Wednesday, February 10, 2010

47 Secret Agent

GENRE: Literary Fiction

I first met Audra more than a decade ago, during a miserable
screwed-up moment when I felt weary of the world and wary of everyone
in it. That August found me teetering on the brink of adulthood,
struggling to make sense of the sudden loss of my parents. Since Audra
was a ghost, she had a lot more practice dealing with the whole death

The night we met, I was staying in a hotel not far from where she
died. She'd been stuck there ever since. Guess I wasn't so much
trapped as lost; when you're searching for love, searching for faith,
searching for meaning, sometimes you get so wrapped up in it all that
you forget how to move.

This SoHo hotel suite where I'm currently stuck bears little
resemblance to Audra's opulent haunt. And I'm no longer that naïve
girl, the one who dared befriend a lonely ghost. Last night, in the
grip of a chemically-induced love for mankind, I was digging the
pink-and-orange décor. Now that I'm sober and nursing a set of
shag-carpet rug burns, the place is a Warholian nightmare.

Love, faith, meaning – my troubles started when Audra offered a
glimpse of everything I sought. Damn foolish to think I could take her
up on it without paying a price. Can't say she didn't warn me.
Especially about the love bit.

You promised you would help me, Delaney, she says. Why did you leave?

"Shut up, Audra," I whisper. She hasn't shut up since yesterday. I'm
not expecting her to start now.


  1. This seems like alot of backstory. Your third sentence in your first paragraph is what caught me - that she was a ghost.

  2. Not sure I'm hooked. Some of it is technical. Repeated or similar words throw me off (weary and wary in the first sentence--stuck and stuck in the first sentences of the second and third paragraph--shut ups in the last one). Some of it is the lack of clarity (chemically-induced love for mankind? Drugs or alcohol, and why? Also I don't get the rug burns).
    I think introducing deep concepts like love, faith and meaning convolutes what could be an interesting concept. It's too early in the story to tackle these huge ideas. I'd just get straight to the action: who is she? Why is she there? Who is the ghost (and how old?) Thanks!

  3. Well-written with a nice flow of narrative. I quite liked the reveal of Audra being a ghost at the end of the first paragraph. It has greater impact after we've learned the MC's parents have died.

    Some great turns of phrase: "teetering on the bring of adulthood", "chemically-induced love for mankind", "Warholian nightmare". I'm always one for repetition and found the repetition of "stuck" and of "weary" & "wary" to be effective.

    Ghosts, addictions, crises of faith...I'd read on!

  4. I like ghost stories, so I'm curious about this one. A couple things hold me back a bit.

    1. If Audra was stuck in the hotel not far from where she died, and this current hotel suite bears little resemblance to Audra's haunt, that implies she's not stuck anymore, right? I'm hoping the explanation would be in the story.
    2. The talk about "love, faith, meaning" weighs the action of this story down. I don't feel like every story needs to begin with a Bang, but I'm more interested in knowing what's going on now between these two characters than am in the back story.

    But there's promise here of interesting things to come: the hint at Delaney promising to help her, the question of why Delaney has stuck around for 10 years (or why Audra has), why Delaney doesn't seem to have advanced much since they met (chemically induced love for mankind, being "stuck" in a hotel suite). I'd read on for a few more paragraphs anyway, and see where the story goes.

  5. I would start with the third sentence or a version of it; pull the reader into the plot with a resounding thump on the head. Focus on that aspect and expand.

    Using ‘wary’ and ‘weary’ in a sentence seems jarring. Not a good idea.

    Third paragraph has more telling than showing.

    LOVE the second sentence in the third paragraph. There’s a lotta meat in that sentence and makes me want more. Likewise, the fourth paragraph. Expand this with the third sentence of the first paragraph.

    ‘I whisper’…is present tense and doesn’t fit.
    Best of Luck!

  6. I love the sound of this. I like the narrator's voice and I'm definitely intrigued to see where this is going!

  7. I like this. The voice shines through and . . . I just like it. Good work!


  8. I enjoyed the voice, and I'm hooked. I want to find out what happens between the mc and audra.
    I have nothing critical to say other than the tense issue (which really didn't jar me)in the last two sentences, but that is easily remedied.

  9. I found this very elegant and I liked the almost melancholy tone too. I want to know how she "befriended" a lonely ghost, and why. And I also want to know why she left her ghost friend.

    Very nice!

  10. There were a few words that, to me, didn't fit with the rest of the writing: 'screwed-up', 'stuck' 'shut up'. The rest of your writing flows well but these didn't seem to fit with the tone of the piece.

  11. I kind of like this, but I'm on the fence. Maybe it's because you're telling me so much that I'd rather figure out as the novel unfolds. It seems like it would be more fun to realize she's talking to a ghost as the pages unfold, but that might be trickier than it sounds. Either way, you might be better off starting with some action rather than all this telling backstory.

    But I enjoyed the writing. Good luck!

  12. I like the flow of your words. I don't usually read litfic, but this carried me along. Love the descriptions of the hotel the night before and the morning after.

  13. Yeah, I'm hooked. The writing is just lyrical enough to entice but not so much to confuse or get too wrapped up in itself. My own writing is more commercial, and that's mostly what I read, but I love literary fiction that's also accessible. So far this seems to fit the bill.

  14. Interesting voice and I felt there was a strong narrative here.
    However, too much tell and not enough show for me. Can you start without backstory and fill the reader in as you move through the introduction in a different way? I'm curious about Audra so I want to keep reading, but you lost me after the first two paragraphs.

    There's also some vague phrasing "when Audra offerred a glimpse of everything I sought." Not sure if that's intentional to entice the reader?

  15. I liked it. I have to admit the first two sentences weren't really grabbing me and then the ghost bit came and I sat up.

    Maybe the first two could be tightened. Its not that their was anything wrong with them, but here's some suggestions for getting to the hook quicker.

    I first met Audra... I know its a common expression but just say I met.

    More than means same as "over."

    That August found me could be simplied to "I was". Do we need to know the month? Its also less passive though I sense that your trying to use passive voice to convey a sense of well, someone being quite passive. For the sake of a strong begining, you might want to rethink that.

    Also, I got the rug burns- or I think I did. I took them as an indication of rough sex on the hotel room floor.

  16. Sheesh, here I am giving a crit and I use their for there. Eek.

  17. I like the concept, but it seems like you're leading with the backstory. I'd cut that and pick up later.

    I got interesting when Audrey started talking, after the backstory.

  18. The opening didn't work for me. A lot of backstory, not enough action or movement to keep me wanting to read on. I might start with the SoHo hotel suite and move on from there, working in the bit about her being a ghost then.

  19. I think the premise has some promise, but I found the opening to be a bit of an abrupt exposition and I wondered if you could show the character teetering on the brink of adulthood rather than coming right out and saying it in the narrative. I think this could perhaps build a bit more slowly. Also, this doesn't strike me as literary fiction.