Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #35

TITLE: Playing Hopscotch in the Dark

Mira breathed deep, imagining she could still smell a hint of salt from the ocean, 60 miles away. Huddled under the awning of Kurious Kat Koffee, she watched the raindrops become briefly visible in the warm light cast through the shop window behind her. Bright flares that disappeared as they hit the dark street.

The steady drip-drip-drip at the corner of the awning and the cold breeze kept her hugging the building. She looked over her shoulder into the light and warmth of the now-closed cat-themed coffee shop to see if she could spy her friend Story coming out of the bathroom. How many coats of lip gloss could one girl apply?

Across the street, the Jessup Family Printing storefront was dark, but a cold, greenish light gleamed on the long gray windowless side of the building that faced the side street. As Mira watched, the light flickered. A door opened - how many hours had she and Story been staring at this building? How could she not have noticed that door? - and Brody Jessup stepped out. Finally, she thought. She didn't want to imagine what he'd been up to, hanging out in the closed print shop until 8pm on a Friday night. In this part of town. Mira was pretty sure those women she and Story had seen stopping in for triple espressos hadn't been wearing patent platform thigh-high boots to go to the movies. Unless it was to the XXX Pleasure Palace theater two blocks down.


  1. The kurious name of the koffee shop detracts from the first paragraph - and you don't need it. Just say "the coffee shop." Last sentence in that paragraph is a sentence fragment.

    How can she see her friend coming out of the bathroom of a closed coffee shop? Why do we care that it is cat-themed?

    Another awkward sentence fragment in the last paragraph - and then the part about the women in thigh-high boots is just confusing, unless she saw them hanging out on the street corner or going into the print shop.

    These may all seem like minor things, but they keep your story from being cohesive.

  2. I actually really like the imagery you supplied here by adding the names of the coffee shop and printing store, though I was a little thrown when you mentioned that Brody shouldn't be "in this part of town" because it makes me wonder what Mira is doing "in this part of town." I was also thrown when you mentioned the "Pleasure Palace" because when I think of a cat-themed coffee shop and a family-owned printing store, for some reason I just don't think of a red light district or a bad part of town. Unless the Pleasure Palace is important to the story, I wouldn't mention it here because I felt like it just took away from the natural flow of your voice. Instead, I would just stick with what Brody's doing.

  3. Wish I could read a little more of this to get a sense of where your story is going. You have so many elements in these first few words! I agreed with a lot of what buckeyegirl said -- there are a lot of setting details here that don't all seem to fit together. The setting should leave us with an overarching emotion that sets the tone for the story, but I'm still not sure whether I should be wistful, scared, or amused. You have some wonderful mysterious elements that would make me keep reading, if only to find out who Brody is and why the MC is watching the print shop in the first place.

  4. I kind of like the quirky 'koffee' house, but in the next paragraph you reference it again as just cat-themed, like should it be quirky and fun, or just weird. I think that gets a little distracting. Maybe just say shop in the second paragraph.

    I would also like to know where this is going in the long run. Should the girls really be in this part of town? Or SHOULD they? And if the latter, that would make the story take a whole different direction.

  5. I'm afraid this started out too slowly for me. There's not a hint of tension or suspense. Why were she and her friend looking across the street? If you cut the description in half, you could get some plot points in that would lure a reader on.

  6. This is really interesting. I think there is a lot going on here, and even some tension, but it's almost buried in the details that seem to come out of context.
    Is Mira anxious about her friend?
    The women in the boots needs more of a segue, perhaps. They seem to come out of nowhere.
    Pretty writing!

  7. I like the setting and I'm curious to find out what's going on in the print shop. However I think what's going on might have be stronger and clearer if the first paragraphs focused on where she was huddled and what she was looking at, and didn't include the details about the coffee shop, the bathroom and stores down the street.

    Simplify and I'd be hooked.

  8. I thought this was cluttered with a lot of unnecessary info. Look at what's important here. She and Story are spying on Brody in the bad part of town. Why? That's what is interesting here. That's what will make readers curious. Perhaps focus on that for your opening rather than bogging us down with place names and rain and lip gloss.

  9. I agree with Barbara. If you focus more on the why of the spying and less with filling in so much detail on the setting, we'll care more when you do fill in those details.

  10. You did a great job describing the setting in an interesting way and had some interesting detail that made your point (e.g., patent platform thigh-high boots). I would have liked to learn more about why all of this mattered, though. Why was Mira spying? What did it matter to her? That type of information would probably keep people reading.

  11. What I liked: Some of the little details that made the story come alive (when used sparingly, that is).

    What needed work: Far, far too many adjectives really slowed the story down. I felt I was slogging through to find the relevant bits of information.

    I’m sorry to say I didn’t find myself caring about the characters, or the situation they found themselves in.

    Would I read on based on this sample? No.

  12. There are some nice mystery elements here, but I feel like we're given too much description of the locale, and not enough of the people. Or their circumstances. Also the questions are a bit distracting - rather than asking questions, I'd like to hear HER conjecture on what the answers are. But I am intrigued about the XXX encounter! Good Luck!

  13. I felt like there was simultaneously too much and too little on this page. There were lots of details, but many of them seemed unimportant, and didn't serve to hook me. The elements I really wanted - some details that would make me want to keep reading - were missing.

    At the end of this page, all I know is that your character is standing on a cold corner. I'm not even sure if she's waiting for her friend or spying on Brody.

    I would strip this back and focus on the important details that will make us want to read on. What about your MC's life is about to change that will make us want to read on?