Wednesday, August 19, 2009

8 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Many Stony and Wild Things
GENRE: Literary fiction

“So, um, is that all right? If I turn it in by Friday? I have my letter from the Dean here and everything.” Lora starts to fumble through a dark brown corduroy bag; I can see a lining of red and blue flowers, the tops of stuffed notebooks and folders, a few paperbacks wedged in between them. She bends her head, her thigh-length curly brown hair gathered and wrapped today under a deep red scarf.

“That’s fine, Lora,” I say, trying to offer a reassuring smile. “I trust you. I’m glad you’re feeling better. Get that flu shot next year.”

“Oh, God, I will. I felt like I got run over by a truck.”

“Well, I’m pleased to have you back in class. It’s a shame you missed so much of our discussion on Joyce, though. Maybe you can get the notes?”

“I’ve already gotten them from Sadiyah.”

“Oh, good. How are you getting caught up in your other classes?” I’m certain that Maria is on Lora’s case about this already, but I’m looking for any excuse to not go home, to linger a little while longer and think about unwrapping the long red scarf from around her hair and watching it uncoil and fall all the way down her back. I don’t know how I never noticed it before that Christmas party, hardly a month ago, when she was wearing a red dress, silky, wrong for the weather, and her hair a wild waterfall of dark brown curls.


  1. I can't believe I'm saying this, because usually I don't mind present tense, but I did have a problem with it here. At least it distracted me from the exchange itself... it seemed rough to me.

  2. Not hooked: Dialogue to start a story is difficult to accomplish as the reader has no grounding or investment in your characters yet. I wasn't interested in what they were saying to each other, either. That being said... the very last paragraph did grab my interest. Focus on that and see if you can make the beginning stronger.

  3. Yikes, I'm hooked with the last paragraph, but I'm not sure I want to be. I need to see some reason soon to sympathize with the mc, because student/professor relationships creep me out.

    Maybe some sign of his infatuation with her before the last paragraph?

    Good luck!

  4. hmm - not hooked.
    The scarf makes her sound really sick, like her hair is falling out, plus her flu issues. I don't feel drawn to either character yet, but I am curious about why the teacher doesn't want to go home.

  5. Not hooked. I found Lora more interesting than your MC. She had personality and a presence. Your MC was very generic. I had no idea if it was a man or a woman until he started showing an interest in Lora, and even there, it wasn't a defining moment. It could still be a woman just commenting on how beautiful she thought Lora was.

    It sounds like you're leading up to the moment that changed this person's life. Perhaps instead of leading to it, you start with it?

  6. Not hooked....the present tense threw me and the dialogue didn't work for me.

  7. Creepy teacher/student thing going on here..

  8. Hooked...until the teacher/student thing. There are some stories I just cannot like, and that entire subject falls into that category. The writing is quite good, though, so it's entirely a case of "it's me, not you."

  9. I was at first thrown off by the creepy teacher getting excited by his sick student but then I thought it could be made more sympathetic if we see the teacher in more of a normal context first (introduce creepiness later on)

  10. It didn't hook me because there wasn't much going on. I know literary fiction doesn't have to start with a bang, but to me, this feels like a generic exchange between characters. The last paragraph is where the writing gets a lot stronger and a story starts to come through. If it continued like that I'd be hooked.

  11. I'm a little concerned about the teacher being attracted to the student here. Beyond that, I had no major problems with the writing, but I can't say I'm hooked. I don't particularly like the "um" in the first sentence, and I'd prefer for that first sentence to give us a the narrator's p.o.v rather than the student's. I'm not sure I care enough about the student's illness and classwork to continue reading much further, but that might also depend on the query letter.

  12. I love the descriptions here, with great detail without going overboard. I've got a good image of Lora but wish she hadn't said 'um' in her first sentence.

    On the other hand, I haven't got a feel for the MC and there isn't a premise revealed yet that would draw me into reading further.