Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #33

TITLE: A Heat Of The Moment Thing
GENRE: Romance

Feathers of anxiety fluttered in my gut as I took in the busy swimming lanes. Oh God. Why did I keep putting myself through this? "Jo, I don't think--"

"No thinking allowed. Forty laps, then coffee. Right?"

Her smile sweetened her words, but I knew she meant business. The feathers moved up, nasty tickles of nerves making straight for my throat. "Um..." I gulped, stepped back.

Jo frowned, placing a hand on my arm. "What's up, Becs? We've been doing this for ages. You'll be fine."

"I--it's too busy. You know what I'm like with crowded pools."

She looked at my lane. "Six swimmers. That's not bad."

Only six? I squinted down at the blurry blobs, doing my own head-count. Six. I took a rallying breath. Three passes per lap. Okay, it could be worse. Why, oh why, hadn't I worn my contacts? I always wore contacts to the pool! Why not today? Without them I felt so weak. I reluctantly drew my sleek new Nicole Kidman locks into a ponytail, searching for a different excuse.

"I didn't bring a swimming cap. What if my hair turns green? Or goes back to halo-frizz?'

"It won't."

"If I start my new job looking like a freak I'll blame you."

"Yeah, yeah. Come on." Jo made for the fast lane as usual and dived in.

I sighed. Faced my blurry, congested lane. It wasn't like I really needed to see. We all knew the routine.


  1. I think we need context more than action/dialogue. You've given us lots of good details: We know she has bad eyes (BTW, I wear contacts and this may just be me but I would NEVER wear contacts in a pool; I'd be too afraid of losing them) and she's starting a job and she has "Nicole Kidman" locks (does that mean red, or long, or what?).

    But right now she's freaking out about something she's done a million times before. And without a good reason for that, something to show why this time is suddenly so different than all the ones that came before--even one that's hinted at--it makes her sound like a character I don't really want to get to know.

  2. I'm intrigued to know why crowds are such a big deal for her and I liked the dialogue between the characters. It felt very natural. Usually first person pov is not my preference but it wasn't until I read it a second time that I even realized it was first person, which was really nice.

    My only concern as I read this was when she forgot her contacts and then sighed getting in to do something she'd done many times before is that she might be weak or whiny. Hopefully not. Just a passing thought as I read.

    I would continue to read on.

  3. I would like to know why your heroine is freaking out over something she does on a regular basis. I do like the way you've shown details like the heroine's poor eyesight. So show my why she's anxious this time, as opposed to all the other times.

  4. I swam for my local swim team from ages 9 to 18 and love the memories this piece evoked. You TOTALLY nailed it on the turning the hair green part!

    You may want to research about wearing contacts during lap swim. I never recall someone wearing contacts in the pool without goggles.

    If your MC is wearing goggles you'll want to mention it because die-hard swimmers like me will be tripped up. I knew someone with bad eyes, and she had to have goggles specially made that had her prescription in them (how that worked is beyond me though. Not sure who made them)

    Also, no one who does laps on a regular basis would try and do 40 laps without a cap, especially someone with long hair who has already been through "halo-frizz". (A perfect description by the way of what chlorine does to hair. I had hair to my a$$ in high school and ALWAYS wore a cap.)

    Finding out the answer about contacts with goggles will be easy...just call any swimming pool with a team and ask, they'll know the answer (and probably love to help a novelist with research!).

    Best wishes on your novel. I LOVE the swimming angle already!

    Christi Corbett

  5. Don't think the cap thing matters, I have long hair and have never worn a swimming cap in my life. The contacts thing you'll need to research though. Anyway... it reads quite naturally, apart from the clunky Nicole Kidman comparison which is unhelpful anyway since she's had lots of different hairstyles.

    My biggest problem is that I can guess what happens next: she bumps into some cute guy while she's swimming.

  6. Being an ex-champion swimmer, you grabbed me immediately. I was confused about the contact lens. Can you wear them while swimming these days? Even with goggles (preferably prescription goggles), water gets in.

    It's best to try to get some hint of change coming in the romance department (not just the job) or maybe atart with the inciting incident. I'd read on, because I like swimmers and like your writing and I just know that nasty boss if going to steal her speedo.

  7. One other thought, if you don't wear a cap, your hair will slow you down and she'd never be able to pass three swimmers per lap. Ex-swim team members and other fast swimmers never give the cap a moments thought, including many guys and all guys at the highest level. Remove these worries from the 1st 250 and you'd have enough rooom for an inciting incident. Once again, I'd swim (read) on.

  8. Not going to comment on caps and contacts. :-D I thought this was well-written but like others who said, I don't get why she's freaking out over something she's done so in this case, we need a little more backstory/context to explain this otherwise, she is coming across whiney and too angsty to relate to. Good luck because I do like the writing and voice (angst-aside).

  9. I like "feathers of anxiety fluttered..." it's a great opening. I like your voice, it's very engaging. I too want to know why your heroine is anxious. Maybe you were going to tell us in the next 250 words.

    Great job. Good luck.

  10. I'm obviously not a swimmer, this discussion is way beyond me! ;-)

    It's not my kind of story either, but I loved the writing. Well done! :D

  11. I'm impatient with this MC and with the story - Why is she freaking out about swimming? And why do we care? And what are Nicole Kidman locks? (They used to be red and curly, now blond and straight, so I don't get the reference.)

    This may not be the right place to start your book - I think we need to know your MC and the story before spending a page watching her think about jumping in a swimming pool.

  12. This was well written, but not super action packed or exciting. I also didn't get the Nicole Kidman hair thing, since her hair has changed over the years. On the contacts subject, I wear contacts regularly when swimming, and without goggles, too!

  13. I don't get a big sense of the conflict, or what's going on here. I think something else needs to happen, something active.

    I was also thrown by the idea of wearing contacts in a pool. I assume they'd just wash right out of my eyes, and I paused and journeyed down that train of thought, it pulled me out of the story.

  14. Thanks everyone for all your comments. It's given me the clarity (!) I'd lost from the zillion edits I've done on this opening. Much appreciated. :) (Re the contacts thing - it wasn't clear enough that she usually wears contacts under her goggles.)

  15. I like the feathers of anxiety, the tickles of nerves. This flows really nicely.

    For a moment, I thought Jo was her coach, but by the end, she seemed more like a friend/someone her age. The Nicole Kidman hair thing gave me pause, too.

    Big picture: I want to know why she's nervous and what it is about passing people in that she doesn't like, BUT I don't actually need to know right up front. You've given me enough that I'd keep reading to find out.

  16. I thought it was well-written, but I can't get past the fact that she's so scared to do something she's already been doing for some time. You start with, "What did I get myself into?" but we never see anything more than the usual swim date, so I don't see why she's thinking that. Perhaps get in why she's so upset, why this day is so scary when previous days weren't.

  17. This got off to a slow start. Maybe because I'm not a swimmer I just understand what the big deal was.

    Slice of life books don't really feel compelling to me but I'm sure something else is about to happen. It's that something else we need to know right away.

    Good YA voice.