Wednesday, February 10, 2010

28 Secret Agent

TITLE: Exercise is A Killer
GENRE: Mystery

‘Who died?’ I croak, collapsing after the tenth push-up.

‘Kat’s father. Isn’t it awful?’

‘Joe, oh no,’ I gasp. Death is like love; when it hits you everything changes. I feel dizzy.

‘You okay?’ Chelsey, my personal trainer, helps me up.

‘Joe Morrissey––dead.’ I shake my head. Life’s DVD switches to reverse. ‘After my father died, Joe went out of his way to make time for a teenage misery––me.’ My eyes fill. I dig out the tissue tucked in my wristband.

‘Joe remarried,’ Chelsey says. ‘Did you know that?’

‘Really? What’s the second Mrs. Morrissey like?’

‘Rumour says: a real babe, about half Joe’s age. Kat says: a fitness freak with a taste for tantrums.’

‘Kat and I have been friends forever. I’ve got to call her. Could we do this tomorrow?’

‘Workouts help trauma,’ Chelsey says. ‘Let’s try––’

I can’t help it, I blub.

‘All right.’ She sighs.

My thirty two-year old biceps cheer; seems like every cloud has a silver one. Before I can sneak off, Chelsey points to the computerized weight check machine.

‘We will weigh in before you go.’

Jeez, not the scales and tape measure torture. I clunk onto the machine. Feared by all but a handful of skinny minnies, its bottom line never lies. Chelsey keys in my f-code and waits for a read-out.

Buzzz. My cell phone. I grab it and say, ‘Fee Wes––’

‘Fee, it’s Kat. Joe’s been murdered––,’ her voice is splintered by sobs. ‘And I don’t know what to do.’


  1. I found this interesting and I think there's a chance I would read further. But the writing didn't flow for me. I know getting that general feedback without specifics sucks, so I'll try to point out some details - but overall the problem wasn't any one detail, just the flow.

    1."I can’t help it, I blub." Is this supposed to be dialogue? It doesn't work as anything else, but I see no quotes. If it is dialogue, I'd avoid "I blub" (see #2)

    2."I croak" and "I gasp" near the beginning - you might get away with one of these, but two of them doesn't feel right. I generally try to avoid anything other than said or asked (or says or asks in the case of this present tense story), and I even try to avoid those too much.

    3.The paragraph that begins 'Joe Morrissey dead" needs to be split up. It's too hard to read with two pieces of dialogue and two different actions all in one paragraph.

    4."Every cloud has a silver one." Did you mean silver lining? I had to stop and think about whether you meant that - better to say it directly. Unless saying "silver one" is common nowadays and I'm just out of it. I've just never heard it like that before.

    As I said, I think you've got a good feel going in terms of keeping my interest, but the writing doesn't quite work for me.

  2. I'm sorry, I'm not really feeling this one.
    A few problems I'm having are:
    1.I'm not sure why you're using single quotation marks instead of double.
    2.The dialogue doesn't quite feel natural to me.
    3. I'm confused by the line 'I can't help it, I blub.' I think this is supposed to be a statement but it still doesn't quite sit right.
    4. Would a personal trainer really make her trainee stay and get weighed if they just found out someone close to them died? They CAN be heartless, but I don't think they'd be that heartless.
    You have an interesting premise here, but I think it would be a good idea for you to get a good, honest beta reader.

  3. Sorry, this was a no for me. The sentence structures are far too similar and didn't have a smooth flow.

    I also have to agree that is seems unrealistic that a trainer would make anyone who is crying over a death stay to weigh in.

  4. I also believe the dialogue has some unrealistic bits. I think there needs to be more grounding in the scene itself because it feels like too much dialogue.

    Finding out about a death that means a lot to you makes the world stand still. It's difficult to manage small talk or ask questions about anything other than the death. She needs to be more self-consumed.

  5. This was hard for me to read. The dialogue feels choppy and so do the descriptions.

    Opening with dialogue is hard to accomplish- it helps to ground the reader with a paragraph or two before you jump into the dialogue. That might help.

    You do have some great descriptors here- that's a definite strength!

  6. I pretty much agree with the comments above.

    Why the single quotes? Dialogue should be: "What?" she asked...

    Said is a perfectly good word, one which the reader flows right over. All the strange tags jolted me.

  7. This is mostly talking heads. I am missing sensory details and a sense of where they are. Are they in a fitness center or in a private training room? Is it big or small? Are other people watching? Listening? Looking?

    Other than that, it is interesting.

  8. Having a problem with some inconsistencies--like if Kat's the MC's best friend, why is the personal trainer telling her? It feels like the dialogue is merely convenient, a way to get info to the reader instead of organic. Would the MC really tell her personal trainer about what Joe did after her father died? Or would she get on the horn and call her friend? Would she be cheering about her biceps? Perhaps start with Kat's phone call. Also, check grammar, quotes, dialogue tags to make sure it's ready for submission.

  9. Sorry, the use of single quotes made me stop reading at the first sentence.

  10. This read really choppy to me. And I wondered why, if her and Kat were such good friends, she didn't know Kat's father had married again. Or why she was asking about the new wife, instead of how Kat was taking it. As someone else said, it seems the dialogue is to fill the reader in. It didn't come off as natural conversation.

    Perhaps slow it down some, put in a bit of transition, descriptions, work on the dialogue and the technical stuff.

  11. I get the single quote marks. You must be an Aussie or British writer. I also very much get Fee with her quirks showing. I love zany, not politically correct honest characters. I'd definitely read on and on. Hooked

  12. I liked the overall premise - a mystery set in and around a gym. But a few things in this didn't make sense to me. As others have said, why did the trainer know when Fee didn't? Would you really break news like that to someone when they're training? If Joe was so important to her and Kat was her best friend, why wouldn't she know Joe had remarried? If she's so devastated about Joe's death, would she care right then about what she weighed?

    It feels like too much exposition using dialogue. I'd be happy to see a set-up where she's training and groans about the scales, then finds out about Joe's death from Kat.

  13. As mentioned, single quotes isn't an error. It just signals a non-American writer.

    I thought the dialogue was fun and natural here. The trainer keeping her at the workout despite the bad news didn't bother me either, as I guessed that this was a lighter story. If it's not and this is intended to be devastating, then you might want to take another look at the tone here. But I found it engaging.

    I'd read on!

  14. Thanks everyone for your comments
    I had a feeling my opening page needed some work.
    Yup, Jessica and Locksley, I am a non-American writer (Australian)so good to get feedback from American writers.

  15. This opening didn't hook me. I think you could consider starting with the line:

    Death is like love; when it hits you everything changes.

    Except that death does not hit you -- perhaps, "News of a death is like love; when it hits you, everything changes.

    That's a better opener than the bit of dialogue you've got now. That might hook me more.

  16. I'm afraid this relies too much on dialogue. I wonder if there needs to be more scene setting, description, and a better rhythm established.