Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #50

TITLE: Perfect Trust
GENRE: women's fiction

Oh God, please tell me we haven’t made a mistake.

Libby Rollins glanced out the window of their aging minivan. She rolled her shoulders to relieve the building tension. Her love for James could compel her to move to Timbuktu, if necessary, but did that include returning to her small-town roots? Could she trust they had made a wise choice?

The van bumped across a long metal bridge and then cruised down the Main Street of their new hometown. A white courthouse sat in the center of a close-cut lawn decorated with an American flag and a black cannon. Mom-and-Pop owned shops cozied up close to one another like slices of bread. Men and women peppered the streets.

The waning sun cast a pattern of long shadows across the road. Amid all the strangers on the street she caught a glimpse of an all too familiar profile—one she hadn’t seen for years but could never forget, in spite of the good life she’d built with James.

She held her breath as her eyes followed the tall dark-haired figure, trying to get a better glance, hoping to ease her concern. The man disappeared behind a door as he entered a shop. Rudy Blevins? She wiped a row of perspiration beaded on her upper lip. It couldn’t be him after all these years. Not here, not now.

Her stomach knotted, and her pulse raced. She’d hoped this move would afford them all new beginnings, new places, new faces.


  1. The line by line level writing is strong, but I feel like we are being told what Libby is feeling in addition to the reasons for her being in her small town instead of being shown (through action and dialogue). Granted, this is just be beginning, so you couldn't get the same amount of info to the reader in the 250 words you have here. But I would think how seeing Rudy affects Libby's interaction with the other car passenger (I'm assuming there is one with the mention of "their minivan")would be a better place to sow in a lot of the info that is "told" here. But like I said, the sentence level writing and variety is very strong. Best of luck with this.

  2. Normally, I don't like first pages to start with a move since it's a common place to start, but the writing in this piece is strong, and I liked how you used the sights as a reflection of Libby's emotions. You also have me curious about Rudy.

  3. I agree with the posters above that the writing in this piece is technically solid, but I'm not gripped by the story.

    Part of the problem, for me, is that Libby seems very detached until Rudy appears in the scene. She describes her hometown as though she's a stranger passing through. If this is where she grew up, I'd expect her to have a more personal connection to what she's seeing, perhaps feeling a touch of nostalgia when she passes the diner where she used to hang out with her friends, or a sense of regret when she realizes that the store where she used to buy her school clothes is now a frou-frou antique shop. Those kinds of personal reflections would help me connect more to Libby.

    As Bluestocking mentioned, I'd also like to see her interacting with the other occupants of the van. I'm guessing Libby is not the driver because of the way she's looking around, but I have no idea who else is with her.

    I think Rudy could probably wait until page 2. I want to get connected with Libby first, and then I'll care more about this mysterious person from her past.

  4. I'd like to get a hint (only a hint is all I need) of why she's dreading moving back to such a lovely place. Your description of it has no dark undertones; it seems pure "happy," so it's hard to connect with the character. I do like your hint at the very end about the need/desire for new beginnings. That intrigues me.

    I agree with the above comment about the interaction with whoever else is in the van. Husband, perhaps? It might get from point A to point B more slowly, but it would be more engaging to have two characters instead of one.

  5. Very competent writing! :) I love the simile of the shops cozied up like slices of bread. I got an immediate image of what this looks like. Nice!

    I think you jump to her motivation for moving to this town too quickly. We don't know Libby well enough to care about her love for James. I suggest you connect us to Libby's character first so that we can understand her behavior.

    She's tense, but that carries no weight without knowing what's behind the tension. Obviously not her love for James, but something else having to do with this town she's arrived in. Get that out of the way first before pondering whether or not she made a wise choice. It's out of context with what we don't yet know.

    I can appreciate your desire to world build right away, and your descriptions are well done, but again it's out of context and separate from the character. The character is who the story is about, not the town. So as you introduce physical aspects of the town be sure to relate them directly to how it affects the character.

    We have a few reactions from her, but again, we don't know "why" she held her breath, "why" her lip is sweating, "why" her stomach knots and pulse races. You have all the elements here, you just need to make better connections between them so the reader can experience who Libby is.

    Good luck!

  6. You got my attention with first line. It demonstrates the character's uncertainty about something in her life.

    I agree with some of the above comments. Though the writing is solid and your descriptions are amazing, I feel that we are in danger of getting lost in them. Maybe this is the reason why I'm so distant from her. However, if you somehow combine description with her feeling at the moment, the danger of having description take over as character might be minimizedm

    Consider having a more memorable description of the man. Dark tall and handsome is more of a cliche and not a real person. I would have felt closer to her, say, if he was limping, or if he was balding. (Just an example)

    Good luck!

  7. I think this is a great foundation to build upon. As others said, this feels distanced, detached. A few suggestions to work on building a closer narrative:

    When your character asks a question about the plot or their own feelings, this is an opportunity to rephrase and show your characters actions or motivations. The question this is kind of the cheap way out (I learned this the hard way!) A part I stumbled on was in "their" van. Whose van? I would suggest stating this straight away to set the scene. Also, is she driving alone? Maybe a line of dialogue to the person in the car would help, or if it's a van belonging to the family but she's alone, that could be stated.

    The town description has a lot of good detail. Maybe see if you can connect it more closely to the character--A white courthouse, or the THE white courthouse where she had to pay a senseless ticket for jaywalking? Which mom & pop shops are significant, maybe name one and what memory it brings back, just a quick line will show something about her character and what she values.

    As another person commented, maybe a hint of what happened with James. Is he here? Has she left him? Is he dead?

    Lots of potential here, good luck!

  8. I also thought this was a strong start -- right away there's conflict. However, I agree with Bluestocking. We're in her head a lot when it might be stronger with some dialogue. Also agree that using 'tall dark-haired figure" most likely would have had me setting the book down. Last line would be stronger without redundancy. Try a period after "beginnings" and see how that feels.

  9. We like that Libby’s mistake is mentioned in the first line, because it makes readers wonder what the mistake is. When we read on and learn about her choice to move and her fears, it makes us feel for Libby and we want things to work out well for her. Then when Rudy appears, we know something interesting is going to unfold. However, we find this opening was a bit overdramatic. We like that there is emotion to hook us, but we also felt like this woman was acting a tad childlike. We don't think you need to be so on-the-nose in spelling out the problem (“Did that include returning to her small-town roots? Could she trust…?” sounds more like cover copy/catalog description than actual thoughts).