Wednesday, October 14, 2009

6 Secret Agent

TITLE: Perfection Bytes
GENRE: Commercial fiction

The day I first met the genie began as the worst day at work ever, not counting the time I’d waltzed into office wearing a transparent shirt without a slip underneath it. That had been an accident, of course.

On the Monday morning in question, I swiped in at the reception early (ten am, the break of dawn by my standards), and ran headlong into a hulking colleague. A flash of sky-blue was all I caught before my head thunked his formidable chest and my tanned leather tote slipped down onto the marble floor of the lobby.

‘Ow!’ I said, massaging my forehead, as I stooped to retrieve my bag.

‘Oh, Nilisha. Did I trip you? I’m so sorry!’

I knew that voice. It grated on my nerves. ‘Get lost, Vik!’

‘So, have you started preparing closure documents for Project Armada?’

He lit up a cigarette right there in the lobby, five feet away from the ‘No Smoking’ sign.

‘No, why would I? It hasn’t even gone for UAT yet. Priya and her team are hard at system testing still.’

‘Oh!’ he said, creasing his lips into a fake smile. ‘Sorry, I thought you knew.’

‘Knew what?’

‘Nothing,’ he said. ‘See ya!’

He ambled out, winking back at Shirin the receptionist as he passed. What was he talking about? How could Armada close? The users hadn’t even set eyes on it.

Shirin said, ‘Nilisha, Ajay was looking for you.’

‘Oh god, what is it now?’


  1. I like your description of Vik. I used to work with him! The dialogue is good, but I don't have a clue what they are talking about, which I'm sure is explained later in the story.

    The smoking five feet from the no smoking sign is a good touch. Says a lot about the guy.

    I like the voice and would read on to see what happens.

  2. A genie? I'm hooked! Great voice and descriptions (smoking sign).

    Just a few things.

    A flash of sky-blue? I thought she was in the building?

    Tanned leather tote? One adjective would be fine.

    I would read on.

    Good job!

  3. I agree with the above comments, particularly about not understanding what is going on. Not great to be confused in the first 250 words. Is there a way to explain this without too much backstory? Interesting names, also. Best of luck!

  4. Like that your character is NOT a morning person. I relate to her instantly.

    Two sentences sum up that Vik is a jerk- love that no smoking by the smoking sign.

    There is a lot of world-built jargon. Could help if those are clarified, but then again in the first 250 words...

    I like the title, play on words.

  5. While I enjoyed the way you introduced us to your characters without just saying "Vik's a jerk", I don't think I'd read more. And I think it's because I have no idea what a UAT is. :) Good luck!

  6. Okay, I understood all the tech jargon, but can see where this would lose anyone not directly in the industry -- seems to work for thrillers and sci fi, but maybe not in woman's contemporary.
    I loved everything about this, from the characters to the fact that there's a genie coming up. Would love to read more

  7. There wasn't enough here to grab me. I like the idea of the Genie, but I would have also liked to have had a hint of it, or magic or something that said things weren't going to be quite normal.

    If your genie is going to be a typical genie in that it grants wishes, maybe you could slip in a sentence using that word. I wished Vik would drop dead, or something. Just getting in the word could tie all your paragraphs closer to your opening paragraph where you mention the Genie, and give us that sense that something starnge or different was going to happen.

  8. Characters are intriguing. Love how you say a lot about them without coming out and directly telling us (Vik smoking by the 'No Smoking' sign, Nilisha thinking 10am is early). Was confused by the jargon, but might read a bit further because of the excellent characterizations.

  9. Nice voice and characters. I, too, did not know their business jargon. Still, I would read more to see what happens with the genie.

  10. Sorry, but needs more genie and less Vik. Not sure what kind of name that is. Are we on another planet? Too much dialogue that doesn't advance the plot.

  11. too much jargon, names, projects, people, etc in this opening. I gave up part-way through. And I'm throughly confused by the timeline. Are we in one long recounting of the genie-meeting-day? Or is this the transparent shirt day? And what does "swiped in at the reception" mean? Did she swipe a *card* or herself?

  12. Blech. Smoking, obnoxious jerk. Doesn't do anything for me. Sorry, not hooked at all.

  13. I like Nilisha's voice and personality, but I had a hard time with the rest.

    The first paragraph offers promise with the genie, but to tell the truth, I quickly forgot about the genie as I struggled to understand the rest of this.

    I don't like the second half of the first sentence. It's a bit cliched to use the "worst ever... not counting.." kind of construction. Plus, in the very first sentence you are taking us OUT of the story into some random time in the past when something completely unimportant happened. You may be trying to show Nilisha's character but you should never do it at the expense of the story.

    Second paragraph, the "ten am" comment is cute and reveals character. "A flash of sky blue" makes no sense at all to the reader. What is she seeing that's blue? I really like the vibrant verbs here: swiped, thunked. Nice descriptions, too: hulking and formidable. Watch how many adverbs and adjectives you use in a sentence or paragraph though.

    I don't think it's a good idea to use this much technical jargon so early. You can introduce it more slowly so the reader has a chance to catch up.

    I can see that you're setting up some kind of business problem here, but I would say, the writing really needs to make me care very soon, or I will stop reading. It could easily become boring but it doesn't have to. We need to get back to the genie soon.

    I'd read a little more just to see.

  14. Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Thanks for the detailed critique, Secret Agent.

    To clarify a few points:
    UAT = User Acceptance Testing. Of course I’m going to work on rephrasing this to minimize the tech jargon.

    Re: a flash of sky-blue, I meant his shirt was sky-blue, which is all she glimpsed before running into him.

    Back to the drawing board for me!

  15. I agree with the above posters. Good voice, lots of strange names

    I just wanted to congratulate you on how you showed Vik as a jerk. I thought that was really nicely done.