Wednesday, March 10, 2010

32 Secret Agent

TITLE: Seeing Red: Set 'Em Up, Joe
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Just me, a bottle of Oban, and Pamela the bartender. Hard to tell which was smoother. I’d just had my fill of Pamela, so I reached for the Oban. I poured a double, leaned back in my seat and watched as she started to close down the place.

She shelved all but the bottle in front of me, wiped down the already gleaming bar, and then turned her attention to a few remaining dirty glasses.

She washed each one, and then began to dry them with a glaringly white towel. Her work was quick and focused, and she seemed eager to be done with it. I knew the feeling.

Pamela stopped her task long enough to change out their typical yuppie bar music for a compilation of my personal favorites she’d made for me soon after we met. Amazing how quickly she’d figured out my tastes, seemed to know what made my blood boil and what made it merely simmer.

Even more amazing, her knowing something about me didn’t cause the usual reaction. The more time I spent with Pamela, the less I felt on full alert. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. Hell, I knew it wasn’t a good thing—but for now, I was fine with enjoying the ride, however brief it had to be.

The music started, and as I hummed along to the first few bars of One For My Baby, something inside me stirred. The melody played out, and soon the crooning of Ol’ Blue Eyes lulled me to a place of easy contemplation.


  1. Just me, a bottle of Oban and Pamela the bartender. I have to admit that I had to read that sentence a few times before I realized that me and the bottle of Oban weren't the same character. Sorry. Need more caffeine apparently.

    Since Pamela is described as the bartender, I was surprised to learn that she had a relationship with the MC. I still don't know if the MC is male or female. Is that a good thing?

    This is interesting, but it really isn't opening scene riveting. Very well written.

  2. I was interested to find out that the bartender had a relationship with the narrator too. It sounds like a 'different' kind of relationship, so I'd read on to find out what was going on. There wasn't really a lot of tension here, but was really well written.

  3. I like this and am still unsure about he sex of the mc. Interesting title and I don't see any fantasy yet, but I'd read on. You have a nice, easy style and it flows very well. Great job.

  4. On my first read-through, I didn't find this beginning all that enticing.

    But I read it again, and the second time around, I picked up on a lot more. For example, the line "I'd just had my fill of Pamela" really grabbed me in round 2, making me wonder, how he'd had his fill of her. Definite sexual overtones I didn't really notice the first time. First time I thought the narrator was just tired of listening to her talk.

    Then Pamela is washing glasses. Was she bored by whatever had just transpired between her and the narrator? And the comments about her figuring out the narrator's tastes, his/her lack of alertness around her, and the music lulling him into a somewhat mellow state - all of this made me wonder what the hell old Pamela was up to.

    Or maybe she's not up to anything. :-)

    I have no idea whether I'm supposed to be suspicious of her, but if so, you played it very subtly, so congratulations. There's nothing overt here to make me not trust Pamela, yet I don't trust her. Plenty of story questions are raised, which is exactly what you want for your reader.

    I like this a lot, but you need to work your magic in such a way that the reader doesn't have to double take his/her way through it. Lots of potential here! I'd definitely keep reading.

  5. I have to say, I don't understand the second sentence. Did they just have sex, or is he tired of Pamela talking?
    A lot of unnecessary modifiers: "already gleaming," "glaringly," "typical."
    The contrast between his blood boiling and his blood simmering is a great turn of phrase.
    I can't say I would keep reading. No real action, no sense of danger, and no fantastic element in these first 250 words. You have to have at least one of those elements, preferably two or all three.

    Mark in the Seattle area

  6. I like this.

    Definitely gets the ol' Noir vibe in my book. Love the title too, it perfectly reflects what we've seen of the writing style.

  7. I'd accept this scene further into the book if I was already hooked on the story. But flipping to the first page to see if I wanted to buy it I'd have to say I wouldn't.

    You set the scene well but is there a point to it other than to get him to a 'place of easy comtemplation'? Which has already started as far as I'm concerned.

  8. The writing is good here, but I'm not finding anything to hook me. A someone else said, there could be subtle hints here as to what is going on, but I don't 'know' if that's really the case. And then you left me with your MC being lulled into easy contemplation which, to me, means, back story coming up.

    What's the problem? Where's the tension and/or conflict? What's at stake for this person? That's what I want to see.

  9. I don't know if we are allowed to respond to the comments left, so hope this is acceptable. Just wanted to thank those who left feedback as it does help.

    The very next chapter in my novel tells the reader exactly what is going on/why he's in the bar. But that paragraph also contains non-PG rated concepts, so I thought it best to leave out.

    I will work with my opening to move that paragraph closer to the start.

    Again, thank you for the feedback and best of luck to everyone!

  10. I didn't have to read too far to know you are a confident writer and I wasn't jarred.

    250 words isn't enough to judge anything much, both comprehension and whether I can make a judgement on what my character is like, but the world build is there and so I'd keep reading on in my seat at Borders Coffee Shop deciding which book I wanted to take on my flight to Hollywood to try out phase two on American Idol if you get my meaning.


  11. I'm not really sure what's going on in this scene. And is the narrator a guy? I thought they just finished having sex, but then Pamela's closing down the bar, so I found this confusing.

    I wouldn't keep reading at this point.