Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Secret Agent #43

TITLE: The Socialite
GENRE: Contemporary women's fiction

Soft music purred at a steady rhythm all around her, and with each beat that vibrated the floor of Salon de Ning, atop The Peninsula New York, her heart throbbed with rampant anticipation. Perched on a brown leather barstool, she waited.

For her latest indiscretion to arrive.

Disgrace. Elena Bancroft repeated the word, only in her head the shrill bite of her grandmother's voice replaced her own. The bartender's gaze lingered at her side--mere inches away from her left breast--where the cut of her dress revealed the first two lowercase letters of the word disgrace, etched in an elegant black script. Unabashed, the guy had been staring there since he'd handed over her drink order, and she'd satisfied his curiosity about her tattoo less than thirty seconds ago.

Although, apparently, he wasn't satisfied just yet.

"So why choose it for a tat? What does it mean?" he asked her.

"It means Iâ've done a lot of--really bad things," she told him. "Where I'm from, it sort of defines me." She took a long sip of vodka and dry vermouth, then shrugged. "Or so I've been told."

"I've seen my share of strange tats from behind the bar, miss. And, well, pardon me for saying this, but--I've never seen something like that made permanent." He continued ogling the black script as a young boy might gape at the naked women in his very first issue of Playboy.


  1. I think there's some good writing here - but to be honest - I had to read it three times to "get" that her tattoo says *disgrace*. For me, there's too much going on in her head - I'd love to see this start with the bartender and the reaction to the tattoo. We have time to get inside her head. I think the grandmother part is probably important but we need time to get to know the mc first - it's a little too busy for me right off.

    Again, I liked the writing and the evocative images - and introspection - I think it just has some pacing issues. All fixable.

    Good luck!

  2. The sentence structure is really had to follow.

    "Perched on a brown leather bar stool, she waited. For her latest indiscretion to arrive." - I don't like how this line is broken up. It's confusing and adds onto a complete sentence. It would be more powerful put together.

    "Disgrace. Elena Bancroft repeated the word, only in her head the shrill bite of her grandmother's voice replaced her own." This also confuses me. Did she say the word out loud or in her head? If she said it, shouldn't there be quotations around it?

    I'm curious about what kind of a woman would tattoo 'disgrace' on their body. Which is a really good thing - I would keep reading.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. I really enjoyed this. I did not find it hard to follow. I read it through only once and have a clear picture of what is going on. I felt as if I was immediately a part of the PV character's world.
    Well done. I would read on.

  4. I like the voice and would read on to see who she's meeting.

    I do think the bartender's dialogue would sound more natural if he only asked one question and if his second bit of dialogue was tightened as well.

  5. Intriguing....

    The first sentence slowed my down a bit. It was the specifics of where she is. (...Salon de Ning, atop The Peninsula New York...) Is it important that we know that much detail right off the bat?

    I like everything else about that first paragraph. And I like the single sentence that followed. It worked for me.

    No problem understanding the tattoo. I did have a hard time with the sentence about her grandmother. Just a bit of smoothing out should do the trick.

    A socialite with a tattoo that says disgrace? Yeah, I'm turning the page.

  6. I'm interested. The first paragraph could use some tweaking. The first sentence is kind of... wordy. This might be personal taste, but I'd like to see this as an opening:

    "Perched on a brown leather barstool, she waited for her latest indisgretion to arrive."

    It's more of a hook... to me, anyway.

    Otherwise, it's intriguing. Nice work :)

  7. Love this concept and am dying to know what this main character is all about. What kind of person gets a word like that tattooed on them?

    Two small things - I think this is a little more explained than necessary in a few places. Her heart is throbbing, which tells me all I need to know without explaining that it's throbbing with rampant anticipation. The reader for a book like this will know exactly what kind of look the bartender is giving her without the Playboy simile. That kind of thing.

    Also, a little quibble, but if she lives in New York, it's unlikely she will think of the Peninsula Hotel as the Peninsula New York. It's just the Peninsula. If she's visiting from out of town, then it makes more sense for her to describe it that way.

  8. The opening didn't pull me in, but I'm intrigued by Elena. I want to like any woman who owns being a disgrace, but the way it plays out is a little slow and doesn't grab me. I like the reference to her grandmother's voice, but I agree that the sentence needs some smoothing out. I also agree with the other commenters about the amount of description. When we're sitting at a bar, we rarely will describe every detail, unless it's something that stands out.

  9. I liked this, but you started with her waiting for her latest indiscretion, then abandon that line in favor of the disgrace scenario. Perhaps have her thinking about the disgrace 'as she waited for her latest indiscretion', which will put the importance on the disgrace. If who she's meeting is more important, perhaps stay with that a bit longer.

    I do think there's a bit too much description and you could probably weed out the less important bits. For instance, the bar stool isn't important so it can be just a barstool, as opposed to a brown leather barstool.

    And perhaps add a thought or two about what she thinks of herself. Does she try to live up to her reputation, because that's what people think of her? Does she wish people would see her for who she really is, and not who they think she is? Let us know what she thinks.

  10. I agree with @Beth Overmeyer that the "latest indiscretion" sentence is a good opener. It starts a clock in the reader's head, as they wait for Mr. Indiscretion, and for the story to get rolling. But overall, I feel this leaves the reader wanting for more action and an indication of who this person is, besides disgraced. How? Why? When? Be careful not to lean too heavily on something like a tattoo or other obvious symbol. It's writerly, and feels like an authorial intrusion. I'm afraid I'm not hooked so far.