Wednesday, July 15, 2009

27 Secret Agent

TITLE: My Father My God
GENRE: Adult Literary Fiction

July 2004
Lemon, Connecticut

The road ran like an endless green tunnel, flanked on both sides and sometimes above by the flossy limbs of unidentified evergreens. The Atlantic Ocean lay not far away but the landscape gave no evidence that a beach was anywhere nearby.

“The trees are so majestic,” Adrianne uttered as they passed through the funnel of pines and cedars interspersed with deciduous trees. “I had no idea Connecticut had such beauty.” Although there was no excitement in her tone, Dave was thankful for even this trace of appreciation from his wife.

“How much longer?” Jeremy muttered from the back seat, indifferent to the reverence the palatial scenery deserved.

“We’re just coming to New Haven so New York is still a couple of hours away.” Dave could feel his family’s relief. Not the sort of relief that rejoices at being near the end of their journey but the sort that is thankful the end is still somewhat far away. Dave looked at Adrianne. She glanced at him but then turned to study the passing scenery out her window.

“Our new home is much larger than the one we had in Maine,” Dave spoke to the miniaturized reflection of his ten year old son in the rearview mirror. The reflection didn’t respond. “Your room will be larger too…I think you’ll like it,” Dave tried again. The mini-Jeremy sank from view. “Well we can’t turn back now,” Dave muttered to himself, “what’s done is done.”


  1. You did a good job capturing the mood in the car and the tension that the father feels, as well as the disappointment from the son and ambivalence of the mother. I'm interested to see why they are moving?

  2. There's a lot of good stuff here. I actually don't think you need the first paragraph and it weighs you down. I'm also not a big fan of "lay not far away".

    Beyond that, I'm intrigued. I already have a good sense of the father, his relationship with his wife, and the son is well drawn. I'd like to know how the move from Maine to New York will affect this family so I'd read further.

  3. Love the description, not so hot on the dialogue. Why does Adrianne "utter"? Seems a little antiquated. And Dave's comments to his son sound very scripted. Nonetheless, the steaming tension in the car would make me read on for a little while.

  4. I like the image you create - I'd check the meaning of "flanked" though, because you say "on both sides" and I believe that is redundant.

    Also, words like "muttered" and "uttered" distract me. I am a "said" kinda gal. And you used "muttered" twice - that's an easy fix.

    Good luck!!

  5. I didn't like this, it seemed like the description was overwritten and the dialogue didn't appear real.

  6. AH! You've captured Connecticut! One of my favorite states to drive through - even though you do see a glimpse of the Atlantic ocean rising in the horizon when you round the evergreen lined curved.

    That said... this could be tightened up a little bit. Might not need so much information in here right off. Like 'the one we had in Maine' <- seems unnecessary and infodumpy. Syphon out what you don't need.

  7. The 'mutter's didn't bother me but the 'utter' did. I agree that the first paragraph is unnecessary if the Atlantic is not their destination.

    If I can say something not based in any sort of fact or for any good reason, I hate the title and it made me roll my eyes. A gut reaction, and it made me anticipate a lot of overwrought navel gazing.

  8. The first few sentences are nicely written, but for me the real grabber is: “Dave could feel his family’s relief. Not the sort of relief that rejoices at being near the end of their journey but the sort that is thankful the end is still somewhat far away.” Effective set up. Several questions immediately come to mind; what was so great about where they just left? What’s so dreaded about their destination? Will this family adapt?

    I also liked the creative use of Dave speaking to the miniaturized reflection of his ten year old son in the rearview mirror, and that the “reflection” didn’t respond. Good imagery.

    The last statement, “what’s done is done”, in its finality, is a good hook. Nice job.

  9. Not hooked, awesome title notwithstanding. The setup - family moving to a new state, parents cautiously optimistic, kids digging in their heels - seems too cliche. Also, the "funnel of pines and cedars" line really threw me, since I'm having a hard time visualizing what a FUNNEL of pines and cedars would look like.

  10. It didn't really grab me, in part because some of the phrases were hard to wade through, e.g., "Not the sort of relief that rejoices at being near the end of their journey but the sort that is thankful the end is still somewhat far away."

    Also, mutterings (3rd and 5th graf) appears twice. If you use "said" once -- or both times -- in this instance, we won't trip over it.

    Also, the POV is a little confusing, especially when I read the phrase, "indifferent to the reverence the palatial scenery deserved." Whose opinion is this? It's not yet clear.

  11. Though I'd likely read on a few pages, I was put off by the dialogue from Dad to son. He feeds the reader info through what sounds like fake dialogue. I'm sure the boy already knows these things after they first told him they were moving.

  12. The first paragraphy starts the story out too slow for me. I probably wouldn't go on.

    I did like the 'relief' and 'miniaturized reflection' lines.

    Overall, too slow of a start for me. I didn't get interested until "We can't turn back now, what's done is done." Why not start with that line? Then from the start, I'd be curious to find out the problem that brought them to this moment.

  13. Your descriptions are great. I wasn't too sure about the first two paragraphs, though. Once Jeremy asked "How much longer?" I was pretty hooked. I'd read on.

  14. This didn't spark my interest. Sorry. :(

  15. I liked it. I think you showed the conflict right away. I liked the sentence about relief that end was still far off, but I think that sentence could be more powerful, perhaps rewritten or set up better.

  16. I found this interesting.

    Your word choices sometimes sound like you were thumbing through a thesaurus hunting down literary sounding words.

    I also felt the dialogue was ho-hum and stuff that would have already been said innumerable times before this car scene.

    I think there's a good story in there, but it's hidden right now. Just tell the simple story so it seems like it flows out of your fingers onto the page.

    You've got something here, keep working on it.

  17. I think you did a great job setting the mood and capturing the family dynamic right up front and I would probably read more to see where you are going with this.

    But I agree with those who commented on the use of uttered and muttered--they seem a bit misused.

  18. The tension in the car worked. I got the feeling that this was a family who may love each other, but they don't like each other much.

    I agree about the dialogue. It could be better.

    And at first the trees are unidentified evergreens, and then they are pine and cedar and deciduous.

    I get the sense the story will be about this family finding a way to come together and be a family again, which isn't my cup of tea.

    It has a lot of good things going for it, but I think it still needs work.