Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #13

TITLE: We Happy Few
GENRE: Fiction

Today was Easter Sunday, and it was the first time in her twenty-two years that Rose would miss a Busco holiday dinner.

Rose’s father honked the horn in three short bursts as he waited with the motor running to take her and her son to Grand Central. Still, Rose took her time walking from room to room of the rowhouse, trying to remember everything just as it was.

The newspaper clipping on the refrigerator announcing a citation for her brother’s platoon — the perfect spot to gloat to the neighborhood ladies when they came over;
The sprigs of parsley drying over the sink;
The glass doorknobs that she’d pretended were diamonds as a child;
The bed she shared with her sister with the line of masking tape dividing the dresser in half;
Her mother’s sewing machine with cloth left bunched under the needle for a curtain order from Mr. Nuccio’s candy store to keep gluttonous eyes away from the red vines after hours;
Finally, Rose’s mother at the stove in her flowered apron — always with her dark hair tied back into a bun while she was cooking.

Rose wanted to tell her how much she would miss her and how hard it was to leave. She wanted to repeat that she was moving to San Francisco because her husband asked to be near his son and in wartime we all have to make sacrifices, but her father honked again. Rose said good-bye to her mother’s back.


  1. I like the small details, but I think there were too many. Pare it down to two or three. You don't want to overload the reader especially on the first page.

    That being said, I'm not sure if this story's starting at the right place. It might be, but from just reading this excerpt it seems like a better start would be after her move. Also, your last paragraph seems like a mini-info dump. Is there a better way to show us? Since you've already done a good job showing us how much she would miss her mom, it's probably not best to repeat that information by telling us.

  2. I like the small details, too, especially that list (with the possible exception of the lengthy sewing machine part of the list - I'd shorten that). Absolutely LOVE the glass doorknobs part of the list.

    Is there any way to tweak one or two of them to better include other senses - taste, touch?

    I'd thought this contemporary, but the word "wartime" took me back. When does the book take place? The atmosphere is strong and could be strengthened even more by a telling detail as to time.

  3. Setting is wonderful; some tension created by the honking horn; identify with the MC because of loss of mother. All good.

    But what kind of story is this? When does it take place (what Era)? Who is Rose? What's at stake and what will Rose give up to get it?

    A great 250 words and I'd give it 250 more, but for this reader, it better answer those questions by then or seriously hook me our I'm out.

  4. Thank you so much for your comments. I see what you're both saying about the list being too long.

    This is the story of Rose's journey - the entire novel takes place on a train from New York to San Fransisco during WWII

  5. Knowing that it's during WWII helps it make more sense. The clipping on the refrigerator, a nice touch. The door knobs and bedroom tape division is good.

    I am a little curious about why she's going and saying good-bye to her mother's back. That little detail is intriguing. But I think if you do what the others suggested and trim some of it down in favor of what's happening/going to happen.

    The comment about her husband asking her to be near his son, I can't decide if it's making me more curious or confused. I think if you use your extra details to give us just a bit more information with that, it would help.

  6. I agree the list makes it feel a bit info dumpy especially with the last paragraph. But I LOVED the glass doorknob line!

    I so relate to that:D

  7. I love that masking tape on the dresser - remember trying that with my sister! I stumbled over the red vines and the sewing machine - not sure what that is. and for some reason wasn't sure if the mom was alive or if rose was remembering her.i know rose is torn about leaving, but not sure why. great images!

  8. I definitely think this is a moment of change (and therefore the right place to start the story) and I LOVED the line about the glass doorknobs and the clippings on the fridge.

    However, I'd like to know more about this young woman and why it's so heartbreaking to move. I'm hooked on the setting, but not the character or story just yet.

  9. Nothing here that grabbed my attention ... didn't really FEEL this woman. Something missing, methinks ...

  10. Nice details but a few too many :) I want her to start her adventure/future. Interested to see what happens to her!!

  11. This has so much promise. You have a great voice. Your detail is elegant and nostalgic. I really enjoyed this passage and would probably keep reading. However... It feels much more adult fiction in tone and I don't represent that. New Adult fiction isn't just about an age demographic, it's about subject and tone. This woman has a husband and child, and as I said the tone is very sophisticated. It sounds like literary fiction.