Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #10

TITLE: Emotionally Compromised
GENRE: Romance


I take a drag of my cigarette, and exhale into the phone, "Derek, are we really talking about this?"

"How long is your break?" he asks ignoring my question.

I laugh mockingly, "Not long enough for this conversation, I'm sure."

"I swear, are you always set to anger mode?"

Another giggle erupts from me. I can feel him smiling on the other end too. "Take off that grin I know you have right now. You are not funny, Derek."

"I know, but as long as I can just make you laugh I'm good."

I lean against the building, sigh evidently into the phone, and he says, "I've made you mad again haven't I?" Suddenly his tone shifts, "Are you smoking? I feel like I can hear you smoking. I thought you were trying to stop?"

I grunt, but I guess I'm smiling. I cannot be doing this, "Agent Matthews, do you have anything new to report?"

He responds the same way, and sighs heavily, "Back to formalities I guess is only fair on company time. Just know that this is me caring, Agent Turner."

I rub at my temples, and I am thankful he can't see the look on my face.

"Agent Matthews..." I whine.

"Alright,, Agent Turner, nothing new to report. Just don't do anything stupid. Take your time with this."

"I'll call you later Derek."

"Please, Alex."


I hang up the phone wondering how I've gotten myself into this mess as I take another long drag of my cigarette.


  1. I just want to say that I love the title. It put me in the mood for a spy/secret agent type novel right away.

    Though I felt the phone conversation dragged on a little too long. And even though the title alone made me want to read this, their conversation verged on being too mundane and going on for too long.

    Plus, I didn't feel much of an emotional reaction from the narrator.

  2. I've often heard people advise against starting off with a conversation, and I think in this case you could probably start it a little further in the plot. We don't know very much about Alex even after this conversation, and I'm not sure that anything important enough was said (We learn that there's nothing new to report and the Agents have feelings for each other, but that's it) to merit beginning the novel with it. I also found the sudden shift in the conversation (from friendly to "Agent") to be a little awkward. I'm not sure what happens after this, but I think it could be interesting to start your story perhaps closer to Alex starting her mission (or job or whatever it is she's doing).

    Hope this helps. Good luck!

  3. This is a personal preference sort of thing, I know, but I have a very hard time getting into first person-present tense, especially in romance.

    For me, there has to be an immediacy there--some tension or a sense of urgency driving the plot from the very first word, or the story drags.

    I think the story has started in the wrong place. I don't know anything about the MC or what she's tasked with doing.

  4. I'm not against starting with an informative conversation, but this one is too vague to tell me anything about the story. They're dancing around something they won't come out and say, but I don't know either of them so I don't know what it is... and I'm having a hard time caring.

    Outside the romance aspect, I don't know what they're doing either. They're agents. CIA? FBI? Super Secret? Insurance? Literary? I don't know where this is going, so I'm not getting much conflict/tension/danger. Look ahead in your story and find the place where there's real tension.

  5. I don't mind starting with a conversation, but my confusion here is with the gender of the participants. Initially, I thought (reasonably enough) that Alex was a man, but by the end I was pretty sure she was a woman. The dialogue was a bit clunky and forced, but by the end, I did want to know what was going on between them, and what the larger picture was.

  6. This seems like more of a chapter two start, or a later scene. Not much here points to a story start for me. I think readers need to be grounded a bit more in the basics: who is this story about, where is the character, what are they doing. Not to say you can't start with a conversation, but it should show context with some internal reflection and actions thrown in. I'm thinking this just isn't the right place to start.

    I would suggest thinking of a great first line, something that really hooks that shows what your story is about and the tone it sets (I know, piece of cake, right?). Given your genre is romance, there's a book by Cathy Linz that starts "It was the perfect day for a wedding. Too bad the groom didn't show up." Zing! If your story has a more serious tone, you could go more dramatic. Best of luck to you.

  7. I'm of the opinion that you also need to change your starting scene, either later or at least somewhere that grounds us better with your MC and her profession and what her current assignment is. Some of the dialogue doesn't seem natural, and that may because I don't have a feel for either character yet. Good luck.

  8. I love the title and I would enjoy getting to know the characters. I would read on even though it is starting a little on the slow side.

  9. There is a lot of dialogue, but it doesn't seem to help move the plot/story forward, so I don't feel the there is enough of a set up at the beginning. We don't really know much about the MC(s), other than they are agents. For me, there wasn't anything that stood out, or would hint at what the plot/ story is about.