Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #28

TITLE: When We Were Friends
GENRE: Adult Women's Fiction High Concept

As Frannie Willets drove west across the state, she wasn’t lucky enough to be swallowed by a sinkhole or washed off the road by a spring flood, so there was no way to avoid this reunion after all. Still, she blew right past the diner where Lexi, her ex-partner in crime, waited. She parked two blocks down Main Street and climbed out of her beat-up white Chevy into the clean air of Licking, Indiana, population 2,432, if you believed the interstate billboard. She locked the car, probably unlike anyone else here, but four years behind bars had made her suspicious of her fellow humans.

Head up, eyes straight ahead, hands down at her sides—courtesy of the guards’ strict training—she followed the incline of the sidewalk, up the tree- and shop-lined street that said welcome in a plain-spoken Midwestern accent. Lexi must love it here. Must feel safe.

Frannie just felt like having a drink.

When she’d gone to prison, she’d still been too young to buy a legal one. In the six months since she’d been paroled, she’d indulged in the occasional slug of cheap whiskey. Always just one. Just enough to steady her nerves. Man, did she need a shot of steadiness now.

She passed a few pedestrians going about the business of life. One old man gave her side-eye, probably seeing at a glance what she really was. Eyes straight ahead. Soon this sordid meeting would be over and she’d be back at the halfway house.


  1. This opening sets up a fun story with lots of potential. Frannie could easily be a great companion as we spend a few hours listening in to her adventures.

    Consider telling us less, however, and showing more. "So there was no way to avoid this reunion after all" tells us what we're about to figure out anyway. So does "four years behind bars" - why not hold off just a bit on why she doesn't trust others? The inner thought "eyes straight ahead" later shows us that she has lived under some sort of threat for a time. And "her ex-partner in crime" also tells us a bit of info without showing anything, and I think the story gets stronger if you aren't as explicit this early. "...where Lexi waited" carries its own tension, and I think it's all you need in the first page or two.

    I think tightened up this could be a very effective and intriguing story.

  2. This is a wonderfully effective use of sensory narration. I might recommend adding in some auditory clues - even if their just turning some lines into internal dialogue.

  3. I love your first sentence. We know already that she has a wicked sense of humor, and she's dreading what's coming.

    I was a little bit bothered by the repetition of eyes straight ahead, unless there's some reason you need to keep tagging us with that particular line.

    I'm really anxious to know how the reunion of these two obviously different women is going to turn out. Sounds like a fun read.

  4. I really like this opening, from Fannie (unfortunately) not getting caught in a natural disaster to the Midwestern accent of the sign to her needing a shot of steadiness. It reads smoothly. I think if you leave about the part about Lexi as her ex-partner in crime it might make it even more intriguing. I think if you just mention strict training of eyes straight ahead, head up, etc, that might make us a bit more curious regarding her background.
    Nice job. Thanks for hsaring!

  5. The only line that clunked for me was the line about her locking the car. The rhythm felt off on that - like it should be sharper, and more consistent with the rest of the voice. I think it`s an interesting situation and cool voice though!

  6. I really like this. "her ex-partner in crime" is telling so you need to show us who Lexi is in her thoughts. Also, I think you should re-word "As Frannie Willets drove west across the state" as it makes it sound like this is taking place during that entire timeframe when it's actually starting as she arrives in town. It will be stronger if it's just a thought she has when she parks her car. We don't need to be in present as she drives there.

    Great otherwise!

    Good luck!

  7. I see a lot of first pages that start with a journey to get somewhere, making it even harder for those initial pages to stand out. The voice is great here and we are getting a lot of wonderful information about our main character—I just wonder if this is the best place to start. It feels like there may be a more intriguing place later on to really capture your audience.