Wednesday, March 18, 2009

3 Secret Agent

GENRE: Thriller

Michael Norton looked at the tangle of blonde hair next to him and a voice in his head asked: are you sure you know what you’re doing? The woman lay on her side, her eyes closed and lips parted. He ignored the urge to wake her and slipped out of bed, snatching his clothes off the floor on the way to the bathroom. He splashed cold water on his face, feeling the stubble under his fingers as he washed. He never worried about shaving on Saturday anymore. He needed something to take away the throbbing in his temples. Wasn’t there a rule against drinking champagne on top of whiskey? She had made him buy a split of the real stuff, not just sparkling wine, before they drove to his apartment. Only then had she told him her name was Sasha.

He walked into the living room, past the red leather Coach purse she had dropped as they had waltzed around before settling on the couch. He squatted and unsnapped the clasp. Inside was the usual feminine detritus: lipstick, facial tissues, a couple of tampons and a wallet. He removed the wallet and stared at it for a minute. Inside was more about her than he had learned in the two hours spent drinking and the next two hours in bed. He knew she liked being fed cocktail olives mouth to mouth and there was a rubbery scar on the back of her right thigh. Well, it was a start.


  1. I like this. I'm curious about Michael and what he is up to. You've done a good job painting a scene for us in this opening. Good work! Unsure about the line 'ususal feminine detritus' it somehow pulled me away from the scene a bit. I'm hooked and would read on.

  2. Hmmm.... the first paragraph could be broken up and presented differently. For example, the first sentence doesn't immediately show he's looking at a woman. Just a tangle of hair. Like somebody just lost their wig. :]

    Overall, I felt that this could be relaxed a little bit, just a lot of information jammed into two paragraphs.

  3. I like it. I like the mouth-to-mouth olive image and the description of the scar. I can't tell how he feels about her, which is interesting to me. I don't especially like the question he asks himself; I'm not sure why. I think it interupts an otherwise smooth account of his a.m. I'd keep reading.

  4. I agree that the first paragraph needs to be split, and I agree that the question is a little weird ... but I think it could work if the opening sentence was its own paragraph.

    Beyond that, I like it. I, too, appreciate the imagery of the olives and the scar. Nice touches.

  5. I liked this start, especially the last two sentences. I did trip over the "voice in his head" reference, too, though.

    I also had to reread the sentence about the purse. He squatted and opened the clasp, but he never picks up the purse? It makes me imagine he's still squatting through the whole paragraph, and that is slightly distracting.

    But overall, good start. I'd read more.

  6. This is good. Very masculine.

  7. This is well written. Try starting a new paragraph after "are you sure you know what your doing."

    By isolating it, you'll increase it's impact.

    He needed something to take away.... It's out of place. Either delete it or relocate it. You'd do very well to have him dig up an aspirin before washing his face. Then you don't have to tell us he has a headache, you show us. You should delete the information about the stubble on his face... while it's great description, it interferes with the flow into back story.

    Delete Coach. He's a man. He's probably not going to know what kind of purse it is and even if he does, red leather, is enough. Having him walk past the purse threw me off- lets just have him join it on the couch. You don't need to tell us every detail.

    The last two sentences are great and I'm curious to know what he's doing with Sasha.

  8. I think this has real promise -- I like the voice in this, but feel this could be written to make it flow a bit better. But in general, I like the noir feel to this. Perhaps, introduce a little something of the bigger conflict in the first page, just so we know there is one.

    I had a few nits:

    He knows what a Coach purse is? I don't even know what a Coach purse is and is there a need to tell the reader that it was a Coach purse?

    Also, why the bit about shaving on Saturday? You could cut a bit of the extraneous stuff, and insert a bit of a hint of the larger conflict, assuming there is one, instead.

    I liked the details. I liked the feel of this -- it felt like it came out of a real person's mind -- except for the coach purse and shaving big.

    I'd read on for sure.

  9. I'm getting a gritty PI feel from this. I really liked the olives and rubbery scar bit - makes me want to read on and find out more about Sasha and what Michael is up to.

    I'd probably skip the "voice in the head, just go straight to the internal comment. Coach means nothing to me.

    Good luck.

  10. I would read on.

    I liked a lot of the details here, but I think you might want to vary your sentence structure a smidge.

    Half your sentences start with "He"

    With a little polishing this opening will work great!

  11. I didn't read the other comments so I hope this is not too repetitive.

    You've got a good start, but the writing feels more like telling than showing. "He did this and he did that." It was distracting. Try removing some of that and show him doing those things.

    Also, I wonder if a guy would even think 'red coach purse' or know what the usual contents of a woman's bag would be.

    Hmm...I don't think I'd read on. But good luck with this.

  12. Ditto what someone said about the sentence structure. It's enough to stop me from reading on.
    I think this has great promise, but I wanted to be honest so it's something you can edit for (if you plan on editing beyond what you have). Anyway, good luck!! I also liked the noir feel to it...

  13. I like the way this feels, the tone works well and pulls me right into whole morning after scene.

    There are a few points I'd rework, but they're just basic issues. Too many sentences started with "He" and there needs to be some break in the first paragraph.

    The one thing that really pulled me out of the scene was the "usual feminine detritus"...sounds more like he's assessing auto parts than the contents of a woman's purse. I like the image but I think it could be reworded, but that's just a personal preference so take the suggestion with a grain of salt.

    Overall, I'm hooked. I want to know more. Nice job! Thanks for sharing. Good luck!

  14. Thanks for all the helpful comments! Editing is never done. I'll put the suggestions to work.

  15. It’s a good set up, and I’m intrigued, but I think you could get to the purse part quicker. There’s building tension, which is great, but I think there may be a few details too many preventing us from getting to the action quicker.

  16. I agree with previous comments so I won't repeat. One new one - after he opens the wallet he learns more about her. I expected something to be revealed and I felt like something was missing. Otherwise, seriously hooked.

  17. "Wasn’t there a rule against drinking champagne on top of whiskey?" Don't mix grape and grain. Experience tells me so.

    One line in the first para threw me - where he talks about not shaving on a Saturday any more - all of a sudden I thought he was home - it seemed such a mundane detail and this might not be the right place for it. Does he need to wash before hunting through her things? Could you move a little faster to that?

    What did the wallet reveal? Not sure this story is for me, but I'm kind of interested to know that!

  18. I'm hooked. Good writing.

    I do think you could cut the bit about the shaving on Saturday, but I love the description of his face as he splashes water on it. Good detail.

    I might try flipping the detail about looking in her wallet and the part about the scar and the cocktail olives. Let the wallet be your page-turner. I was curious to know what he found out about her from the wallet, but then you took me back to the surfacy stuff that he discovered the night before. That's why it might be a good idea to flip those two ideas, and end on the wallet. Then, I'm anxious to turn the page and not worried you're going to string me along. :)

  19. Not sure what this is about yet. So far, it's a guy who wakes up with a semi-strange woman in his bed and he's going through her purse to find out about her...He obviously doesn't believe in conversation??? A lot of telling but really not letting the reader know what's going on. Not hooked, but I'm a pretty hard sell

  20. This sounds as if a guy wrote it. Possibly a scientist if he compares her stuff to detritus. I liked that. His wife may have a Coach, but don't think a single man MC would know what one was. Unless he'd given it to her as a gift.

    I'd like to see less about contents of her purse and more about contents of her wallet.

    When he tells us he doesn't shave on Sat, he goes directly to a different subject. Leave out Sat shaving line, IMO.

    Also, he seemed to know who Sasha was when he found out her name, and I'd like to have a clue, too.

    I missed being with him in his mind, feel what he feels, instead of walking beside him as he told us what he did. Hope that makes sense.

  21. Nice writing. I would read on to see where the story goes next. Good Luck.

  22. Strong writing. Not terribly unusual beginning--feels like Bond--but done well. No question I'd continue. And I'd know Coach... :)