Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #41

GENRE: Women's Fiction

She remembered it clearly. That moment two years ago when she knew for certain that she would sleep with him. Back when she eagerly awaited their walks. He had touched her, a gentle pressure on her shoulder as she edged ahead of him down the path to the river. Steeped in thoughts of him – the scent of him, the curve of his smile, the length of his body -- she had waited for a sign, welcomed what was yet to come. Yet she knew even then that she had taken a wrong turn.

Eventually, she said no. Didn’t answer his calls. Lessons in self discipline and anguish. He was married.

But when the doorbell chimed on Monday, Elizabeth found Ned standing on the porch, his sandy hair aglow in the late afternoon light. For a moment neither spoke. Later, she remembered the sharpness of that silence.

“Big fight,” he said. “I’ve been thrown out.”

“Out?” Elizabeth’s hand tightened around the brass doorknob.

“For good, I think.”

“Good God.” She took a step back and pulled the door all the way open.

And Ned Carson entered her house. She took a breath, listened to the sound of air pressing against her ears, and stood motionless, a momentary frieze, startled by Ned’s presence and assailed unexpectedly by an unsolicited recollection of Zachary, the husband who was no longer her husband. Zach, gone years ago. Why think of him, she wondered. Then the rhythm of Bach’s second violin concerto spilled into the hallway.


  1. You have a lot to work with in this opening, and I like how much information you've conveyed without it being awkward--the fact that she's been married before and is in love with a married guy. We also root for her because she's had the self-discipline to say no to him. And I really like the violin concerto spilling into the hallway--that detail intrigued me more than everything else. Does she have a kid who's practicing? Is it a recording, and if so, what's the significance? I wonder if Zach is going to pop up again. So, very good things to work with.

    It did feel a little rushed; I can see where I might invest in these characters, but I haven't yet. The first paragraphs were a bit ambiguous--we didn't get names until the third paragraph. That's kind of hard way to open a book. We want something to grab hold of right away.

  2. Interesting beginning. I can really feel the tension and the love she has for him, and that's no small task to describe in <250 words

  3. This is my genre so I wanted to make a comment. I really like the idea behind this story, but I think you could blow this beginning out of the water by drawing the reader in more, making us feel more a part of the action. I'd start with him being at her doorstep, and weaving in the first paragraph a little later on. Starting a story with a few "hads" slows down the action, because it makes it feel far-away. I really do like this though and feel those few tweaks will bring it together. I'd keep reading if I had more pages.

  4. I want to read this! It takes a lot to hook me and you did.

  5. Kathleen makes some good points. Because we aren't really "introduced" to the characters until a few paragraphs in, it was difficult for me to become invested in them.

    I was also a little confused when she says she was ignoring the calls, but then we find out about Zachary and it makes it more sense. And I was wondering what happened to him?

  6. The beginning line caught my attention immediately, but then I was a little confused that she ended up not sleeping with him, which by the way, makes me more sympathetic with the character.

    Her reaction, "Good God," seemed out of place with her follow-up actions. With the physical descriptions, it seems she's stunned, yet silent.

    Interesting bringing in Zachary, and in just a light reference at this point. I liked it. I didn't need to know their history.

    I would keep reading for sure.

  7. I liked it and I would keep reading. I liked the voice, and I could feel the tension of the moment.

    "...the husband who was no longer her husband" was oddly vague and a little frustrating because I can't tell if they're divorced or he died.

    I have sympathy for her situation since she didn't sleep with him. But I can't say I'm all that found of him. Should I be?

  8. I agree with Virginia. I like this and I think your writing is strong, but I think it could be stronger if you open with him at her door, and weave some of the backstory in through the first page instead of opening with it. Good luck!