Wednesday, March 10, 2010

26 Secret Agent

TITLE: Bitter Bar Girl
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

Another Friday night behind the bar. The crowd edges in to order. I take a deep breath to buy myself time, then head for nerdy guy in the tan sports coat.

“What’s on tap?” he asks, unenlightened by the clearly marked spigots grazing his prominent nose.

“Two blonds and a bad-a** redhead,” I say.

“I hate to tell you,” he says with disdain, “but not all foaming beverages qualify as beer.”

“Thanks for the heads up.”

I picture a shot glass bouncing off his forehead.

He takes time to assess the hand-printed menu board listing all the bottled brews. Meanwhile, the murmur of the unserved rises to a near-deafening crescendo.

“Don’t you have cream stout? Irish oatmeal? Imperial?” he asks. The dingy carpet, the sloppy black paint job on the walls, the year round Christmas tree lights—none of these gave him the hint.

“No, no and no,” I say, assessing the crowd of three-deep patrons now forming en masse to stampede.

“Fine,” he whines, “just give me something Belgian.”

I feel a pulse beat rise in my temple as scathing looks ping at me from every direction. I go from zero to Bitter Bar Girl in 2.1 seconds.

“Should I talk more slowly or find someone who speaks dick head?” she inquires.

“Uh…” he sputters.

“There’s no secret beer for special people. You are in my bar. This is my world. So either cowboy up, or get the hell out.”

“Harp,” he bleats. I oblige and leave him to stew in his barley.


  1. Oh my goodness, I love it! It's nice to read a story where somebody can actually say the things that a lot of us think on a daily basis.

    My only concern is that I hope she has a lighter side. This is a great intro into her character, but if she is so sarcastic the entire novel without a lighter side, she might wear on the reader.

    Great hook though and I would definitely keep reading.

  2. "Should I talk more slowly or find someone who speaks dick head? she inquires. Who's she? Shouldn't it read I inquired? Love the question though!

    Bitter Bar Girl sounds like a superhero on the skids and I love the concept. I agree with V.R. though, the MC will get a little caustic if the entire novel is written this way.

    Although, please oh please tell me that she gets to bounce a shot glass from the jerk's forehead!

  3. A little bitter goes a long way, and we have a filter (most of us) for a reason. She needs to mellow out real quick or I'm not turning the page. You've got a real gift for dialogue, but don't be so cute that the reader has to think about what the innuendo means.

  4. Love the dialog and sense of humor here! She's got an attitude, which hints that there's more to her than we know. I'd definitely keep reading.

  5. The sarcasm and setting make me want to keep reading. I don't usually comment on the entries, but I just had to pop in and compliment this writer. Nicely done.

  6. Loved it! Of course I agree that she should have a softer side, but I think I actually want to see her tougher side (not in the first few pages, just in general). It's one thing to see her knock out of few bitter quips and make me like her, but I'll only love her if I see her do something truly mean and vicious, and then find some way to pull herself out of it. Push that envelope.

    Of course, I haven't read the book yet. But I want to.

    Any chance you have a website/twitter account I can follow you on until you get that sucker published?

  7. Looks, smells, and sounds like a real bar, plus the dialogue is sharp, but man, is she a meanie. I agree with the superhero on the skids comment. She seems like the female answer to Hellboy.

  8. Moves quick and sets up the scene nicely and convincingly.

    There is a sense of the authentic in this passage and something that a lot of us can identify with.

    Having heard this conversation, myself, many times in bars -- all I can do is applaud at this and smile.

  9. I'm assuming the MC isn't Bitter Bar Girl and that's why you switch from 1st to third person, right? If not, fix. If so...make the change more clear, like, "my alter ego blurts out."

    I had to read it twice, maybe a bit choppy the way you have it sliced up (style thing), but otherwise, I'd like to read on to see the MC reel in her super bad a** side so she doesn't get fired ;)

    Good Luck!

  10. I like her personality, but there's no hint of where the story's going. What's the problem? Is there any more to Bitter Bar Girl than her wisecracks?. If so, you might give us clue.

  11. Nice characterization here. I get the MC quickly. But would like to see more action relevant to the purpose of the story. Is the guy in the tan jacket important to the story or just a device to intro the MC? I think you could pare down this effective scene to half and get me into why I should read more other than the author can turn a phrase.

  12. The story moves at a fast pace. There are many nice details. I'm not clear on why she is so snappy. From what I see, there's no reason for her to treat a customer like this. Perhaps if there a little background story to merit such a behavior...?

    Also, there's no tension in this piece to make me want to continue reading.

  13. You definitely have a voice in there.and if you were on AMerican Idol, you'd be going to Hollywood.

  14. I stumbled over a few small things. First, "Thanks for the heads up." and "I picture a shot glass..." could run together in the same paragraph, which would make it clearer that you're staying with her for both sentences.

    That's actually an issue when he asks about Imperial, because the next sentence is actually back in bar girl's POV. There you're making a jump in between two sentences.

    It's a much bigger issue -- at least, for me -- when we go from zero to Bitter Bar Girl, because at first, I wasn't sure "she inquires" actually referred to the alter-ego.

    If you strung THOSE two paragraphs together, it would be clearer what's just happened.

    But the good news? Those are minor fixes, and I like plenty of the other details and word choices very much.

    I'd keep reading.

  15. My favourite so far.

    Very punchy dialogue and I liked the third person insertion.

    I'd definitely read on

  16. The voice for this one is fabulous, but between the title and this sample, it doesn't seem like there is a lot of plot to really sink your teeth into. Chick lit is a really, really tough genre right now and that is what this story is coming across as, so I probably wouldn't read on for that reason. Not to say that a unique and well-done "chick lit" couldn't sell, but it needs to be stand out, and this one just doesn't stand out for me.