Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Secret Agent #39

TITLE: 'I Wouldn't Have Kids If I Was You'
GENRE: Adult Women's Commercial

I wouldn’t have kids if I was you.

Firstly they all start as babies, and babies are arseholes. They show up, sometimes uninvited, cause a shitload of pain and distress on arrival and then spend most of their time screaming loudly in a manner scientifically designed to cause maximum irritation to the adult brain.

I can think of no other circumstance in life where I would allow a complete stranger to treat me this way.

They are undoubtedly the worst, most demanding and narcissistic house guest you will ever have.
And they are so needy. They literally want you to do everything for them. Everything. “I’m hungry! Feed me” they squeal at you with indignation. “I shat myself, wipe my arse!” They bellow at you. And all of this is said with screams. Screams to tell you what they want you to do for them. You are then forced to go through an intense process of elimination to determine what the flip they actually want. Even then they might not be happy. Some of them just cry for the hell of it, even after they’ve been changed and fed.

Babies – massive eyes and layers of fluffy swaddling wrapped around the dark heart of a tiny dictator.
After arriving in the most painful fashion imaginable they then deploy devious means of torture on their captives. Because, as a parent that is essentially what you are. A captive with a sentence of 18 to life.


  1. I'm a fan of the irreverent narrator and your first line did hook me. I believe the entire submission would be tons stronger, if it were tied to a specific character doing something. Rather than just hearing her thoughts, I'd like to see her beginning her day. Show us the events of the day as they unfold, be concrete, and then let her comment in her unique voice about each event. I assume she's speaking from experience with children, but I can't be sure because you haven't introduced us to her yet. I know nothing about her except that she finds children terribly inconvenient.

    "They show up, sometimes uninvited, cause a shitload of pain and distress on arrival and then spend most of their time screaming loudly in a manner scientifically designed to cause maximum irritation to the adult brain."

    This is a gem. I smiled.

    "I can think of no other circumstance in life where I would allow a complete stranger to treat me this way."

    This is also funny.

    I also quite enjoy the bit about the process of elimination, but feel it would be so much funnier if you dropped us in the midst of the situation. Irreverent mom hears baby scream, holds out bottle mechanically, waits from scream to stop. No? Holds out baby rattle, shakes it. Waits. No? Hold out spoon. Holds out diaper wipe. Crying stops. We have a bingo.

    "18 to life." Also clever.

    While line one hooks me, I need more reasons to attach to and invest in your character to keep reading. You make no promises. I don't know where the story is going.

  2. This is a risky way to start your story because you have the floating thoughts of a narrator talking directly to your audience. I only know of one published book that starts this way, though there are probably others. Because it's risky, you're more likely to get automatic rejections from agents and publishers, but you only need one yes.

    Personally, I love the voice and would turn to the next page, but I'll need more than just voice on the second page for me to keep reading.

  3. I like the voice, and agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments! :) That said, I think this reads like a personal essay rather than the beginning of a novel. I'm not sure what the book will be about - a person who had a kid who regrets it, I think? It's very clever, though.

  4. Agree with Sasha above. If you could find a way to personalize the feelings— because so far the narrator sounds kind of angry, and I wouldn't want to stick with that for a whole book. I would need at least a hint of something more to come.

  5. I think this has potential, but like the others I also thought it sounds more of a personal essay than a piece of fiction. With nothing but thoughts being thrown at me it is hard to get a sense who this character is. I personally felt like I need to see the query to see what this is all about because at the moment all I know is that someone has a very strong opinion about not having kids, but have no idea who it is.

  6. You've got some clever lines here, and some funny ones, but overall, my thoughts are with Sasha. It needs a lot more.

    This is your first page. Think about what an agent or editor can take from it. The MC, whoever it is (because you don't let us know) doesn't like kids. It's the title and the first line, so we know this right away, AT the end of the submission, what else do we know? We know some of the reasons the mc doesn't like babies. We still don't know who the MC is, we don't have a clue what the story is about. Does the MC suddenly find herself pregnant. Has someone left a baby on his doorstep? What's the hook? You haven't given me any reason to read further.

    Rather than a rant, let us see some of these things actually happening to your MC. Give us a scene that shows us something.

  7. Thanks all for you comments. The next line of this piece is 'I can't think why I had five of them'. It was a shame I couldn't fit it into the 250 word format as it starts to make a bit more sense after that! :)

  8. A lot of these sentences/descriptions are so perfect! You definitely have a gift with words, unlike those tiny dictators :) This is genuinely funny and I hope you can keep that if/when you try to make the first page into more of a scene with actions

  9. This was a mix for me - definitely some clever/funny lines! But the fact that the entire first page took a negative tone made it feel like a rant, and I think it would help to squeeze in a redemptive thought or sentiment onto this first page. I think room can definitely be made. The two sentences "They bellow at you. And all of this is said with screams." are repetitive in nature, for example. Maybe just tighten up a bit and that line about "I can't think why I had five of them" will make its way into the first 250. I feel like I would have had a very different first impression of this piece had the excerpt ended on that line. :)

  10. I liked the voice! Perhaps it's because I identify with the character's thoughts, lol. Many of the sentences made me chuckle and smirk. I wanted to read more.

  11. The start of this is funny, though I'm not sure I'd be intrigued enough to read on because I'm not sure who is talking. Who is the main character? What is he/she doing? Where is this set? What does he/she look like?

    As I read to the end, even though there are definitely funny bits, I'm still not sure where we are and who is speaking so it's hard as a reader to put this in context. I'd likely read on to see if the context comes soon because this could be the start of a funny romantic comedy, but there's not enough here so far for me to tell.

    Thanks for entering!