Wednesday, July 15, 2009

30 Secret Agent

GENRE: Mystery/Suspense

It was going to be one of those days, she could tell. Something was going to happen today. She knew it when she woke up this morning, the second she opened her eyes. She could feel it in her bones. A gut feeling. A sense. Women’s intuition. Or, maybe, she just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Whatever it was, she was hoping it would pass. But when she arrived at her office at The Times-Picayune, a grey mood still hung over her like a growing storm cloud.

A slender woman with intense eyes, she sat behind her desk and flipped open the newspaper, finding immediately what she was searching for -- the article with her byline, KK McKnaught, the one she had written for the paper discussing the eroding Louisiana coastline. She was busy taking it apart, line by line, trying to discern if her arguments for coastal restoration sounded convincing. She couldn’t find anything wrong with it, it was perfectly acceptable. It wasn’t the article. Something else was gnawing at her, eating her up, distracting her.

KK leaned back in her chair and glanced out the window behind her desk, hoping the view of the Mississippi, with the giant barges and steamships meandering by on the river, would bring her some sense of relief. But it wasn’t working today. The sky was overcast and dreary, the thick white clouds blanketing the sun that was struggling to let in the day.


  1. Great descriptives..."the thick white clouds blanketing the sun..." I like the action given to the nouns. It feels very fast paced. Don't know if that was intentional? I felt like I was reading it very quickly.

  2. You've got a good beginning here- a sense of tension, you've set the scene, and introduced a likeable character. But I would tighten the writing, so you can gett the story moving a bit quicker.

    For example- the first 3 sentences are all basically saying the same thing. I would cut out the second.

    Same thing with the last sentence-you've said overcast and dreary, and thick clouds "blanketing" and sun struggling to let in the day- all that says the same thing. (I like the thick white blanket image. I'd keep that. But the struggling sun is also good.)

  3. This has one of the best opening lines "It was going to be one of those days, she could tell." Is it just me or can't you see that on a book jacket? I also like the clever way you insert the character's name by having her find her byline. That's often a difficult trick to pull off when there's no other character in the room, addressing the MC. Good stuff! I'd keep reading.

  4. I'm not a big fan of characters waking up in the opening line--it feels cliche. Also a bit too much repetition in the opening two paragraphs--something's gnawing at her, she has a bad feeling, she's distracted, she feels it in her bones--too much. For me I'd like it to start with her view out the window or her looking at her byline. The sky is overcast and ominous--perhaps this gives rise to her revealing her growing sense of doom over something intuitive.

  5. Hello. I feel like your opening line is a little cliche. Also, it was too long, too much detail to let us know that there is pending doom. I think you go into any book knowing something is going to happen- I think it's unnecessary to build it up the way you did. It doesn't reel me in.

    I do like the details of the scene in the office, how we learn she's a reporter and we learn where she lives... those are good details an you worked them in very nicely. (Although I almost feel seeing her byline and introducing her name that way was a little off- seeing the byline is good because it tells us she's a reporter- I can't put my finger on it though.)

    I think starting the scene at the office is a better set-up. It gets us to the action quicker. Maybe use the clouds to bring us back to her thoughts as the day started... just something simple-- "Since she woke up, her mood had matched the clouds. Something wasn't right this morning." Obviously my example isn't what you should use, but I think doing something of that nature would be better than the way you spent so much time in paragraph one.

    Good scenery-- you can do so much with that river... Good luck!

    **Note- I thought I hit submit on this an hour ago, but saw that the window was minimized... oops!**

  6. I liked the opening, the idea of knowing something would happen today, but was surprised when that became "a grey mood" - I guess I don't associate the feeling of impending destiny with bad moods.

    Didn't really like the first sentence of the second paragraph; the description feels awkwardly tacked-on. Also, a total nitpick, I was expecting the clouds to be gray rather than white - I associate white clouds with sunny days.

  7. A couple of people already mentioned the first two things that stuck out to me.

    1. The first paragraph repeats your point too much.
    2. Someone waking up doesn't hook me.

    I like the voice, though, and the writing is strong. I just kind of feel like you should nix these first paragraphs and start with the Big Event that gets this story going.

  8. I have to agree - the majority of that first paragraph is dwelling on that one idea - that something is GOING to happen - but nothing does. It isn't until the last sentence of the paragraph that we even get past her getting out of bed. I'd really think about trimming that down.

    I do, however, like the descriptive tone following that par, though

  9. Ah. That nagging 'undone' or 'wrong' feeling. Know it well.

    I like your descriptions through here. Nice writing.

  10. I felt a bit beat over the head with the seven consecutive omens of foreboding, or the three later ones: "gnawing at her, eating her up, distracting her."

    I was also a little confused by POV. First graf felt like 3rd limited, but "A slender woman with intense eyes" felt like 3rd omniscient.

  11. "A slender woman with intense eyes"

    In her POV does she really think of herself this way? Took me right out. As other said, the first paragraph says the same thing too many times.

    Something else... I want to like the protag first off, unless I'm not supposed to I guess. I don't find her really interesting or endearing at all.

  12. Not hooked, although I do really like the line about "something else...eating her up." This narration just feels too generic to be interesting. Oh, and I agree with the commenters who've said that the "a slender woman with intense eyes" line was distracting - does anyone really think about herself that way?

  13. The first paragraph felt very redundant.
    Second paragraph is not bad, but sometimes feels overdone.
    Third paragraph is fine.

    Overall, I'm not hooked.

  14. To me, "one of those days" is very cliche unless it's worked into some awesome dialogue. I can tell the author is trying to show us the intensity of the "feeling" the main character has that day, but it's redundant imo. I think there is a lot of potential in describing this "intuition" type thing -- it can be both intriguing and realistic and creepy.

    I'm having trouble with KK McKnaught from the south - it rings way too closely to KKK for me.

  15. Ooooh. Amy Sue brings up a good point. You probably didn't intend that, but it may not sit well with some people even if it's kind of subliminal. On the other hand- maybe it's pivotal to the story, symbolic of something? But if it's just a coincidence, I'd err on the side of caution and not offend someone.

  16. I would also have to agree with Amy's comments, but I do think this has good tension.

  17. Not hooked--there isn't anything particularly wrong with this, but it just doesn't stand out from the crowd for me.

    I think you could wake this up a bit by placing more interesting images in it: "woke up on the wrong side of the bed" "like a growing storm cloud" "sky was overcast and dreary" are all fairly boring phrases.

  18. Not hooked. A woman wakes up and goes to work. She has a bad feeling.

    Maybe if she had a bad feeling about something specific it would help. You have her pulling her article apart. Does the bad feeling have anything to do with that?

    If something bad is going to happen (and I hope it is) perhaps get it in sooner.

  19. I really like the writing - I like your main character - I love the way you describe things "slender and intense" and the view of the Mississippi is fabulous.

    I don't mind that she's waking up, because you don't dwell on it.

    The only thing that gave me pause was the name - KK. I agree with the PP that it evokes the KKK. Also, it's just a little harsh and offputting. I'd relate to her much more if she had a full name, or an initial combo I was more accustomed to, like CC.

    But overall I really like it. :)