Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #37

TITLE: Trust Me
GENRE: Women's fiction

Even though my brain registers recognition of his voice, I'm startled all the same. The ring of keys I'm twirling flies off my index finger, clattering in a jumble of metal on concrete at his feet, and he bends to retrieve them. When he straightens and lifts his gaze to mine, I get my third surprise of the morning.

It's Gabe Armstrong, and he's wearing a red handyman apron.

"Do you need some help?" he asks.

I recognize him, of course, from all the clips and news reports I've devoured this past week, but especially from his highly televised appearance at his brother's funeral. It's been almost a year, but the image of a drunken Gabe, clutching a bottle of Budweiser and glowering as uniformed Honor Guards fired a series of shots over his brother's grave, has been seared into the collective American memory courtesy of a media who cannot get enough of his family's story, and a public all too eager to consume it.

But I wasn't expecting to run into him here, in the pest-control aisle at Handyman Market. Not before I've figured out my story's angle, and certainly not looking like I do, hot and sweaty and smelling like the Potomac.

As I pluck my keys from his outstretched palm, Gabe repeats his question, this time a little louder. Like he thinks I might be deaf.


  1. I like this - favourite line has to be: "It's Gabe Armstrong, and he's wearing a red handyman apron." Definitely curious enough to read on!

  2. I like very much after the first paragraph. The image and idea that this guy doesn't belong working in a handyman store is compelling and I'd like to know who he is and why he's there. Not as interested in the mc, don't know enough about her yet.

    Thanks for sharing, I'd definitely read on.

  3. I really like this! I would break apart the sentence about it being almost a year since she's seen the time I got to the end of it, I forgot what I was reading about. But otherwise, yeah, I'd read on.

  4. the few paragraphs piqued my curiosity, I want to know more. I also like the cadence of the writing.

  5. The language strikes me as a bit stilted. The "bends to retrieve" and "lift his gaze," in particular. The repetition of variations of "recognize" is jarring. The lack of place and framework jarred me to. I don't know what she is responding to. A scream? A hello? All of this, though, may be preference of style--I'm reacting, but others may (and clearly do) really like it. I'm intrigued, and do like the apron line (like another comment).

  6. Seems like some good ingredients here -- Gabe selling pesticides, his family being sufficiently interesting to make the news -- but some editing could help. The first paragraph is too wordy. The second paragraph confuses me with the time sequence: something has been going on this past week; the funeral was almost a year ago.

  7. I agree that a few of your paragraphs are a bit wordy and made me lose the train of thought, but the voice is great.
    I'd want to know more about your MC and why she's so hot and sweaty and smells like the Potomac! You've got my interest in Gabe...make me just as interested in your MC and I'm hooked!

    I'd read more, though....

  8. I also had a problem with the time sequence. But I like the voice, and I want to known more.

  9. It felt awkward at the beginning, the voice in the first paragraph didn't grab me. After that it picked up and made me want to know more.

  10. If this is a romance novel, all is good (if that was what I was in the mood for). If not ... not much is grabbing me. Cute guy. Nervous female reporter. Ah, she'll be attracted to him and torn because she's supposed to do a story on him ... If this ISN'T the story line, I might be interested, but nothing here lets me think there's more to it.

  11. I've read the previous comments so I don't repeat too much, and no-one has mentioned this so it might just be me being an idiot but still... in the very first line she recognises Gabe's voice but then she says 'it's Gabe Armstrong' and it's a surprise. But she knows it's him already. I would write the line as something like 'Gabe Armstrong is wearing a red handyman apron'. The problem is, of course, that your line is a better one but it just doesn't ring true for me.

    Also, her seeing him is her third surprise. Are the first two her recognising his voice and dropping her keys? Or are they something we don't know about yet?

    I'll also add my voice to the week/over a year timeline confusion. I think that line just needs to be played with a bit.

    I would read more. I already love Gabe and I'd like to know more about the woman.

  12. I'm intrigued, if not completely hooked. The MC is a reporter, and this reads like an article about another person. I don't need to know everything about her, not in the first 250 words. But I don't get a sense of voice for the MC. I like the detail about Gabe, not just drunk, but drinking at his brother's funeral, for example. But I feel detached from the MC. I'd keep reading, though, to learn more about Gabe.

  13. Not hooked. The problem, I think, is that this is virtually all told. We're not there with the MC seeing all this through her eyes. We're sitting across the table from her as she tells us what happened to her yesterday. ANd that distances us from the story and her.

    Consider a bit more showing. Let us see her standing in the aisle searching for ant traps and twirling her keys around her fingers. Let us here Gabe say "Can I help you?" Let's see her jump and see the keys go flying. Showing will give this a lot more life than it currently has.

  14. I'm hooked. I'm guessing he's had a huge fall from grace and she's going to cover that (along with falling in love...) I'm wondering what the other two surprises are. Maybe you're going to tell us in the next 250 words.

  15. I thought the voice was engaging, but I think there was too much telling and I also felt like the first paragraph was a bit convoluted.

    She says she "registers recognition of his voice," but does that mean she knows it's gabe or that she knows she's heard the voice before or that she's simply aware someone is speaking?

    I'm curious about what went down in Gabe's family, but I'm plain confused about why, if his brother's funeral was over a year ago, he's been in news clips and reports over the past week?

    If she was working on a story and viewing OLD clips, it's not clear.

    I worry that this might be a formulaic, but I'd be willing to look at more.