Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #2

TITLE: The Company of Old Ladies
GENRE: Adult women's upmarket

The two old ladies sit in the Panera Bakery Café near downtown Denver. Plump Pansy, gray hair in the French twist she’s sported for years, sips a small, Equal-sweetened, hazelnut decaf. Despite her life-long battle with weight, she makes a face and adds two packets of sugar. Friend Esther, tall and bony and strung together loosely as a starved cat, drinks a soy milk latte.

           Pansy resumes the women’s customary discussion, a courteous—if heated—dialogue over the benefits and burdens of advanced age. At sixty-eight, she struggles to accept her deteriorating exterior while her interior still feels about thirty-five. “I simply don’t care what’s proper or improper any more. If I want to be blunt and opinionated, I am. I’m willing to look foolish. A big bonus that compensates for discomfort like the hemorrhoids plaguing me.” She shifts on the hard chair to search for respite.

            Clamp! Instead of rebutting, Esther squeezes Pansy's arm, halting her mid-thought.

            Pansy knows she must freeze in obedience to Esther’s silent command. Esther, the elder by fifteen years, likes to lead in pointing out items of interest, perhaps an especially dirty homeless man, or a newspaper headline blazing panic over a new environmental danger. Pansy slowly sweeps the room with her gaze, never moving her head. Then she nods to indicate she’s seen the curiosity.

            And there it is. At the table next to them. Something truly strange and wonderful. Whether male or female Pansy can’t tell immediately. Starting at the top, a Mohawk.


  1. Oh how I LOVE older character protags! Love them. I see their personality all over and it's great. I am truly curious as to what this story is about, as I don't have much indication yet, but this intro is simply charming!

  2. A couple things:
    1. Please get rid of the fat/age shaming. It's completely inappropriate in any book and your average reader of WF is not going to like being called plump or old.
    2. I think you need to revise this so it's actually in Pansy's POV. Just because it's 3rd person doesn't mean you should be omniscient as a narrator. We need to see things through her eyes (and she would not be looking at herself like she's floating above seeing 2 strangers).

    Good luck!

  3. I am not a fan of "Plump Pansy" adding two packets of sugar...sounds like something a kid would say and is kind of belittling. Or Esther being described only in terms of her body for that matter. There has to be something more important about these people to lead with than their bodies.

    It gets more interesting when it moves on from that...I am looking forward to more about how these ladies are interacting with the world and who it is with the Mohawk that is going to shake them up.

  4. Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive, or simply not seeing the humorous side of this, but I'm not invested in these characters yet, and your descriptions of them seem to indicate a negative attitude toward them. I would rather get to know their character first, and then be given some indication of their personal appearance.

    Or perhaps I'm reading it wrong, and the two ladies are, themselves, biased, so we need to see their own faults or inadequacies to better understand where they are coming from.

    Aside from that, I am interested as to why someone with a mohawk would cause such a reaction from them.

  5. I’m not sure if I find the narration complementing the story—it seems to switch between omniscient and perhaps 3rd person limited. Given the story, to me, third person limited seems to be a more natural choice as it would allow us to feel closer to Pansy. While there are certainly humorous moments here, at times, these women felt unlikable. Without knowing the story fully, that may be the point. If not, I’d see if you can find a way to keep the charm of their observations from perhaps seeming mean. I see some comments here already about the portrayal of weight within the story and I also felt a bit uncomfortable with the characters’ initial descriptions. But I do think you’ve created a clear portrayal of two women and have set the stage for some great questions as to what will come next. (And one small thing--something about "Clamp!" didn't quite sit right with me as explaining the sound/ a squeeze. Perhaps another sound would be more natural? Clamp to me seems much louder than what would come from skin on skin contact).