Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Secret Agent #5

TITLE: Catcher's Keeper
GENRE: Commercial fiction

I finish up in the can and put on ol’ Jerry’s robe that’s hanging on the door, since I’m just sporting boxers. Robe’s kind of ratty, but soft and smells like our parents’ place. Sweet nostalgia.

But then as I round the corner – the aroma of coffee leading me like Le Pew to Penelope – I stop dead when I see Jerry rifling through my boxes. And he doesn’t even flinch when I come in. Why can’t he wait until I’m out like a normal nosy brother? But I can’t complain. He’s allowing my forty-year-old ass to crash here. Besides, I’m on a caffeine mission and I hear the coffee maker’s final, steamy percolation. Pavlov’s so right.

I like it black. I pour my joe into a YMCA mug and check out Jerry’s lousy view. What I’d call ‘low LA.’ Parking lot. Smoke stacks. Bird shit. Litter. I guess Jerry moved here for the scenery. I’m chuckling about it, and scratching my nuts, when he reads aloud:

“Now he’s out in Hollywood, being a prostitute. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me.”

It’s familiar, but far away. I feel this tingling behind my eyes. It’s like that time the cops found a joint in my shirt pocket. I’m caught. Ol’ YMCA feels heavy as I take my first sip. It’s hot and tangy and gets my stomach ready. But I can’t find my cigarettes anywhere.

“Holy crap, Alden,” Jerry says. “What is this?”


  1. I love this. I love the tone, I love the imagery, and the Pavlov line is perfect.

    Good job!

  2. You do a great job characterizing this guy- I feel like it may be too much, because I find him a little gross. If that was your goal, then great! I would be more intrigued if I knew why I should care about him. Right now I'm thinking "great writing, but I don't really like this guy." So it depends on whether you wanted that to happen or not. My only suggest would be I'd like to see a hint of why I should care about this character. But you have a good, solid voice and competent writing.

  3. You have a strong character voice, a bit retro sounding, but that may be what you're going for. I don't need to "like" the MC to find the story compelling, so his personality is fine with me. I would read on.

  4. Really great voice!

    I'm confused about what Jerry is reading and why it bothers Aiden so much. Just a little clarification there is all this needs.

  5. The voice is very distinctive. The first sentence reads a bit awkwardly.
    o Consider re-arranging and move the "since I'm just...boxers," immediately after "can," finishing with the robe hanging on the door. It makes an easier transition to the next line about the Robe being ratty.
    o This has a nice, easy flow to it which I'm guessing reflects the character's general approach to life.

  6. The MC is a slob, but it's too soon for me to like or dislike him. He makes me curious. Why is he with his brother? What is the brother digging for in those boxes?

    I'm not sure what Jerry is reading in the third paragraph, and who it is referring to, but I would keep reading to find out.

  7. The voice doesn't strike me as belonging to a 40-year-old, but that may be the point.

    And I agree with the characterization--it's very strong, but I'm not sure I like the narrator. I'd keep reading because of course there's a character flaw Alden should overcome over the course of the novel, but yeah, I'd want a hint of likeability at some point.

  8. Not sure this would be my thing to read, but the writing is good. I thought the transition from Jerry rifling through boxes to reading something was a little awkward - unless he's reading something from the boxes. In any case, his dialog made no sense to me, although it might a few paragraphs from now :-)

  9. Great descriptions, but not anything I'd read with the prostitute, scratching his balls, etc...

  10. Man Fiction, obviously! Who else but a man (or a boy) would like a first line that involves being in the can?

    A previous poster mentioned starting with the boxers and I agree that might be better. The can line was kinda an abrupt start; better to ease us in to the bathroom with our MC.

    I don't love the guy, but he sounds like an interesting jerk, so yeah, I'd read on. I like the casual, funny voice here, totally perfect for our MC. Love "the view" and the Pepe and Penelope reference!

  11. Your character has great voice; he sounds like a crumudgeony old guy (older than 40 but my barely-30 yr old brother-in-law loves to crack old jokes about himself so it may just lend to his character).

    This opening feels a bit like stage direction with all the listing of actions. Some you can do away with for a more close POV. Example:

    "But then as I round the corner – the aroma of coffee leading me like Le Pew to Penelope – I stop dead when I see Jerry rifling through my boxes. And he doesn’t even flinch when I come in."

    could be:

    The aroma of coffee led me like [Pepe] le Pew to Penelope -- right to my brother Jerry rifling through my boxes. He barely flinches.

    I wrote half my current story in first person present and had similar issues to writing "I see" "I walk" etc which weren't needed. I switched to 1st past tense and for some reason it's much easier to get in a closer POV without all the action descriptors. Just something to be aware of, that you can skip those since we know he sees his brother if he's talking about him, we just need to know what the brother is doing.

    Definitely hang on to that voice, and look for ways to say more with less which will keep the tone punchy to match your character.

  12. Which I now realize, the led should be leads in my sample revision since this is 1p present.

  13. I found the voice a little over the top. At first I thought it was female (until the - yannow - nut scratching) and if it were I think you would get a stronger reaction in favor. Every entry I read over the past few months that has a female speaking like this has people doing overjoyed backflips. But, from a male or a female, I could not endure pages with what sounds too put on to be real.

  14. The voice of the MC is probably very genuine and unique to what I've seen. I like characters with a strong voice but this one isn't to my taste. It's not that he seems uneducated, but I don't see evidence that he wants to change that. While I won't invest the time to read 300 pages of men scratching their genitalia, I know some men who might. You have good description and imagery so good luck with it.

  15. I like this. There have been some comments about it sounding older than 40 and I agree, but I could live with it--this may be a case of class rather than age. It's an intriguing opening, but the line Jerry reads aloud IS confusing. I'm sure I'll find out what it's about shortly. I think this works for the moment. Nice.

  16. Author here saying thank you for your wonderful comments! They were very helpful, especially Stephsco !