Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #21

TITLE: Blown to Smithereens
GENRE: Literary/Women's Fiction

And here is the white page. And here are the words. And here is the beginning of a story. There should be arrows pointing, here, here, and here. This here, this is the beginning. This here, this is where it starts. Black letters on white paper. This, here, the beginning of the end.

I begin in black and white for it is the only way I know how to begin. The only way I can tell how it ended. There was a phone call, yes. That really was the beginning of the end. But there it is -- there, the p h o n e. It doesn't ring on paper. It doesn't wake you at 3 in the morning. It's just a silent little word. So's ring. It could be anything, ring. It could be the gold band I still wear. It could be a sound, add a w and it could be what I do with my hands when I don't keep them busy. So let's keep it that way. No onomatopoeia. No rrrrrringing or wringing. Certainly no more 3 am phonecalls. Just letters, black letters, words, black words, on white paper.

Actually, there will be no more phone calls at all. There are so many reminders. The little things. His name and number still in my phone. I need a new phone. I only want to add words, black words, on white paper. I don't want to erase. Except the ring.


  1. I haven't read much literary fiction in my time so I can't comment on the genre. So having said that the comment I'm about to make may not apply.

    I love Women's Fiction. I read a lot of variety. The first page is something that must sweep me off my feet. Though this was intriguing I found the words so repetitive I feared that if it continued this way throughout I'd come up tired of having to analyze what the person was actually referring to.

    This is what I've gathered: They're writing something & there is a phone near by. I don't know who they is, male or female, or what they're going to do.

    I just didn't feel the emotion I wanted to feel.

  2. The style of this is certainly very intriguing. It's different. And I like different. The good thing about literary fiction is that it breaks so many rules that a typical plot-driven story sticks to. BUT, having said that, I do think the repetition is ever so slightly over done. I certainly would want to read more because I am actually very curious about what is going on. But if it were to continue like this into the second page I do think it would be too much. It did kinda give me shivers though. I liked it.

  3. Pro: a very unique delivery and voice
    Con: I'm probably not bright enough to follow it for very long without getting all tired-brained.

    From what I gather, the narrator has lost a significant other (either in a ruined relationship or in a more mortal sense) and that call of separation came at 3AM. This opening is the narrator's attempt at catharsis. I did like the duality of keeping the "ring," meaning either the wedding band or just one more phone call from the lost man.

    Was I even close?

    Anyway, it's an eye-catcher for sure. I just don't know if it'd be something I'd continue with, but that's my personal preference only. Good luck!

  4. I thought it was clever. I like the play on words, the ring and wring, and I loved, 'it doesn't ring on paper' when referring to the phone. It reminded me of something Gertrude Stein did. I don't remember the title, but she kept repeating 'the one' over and over like you're doing with black and white. One person, one life, only one. Just one.

    Anyway, do I want to read a whole novel like that? Unfortunately, no. I want a story that's going to suck me in and take me away. This is just my personal taste. As I said, the writing's good, and clever. I am just not your audience.

  5. MH87: I feel like in literary fiction, there is always a compromise that takes place between literary artistry and commercial appeal and I think that if the repetition/style was pulled back just a bit to be a little more accessible, the narrative and the writing skill of the author would shine through.

  6. I thought the repetition was perfect for the rhythm of this. It has a unique style that pulled me in and makes me want to read more to see how its paced and flows throughout. I'd read more without doubt.

  7. This is interesting in that you understand the narrator has recently lost someone she was close to without that being explicitly stated. However, I feel this is a little too meta for most readers. And I agree with the comment about it being hard to imagine an entire novel written in this way, though it might work in poetry.

  8. This is a very arresting and engaging opening. That's not just because it's different. It's written with real flow and feeling of life. I'd want to read on for the writing and to get to know this character more. I feel I'd really like to know her and enjoy the telling of herself to me in this story.

  9. I do like the poetry of this. It flows lyrically. The prose is both intriguing and emotional, making me want to know more of this woman's story. I'd certainly read on if more was available.

  10. i get how you are going for the poetic here, but think you are too repetitious w/the descriptions of words, black and white, etc. you need to get into the plot more quickly to draw in your average reader who does NOT get poetry, i would say. but three cheers for trying to tackle anything in the category of literary fiction!

  11. RJ-

    It's an opening worth consideration. I like the hint of characterization and the gradual flow. 250 words may be a bit short for a section like this as the reader's still unsure what direction will be taken- not that one often does within said word count. I'd read on.


  12. I absolutely love the first paragraph. The beauty of the writing and the freshness of it draw me in syraight away.

    I love literary fiction and the mystery of it, the way it slowly reveals clues for you to piece together while delighting you with beautiful turns of phrasw, so this is perfect for me - especially when done so well.