Thursday, July 17, 2008

#75 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Mothers and Daughters
GENRE: Literary

Girls! Slow down!”

‘Not a chance,’ Bailey thought, heart beating in time to Shadow’s hooves. At her side, astride Midnight, Lily’s laughter was caught by the wind. Bailey risked a glance at her sister and responded with her own laugh. Lily’s chestnut hair streamed behind her and her old t-shirt whipped around her slender body.

‘No way we’re slowing down,’ Bailey thought again. ‘We’re chasing down the wind!’

“Mom, I’m home!”

My mother appeared around the corner with a big smile.

“Claire! How was California?”

She took one of the bags I was squeezing through the door and headed for the kitchen.

“Your dad’s grilling steak. Scott should be here soon.”

Leave it to my social mother. I was at the end of a long month full of finals, graduation, and a last hurrah with the girls. Before long I would make the drive to the Art Institute of Chicago. What I really wanted: simple dinner, cup of tea, movie, and bed.

Alas, no. My mother believes everyone needs as much social interaction as she does. Once my brother arrived he would keep me up late talking and laughing. Oh, well; it could be worse. She could have invited more people.

“And, I thought you’d like to see Matt and Martha, and Scott’s bringing Jimmy,” she added.

Sigh. At least the wine would be good.


  1. I was confused on how the opening paragraph ties into the rest of the story. The dialogue seems a bit cold to be between mother and daughter.


    The writing is okay, but nothing stuck out about it as special.

    The scene isn't a strong enough set up.


  3. The first part really confused me. The opener with Claire and her mom shows a tense relationship, but it doesn't provoke any emotions that make me want to read more and see why the relationship is so tense. I'd say no, this opener doesn't hook me.

  4. I'm sorry, but I wasn't hooked. The first paragraph doesn't seem to connect to the rest of the story. I don't know who it's referring to.

  5. Sorry, but this is another no. It felt too flat, and unrealistic. On the one hand she's bemoaning the social interaction planned, on the other hand saying she'll be up late talking and laughing. Surely staying up late would be her choice? But I found nothing here to make me care about her and make me wonder why seeing people would be a Very Bad Thing for her.

  6. A no from me.

    I'm not sure how the opening paragraph connects to the rest. I'm also not a big fan of the genre, so the idea of Claire being at odds with her mother isn't hooking me. I'd need to know more about the plot before I'd read further.

  7. I think if you showed how Lily and Bailey are connected to Claire, the opening might work, otherwise if it's back story that could be worked in elsewhere so the reader knows the connection it'd be alot less confusing. Good luck with it and thanks for sharing.

  8. Hi there :) I'm not too fond of the opening paragraph, 'cause I don't see how it connects with what happens next. Was it a flashback? I'm just not sure. Why not try cutting that, or making a transition?

    As is, I'd have to say "no." Sorry :(

  9. I'm

    I couldn't figure out the connection between the part in italics and the following part.

    And the main scene, I had a problem with the voice and the plot. I didn't see a plot, and the 'voice' sounded affected and not like any college student (I guessed, since she was drinking wine) that I know.

  10. Sorry, but it's a no for several reasons:

    1) There's no transition from the horse scene to your MC opening the door to her parent's house. There's nothing tying it to that first section, either.

    2) You introduce or mention seven characters in the first 250 words. That is way too many, when we haven't even really be properly introduced to the MC yet.

    3) There's no conflict whatsoever in the scene. There's nothing hooking me into wanting to read more.

    4) The scene in the parent's house is a bit cliche and nothing unique occurs during the interaction.

    5) Both Lily and her mother seems like flat, un-fleshed-out characters.


  11. No.
    I already read a book about a Claire at the School. (that's what it's called. "The school of the art institue of Chicago", but everyone I know just calls it "The School")
    It was called The Time Traveler's Wife.
    Not that you can't use that name, or that local, but I won't be the only one to make that connection.

  12. No. Nothing special or intriguing here. Literary fiction is about language and character, and this uses neither to great effect.

  13. It's a no for me, sorry, but I don't read (or often "get") literary, so please keep that in mind.

    1.) I agree that the italicized scene and the opening with Claire seem to have no connection--and that threw me. Two girls are riding horses, and then suddenly, whoa, we're in a first person story with a girl home from collage? Er, wha--?

    2.) There are way too many names thrown in all at once; I had trouble keeping things apart. There are also quite a few repeating words or similar words close together that distracted me. I.e., "side, astride", thought is used twice in the italics pare, "chasing down" and "slowing down".

    3.) For me there is no hook because nothing interesting happens--I find no tension or conflict to pull me in. What if the social situation Claire has to put up with goes wrong somehow, or starts the story conflict, and you start there?

    4.) I didn't feel anything in the writing style and voice really stood out or seemed unique to the character, and I tend to look for that in first person.

    Hope that helps explain my "no", and good luck. :)


  14. Not hooked.

    I agree that the first para seemed detached.

    I'd want to know what has Claire in a sour mood, and an indication as to what the plot/conflict is.

    That first para took alot away from the rest of it. It sets up an exhilirating scene but then we cut to a girl coming home from college.

    So then, I had to try and refocus on the rest of it and, on its own, it didn't have enough excitment or interesting things going on to keep me reading. I felt distracted and it was a jarring read.

  15. Sorry, no. I was unable to read through the page. 1. Who is saying "Girls! Slow down!"? Side, astride may have been the problem I had with the second sentence, but by the time I got from Midnight to Lily I was bewildered. Then we go from "No way we're slowing down" to "Mom, I'm home!" which means someone's slowing down long enough to try and hope to catch Mom's attention, maybe slide off the horse. Sorry, VERY confused.

  16. Unfortunately not hooked--there is a lot going on here, and I'm not feeling like it came together as hoped. I'd take a look at identifying what the real core of the story is and centering in on that.

  17. No. I was especially jarred by the transition between the flashback and the dialog between Claire and her mother--not because they were indistinct but because they seemed to have nothing to do with each other.

    This feels unfocused to me.

  18. I was just starting to get into the scene with the girls riding their horses when you switched on me. I might have said yes with some more about the horses. ;-) But writing the first page is the hardest.

  19. Probably not. It feels a bit waffly - am also uncertain how the first section connects. And there isn't enough conflict in the second section to really draw me in.

  20. Sorry no.

    Agree that the backflash (presumably) doesn't work. Perhaps include it later (at the beginning of the second chapter?)

    I'm also not engaged around the scenario of coming home and forced to socialise. I can't really feel sorry for her, because I don't know the mc yet.

    Depends on what comes next, but perhap it would work better to start with her at the social event, separated and juxtaposed against her family and friends, and thus illustrate her isolation (or desire for it). The dialogue or her thoughts could clearly indicate she's returned, and her unwillingness to interact can show other things about her.

    Not sure. Just an idea.

    Good luck with this.