Wednesday, November 4, 2009

14 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Some Day List
GENRE: Single title contemporary romance

Quinn Adams looked out at the glazed-over expressions of the audience. She’d started her presentation two hours ago imaging them in their underwear to rid herself of nervousness. Not only did the trick not work, but it was also unnecessary; these people didn’t care what she had to say. She would’ve been better off spending the two hours in a classroom full of hormonal teenagers.

She tugged at the polyester blend of her pleated skirt, longing for a pair of jeans and comfortable shoes. It would’ve been unprofessional to show up looking like a student.

Her workshop—Using Classic Literature to Engage At-Risk Youth—was full of research and anecdotes. She’d spent months preparing for this conference, only to be placed as the last presentation of the day. She’d been filled with an equal mix of excitement and dread. Success was as important to her here as in the classroom. Jones High School also needed some positive attention. Maybe if she’d titled her workshop “What the Dead White Guys Can Teach Inner City Kids” like she’d planned, she might’ve had a better response. Her principal requested she change the title. She, of course, obliged.

A new title wouldn’t have changed the outcome. No one cared about these kids or how she taught them. They only stayed the entire time so they could get their continuing education credits for attending. Some day she might have a job where she made a difference.

Some day.


  1. Not sure if I'm hooked yet. I'm thinking this sounds like a lot of movies I've seen about helping inner city kids. I'm not catching the romance angle yet.

  2. I like it but I struggle in my own writing with the same issue as Angie pointed out.

    Romance wants the meet pretty much right away.

    Maybe you could add the hero into the first paragraph by saying something about a man in the back row who yawned and made her mad or that she could picture everyone in their underware except for Bob, because he was so good looking, if she'd done that she'd never have been able to speak at all...

  3. This is not perfect, but I liked it. Your main character is dedicated, pushed around, underpaid, and creative (dead white guys). I like the fact that she’d dreaming of “someday”, too.
    For “perfect” I’d like just one more line about why nobody cares. But I’m HOOKED

  4. This reads more like the start of women's fiction so far, which is fine for me. As far as that genre, it's a good start. I thought the "people in their underwear" is a little cliche, and would suggest you add a spin to it to make it fully Quinn's--also a chance for a glimpse into her character and personality.

    But this is a good start. I'd keep reading.

  5. The imagining the audience in underwear is cliche, which makes me think the character is cliche, which makes me not care about her. Maybe change that imagery? Also, it seems that there's a lot of telling -- could you provide some sort of action with the audience so that we can engage them right off the bat? I see that there's a story here because, like the previous reader mentioned, se mentioned "someday".

  6. Too much telling and backstory for me to want to read on right now. I'd rather see Quinn in a difficult situation than see her merely reflecting on the difficulty of her situation. I want to like Quinn, but I get too much of an authorial sense of "please like her! sympathize with her!" coming through the writing right now.

    Overall, though, your writing is clean, and I think the subject matter could be quite interesting for a romance. Just drop us in on Quinn and her story in a more interactive place.

  7. Your writing is good -- though "imaging" people in their underwear is not good writing. But what you've written here so far is not all that interesting. Woman gives academic-sounding lecture to bored audience. Not much to make me want to read further. Maybe she could be having trouble keeping some fantasy out of her head as she tries to give this lecture, or thinking about her rat bastard boyfriend. Something needs to take us out of this lecture hall and deeper into her life.

  8. Moderately hooked. Your voice is nice and I already sympathize with this teacher, but not much is happening so far. I like these paragraphs, but I'm wondering if they could be mixed in with the present action, or moved to a place later in the chapter.

  9. I liked the original name of the workshop. I'd find Quinn a bit more interesting if she hadn't obliged with her principal's request. Then again, that could be why I don't teach high school anymore. :-)

    Agree with above comments about the underwear being cliche.

    Does she wear jeans and comfortable shoes when she teaches? Seems like she'd be used to more professional clothes.

    I like your MC. I like that she realizes no one is listening to her and I like that she wants to make a difference someday. I'd read on.

    Good luck

  10. I was iffy. The first thing that jumped out at me was that she was standing in front of a crowd to give a lecture and was thinking all this - which means she wasn't speaking, so no wonder the audience was bored. So if you're going to give her all these thoughts, it can't be during the presentation, unless you want her standing there in silence, or you have to show her speaking, and having the thoughts in between sentences.

    And I agree with those who said it needed something more. The love interest could be in the audience, she could defy the principal, she could say to hell with it all and just start talking from her heart instead of reading from a prepared speech. Or maybe she trips and falls and the whole thing is a disaster. But she needs to do something to make her, and this passage stand out. If you got something like that in here, I think this would solve the problem.

    Whether I read on or not would probably depend on my mood and what else I had/wanted to do. It's okay, but not compelling.

  11. It is solid work, though I am wondering when the romance will enter the picture. The main character seems likable enough, which is good. Contemporary single title is REALLY hard to sell right now, so straight out of the gate, you have that stacked against you. I hate to say it, but I hesitate with a lot of ST contemporary romance these days just because the market is so icky for it.

  12. Your writing was good, but there was a lot of telling, and when it came down to it, it's a woman giving a presentation to a bored audience. Is there a better place to start?

  13. Nice and cleanly written, sympathetic character, not sure if I'm hooked though. I like the title.