Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #14

TITLE: Power Talk
GENRE: Humor/Satire

Who else but Stella Sinatra would travel with a snake inside her suitcase?

Charlie, the reptile in question was literally, 'something the cat dragged in'. Frank, the Siamese had hauled the squirming serpent through the cat door and dumped it on the end of Stella's bed. He had stalked over, nudged her hand for a pat, and sprawled down next to her awaiting lavish words of praise. After the first stunned seconds, Stella had grabbed the cat, leapt out of bed and fled screaming to the telephone.

"Tom, get here fast! I've got a snake in my bed,"

Her brother had just laughed when he saw the miscreant. This prompted the offended reptile to retreat under Stella's 'Hundred Acre Wood' doona, making it hard to tell where Tigger's tail began and the snake's ended.

"It's only a Children's Python. It's harmless," said Tom.

Stella stomped to the kitchen and came back with a perforated lettuce container that she tossed at her brother. Her livid eyes were as green as the Tupperware lid.

"If the snake's so harmless, you won't mind catching it for me."

"You can't put it in that!"

"Well it's not staying where it is. I've had enough reptiles in my bed to last me a lifetime."

Tom handed her back the Tupperware. "This is barely big enough for an earthworm."

While Stella searched for a bigger container, Tom tried to coax the snake out with promises of fresh white mice and a possible slice of Frank's tail.


  1. I like this because it's funny and different. I don't see where the satire comes in, but I'd keep reading. I was a little confused by the past perfect, though: had hauled, had stalked, had grabbed, etc. Just show it happening.

  2. I was confused by the backwards jump in the beginning. Starts out with the snake in the suitcase, then goes back to when she first found the snake. I was expecting a "traveling with the snake" story.

  3. The opening line is good (minus the last name, in my opinion - I don't think of my last name when I'm in my own head), but I agree that you need to get back to the circumstances surrounding it in the first page or it's just a disconnect.

    I don't know what a "perforated lettuce container" is. A regular container? And it's hard to judge size because you haven't told us how big the snake is.

    The past perfect reads rather clunky to me - not a good thing in humor when pace is everything.

    If we're in Stella's POV, she would not be self-reflecting about how her "green" eyes look (she'd be feeling livid, not thinking about how it looks from the outside), neither would she know what Tom was doing in her bedroom after she left it.

    As it is now, I might not keep reading. Needs tightening and some POV clean up I think.

  4. I enjoy the image of the snake in the suitcase and landing in the bed because of the cat, so that would probably keep me reading. I liked the livid green eyes line, but it is out of her POV.

    I would probably give it a few more pages to see where it goes. Intrigued by the title.

  5. This was fun, but the journey into the past makes it impossible to get a feel for where the story is going and what I might expect. If you want to tell us how Stella got the snake, then start there, or get the back story in later. If you're starting with traveling with a snake, you should stay there. As is, there's no problem, there's no goal, no tension or conflict, which means no hook.

  6. I would do almost anything to keep that opening line. It made me laugh right out loud. It sets the tone right from the first sentence. We know there are chuckles involved.

    I personally didn't have problems with the jump in time. It just made me want to read more. We know she's frightened of snakes, that she called her brother over to remove said snake, and here she is traveling with the reptile.

    Guess it would be helpful to indicate the size of the snake so that the joke pays off that the container she brought is way too small.

    Yes, there is that pesky POV problem with her green eyes and the green tupperware. Is it really necessary that we know she has green eyes? If so, maybe her brother could make some snarky remark like "Only you'd buy tupperware to match your eyes," but personally I don't think it's worth it -- unless, of course, it's a plot point.

    I really like your comedic sensibilities.

  7. "doona"? New one for me! Had to go look it up. Am I the only one who didn't know what that was? :)

  8. I thought it was cute and funny. A couple of punctuation issues - comma after "the reptile in question" and no comma after "snake in my bed."

    My main problem was getting into it to begin with - I had to read the second long paragraph several times because all of the names confused me. Stella, Charlie, Frank. And then Tom. It doesn't really matter that they're animals... it was confusing!

  9. I really liked the first line, but the rest bogged down for me. I like a character who would carry a snake in a suitcase, but what follows makes her seem like she's exactly the kind of person who *wouldn't* go anywhere near a snake, let alone carry one in her suitcase.

    Could you possibly trim down the description of how Stella came to possess a snake and get back to why she's got it in her suitcase? That's the part I really want to know about.

  10. I adored the voice and the humor. This piece made me laugh out loud! I especially loved the line, 'I've had enough reptiles in my bed to last me a lifetime!' I like your characters and am very interested in seeing more. Thanks!

  11. Thanks everyone for your positive words and your constructive suggestions.

    Plenty for me to think about and work with here, and I'm so pleased that I gave some of you a chuckle.


  12. Great first line, but then we get the snake’s backstory, which isn’t as interesting as Stella Sinatra trying to get her snake past security or whatever. The line about having had enough reptiles in her bed is cute, and gives us an idea of who is she and how she sees the world, but I’d be much more interested in finding out why she’s chosen a snake as a traveling companion. As is I’m not hooked.

  13. I love the opening line and the fact that the snake is called Charlie. I also think the backstory is well written and funny, but I would've like a paragraph to orient me as to what Stella is doing now. In my mind she's at an airport...but I could be completely wrong!

  14. this one has some good moments
    the first line and the line about the snakes in her bed.
    but i'm not very hooked.