Thursday, July 17, 2008

#84 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

Title: Getting to the Art of the Matter (by way of chainsaws and dining with homeless people)
Genre: General Adult (Romance / Comedy)

Patrick Johns is smart.

Perfect grades at school.

A scholarship to study at university and so far: already on the Dean’s list.

He eats vegetables and jogs frequently.

He even cleans behind his ears. When he remembers. Though, it’s such an odd area—he’s never understood it.

He does it anyway. (Just in case.)

He adores his mum and monitors her health like a hawk.

He tolerates his stink of a brother, and calls his gran once a week--to say hi and catch up, though she has no clue to whom she’s speaking and hasn’t for years. (Their conversations on how the nurses are poisoning her never go well: they’re a little stilted.)


All this begs the question: why is Patrick here?

It’s four a.m. and he’s just been ripped out of sleep by a violent noise.

He’s not sure what it is, but—lying on the floor, in a tangle of sheets, clutching a Yoda figurine above his head like it’s not only a weapon but a weapon of choice—he listens and thinks, and—

Oh, God, no. That’s a chainsaw!

He’s only lived in this house for ten hours and now this: a pleasant bit of chain-sawing in the middle of the night.

He starts to panic over what the neighbours must think, but a more worrying thought intrudes: Patrick should have guessed that moving in with Art Boyd would lead to things like this.

Which means… perhaps Patrick is not as smart as everyone thinks.


  1. I actually quite like this. I'm not sure I'm hooked, but I'd give you several more pages to do it.

    I'm not sure why he's panicking over what the neighbors must think. I mean there's a chainsaw noise in the middle of the night. Maybe it's the neighbors causing the noise. I mean, if he knows the chain-sawing is going to be coming from his friend, or himself, why would he be wielding a Yoda figurine and freaking out?

    But there was some definite humor and a good voice, so I'd turn the page. :)

  2. Combine the sentences at the beginning into paragraphs. This comes off a little jerky with too many single lines. It needs to be smoothed out.

    However, I liked the story. I would read more.


  3. no, becuase I don't like how so many sentences are separate paragraphs. I'm sorry.

  4. Very fun! Love the style, love the language, love the voice. I'd definitely read on.

  5. No... but that's just me and my stickler reading preferences.

    I do think this is well done, and I vaguely was reminded of that movie that came out recently with Will Farrow and Emma Thompson. Only this appears to be more amusing and hopefully has a better plot than that miserable movie.

  6. No, I like the way it is written but the story confuses me. Is he a teen? If not what's he doing in college? If so, what's he doing with a Yoda figure?

  7. I like it. Your writing style is different and that's not a bad thing. The beginning is a tad confusing, but not fatal. I'd give it a chance.

  8. Yes.

    I like this a lot. It's funny and quirky. The single sentence paragraphs work for me. They're like a checklist and imply (and reinforce) the idea that Patrick thinks a lot of himself, and consciously works at being the perfect guy.

    The only thing that perhaps jars is the: All this begs the question: why is Patrick here?

    Perhaps because "here" is not very interesting. He's in his bed.

    I'd like to see him in some compromised or absurd situation in his effort to deal with his less than perfect situation.

    But hey, I'm not a very funny person, so maybe don't take my advice.

    The last line is a cracker (i.e. vernacular for very good, you nailed it).

    Good luck.

  9. Yes, I would read on. I like your sense of humor, and the crazy chainsawing roomate is hooky for me. :-)

  10. Tentatively yes. I like the MC's voice and the wit and humor in it thus far. And the bit about the chainsaw and his new roommate was great. But the opening part-- asserting how smart the MC is-- is too much Telling rather than Showing. If this information was imparted more holistically, it might work better for me.

  11. No. There is a whole lot of telling about perfect Patrick in the beginning that makes me not want to read more. I do love Patrick holding the Yoda figurine like a weapon, but at this point, I'm not hooked enough to read further.

  12. I like the tone and would probably keep going just because it is quirky but I honestly have no ideawhere you are going...

    I am bemused.

  13. Er, maybe. It's weird and strangely hypnotic and I like the voice--and since you technically had some back story and exposition before the wake up scene, I'm willing to let it slide--because he wakes to the sound of chainsaws. :P

    It's not quite my thing, but I'd be willing to read on a little more as it's weirdly compelling.

    Good luck,


  14. Cautiously hooked.

    It's weird and different, and I like the strange setup. I want to know what's going on so I'd read further, just so long as it doesn't get too weird or quirky.

  15. Yup, hooked. It's telling that doesn't feel clanky. Sometimes owning your telling works if you do so confidently and in a stylized manner. If you pitched this to me as a romance, though, I'd be more than a little confused, and the presence of so many other genres above compels me to remind all that when in doubt, go simple rather than describing all your elements--from this sample I'd say fiction. A novel with romantic and comedic elements is not marketed the same way as a romance novel or a romantic comedy, but that's my job to know.

    Anywhoo, back to the sample--the voice is really unique, and that's what made it work for me. I'd want to see if the quirky voice could sustain over more pages.

  16. OK -- I found myself chuckling all over the place. The voice here is distant and unique and, strangely, that works very well. (For some odd reason, I was put in mind of a weird, Rod Serling-esque science project with Patrick as the subject. We're all observing him in a sort of operating theater setting -- or perhaps an ant farm. That may not be what the author intended, but I am fond of my idiosyncrasies, so please allow me to enjoy them.)

    I'd have to read more. :-)

  17. So yes :D The colons irritated me, and I'm not sure of his age, but I love the quirkiness. More? :D

  18. I loved the quirky voice and the escalating "telling" works. When I hit "Oh, God, no that's a chainsaw!" I laughed. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to, but I would read more because it felt sort of like a "gotcha" are you with me"

  19. A note from the author of this entry:

    Now that this competition is drawing to a close, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading and commenting on my work. You've no idea how grateful I am. What a wonderful thing to have been a part of!

    I've taken all feedback on board and believe I will be a better writer for this.

    To Authoress and the Secret Agent, a huge thank you. How lucky are we? Seriously. And what an astonishing achievement! 115 entries. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

    This has been a fantastic learning experience and I am amazed by the talent out there. For many entries, I longed to read more than just 250 words--perhaps one day I will!

    Good luck and thank you again. :D