Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #25

GENRE: NA Contemporary/Light Sci-fi

Fluffy blue towel? Check. Red bikini from last year’s end-of-season sale? Check. Yummy-smelling sunscreen? Check. Ever so quietly I open the front door.

“Where’re you going?”

Words every eighteen-year-old girl dreads hearing from her mother's lips. I pivot slowly and prop my sunglasses on top of my head. My mom has frozen in the act of washing dishes to stare at me from across the kitchen. The only sound is the hot water that streams from the faucet onto the partially cleaned plate in her hand. It’s a gushing waterfall; the rest of the house is a cathedral of quiet.

As if to answer her own question, she asks, “You’re not going to the beach, are you?”

“Actually, yeah.”

She turns off the faucet and the waterfall evaporates. “But I told you I needed to talk to you before your brothers get home from school.”

“I thought it could wait 'til tonight.”

“This is really important, Trinity. Ogling the lifeguard with your friends can wait.”

Ouch, my mom knows me too well. “Fine,” I say, “I’ll text them that I’ll be late.” Inconvenient chat with my mother? Check.

Her blue eyes crease around the edges. “Once you hear what this is about, you’ll be glad I didn’t wait until tonight to tell you.”

“Whatever.” My mother is cryptic as ever. Being a photographer for National Geographic Magazine has taught her to adopt an air of mystery to everything she says.


  1. I like the narrator's voice and interaction with her mom. But it makes me wonder, if this conversation with her mom before her brother get home is so important, why not start with that?

  2. I immediately like the main character here. The writing is well done too. The situations seems overall very typical, and I almost wish the mother came out with a little more right from the start. Maybe since you explained she is a photographer, maybe she could be a bit quirky and that could come off in the conversation? I was surprised to see the character agree so swiftly to talking with her mom too rather than skipping off to the beach, but that might mean she knows she has to in order to get what she wants. I am intrigued though and think this is a great start!

  3. I really like your character's voice and the imagery with the running water. I agree starting with the "conversation" might be more of a bang, but I am definitely interested to keep reading.

  4. What I like: You quickly establish the voice of the character and right away we are starting to see family dynamics. And getting straight into dialog is always a good move to engage the reader, IMHO.

    What I found problematic: The dialog was just a little awkward, for instance “But I said I needed to talk to you" would flow better than “But I told you I needed to talk to you", but that's just a little bit of tweaking. One thing I had more problem with was that I would've expected more of a flash of emotion from the 18-y-o, i.e. annoyance or even anger at Mom frustrating her plans. You have a great opportunity to get some emotion into play right in the first few lines, don't let it slip away!

  5. I liked that the story started with an immediate scene. I liked the voice and the story question of what's wrong that the brothers can't hear.

    I wasn't too keen on the dialog. Some of it sounded natural, but some of it sounded like stuff said for the reader's benefit.

    "But I told you I needed to talk to you before your brothers get home from school."

    I find that completely unnecessary. I see tons of writers doing this, and I don't know why they feel the compulsion to do it. What it says to me is that your character knows about the situation (needing to talk), but the reader also needs to be apprised, so the writer uses another character to remind the MC of the thing she already knows but the reader also needs to know...

    In my opinion (and granted, without having read the rest of this story), it would work just fine and not seem so contrived if this were the first time:

    "I need to talk to you before your brothers get home from school."

    "Can't it wait until tonight?"

    As is, part of this conversation is dangling in the past. Bringing it all to the present will help tighten the flow of the scene.

    That aside, I'd read further.

    (Contemporary/sci-fi sounds a little frankengenre. Can something be contemporary and light scifi or is it just light scifi?)

  6. The fact that this is light sci-fi is definitely interesting.

    Really solid writing. Love the 'cathedral of quiet' line - beautiful description without hammering you over the head with it. I don't know if you need to carry on the waterfall analogy to the 6th paragraph, though - the verb 'evaporate' doesn't quite make sense there.

    Also in nitpick-land, I might say "an air of mystery for everything she says" in the last paragraph. I don't know if "adopt to" is a thing.

    Otherwise, this looks great. Best of luck!

  7. Really enjoyed the voice, and I would definitely be interested in seeing where the story goes. Very nice start!