Wednesday, March 10, 2010

28 Secret Agent

TITLE: Black Diamonds
GENRE: Action Romance

Sofie. Sofie’s parents. Jamie knew it was all over, and she had to get out of Los Angeles. Not that she cared to think about it now, because she was in the middle of speeding down Route 66 East somewhere in New Mexico. She was headed toward Massachusetts where her own parents waited for her.

Hours earlier, Jamie had risen before the sun to pack one suitcase, her camping gear, a pair of forty-pound dumbbells, and three boxes filled with books. Now the June sun blanched the canyon walls and mesas hovered on distant horizons; the air was suffused with the scents of sagebrush and baked dust. The changing visage through the windshield made it possible to push away uncertainty. Eyes fixed on the white line dividing the two-lane highway, she sailed past billboards hawking turquoise jewelry, ice cream, cheap motels and horses using their tails to flick flies from their haunches.

She was a traveler with no plan. Her future had no shape. Knots of tension began to form in her neck, her eyes burned with fatigue, and her stomach growled. Now that she was on the road, this decision seemed more complicated. She had to struggle against the temptation to turn around. But she knew she was not suited for teaching. She also knew that she missed the kind of feelings that trigger pleasant prickles of expectancy and newness.


  1. I'm a little confused as to what is going on. She knew she had to get out of L.A., but she's already OUT of L.A.? I gather you mean, get out of L.A. permanently. I also have no real clue who Sofie is or why her parents are involved. I'm sure that will be revealed, but for now, it's a little confusing.

    That said, your descriptions are great. You capture the desert surroundings beautifully.

    I'd keep reading to find out at least who Sophie is.

  2. You are really good at sense of place. I can see the desert Jamie is speeding through, and I like knowing what Jamie packed. Those details help fill in the blanks.

    But the opening line is very confusing. I don't know who Sofie is or why to care. As an opening word along with the second phrase, Sofie's parents, I'm not so sure it works. Not if you're going to drop Sofie and not mention her again. Why not start with paragraph two if you don't plan to enlighten us? I was also a bit pulled out when you say she is a traveler with no plan. In paragraph one you say she is heading to Massachusetts where her parents wait. This sounds like a plan to me or the beginning forms of one. I think these little inconsistencies keep me from being completely hooked.

  3. I liked the opening line, but only after I'd read it a few times. I found that I was confused at first, but as I continued reading, everything fell into place, slowly.
    I really enjoyed the second paragraph, and I think it was because it was the most clear, the descriptions were clear, the visual images that came to mind were clear.
    The last paragraph was as confusing as it was intriguing. I would keep reading this story simply because I have to know what is happening with her.

  4. Confused...who is Sofie and why is she mentioned right off the bat without explanation? That alone is enough to make me stop reading. Your descriptions are good, but I'm confused to the point of irritation. Good luck!

  5. The mention of Sofie and her parents doesn't bother me -- this is an excerpt taken out of context, not a short story. I would probably add "roommate" or something like that. Actually, you could just say she knew it was all over and then tell us in a few paragraphs why she is running.

    This is well written and I would keep reading to find out what happens.

  6. I agree with V.R. - I am confused in the first paragraph. What was all over? An affair, I presume. If it's more important that that, please "throw us a bone" - meaning you've got to more to hook me. Why is she running away?

    I sympathize; it's hard to balance the right amount of mystery and intrigue, and to know what to leave out and what to tell us.

    It doesn't help to mention that "she doesn't care to think about it," when driving across the desert in fact leaves us way too much time to think about stuff.

    Opening with the single name, repeated, reminds me of Nathan Bransford's recent post about repetition.

    I like the details of what she packed. :-> and there are some nice descriptions, however, I'd choose them more carefully, and tone down some of the word choices.

    Finally, last paragraph, the line about teaching needs more, not less, supporting info, to help us care about her.

  7. My favorite description "kind of feelings that trigger prickles of expectancy and newness" Love it!

    I was also confused as to the reference to Sofie, since she is not mentioned any further. Obviously, Sofie plays a major role in the story, or she wouldn't merit the first word of the book, so shouldn't she at least get another reference or two early on?

    Great descriptions and voice though!

  8. So I started out thinking this was going to be about Sofie and her parents. In the last paragraph we learn she's tempted to turn around but she knows she's not suited for teaching. So why is she leaving exactly?

    Second paragraph overwritten.

  9. I'm confused. Everything seems really vague, and I keep asking myself questions. Who is Sophie? Why is this chick running? What was she teaching? If those things weren't cleared up in the next few pages, you'd lose me.

  10. Everyone's already commented on the Sophie opening, so I won't say any more about that.

    The rest of the first paragraph has promise in that it lets me know she's running away from LA to Massachusetts. But then, that's not really followed up. We get a description of the desert, which is nice, but it doesn't do anything to draw me in, or help me see what is at stake here. It doesn't hint at plot.

    The third paragraph describes her feeling and emotions well, but what's missing is the 'why' of it all. Your story is about something. Let us know what that something is, or at least give us some clues.

  11. I wouldn't stop reading at this stage.
    On American Idol you'd be going to Hollywood.

  12. This is another case where I feel like these three paragraphs can be boiled down into one solid, concise paragraph because right now it feels like it's saying the same things over and over in a different way.

    I wouldn't keep reading at this point.