Wednesday, November 4, 2009

24 Secret Agent

TITLE: Miranda
GENRE: Women's fiction

I loved the house, even before I knew what was in it. Maybe it was the simplicity of black and white. It wasn’t the cool shade of the huge pine trees in the yard, because they were everywhere in Southern Pines, just down the road from Pinehurst. Maybe it was just that I’ve always been a sucker for certain smells and the house had the smell of old wood and mystery. I couldn’t resist it. I’m not sure I could again, even now.

I don’t remember what I was thinking as we drove up to the house. I might have been thinking how marvelous it was to have air conditioning in the car. The sweltering heat of North Carolina in August had been a shock after the cool, rainy Northwest. Or maybe I was thinking about what I would do about dinner, or the other houses I had been looking at.

Whatever it was, it all went away as Nancy Parker, my real estate agent, whirled her black SUV into the gravel circular drive and threw it into park. I stared through the windshield at what appeared to be a historic mansion.

“Uh, how much did you say they were asking?” I managed.

Nancy cleared her gravelly smoker’s throat and pulled the listing out of her voluminous purse. “Two twenty-nine five. Nice round number.” She let out a wheezy snort of a laugh and added, “You’re going to love it.”

Although I doubted it, I hoped she was right.


  1. I would read more...I like the idea of knowing something is going to happen in or because of this new house. But to me, the first paragraph is unnecessary telling. I think the story starts with paragraph two, although still, it's a lot of telling to start a story. I like the internal voice of the narrator though, so I'd want to know what was next.

    To me, the fact that the mc's thoughts went away and her first words were to ask about the price SHOW me that she is taken with the house immediately. I prefer that to being told.

    Good luck!

  2. I liked this and would read on. Just one thing bothered me.

    She seemed to like everything about the house...but then in the last line she says she doubts she'd going to like it but she hopes she does.

    That through me off.

  3. Moderately hooked. My only suggestion would be to cut the first paragraph, which reads like mysterious introduction for the sake of mysterious introduction.

  4. I agree with the other commenters that there's a bit of time sequencing that doesn't work here. 1st & last lines, specifically. The imagery is good, and I like how we immediately get into the protagonist's head and that she's hashing out why she thinks the way she does. Perhaps provide more description about the agent off the bat. We want to get to know the characters immediately. I would read on!

  5. Sounds like the kind of story I would like, but I, too, was confused by how she said she loved it before she saw it, but then said "I doubted it ..." when the agent said she'd love it.

    The repetition of the word "pines" in the first paragraph doesn't work for me. I would tend to cut that sentence and go on, or at least the second half of the sentence.

    I think your narrator ruminates a little much in the second paragraph.

    Overall, I'm not quite hooked, but I think it has great potential with a bit of tweaking and tightening! The premise of the house is nice.

  6. I really like this – all the little details. The smell of the house, and the black-and-white, and the smoker’s voice on the real estate agent. You have a really good voice going. Bravo! I’d read on.

  7. Well-written, but I would have liked some more foreshadowing of what's to come.

  8. Love the phrase "smell of old wood and mystery."

    Of course, the first thing that pops into my head was who doesn't have air conditioning in a car...especially in North Carolina?

    Love the "gravelly smoker's throat." Very descriptive.

    I agree with the others. I'm confused by the doubting she'd like the place when she's already gone on about how she liked the in the opening paragraph. I figured it was love at first sight.

    Good luck!

  9. I'd read on, but I had the same issue as Julie.

  10. I like the voice and the imagery. It's all working for me. I'd want to know what comes next.

  11. Makes me think of Mary Stewart stories - the setting being a strong part of the narrative.


    Good job.

  12. Somewhat intrigued by the house.

    I'd cut the last sentence of the second paragraph; it doesn't seem to add much.

    Your first and last sentences contradict each other, so you may want to rethink one or both of those.