Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #7

TITLE: Authentic Terrorist
GENRE: Women's Contemporary Fiction--Suspense

How was I to know--how was anyone to know--that I would be one to fall in love with a man who would become a terrorist? How would I be able to distinguish if he and his friends were actually terrorists? Constantly doubting myself. Did I hear them correctly? I have played their conversation repeatedly in my mind. Listening for anything I could have missed. Surely their talk of an attack didn't refer to an actual attack? Asthma attack? Attack a project? So many times have I listened to remembered words that I didn't even know if I were remembering them correctly. One day I would be convinced that I really did hear about an attack; the next I would doubt myself. All the tension and memories and sneaking, I could never really believe this was happening to me. At times I thought I was insane. I still have a difficult time believing what happened.

After settling down on the sofa for several hours of examining bridal magazines for wedding ideas, designs, and tips, my fiance Toby bursts into the room, "Hey, Jordan. I'm glad you're here. I need you to arrange a plate of snacks for the guys." He hands me the fake crystal plate. Why couldn't he have done this earlier? They're his friends, not mine. "They're coming over soon, and I'd like to have something for them--we'll be meeting for awhile.


  1. Half hooked. I like the first line, but I feel liek maybe you didn't need the next few sentences to be questions as well. It felt likea bit of an over kill. But I LOVE the second paragraph and just the visuals of bridal magazines and the relationship with the fiance.

  2. Interesting premise, but I got lost in the first paragraph with all the thinking. I'd rather see something happening. Second paragraph is better, but the last sentence is implied in the first bit of dialog. I'm also confused at the tense. The first paragraph is retrospective, the second in present tense.

  3. It's an interesting premise but I think I'd ditch the first paragraph. The first sentence works, but the rest seems a bit of a distraction. It would work better if you let the reader find out, alongside the MC, what is going on.

  4. Not hooked. You lost me with all the backstory and questioning in the first paragraph. Also, the second paragraph seems disjointed and removed from the opening. I found it a bit confusing, especially with the tense change and the flip to dialogue and the focus on Toby rather than on the MC.

    You might try starting with the second paragraph and maybe sneaking in a bit of the intrigue after the line where Toby first mentions the guys. That might be a natural jumping off point for the MC's thoughts/suspicions.

  5. A great premise, and I reckon you can do a lot with it. But is it really in the best interests of the suspense to tell the reader in the first sentence? I'm not convinced.
    I also think the rest of para 1 weakens the power of the first sentence.

    The switch in tenses - hmm, not sure it works for me, but that's just a personal thing. That said, I like the scene setup in para 2. I think you could tighten it a bit more (eg leave it at "examining bridal magazines", shorten Toby's dialogue).

  6. You lost me with the hunk of text in the first paragraph :P Maybe I just have a short attention span, but I get put off whenever I see blocks of text--especially as the first paragraph in a book.

    I don't think you need all these rhetorical questions. If you want to hint at what comes later, do so in a few short, tight sentences. Leave the reader with a few concrete details--a whet appetite. Don't burden them down with the whole meal.

    In the 2nd paragraph, who settled down on the sofa? The MC or Toby? Because right now, the sentence is pointing at the latter and I'm thinking you mean the former.

    Sounds like an interesting premise you have, though :)

  7. I found myself rereading the first paragraph, because I kept getting lost in it. I think that in conveying her confusion, you did a bit too much...the reader gets confused too.

    I think that I would enjoy it more if you put the second paragraph first, and then a shortened, tightened version of the first paragraph followed.

  8. I have to agree with the other comments. I reall like the first sentence but you lose momentum with all the questions and internal questions.

    The 2nd paragraph is nice and I like with the visual of the bride magazines and it says alot that he just hands her the plate and tells, not asks, her to fix a plate.

    I think you can really make this exciting if you rethink the opening paragraph.

    Good Luck.

  9. I like the asthma attack thing!
    I also like the premise...
    But I agree with some of the comments above. I mean, the first para was too much internal monologue for my taste--and I like IM, usually. Why I think it was too much? because I think you could show some of it in the scene, right in the moment, say maybe a flashback about her remembering the time that they were speaking about the attack and she thought it was an asthma attack? Dunno, just tossing ideas :D
    Thanks for sharing! :D t

  10. I agree with the previous commenters - your first paragraph is too much. The subsequent questions take away from the power of the first one.

    Speaking of the first sentence, are you telling us her love interest wasn't a terrorist when she met him (and became one as the story progresses), or that he was a terrorist already (but she had no clue)? I'm asking because your wording seems to indicate the former, but if it is the latter then I would suggest tightening it up to "one to fall in love with a terrorist."

    I like the imagery of her sitting with her bridal magazines. (Just fix the grammar so it's not Toby who's on the couch. ;) )

    I'm not hooked. Sorry.

  11. I'm with other comments--too much introspection for right now. You can do this later, but right now we need her reacting to a bombing on TV, her fiance's face splashed on the news--something heart-stopping. You have the setup--and it's a good one. But I agree, we need more action, less introspection.

  12. I think this is a great premise, but the voice just isn't grabbing me here, and for such an emotional topic, I found myself wanting to make a closer emotional connection with the narrator about her predicament. It's a lot of telling and not a lot of showing, and it feels rather rushed to me. I wanted to feel more of Jordan's emotions and worries that the man she fell in love with was not who he seemed to be. If the author can find a way to tap into that kind of emotion, I think she'd have a much stronger beginning.

  13. The MC is kind of passive to me. She has too much doubt and I wonder if the story should start with her confronting him instead.