Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #27

TITLE: Untitled
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Ethan walked in through the front entrance and headed to the second floor. He wanted to look down from above onto the small crowd surrounding her.

He pulled his baseball cap low on his head, hunching his shoulders forward as he made his way up the stairway. He walked from one end of the balcony to the other, randomly picking up books set on tables along his path.

He knew where to find her. The evening before, he watched her walk into his favorite hole-in-the-wall pub and sit down alone at the bar. The people surrounding him claimed to be his friends, but they weren't paying enough attention to realize a stranger across the room had captivated him.

For the next sixty minutes, he smiled, made witty comments, and sipped his drink on cue. His companions remained unaware that his keen interest in what was happening at their cozy table of five did not exist.

Ethan West was watching the woman at the bar.

Fifteen hours later, as he observed from the top of the stairs, the situation struck him as an ironic contrast to his usual circumstances. People typically watched him. He'd become accustomed to having hundreds of eyes on him at any given time, even when he wished more than anything to be alone. Somehow, he had made it past all of those disturbingly curious eyes without anyone's knowledge, and now, Ethan was the one who could not stop staring.


  1. The opening paragraph: "small crowd surrounding her" seems a bit of a clunky line.

    I think this seems like an interesting concept, but there was so much description of thought, and not much action (and zero dialogue) that I was pretty lost, found myself wanting to skim, and ultimately would probably have walked away from the book.

  2. I actually found this intriguing, although I agree with Aimee that you could come up with a more dynamic opening.

    You don't need the third, fourth, or fifth paragraphs right now - we don't need to know how Ethan found this woman, only that he found her. The last paragraph clues us in that Ethan is a celebrity, but I wish we'd gotten a better sense of that right away. That's your hook, I think: a celebrity watching an unknown woman instead of the other way around.

    But is this book really complete and ready for agent review if it doesn't even have a title?

  3. Nothing happens but Ethan watching the woman. It read as creepy and obsessive to me. I'm afraid in its present form I wouldn't keep reading because I'm a bit icked out.

  4. This has potential, but there's a lot of backstory, none of which matters in the beginning. Well, it might matter to the character, but the reader isn't invested enough to care.

    I liked watching Ethan go up the stairs. I didn't need to know why. His actions told me he didn't want to be seen. Have him search. Don't tell us what he's searching for. Make the reader earn it. Then, when he sees her, some of that backstory can bubble to the surface. Some, but not all. Dole it out like you're a cash-strapped parent at a toy store.

    Right now, like Lucy said, it's a little creepy, and that's fine, but with a few tweaks it could be truly stalkerish (if that's what you're going for), or even endearing if it's done right. Good luck.

  5. I agree. Get to the story sooner. The writing is very sound but nothing is happening yet to draw me in.

  6. I had to read the first paragraph a few times because I was tripped up by the word "her" at the end. Maybe using the woman's name, instead, would help make it read easier.

    It does seem a little creepy, but that doesn't bother me; it interests me. I would like a hint as to why Ethan is obsessed with this woman, though.

  7. I agree that this is a little slow for me (and I tend to like slower-paced novels) but there is a lot that is intriguing me. The lines that really stick out for me are about the fact that his friends and the people at the party don't seem to be aware of what he's thinking or feeling. It makes me feel like this woman is going to change things for him in some way? To be honest, I'd rather see what he is seeing; this woman he is so captivated by, instead of focusing on him so much.

  8. The tone reads as very stalkerish and creepy to me, so if that's the way it's going, then it's good. But if it's supposed to be lighter or a romantic beginning, then it doesn't work.

  9. I agree with the other critters about the creepy stalker thing, but I think I see your point: Ethan's fascination is due to the irony that he's now the watcher instead of the watchee. If you could make it more clear what about the woman has him so entranced, maybe it would justify his behavior.

  10. I'm hooked BUT!...


    why not start with the scene at the bar, so we can see this woman who's captivated him and feel what he feels, ignoring all around him but her, the woman at the bar? The way you set it up here I have no clue what's going on. Is she about to jump off the balcony at the library? where the heck are they? Who cares about all this really. I don't. I want to see action, feel the sensations, emotions, get invested in someone's 'story' before I read past page one. Otherwise I'm bored with the set up and the introductions. WHAT, WHO, and WHY. Answer those.

  11. I didn't get any creepy/stalker type feelings. He saw her once, liked what he saw, and returned the next day. But I agree nothing much happens. Perhaps show us the scene where he first sees her in real time, not as backstory, and give us a bit more of the woman. What is it that fascinates him and draws him toward her? And more importantly, a hint at the problem this fascination might cause.

  12. Lots of potential here. The bit about last night is too long, and there are some clunky moments, but I really like the setup, and I'm very intrigued by the guy who's used to being looked at. Why? Is he drop-dead gorgeous? A movitvational speaker? A rock star? These questions intrigue me enough that I would keep going--but I would like to see some smoothing of the sentences.

  13. Not enough happens here to hold my interest. Ethan’s really interested in a girl he saw at a bar. That’s all we get. Why not start with the moment they meet? Or the moment she first catches his eye? He comes off as a bit stalkerish because we don’t see any of the passion or fascination that’s driving him to stare at her. If you could give us some reasons why he’s so obsessed that could help you lose the stalker vibe (if you want to lose it).

  14. a lot of staring and looking going on, but i'm not too excited. not sure what he is or why he's there, which i would like clarified, or else he sounds creepy.