But maybe only until I found out how she'd gotten pregnant. I like the idea of aliens but you'd lose me very quickly if she was cheating. But, overall, I'd read on. Well done.

  6. Wow! I'm hooked. I love the feeling of panic. You made me check to see if I took my pill today. :)

  7. Nice beginning! Great job showing her home life and setting up the problem.

    My only suggestion would be to personalize it more by having her speak to the nurse, rather than the phone, and have the nurse react, rather than the phone.

    Things like 'I say into the receiver' perhaps change to "I say to the nurse."

    Instead of a pause at the end of the line, the nurse pauses. Let the scene happen between people, rather than the MC and the phone.

  8. Voice seemed a little weird in the first paragraph, but as I read on, it smoothed out. By the end, I was completely hooked!
    Immaculate conception, perhaps?

  9. Hooked. The chaos of a house full of children and animals, and then the disappearance of sound as she zeros in on the words on the phone.

    Title is great, by the way!

  10. second sentence maybe break into two? don't need to tell the nurse it's chaos, because you show it.
    needs a hook to make it stand out.

    don't think nurse would say those things and insist on saying her whole name.

  11. Hooked for now. Love the description and flow despite the use of present tense. Present tense usually annoys me because it reminds me of cyber-sex, and I don't know if I could make it through a whole book written that way. If you keep the plot rolling and the MC sympathetic I think I could keep with you.

  12. Hooked. I like the writing and the story has interesting potential.

  13. Interesting premise, and your voice has me hooked! I love the description of chaos, and would read more. ^_^

  14. I'm definitely intrigued by this and would continue reading.

  15. This is a nice start. In a few brief paragraphs, you've captured this character. The reader can see and feel her situation - her house, her kids running around.

    It also sets up a bit of mystery about the pregnancy, but at this point it's too early to tell if it's going to remain a mystery for long, or if the circumstances of the pregnancy are even going to be what this book is about. I'd definitely read more to see.

    I have to admit I'm dying to know what happened, but unlike others, my mind doesn't immediately go to aliens or an affair. (An affair wouldn't make sense. If she had one, only five weeks ago, then a pregnancy would upset her but not surprise her. She wouldn't be so adamant about it being a mistake.)

    Instead I'm wondering - why is she SO sure she can't be pregnant? Most people have heard that vasectomies aren't foolproof. And I'm curious to know what the writer has in mind here.

    A few technical details about the writing. First sentence, definitely cut "the morning the nurse calls." Then I'd consider moving "I didn't hear you" up to right after "into the receiver." The paragraph would feel less choppy that way.

    Second paragraph begins in passive voice, "There is a pause..." You can probably cut "There is" and it would read nicely. Then also cut the word "but" in that sentence. By making tiny changes like this, you can smooth it out.

    This may be just me but when she said "Six weeks along" it struck me as strange. Blood tests don't tell the point in gestation, do they? I don't know.

    Next paragraph, delete "suddenly."

    The exchange where Betty tells her name can be deleted. It's cliche as well as unnecessary.

    Overall, a nice set-up and like I said, I really want to read on to see what's going on here.

  16. Just wait until Mr. Kelly gets home!

    Great title by the way, I love creative wordplay!

    Only one comment, I've heard many times that it's not the best tactic to start with dialogue. I wasn't really pulled in until the last line of the first paragraph. Maybe start with showing us the chaotic scene unfolding around Ms. Kelly? Just a suggestion.

  17. The title is great and the excerpt definitely hooked me. It reminded me of this film Crimes of Silence in which the heroine in a similar situation finds out her dentist drugged and raped her during a surgery.

  18. I'm intrigued and I bought the child induced chaos right away.

    I liked the way she dropped the clanger of the 3 year old vasectomy.

    Well done.

    I just want to comment how thorough the SA is this month. Critiques like that are like gold IMO Makes me wish I'd entered this month too.