Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #3

TITLE: Tell Me Something About Yourself I Don't Know
GENRE: Adult Crime

“I don’t remember when I met Becky.”

My job brings me in contact with journalists from all over the state. Sometimes a new one, usually from down south, realizes that I’m not just Vic Anderson, I’m that Vic Anderson. I was a big deal two decades ago.

“With all due respect, that’s hard to believe,” he said.

I wanted to hang up on him, but I need to be nice to these people.

“My mother claims that we played in the same park as preschoolers, but I don’t remember that. It was a small city. She wasn’t in my high school, or my church. I knew her from around.”

That was true. At interfaith basketball games I would occasionally glance up from the court and see her perched on the outskirts of the pretty girls. She was also quick on the buzzer at the academic bowl. I used to sit in my school’s alternates’ row and cheer against her squad. She was always a smart girl.

“And you never had any sort of adolescent relationship with her?”

Jesus, I thought. This is what passes for journalism nowadays? Sometimes I saw her at parties, is that a relationship? I remember her as the voice of reason: “Let’s not do that.” “It’s too late to go way out there.” “I’ll drive. You’ve had enough.” She was brainy, flat-chested, and short. There was one time when we held eye contact a few beats longer than necessary - she had a cute face.


  1. I don't read a lot of crime fiction, so take this with a grain of salt, but my question reading this was, "where's the body?" Your writing is very clean, the voice is strong and you do a great job characterizing the teenage Vic and Becky in just a few paragraphs. But to be hooked, I need to know why these characters are important enough to attract a journalist's attention.

    Good luck!

  2. Who is Vic Anderson? Why does his job put him in contact with journalists? It's unclear why a journalist would be interested in speaking with him, and why the journalist would be interested in his childhood and adolescent relationship with Becky. But because there are no clues, I'm not interested in learning more. Obviously you can't provide everything in 250 words, nor should you, but give some info to make the reader hungry for more.

  3. I would be interested in finding out why vic comes into contact with journalists all the time. Also why is the reporter interested in Becky. Is she dead? Did she kill someone? Did she win a pie eating contest?

  4. I’m intrigued by your opening, knowing this is a crime novel. Unlike the other commenters, I’m willing to wait, knowing “all will be revealed” but do agree we need to know some things pretty soon, like Vic Anderson’s job.

    We find out a lot about the teenaged Becky, or at least what the MC thought about her, and find out about his personality at the same time. I wondered about “I used to sit in my school’s alternates’ row and cheer against her squad,” as if he’s antagonistic to Becky for some reason, or just attends a different school.

    Each of your dialogues is in a paragraph by itself, making the reader work just a second to make sure who’s talking, even though we know who’s talking. For example, I’d attach “My mother claims…” to the previous paragraph.

    “Sometimes I saw her at parties, is that a relationship?” probably should be two sentences. Or use a semi-colon.

    You could tighten in places, such as: Once we held eye contact a few beats longer than necessary. She did have a cute face.

  5. I don't know what's happening? Why is she being questioned about Becky? Did something happen, and is Vic is a suspect? Is Vic male or female. Perhaps consider a rewrite with a few more details.

  6. I need to know more about Vic too. Why was he a big deal two decades ago? I'd lost the beginning dialogue, it's jarring before we know more about Vic. What is Vic's job? Maybe start with the phone call. I'd also cut the line "with all due respect" I don't feel like journalists would say this. And who is Becky? Is she the dead body? If so, start with that.

  7. I think the writing feels appropriate to the genre, and it flows well. However, this read more like the middle of a chapter than the beginning of the story. The first line is dialogue and not attributed to anyone, and the next line of dialogue is "he," but he who? Later on through the chapter you don't have to attribute every line of dialogue, but at the start, we need to know who is talking. You could start the story with the first paragraph after the line of dialogue, I think that would read a little stronger.

  8. Be very, very careful when you choose not to include dialogue tags. I had to re-read this twice to understand who was saying what to whom. Your first line didn't grab me, it confused me: Who is speaking? Who is Becky? Why do I care about Becky? Then the next paragraph: Is Becky famous? Was the journalist speaking?

    The next dialogue tag-less line implies that the journalist is now speaking, because you went from him, to "I," and did a paragraph break--implying it goes back to "him," the journalist.

    Once I figured out what was going on, I was still confused. I assume that Becky is dead from this being a Crime book, but why haven't you just outright told us that? What's the reason for the story behind showing us this conversation between a journalist and a washed up big deal two decades ago?

  9. I'm quite lost and totally clueless about what's happening. Who says what to who and why do they say it? You're missing all the fundamentals here.

    Structurally, this needs a lot of work. It's also lacking in both content and context. Someone is questioning someone about something that seems irrelevant to anything. You need to make it relevant and you need to put a face and a personality with these characters.

  10. The voice here is good, especially for crime fiction. The opening line, however, isn't grabbing me. If you're going to open with a line of dialogue, I'd recommend something a little more active.

    I'm more interested in finding out about why people want to talk to Vic than I am in this conversation in which you introduce us to him. If the conversation isn't all that important, you might consider glossing over it a bit more--the way Vic might, if he's used to having them.

  11. I might rearrange the beginning to not open with the dialogue. It's just a bit jarring since I don't know who's speaking. Maybe just move it below the first paragraph. That will tell me whose not only talking, but who he's speaking too.

    You're writing flows well and it tight. I like the flashbacks, good description.

    This paragraph:
    "Jesus, I thought. This is what passes as journalism today"

    Instead of the "I thought", you could keep the reader in his head like you did in the beginning by skipping the I thought altogether. Up until that part I was in the MCs head. Then I felt suddenly detached from him a bit. Just an opinion though.

    I think the opening is interesting and I would read on to learn why he's being asked about Becky. Nice job.