Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Secret Agent #36

GENRE: Romance

The monster car behind her was riding her butt. Lu’s tattered nerves frayed even more as she concentrated on the curving highway ahead. The VW Beetle beside her sped up and her tailgater zipped behind it and cruised on by. The red-faced, balding driver shot her a disgusted look then swerved in front only to stomp on his brakes. She jammed on her own, barely controlling her sliding wheels. His chubby hand shot out the driver’s side window with his middle finger prominently displayed before he gunned his gas and sped away in a gray cloud.

Lu almost didn’t recognize the signs. It had been a while. The headache building, then the warm tingle at the base of her skull should’ve been her first clue. But the taste of ashes and smoke inside her mouth left no room for doubt.


She’d better catch up to that a******. It would probably take about three minutes before he’d notice. Her ’89 Chevy shook as she pushed it above its normal cruising speed. She scanned the cars ahead trying to glimpse the massive SUV. Good. It was stuck behind someone else. A little more pressure to the gas and she gained some ground on him. Surely he must be noticing the flames by now.

She passed a couple of cars until she was behind him again. She blared her horn and pointed to the side of the road. Smoke rose in his back window.

What the hell was wrong with the jerk?


  1. Not sure I'm hooked.

    There's too many cars here, and I got confused easily. Also, if someone had just nearly caused you to wreck, I'm not sure I'd catch up to them to flag them down if I noticed their car was on fire. Road Rage anyone? I'd probably get on the phone to 911, though.

  2. I like the energy here and if your character is the type to help someone who is mean to her, then she's a nice person and that's always a plus.

    However, this is confusing. The first paragraph is fine, I didn't get lost, though I would have liked more of Lu's reaction to being tailgated and then flipped off.

    But the second paragraph loses me. The first two sentences lead me to believe she was getting a migraine or some other physical problem, but the last sentence combined with the last paragraphs threw me. It feels like you're mixing internal and external clues without explaining enough.

    I like the title a lot and I'm wondering if she set the fire to him? I don't know... So, action is good, character is nice, just needs more logic/clarity in the beginning. No need to rush this much, if the end result is losing your reader.

    Good luck with it!

  3. I loved the energy and the voice in the opening couple of sentences. But like the other commenters, I also got lost in all the cars. It wasn't clear to me at first that "flames" wasn't a metaphor--that there was an actual fire. It appears that this is paranormal romance--that Lu is a firestarter. Don't be afraid to come right out and *say* that. There's a fine line between intriguing and confusing a reader. It can be a challenge to know what to hint at and what to say outright, which is why beta readers are a big help. Good luck!

  4. Oh, I thought she was getting a migraine. I had to read everyone else comments before I figured the firestarter bit out.

    Ok, I am totally not your audience, so it might not matter that I didn't get it, but thought I'd pass my cluelessness on in case you find an opportunity to make things clearer to dopes like me!

    Otherwise I kind of liked her attitude - mostly cuz it didn't seem to fit for romance!

  5. I agree with the others, I was completely confused about what was happening with the tingle in her head and the taste of ashes in her mouth. You list your genre as "Romance" but you should probably clarify paranormal romance, or whatever the appropriate subgenre is.

  6. I don't think you need the VW in the first paragraph. Simplify this scene. Tailgater is ticked off, flips her off, she can't control her rage.

    Also, I think the first graph is too heavy with adjectives: tattered, curvy, red-faced, balding, chubby, gray...
    Less is more!

    I'd say monster SUV in the first paragraph and then car (or something else later). We have a better idea of what an SUV looks like whereas a monster car could be a Cadillac or Humvee, etc.

    I like the firestarter idea but it needs a fresh element.

  7. I'm on the fence. The opening is something that everyone can relate to, but then you counter it with her wanting to help the jerk. It speaks volumes of the character. I liked the line about it being a while (though that seems to pop up a bit in the romance genre).

    However, this "The headache building, then the warm tingle at the base of her skull should’ve been her first clue. But the taste of ashes and smoke inside her mouth left no room for doubt." made me wonder about a paranormal element? Does she know about the problem before she can see the flames? It makes me not want to trust the classification.

  8. As the other commenters said, this piece was confusing. But I love the title.

  9. Form rejection. It feels like there are some transitions missing, one that would explain what these signs meant, and one as to why she's chasing this rude guy if not out of road rage. Too confusing and I don't get her motivations.