Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Secret Agent #4

GENRE: Adult Literary Fiction

Every year it comes down to the wire, the feeling of metal taunt against flesh before somewhere down the line, eventually, it relaxes. There are acres of lawns to trim, gardens to plant fresh every summer, cosmetics to worry about before opening day. If the director could afford it, he would have his staff repaint the wooden decks attached to the cabins before the campers arrived every year. Winter is hard on the property.

The director’s right hand man is inside the little head counselor office, sorting through moldy paperwork from last summer. The director’s daughter, his headache, is moving her things into her fiancé’s home, three miles up the road. The new girl, the director knows is named after a flower. The new girl, although named after a flower, will never know that her father, the one who made her inside her mother, loved midnight, ice caves, cathedral windows, all the lilies that weren’t white and that’s how she was named, to honour, to remember, to hold tight to that love even after it dried and crumpled from the stalk.

It’s a skill the director prizes that even after all these years he still knows where everyone is. The director’s right hand man is brushing droppings, those little flecks like dirt, from the surface of last year’s staff evaluations. The ones the director has fired over the years, five or six a summer, sometimes more, sometimes a bumper crop, work somewhere else now: golf courses, day camps, in retail.


  1. Great beginning! I'd change some of the "director's" to "his" as the repeated use of "director" gets distracting.

  2. You use very vivid language and descriptions throughout this opening. There are some really nice turns of phrase.

    I feel like the prose is a bit dense, but that may be a stylistic decision.

    Overall I'm a little confused about what is going on. Is this a summer camp for kids? Teens? Adults?

    Also, watch out for repetition as you've got a couple lines that are near mirrors of each other.

    Good luck!

  3. The title is great and pulls me in.

    The first line, what is it? IT is used twice, but I'm not sure the word is referring to the same object. I would suggest replacing at least the second instance with what the "it" is.

    I'm personally not drawn in much by omniscient narration at the start, but I read a ton of YA which is far more immediate and personal. The second paragraph is intriguing, I like the listing of where people are and what they are doing, but by the end I'm a little lost on where this is taking place. I"m thinking summer camp or a school program. Even with more distant storytelling, getting the who/what/where is really helpful for a first page to orient readers.

  4. I can't exactly explain why, but for me the story started up when you got to the third paragraph. I felt like if you started there and threaded the other elements in because that is when I see something about the director that draws me in.

  5. This isn't for me. I'm not a fan of distant narrators. You have beautiful prose, though.

    I can say I'm confused by reading. What camp? Where are we? What's happening? I'm not grounded at all.

    Good luck!

  6. Love the first line of this excerpt. Although I feel as though for better effect it should stop after "...against flesh". That would, IMO, just give it a lot more impact.

    The prose is compelling and intriguing. And, I'm sorry to say, a bit confounding. I realize that LitFic isn't like a genre novel where it should start in the action of the moment. But as a reader I have no idea of person or place here. Or who the narrator is. Omniscient narrator, or someone else who's just reflecting on 'the director'? I know it's hard to bring much out in 250 words, but this feels a bit like it's trying to do too much all at once and not getting the full meaning across.

    I think this has the makings of something really compelling if there was a bit of clarity/focus in the narrative.

    Best of luck!

  7. Sorry, but I have no idea what this is about or where it may be going, so I can't offer any suggestions. I do wonder what the director is a director of. AT first, I thought it was a theater, and then you mentioned the cabins and camp, but I couldn't see why cosmetics would be necessary at a summer camp. I just don't get it.

  8. The prose is lovely and you definitely have a way with words. I like the way the first paragraph unfolds, but I got a tad lost in the second paragraph.

    "The director" and "The new girl" are each repeated within the paragraph and the last sentence of that same paragraph is 59 words long. I found myself itching to know their names instead of "the new girl" (which flower is she named after?) and "the director." Is there a story-related reason they're not named? If not, it might help the reader get a firmer grasp. Maybe?

    I like the fact that the director knows where everyone is, this tells me he cares about his employees. I realize this is a very short sample, but I'd also like to know who the MC is. I'm guessing it's either the director or the new girl, but I'm not sure.

    Hope that helps! Good luck!

  9. What pretty sentences you can make! I have no idea what's going on though. This needs some grounding, perhaps in action or dialogue? But truly, the prosody is lovely.

  10. Hi everyone,

    Just chiming in on my own submission to say thanks!!

    I know what I'm doing isn't right for everyone, but I appreciate your feedback.


  11. I believe you mean "taut," not "taunt" in the first sentence. Punctuation also needs work. I can imagine I'd enjoy reading this but it's not clear to me yet where it's headed.

    1. Haha. Thanks on the typo/spelling issue. No one else has caught this. Very appreciated.