Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #28

TITLE: The Plate Spinner Chronicles
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Paul hung up the wall-mounted phone and stared at it a moment, a dozen unspeakable sentiments running through his head. She had thrown down the gauntlet again and, with the resolve of a stay-at-home dad navigating the grocery store cereal aisle on double coupon day, he braced himself for the imminent battle.

Easing back into the paint-chipped cane back chair at the head of the kitchen table, he tried to remember a time when the sound of her voice triggered a tingle from deep within his chest to the tip of his pinkie toes. Today was not one of those days.

Two pairs of eyes bore holes into his forehead, or at least they tried to. Shifting in his seat, Paul bent his head and twirled more spaghetti onto his fork. Without making eye contact, he announced, “That was your Mom. She had a bad day. Eat up.”

Thomas, thought by many to be destined for a successful career in investigative journalism, asked his father, “What did she say?”

With a fork full of food in his mouth, Paul looked at him and mumbled, “That she’s on her way home.”

“What else did she say?”

Swallowing hard, he replied, “Nothing. Eat.”

“So how do you know that she had a bad day?” the twelve-year-old asked while making quotation marks in the air with his fingers.

“Because when you know someone as long as I’ve known your Mother, you just know.”

“And how long is that exactly?” Thomas persisted.


  1. I love the opening paragraph and the reference to the stay-home-dad in the grocery store on double coupon day. There's a wry humor there that I really like which pulled me into the story. I felt comfortable being in a man's head, which I don't usually like when I'm reading.

    The persistent 12-year old is very believable and the conversation with him is well-written. Also, I want to know more about the mom and what's going to happen when she gets home. So good job!

  2. I understand what you're doing here with the clever and different description of Paul's resolve in the first paragraph, but it reads long in its cleverness. Have you read it aloud to hear the flow? Same with the first sentence in paragraph two...43 words is a mouthful and "back" is in that sentence, close together, two times.

    The drilling Thomas does is realistic and well-done, as is Paul's attempts to maneuver around a conversation he doesn't want to have with his son.

    Good luck!

  3. I thought this was brilliantly written, but then I can sympathize with Paul's state of mind a little, I think. I loved the whole first paragraph - actually, I loved the whole thing. My kids are that inquisitive and that persistent, especially when I don't want them to be, so I found this very believable.

  4. This is really great, I'd read on.

    love the line about destined for investigative jounalism.

    Maybe establish thomas as a twelve-year old right at the beginning, because i thought he was more like 7 for some reason.

    the eyes boring holes line "bore" should have a "d" on the end. Also, it should be one pair of eyes, unless there's another kid there too. I might change this sentence to: "He felt a pair of eyes boring holes in the back of his head"

    I'd read on!

  5. I think this is clever, and Paul is sympathetic. I think the dialogue is working here better than it often does in opening pages.

    I do think it's very difficult to open a women's fiction story from a man's POV, and I wouldn't mind being deeper in Paul's head. What is he feeling? It's shown clearly but still feels a little distant since I can't see his thoughts, and I'd like to see even more of his wry humor.

    I also wanted to know more of Thomas's age -- for some reason I thought he was a toddler at first, which was confusing.

    But I think this is a good start! I'd read a few more pages to see where it was going.

  6. I agree there might be difficulties opening a women's fiction story with a male pov. If the genre wasn't posted I would have assumed it was his story. Maybe this passage could go after an opening from her? I also liked the 12 year old but I'm not sure about the how long they've known each other line. I feel like a 12 yr old would probably know that about his parents already. But I really liked the imagery and would read on. Might be interesting to see how 'she' comes into it and is portrayed. From his pov I don't immediately like her.