Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Secret Agent #25

TITLE: Driven
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

Jimmy Rickliefs idea of a good time did not include sitting in his wife’s car with his head in a trashcan. Waking up with unbearable stomach pain at three in the morning also did not qualify. But lucky for him, his wife was levelheaded; he’d had this pain before and this time, she was doing something about it. Now, gritting his teeth against the never-ending waves of pain, he barely noticed the houses zipping past as his wife headed for the hospital.

Allison stopped the car at a light, and he heard her ragged intake of breath. Being levelheaded didn’t mean she couldn’t be scared. He reached for her hand, as much in need of comfort as she was. Her hand was shaking slightly, and he squeezed it in time to another wave of pain, relieved when she proceeded into the intersection. As a particularly violent spasm raked his back, there was a flash of light, and Jimmy felt as if he were being crushed.


Ryan Vasser was driving down Third Street when he saw a truck barreling towards the intersection in front of him. He slowed down, hoping that the car crossing third would get out of the way in time; he knew before it happened that it was too late. The truck plowed into the car and almost rolled it. Ryan got out of his car, pulling his phone from his pocket.

“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

“This is Ryan Vasser, I’m at the intersection of third and Main and there’s been an accident.”


  1. First off, there is an apostrophe missing in Rickliefs. This is possessive.

    I didn't get that his wife's car was moving until the end of the paragraph. I would consider changing "sitting in his wife's car" to "riding in his wife's car." I had this vision that he woke up alone in her car with a hangover. Hah! Best to set this visual up from the start IMO.

    "Towards" sounds funny -- I would change this to "toward." Either is acceptable, actually.

    In your third paragraph (no pun intended), "third" needs to be capitalized, as it is a proper noun. Also in your last sentence.

    Your description is very suspenseful. Seems like Jimmy's morning is going from bad to worse.

  2. This is a good set up, and you've started in the right place. I like that you didn't give too much away as far as what was wrong with Jimmy.

    Gardenia pointed out the grammar issues, so I'm not going to, but another thing to pay attention to is your use of "was". A little tightening of your writing will make this better.

  3. The grammar issue have already been mentioned.

    I couldn't figure out why his head was stuck in a trashcan. I envisioned a hat until I read it again. I suggest you clarify.

    This shows promise. You change POV well to drive in the final nail of recognition of what's happening.

  4. For what it's worth, I thought "sitting" was perfectly clear; I think it reads well and catches the reader in a way other permutations might not. (That's the main reason I got caught on this one.)

    This was really interesting--the only hesitation I have is the quick shift of POV so early. But that's not a deal-killer for me, just something I noticed.

  5. I'd say be careful with the POV shift as well. Too much too fast can drive a reader crazy.

    Also, I'd actually like to know what is giving him so much pain to begin with. Obviously it's nothing new, so why not go ahead and throw that in as well.

    Best of luck and you have a good start!

  6. The first part really pulls me in. Good tone and voice. The switch to a new pov felt a little jarring - probably because I want to know what happened to Jimmy! :) Good luck!

  7. I liked your first line. And you quickly established the relationship (more than just that they were married) between Jimmy and Allison. Well done. I didn't mind the quick POV shift. I want to know what happens next.

  8. I thought he was just sitting in a parked car too, I didn't immediately realize it was in motion in the first sentence. Also, I assume his head's in the trashcan because extreme pain can make you nauseous, but that isn't mentioned.

    I like that you made us start to care about him before the car accident.

  9. This was interesting, and I'm curious to see where it goes. I like the juxtaposition of the accident from two points of view.

    This does make me wonder who the MC is going to be. If it's just Ryan or Jimmy, then (as much as I like the two POV's) it probably makes sense to stick with one. If you're going to switch back and forth between the two, then I'd like a little more time with Jimmy before the accident happens.

  10. I really liked the beginning - you draw us right into the scene.

    The second part didn't seem quite as "full". I don't know how much we'll care about Ryan - I'm assuming alot - and thus I might suggest something about what he is doing other than just driving. You give us such a good sense of Jimmy, so what is Ryan doing out at three in the morning? Perhaps you wanted to make sure you got all this in the first 250 words, but I'd step back a bit and see if you can do more with Ryan prior to the accident.

    I'd keep reading, though!

  11. Very interesting. This Ryan Vassar must hold some degree of importance in this world, otherwise why would he give his name before telling the 911 operator about the accident? I'm wondering who is the MC, Jimmy, of course,that is assuming he is not dead, or Ryan. I would definitely turn the page

  12. Solid way of building suspense; would like to see what happens next!
    The few grammar issues aside, my main issue is the early POV change--a little disconcerting but not a deal-breaker, depending on where you're going with this.
    Interesting first 250 words. Keep it up!

  13. My vote is kidney stones. Kidney stones for a man are like giving birth for a woman, only without the epidural. Jimmy needs to drink more water!

    Good job on pulling us right in. I felt the immediate stress of the situation and felt for the couple. It's scary driving to emergency.

    The quick change of POV bothered me at first, but reading it again, I liked it. I agree that Ryan must be "somebody", like a cop, perhaps? Anyway, I would read on!

  14. This totally felt like the inverse of the husband driving the wife-in-labor to the hospital. That said, I was sidelined trying to figure out the pain (somone mentioned kidney stones--bet you're right). That stated, I had trouble with Jimmy opening up the story in pain. I felt that first paragraph needed something more to anchor it. Then we have the sudden POV switch--it was jarring. Not as jarring as a car accident, but awkward. Maybe the pacing is just moving too quickly. When Ryan makes the 911 call, he seems more rational than shocked or alarmed. I'm curious to see where this is going.

  15. Thanks everyone for the comments. I re-wrote the opening to fix the POV change and hopefully slow the pace just a tad.

    I also wanted to point out that the MCs last name is actually Rickliefs =) and after discussing with a friend (with an MFA/professor of writing), we concluded that no apostrophe is needed there.