Wednesday, February 10, 2010

48 Secret Agent

TITLE: I Do. . .or Die
GENRE: Mystery

You just don't expect to see gunfire at a wedding.

I know, because I've been in a lot of weddings, despite my well-known aversion to them. "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" is not just a cautionary adage, it's my personal credo.

Having a gigolo for a father might have contributed to that philosophy. Who really knows for sure?

Today Alexa, my best friend since grade school, glided down the aisle of the chapel, accompanied by a string quartet playing an elegant Handel air. For this wedding she wore a white strapless dress, complete with tulle and beaded embroidery that made all the women sigh as she passed. The low v-back and body-hugging mermaid shape, along with her icy blonde beauty, provoked quite a different response from the males in the congregation.

I clutched my single calla lily, watching her entrance with a mixture of awe and disbelief. How had Alexa persuaded me to be her maid of honor? Again?

"Shelby, you’re my good luck charm," she had cooed while I'd suffered through the circle of hell known as "trying on bridesmaid dresses".

"How do you figure that?" I peeled off a poufy satin monstrosity the color of Mountain Dew. "Every time I’ve been your maid of honor, you’ve gotten divorced!"

"Oh, that has nothing to do with anything. Everything goes off without a hitch when you’re there."

"Maybe that's the problem. If I weren’t around, there would be some sort of hitch, and then you wouldn’t be hitched."


  1. I love the voice, but the story keeps going backward, not forward. There's gunfire during the wedding, then she talks about herself, then the bride is walking down the aisle, then they're picking out bridesmaid dresses. That first line sucked me in, but I wanted to get to the gunfire, not the backstory. The backstory can always come later, when she's reminiscing about her (possibly) dead friend, or on her way home, or on her way somewhere else. If you promise gunfire, then get us to the weapons discharging, the smoke wafting through the church, and all the people in fancy suits screaming and trampling the priest to get out the door first.

    I'm potentially hooked, but not in its current state. Best of luck.

  2. I think you could get rid of the 'just' in your first sentence. For me it pops more without it.

    I also think you could reword your second sentence. The gigolo for a father though - now that is intriguing!

    Good luck!

  3. Great voice, nice writing. I'm eager to know about the gunfire, though, so I think this opening might be better saved by leaving out some of the info that weighs it down. It's a fine line between drawing out the suspense and teasing your reader. I'd read for another few paragraphs, but would stop if my curiosity didn't pay off soon.

  4. I loved the voice of this and would definitely keep reading. I would love to get a sense of what the mystery is going to be here, but at the same time I didn't feel like it dragged at all. You're setting the scene and revealing character nicely. I look forward to what comes next!

  5. I loved the first line. But I agree with Walter that everything went backward from there, although the way you wrote us into the past was well done. I love "a poufy satin monstrosity the color of Mountain Dew." I curious about this story, though, and am ready to read more!

  6. Hooked! I don't really mind the space between your first line about the gunfire and the actual gunfire so long as it's coming (very) shortly after this section. The backstory is interesting enough for me.

  7. Love the first line, and wanted to be hooked, but then I was pulled out by the "always a bridesmaid..." cliche. The bridesmaid with the aversion to weddings is overused. Perhaps take this out. Also the stage isn't set. Needs more texture. I can only see Alexa's dress but can't see the MC or the setting or the groom. Love the idea of the father being a ghost though. With a few tweaks it could soar.

  8. Great opening line, and the bit with her father being a gigolo pulls me in even more, from a curiosity standpoint.

    I think some of the rest could stand to be tightened - I didn't really care all that much for the long description of Alexa's dress, for example. Not sure the 'Who really knows for sure' buys you anything either. It's nice from a voice standpoint, but we can guess she does.

    I don't see this as backstory, from what's in the other comments, because it's all relevant to the point of how there came to be gunfire. So, I'd keep reading.

  9. Great voice here! I too was intrigued by the gigolo for a father line, although I didn't see the connection to the previous sentence. What does Daddy's job as a gigolo have to do with Shelby not wanting to be a bridesmaid?

    I also didn't mind the going further back in time with each paragraph, as I could clearly see the progression. But, then again, I'm always a sucker for a well-done flashback. Which this was.

    I'd read on!

  10. Heehee, I like this. That's a great opening line! I love the narrator's voice, I like the whole feel of this and the backstory doesn't really niggle me.

    The 'poofy satin monstrosity the color of Mountain Dew..." I really would like to see that dress...not!

  11. Mountain dew...haha, awesome. Great voice here, and I agree, I'm ready to be pulled back onto the wedding to see what the heck all the gunfire is about. But the voice is just awesome and keeps me hooked!

  12. I adored this: great showing, voice, character.

    I did get confused on the line "For this wedding" I thought it was a typo until I got further down. Maybe you could put that paragraph below the ones about being a good luck charm and the divorces? I think the flow would work better that way too. More character upfront, rather than description.

  13. I liked this, hooked, good voice.
    I'm sure the gunfire is coming, so it would only upset me if it didn't.

  14. I am only reading the entries that I like voice-wise, so you definitely have a good voice going here.
    My correction is a small one since I think many others have given good feedback above and I don't want to be repetitive.
    The term icy for me means someone who is cold and removed, which if this character is the MC's best friend is probably not the best description.
    Also, one more thing I noticed reading over it again: the concept of marriage and the idea of a wedding are two different ideas, and I feel that you're intermingling them in the second paragraph. Many people who don't like the idea of marriage love weddings, and it doesn't make sense that so many people would ask the MC to be in their weddings if they know she hates them. Just a thought.

  15. Great voice.

    Interesting first line. If there's too much between it and the actual gunfire, it loses it's effect though. And you don't really "see" gunfire unless it's dark enough to see the flash. I'd drop the "to see".

  16. Love the bridesmaid's dress try-on, love the wedding description, like the dialogue. I agree That the "always a bridesmaid" cliche could go. If you then combine tparas 2 & 3, I think it flows okay. I'd keep reading because this is one of the few backstory openings that entertained me. I figure the gunfire is only a paragraph or two away. Good job.

  17. That opening line is great. I just knew I was in for a crazy first page, but then it went from mystery/action to chick lit. Also, and this is strictly subjective and probably won't even register with most readers, but I was pulled out by the "icy blonde beauty" line. Blondes are portrayed as the epitome of beauty so much it doesn't do anything for me as a reader. Get creative. After all, brunettes and redheads can be just as smokin'.

  18. fantastic first line.
    But, I agree, it seems a bit too detached from the rest of the narrative, and it seems to continue spiraling backward.
    Trust your story.

  19. Actually, there are shotgun weddings....

    Calla lily is singular, so don't need single

    MC comes off a bit dizzy: she doesn't like weddings, but keeps being in them?

    Wouldn't they have discussed her getting married before the actual time of the wedding?

    Make me like her a little more.
    Maybe she consoles the bride to be who's worried this will be another disaster? You know her better than I do, and I'm sure you can come up with a better idea...

  20. I'm liking it. It's got voice, and it makes me giggle, so I'd keep going.

  21. I like the opening line and the sense of humor but think the second could be tweaked. I think no one expects gunfire at a wedding -- even if you've never been before so the second sentence seems superfluous. I'd read on to find out what happens next!

  22. I got hung up sooner than the other commenters because I've never heard "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" used as a cautionary adage, but rather as a lament. Some time in my childhood I remember someone singing, "Always a bridesmaid, but never a bride/My lovers leave me in the lurch/He must have deceived me, or I'd not be here/Hanging around at the church."

  23. I think there's some clever dialogue here, but I feel like the opening feels a bit too forced to me, and it feels like it perhaps tries a little too hard. If the wackiness were dialed back just a tad I think the humor would shine through.