Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Something Everybody Needs
GENRE: Contemporary Women's Fiction

Rebecca Grove has lived seventy years, long enough to realize that nobody knows anything, luck and success are the same thing, and being good at something is exactly as fulfilling as being good at nothing. All the so-called skills and techniques she has spent her career worrying about, practicing, perfecting, have melted away over the decades into a gentle blend of success and failure. She has held on to a single, incontrovertible fact, one tiny piece of knowledge that gets her out of bed and through the brass stage door of whichever theater is her workplace that week: she knows that she is an absolute, beyond all doubt, put-her-in-the-record-books expert at the art of stealing scenes.

Knowing how to steal a scene is a rather specific discipline. It is not the perfect recipe for red velvet cake, the way to make money without having to work hard for it, the no-fail path to getting and keeping a man. Those few who know it well enough to teach it are not sought-after experts, waiting atop Himalayan peaks for weary supplicants or smiling blankly outward from the retouched covers of self-help books.

Rebecca is not territorial about her expertise; does a concert pianist mind teaching a fat-fingered child how to bang out "Fur Elise" on his mother's baby grand? She would be happy to explain her secrets to anyone at all, if only they were wise enough--brave enough--to ask her.

10 comments:

  1. Oh, holy cannoli, I love this. Hooked to a T. Er, H.

    I would definitely turn the page but IMHO, I do want the action to kick in now. Possibly the second paragraph could be trimmed to jump start the motor but all in all, I loved this.
    Hooked.

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  2. Great opener! I instantly know who Rebecca is. You're writing is very entertaining. I would definitely read more!

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  3. I love this. Hooked. Definitely. But I echo Huntress, I want some action now. Terrific voice! I'm really intrigued by what kinds of scenes she steals, too.

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  4. There's a great voice here and a sense of style is apparent in the writing and in the character. To me, it's a little cumbersome - too wordy - sentences too long - like I had to hold my breath to get it all in. I think you can manipulate the cadence a bit with different length sentences, say the same thing, edit a bit and come away really clean. All in all, it's good and intriguing imo. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Fascinating insight into a character, but I think it goes on for a little too long. Perhaps consider breaking it up with some action. Also, to make your writing more dynamic, play with sentence length and words. By mixing short and longer sentences within a paragraph, you can make your meaning sing.

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  6. Very good voice. I'm hooked, which is saying something considering I hardly ever read this genre:)

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  7. Well, it may be a record: I have absolutely nothing to pick at :P This was an absolute joy to read. The first sentence made me smile, and from there on I just kept smiling. I just love a plucky old lady (or man) and I'm sure she has a great story to tell. Great job and good luck!!

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  8. The writing is strong but I felt like there was no story here. It's a great character sketch, but nothing happened, there is no tension, no conflict, no suspense. You left us with a 77 year old woman hoping someone will ask her how to steal scenes on stage. AT this point, the story could go anywhere.

    I'd suggest starting at the point where that person enters her life, and then show us all the things you told us about her.

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  9. I would read on for sure. I agree with what others posted, that I'd need something to happen soon. But Rebecca is very well established by the end of the first paragraph. That is the paragraph that draws me in the most.

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  10. The writing and voice here are very strong. I'd keep reading. But if this story is subject to what an old teacher of mine called The Gosling Rule (The first thing that moves in your story is what/who the story is about.), then this story is about a 70 year old woman. That can be difficult, though not impossible, to build a novel around. My guess would be that it's really about a younger actress from whom Rebecca Grove is stealing scenes. Maybe I'm wrong, but if not, this should be trimmed to get the MC on stage, as it were, ASAP.

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