Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Secret Agent #33

TITLE: After Charlie
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Annie felt something shining in through the window, warming her face. Though she suspected it might be the sun, she never looked up to confirm. Acknowledging a sunny, seventy-degree day in Seattle would only add to her confusion. Her world had already gone ass over teakettle. There was no room on her plate for bizarre atmospheric phenomena.

"Coffee?" A waitress stood beside the table with a steaming carafe. "More coffee?" she repeated, as if Annie had taken her first offer as a mere suggestion that coffee existed.

Annie opened her mouth to give an answer and quickly realized she didn't have one. Coffee. Coffee. It sounded vaguely familiar, but whether or not she required some at the moment was unclear. As of 10:32 that morning, she barely recognized her own name. Her head felt like it was made entirely of marshmallow fluff and her limbs felt like strange objects that had snagged on her sweater. And despite her fully stuffed pocket of Kleenex, all she'd managed to do in the five hours since her dad died was pull her car over and throw up in a Burger King parking lot.

"Yes, she'll have more," Beekie chimed in from across the table, flashing an apologetic smile at the waitress.

Annie watched her mug being filled. She saw a floral tattoo peeking out from under the waitresses sleeve. Purple irises. "The state flower of Tennessee," Annie heard herself say.

The waitress raised her eyebrows and walked away.


  1. I lived in Seattle. LOVE that first para.

    Nice voice.

    You did a good job of showing her confusion. I love that she noticed the tattoo, and didn't check for the sun.

    I'd read on.

  2. This has such a great sense of place. Strangeness of sun. Coffee. We're there. Love the emotion that grabs right away; Annie's unusal knowledge of state flowers; the fact we're in a scene with another character right away.

    Not sure if I completely buy the idea that "shining" can be "felt". But I'd overlook that because of the strong emotional pull here.

  3. I liked this. I have the same thought as Anne, I was a little thrown by the first sentence - and something as simple as "Annie's cheek warmed. She assumed it was the sun but wouldn't look." or something like that would take away that bit of awkwardness for me. But I think there's a lot of intrigue here and good writing that would lead me to turn the page. Good work, author.

  4. I started to skim through this and move on. I stumbled over the description of a sunny day (even in Seattle) as a "bizarre atmospheric phenomenon. The description of the main character's confusion seemed to go on too long.

    Then you hooked me with the waitress's tattoo and your character's grasp of a solid fact in the midst of confusion.

  5. I would read on.

    However, I don't happen to know if Beekie is a man or woman's name, so I'd be looking for a clue in the next few paragraphs.

    You did a great job discribing a tough emotional state.

  6. I really like this:

    "...and her limbs felt like strange objects that had snagged on her sweater." You gave me a great sense of how she feels. The piece is well written and you convey Annie's sense of detachment really well.

    Good job.

  7. Totally hooked! I like how you take a situation that would normally be very heavy and dramamtic and add some quirkiness to it. I agree with the "feeling the shining" issue. Agree w/ Amy Sue, it could just be simple, like Annie's cheek warmed. Would definitely read on. Excellent start!

  8. Wow. This is magic.

    It's completely believable and I love how each detail has significance. Great job.

  9. This is fantastic writing. I loved it and want to read more. "There was no room on her plate for bizarre atmospheric phenomena," indeed.

    I know this is missing the criticism part of "constructive criticism," but I really think it's great and can't think of anything I'd change.

  10. Tons to like here. I'm hooked, for sure. The first sentence needs a bit of work, imo, but the first para as a whole is awesome. I also liked the Burger Kind parking lot detail. Great job. It's tough to write about a super emotional event so early on in a book without it coming off as depressing. You've nailed this. Good luck!

  11. The opening didn't grab me, but by the time you mention the pocketful of kleenex and throwing up in a BK parking lot, you had me. The opening feels a little stilted and doesn't bring me into Annie, but by the third paragraph when we really get into her head, I wanted to read more

  12. I wanted to know what she was thinking through all this. She's just there, not doing or thinking. We're getting more of a narrator's summation of events than of Annie's POV. For instance, when she feels the sun through the window, her POV would be along the lines of "Just sun" and give no more thought to it. She wouldn't think "I won't look up to confirm." That's you, explaining to me - author intrusion. Perhaps consider taking yourself out of the story and showing it all from Annie's POV.

  13. I very much liked this line: "her limbs felt like strange objects that had snagged on her sweater." Well done. And Annie's despair and confusion is well established here. I'd read a few more pages. But I would be hoping there's more of a hook than Woman Recovers from Grief. I see many manuscripts like that, but there always needs to be more to the story. More of a unique take on it. I'd read more to find out where it's going.

  14. Thank you...ALL of you...for your comments and feedback. I can absolutely see the problem with "feeling something shining"...can't believe I never picked up on it. Just goes to show how valuable a forum like this is! I appreciate all the feedback and thank you all for making me a better writer. And, to our fabulous secret agent...thank you for your kind words, and yes, there is much, much more to the story than Women Recovers from Grief. Though it's always in the backdrop, there's a whole other adventure that my MC gets swept up in.