Wednesday, August 19, 2009

16 Secret Agent

TITLE: First Comes Murder
GENRE: Romantic Suspense

Erin Rockerbie loved her job. She loved her life. And although she’d be hard pressed to admit it, she had even grown to love the little girl in pink who greeted her with a broad smile as she crossed the concert stage floor.

Life was good, and then all hell broke lose.

At least it felt like the flames of hell, that searing pain that had come out of nowhere, piercing Erin’s thigh, and sending her crumbling down to the scarred pine wood floor. Suppressing any innate instinct for self-preservation, she pulled her blood-soaked hand away from her wounded leg, rolled to her feet, and drew her weapon, aiming it at the man who hid like a coward behind her stoic young charge. Sweat dripped from the bastard’s forehead and his hand shook as he held the cold, metal barrel of a Smith & Wesson .45 to the girl’s head.

The sharp smell of gun powder filled Erin’s nostrils as she breathed in. “It’s not too late,” she tried to assure him as she met the girl’s frantic eyes. “You haven’t done anything yet that can’t be undone.” Heaven help them all if he did.

A sudden shimmer of light flashed from the catwalk above, pulling Erin’s gaze away from her target.

“Don’t lie to him, Rockerbie,” a familiar voice scolded her from high above. Then, like a bolt of lightning cast from the heavens, another round struck her, knocking her back yet again. She groaned against the unbearable tightness


  1. Your first paragraph didn't hook me, and I was confused as to what "hell breaking lose" was. I didn't hear the shot. I enjoyed the rest and would read more.

  2. I feel like this is too much too soon. We don't know enough about Erin yet to connect with her or the girl. It sounds like this is the end of your book put toward the beginning as a prologue type teaser. Give us more about who Erin is first, so we'll care about her getting shot and understand who the little girl is and why she needs protecting.

  3. I, too, was a bit confused. You've done a good job of the action, but it does feel like I'm going to flash back and then build again to this - which isn't my favourite thing to do. I like your phrasing, though. I would read on for a bit, because there is enough here that I enjoyed.

  4. Fascinated... not sure how Erin is going to survive this... if indeed she's your main character.

    One thing that probably should have been clear in that first paragraph, I think. Is she a bodyguard... or something? The other thing is might want to describe the baddie jumping out to grab the kiddo.

  5. It's different but I like it. I am not sure how I feel about it jumping immediately into an action scene but I'd want to read more.

  6. Not hooked: too many cliches and I definitely agree with MarcyKate- too much too soon. I don't know enough about these characters to care that Erin got shot and the little girl is being threatened.

  7. I think you need just a bit more setup before you jump into the action. I wanted to know what Erin's job was, who the little girl was, so that when all hell brakes loose I can at least be there with her.

    I also think you can expand your descriptions of her getting stabbed a bit...really show us and make us feel what she's feeling. Right now it seemed a bit more telling.

  8. Thanks for all of your comments everyone. This is actually a flashback and many of your questions/comments are answered before the first scene ends, and certainly within the first chapter.

  9. I didn't have a problem with the sudden action, but I did think you should have shown it happening - the guy grabbing the girl, shooting her, etc.

    If you had gone from showing her happy and watching the little girl on stage, to the sudden arrival of the guy who grabs the little girl, the emotional connection would have been made between MC and reader.

    Also, if it's your opening scene and it is a flashback, you might want to put it in italics so the reader knows this.

    Not hooked because there were too many basic errors - no italics, thinking of herself in third person, no crowd reaction. I'd be thinking there was more of that kind of thing throughout the story. The story line did interest me, though.

  10. Your intro with the loved her job, loved the little girl, loved her life was in discordance with her real job. I was in light and fluffy mode and had to made the hard right turn into her being shot. This might have been your evil plan, if so it worked, but it was confusing.

    Just what does she do? It's an obvious hit against her, not the little girl.

    So the jury is out for me. I need more pages to figure out what is happening. 250 words doesn't always get the story out there to know.

    On the other hand, I'd read on... :-)

  11. I thought it should be in italics, too, but the former copy editor and published author who is helping me with a line edit disagreed, possibly because by the end of the first full page, the reader knows it's a flashback or a dream.

    Erin is a former Secret Service agent and this flashback occurred 2 years ago. She becomes indirectly involved in a murder investigation at the end of chapter one and the reader finds out more about the incident referenced in the flashback as the investigating police officer investigates her.

  12. Your first paragraph did not hook me at all. It seemed to suggest a character completely satisfied with her life, and therefore hardly captured my interest or sympathy.

    I would switching the orders of your first two paragraphs, beginning with: Life was good, and then all hell broke lose.

    Then, modify your original first paragraph so that it can come afterward.

  13. I liked it!

    Two nitpicks:
    -Would she really take the time to notice it's a S&W?
    -I agree with the others that the opening lines need tightening.

  14. The first paragraphs are yet another static emotional summary. Get rid of them.

    Starting with action can work if you set it up right.

    Go deep into Erin's viewpoint. She's on the empty stage guarding and walking with the little girl. She has some positive emotional reaction to the little girl which makes her and the child sympathetic to the reader, then she gets shot in the leg.

    You really need to make the reader see what she sees and experience what she experiences. Your descriptions aren't visceral enough for an intense situation.

  15. I would start the story with The sharp smell of gun poweder filled Erin's nostrils....

    Did not like the first paragraph at all... don't think it needs the "set up"

    Sounds like a good story.. Good Luck.

  16. While this is an interesting concept, and I like that we have a strong, confident heroine who loves her life and job, I had the sense that the action was unfolding in slow motion. The pacing felt off and I was confused about how Erin got injured and what exactly was the setting--are we in the middle of a play? A rehearsal? A class? The bolt of lightning almost seemed to imply a paranormal element--I'd keep things simply and just say another round struck her. This has potential; it just needs some work. I don't handle romantic suspense but another agent might go for this.