Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #38

TITLE: Falling Stars
GENRE: Contemporary Romance


The hand scrawled paper was taped from the inside of the glass window, and her steps grew heavy as Jules halted her approach to the box office. Lamenting herself for being such an idiot that she had not foreseen this, she used the heel of one boot to pivot, turning to bleakly stare at the large complex.

The few people striding up the concrete stairs walked with purpose—fortunate, buoyant people with tickets. The walls thunked dully. Inside, the show was underway for the last twenty minutes by her estimate, so there were few stragglers. Her plan to arrive after the opening show late enough to be sure she wasn't accidentally noticed had badly backfired.

The dark sky above was cloudy when she raised her eyes to it seeking some sort of answer, but there was no mystical lightning strike, and she began to walk back to the curb defeated. Namedropping could get her into the show. She knew that she had some pull in that way, but tonight had been about curiosity and she needed the anonymity.

"Excuse me." The youth, politely speaking for her attention was punked out—a look that was not in character with most of the others passing by on their way to the entrance. He moved in close asking her for a cigarette, and she shook her head in apology. Years ago, she had quit the habit when she could not shake the memories of sharing cigarettes with Matt, all day every day.


  1. I commend anybody brave enough to have their work open for criticism! There are several tricky sentences in this piece that caused me to have to go back and reread. For example "The hand scrawled paper was taped from the inside of the glass window, and her steps grew heavy as Jules halted her approach to the box office." I think the second part of the sentence could be reworded and perhaps made into a stand alone sentence. The flow was a little hard to get into. Good luck and happy writing!

  2. The last sentence completely took me out of where I was. Like BOOM here's Matt. Now I'm like who's Matt? Wasn't she just trying to get inside a theater? You had me until the ending.

  3. I am very curious as to why she needs to get into the theatre. The part about the cigarettes almost threw me out. I was okay until you mentioned her feelings about cigarettes and Matt.
    I think you have a good hook here with the theatre. Since Matt is mentioned on the first page, I assume he's important, but I'd bring him in later.

  4. The writing is a bit convoluted. Also, there are a lot of sentences that start with "The (noun)." Maybe shake up your sentence structure a bit?
    (Also, I don't think you can "lament" yourself - maybe "berate" yourself?)

  5. I think the writing structure is working against the scene. I like the way the character thinks, but there's a rather heavy dose of melodrama to the words you've chosen. And the sentences are rather long and convoluted.

    Personally, I liked the bit about Matt the most and felt like the rest of the opening was kind of filler.

    Maybe start out with that bit because it made me curious.

  6. I also am curious what is going on at the theatre and why she wants to get in! I think naming this earlier will help to engage readers. This opening has a heavyness to it rather than a sense of urgency that she's desperate to get in to a concert or theatre production.
    I think this is a case of the writing getting in the way of the story. It almost feels like the story is buried beneath wordy sentences; maybe a simpler approach, breaking up some of the longer sentences, watching for "as" which can often tack on extra "and then" stuff, slowing the pace.

    "the youth" threw me a bit because it feels very old, or maybe it's just formal. It adds to the distant, formal writing here, which is probably why it's a little tough to engage. The very end mentons a Matt, and that shows a spark of interest, so I'd read on to see what else happens.

  7. Interesting opening. I feel your mc's disappointment. I'm curious about her motivations. I think you could have given us a bit more though. Something to heighten the urgency to get in or the reason for her being there...or what exactly she was hoping to see.

    Some sentences are a little chunky and could be cut down to speed up the pace a bit.

  8. This intrigues me. Mostly it's the character's personality at the first, specifically the boot pivot. Love that image.

    However, there are some things that interrupt the flow of the prose, such as "passing by on their way" could be cut down to "passing" or "on their way". Too many adverbs "she wasn't accidentally noticed had badly backfired."

    The last paragraph leaves me cold. We move from actual words to the feel of the conversation rather than letting us experience it. Also, the dropping in the memories of Matt feels out of place.

  9. The writing is the issue here, I think. As others have said, there are a lot of convoluted sentences, particularly the opening one. My suggestion would be to act out what your character is doing. Don't do what you imagine her doing. Read the text and do exactly what you've written and you'll see why some of these sentences don't work.

    Her steps are heavy as she halts - if she halts, she's not moving, thus, she's not taking any steps.

    Walls thunked dully. - a wall can't do anything. Perhaps something thunked against the wall? Maybe the sounds of loud music thumped against the walls?

    She used the heel of one boot to pivot - perhaps she pivoted on her boot heel?

    Badly backfired - implies it may have backfired well. Ditch the adverb.

    Perhaps rewrite this for more clarity and ease of reading.

  10. Lots of good hints to reel in the reader. It gives you the chance to reveal complicated plot points slowly over many pages. That can be so satisfying but I had to read the passage twice to untangle the information from the setting and action. Could you rewrite these long sinewy sentences so that the purpose of each one is clearer?


  11. This is a solid enough opening, but I think the reader knows more about the club and the atmosphere of the evening than Jules and why she’s there, which makes it a but hard to connect. Jules is disappointed that the show is sold out- why? And why is she hesitant to use her connections to get inside?