Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #30


A siren's wail pierced the air. James Rollins tightened his grip on the steering wheel as blue lights strobed. Not the welcome he'd expected in a town named Perfect.

"What's up?" Michael jerked toward the front seat, bumping his head on the ceiling.

"He's getting pulled over by a cop. That's what." Sarah squealed. "Way to go, Dad-o."

Maneuvering onto the gravel shoulder, James shoved the gearshift into park. His heart shifted into overdrive. "Was I speeding?" Pointing toward the dashboard, He glimpsed his wife covering her eyes with a hand. "Libby, grab our registration and insurance while I find my license." He twisted around to reach his back pocket.

A tall deputy approached their vehicle. The kid barely looked old enough to shave. Fresh out of high school like Michael.

James rolled down the window, his pulse accelerating into turbo-supercharge. "Hello, Officer. Anything wrong?" He drew in a deep breath and held it.

"Yes, sir. Your left rear tire is pretty low. Thought you'd better get it fixed before it blows."

James's relief whooshed out. "Thank you, Officer--?"

"Delaney. Officer Ben Delaney."

"We're new in town." James's thumb hitchhiked upward toward the luggage rack. "Today's our moving in day, so I don't know any garages around here. Where would you recommend?"

"Dan's Motors straight ahead on your left. That's where we get all the county vehicles serviced. I'd be happy to show you. Follow me."


"No problem, sir. Welcome to Perfect."

James liked the sound of that.


  1. This piece intrigued me; I was interested by the last sentence of the first paragraph and hooked by the time the police officer started talking.

    I only have a few little suggestions. The first two sentences of the first paragraph are a bit generic--a siren could be referring to any emergency vehicle--and didn't interest me as much as the last sentence, and "blue lights strobed" threw me off a little bit. Perhaps cutting the first sentence and adding a bit more detail into the second sentence--so the reader isn't confused by the blue lights without the first sentence--would be a good option. In the third paragraph, I think the first two sentences could be combined and then followed by a comma instead of a period--'"He's getting pulled over by a cop, that's what," Sarah squealed.' In the fouth paragraph, I think there's an accidental capital letter in the fourth sentence; "He" instead of "he." Also, in the tenth paragraph, I think "moving in" should be hyphenated, but I'm not sure. Finally, in the eleventh paragraph, I think that instead of "I'd be happy to show you. Follow me." you might want to combine the two sentences with "if you would," otherwise it sounds a bit like the officer is ordering him, rather than helping him.

    I like how the reader already knows a little bit about each of these characters by the end of the piece, even though it's pretty short. Michael is tall--he bumps his head on the ceiling of the car--and he's right out of high school. Sarah is younger, maybe a lot younger, since she squeals and says "Dad-o." James is a bit tense, as is Libby. Officer Delaney is young, but helpful and considerate. You did a very good job of introducing these characters in a relatively short amount of space.

    With Officer Delaney's personality, the reader also gets a sense of what Perfect is really like, as well, although the very first paragraph of the piece suggests that maybe Perfect won't end up as perfect as it's supposed to be. This piece definitely interested me, and I thought you did a very good job. =)

  2. I was charmed by this. I was a bit tripped up by the first paragraph, though; I understood it was some sort of emergency vehicle, but not that he was being pulled over until Sarah said so.

  3. I really liked this. Seems more like family drama than women's fiction though, due to being in James'POV. I really like James' voice, though and would read on.

  4. I agree the first paragraph needs some tightening - I thought James was the officer at first :)

    I like the way you've integrated the info instead of telling it.

    I think you could tighten up in places but I like it! :)

  5. Moderately hooked. There were a few rough spots and/or typos in the writing (for instance, the fourth paragraph features an unnecessarily capitalized "He," and you've got one too many prepositions in the phrase "James's thumb hitchhiked upward toward the luggage rack"), but on the whole, this reads pretty smoothly. James's reaction to the cop shows us more about him than a paragraph of telling ever could. Nice job.

  6. I'm most intrigued by the name of the town. A town called perfect has a lot to live up to. Something tells me it's anything but. :-) I don't know if I would reveal the name of the town in the first paragraph. And there was some awkward wording in the 2nd sentence that made me go back and read it again.

  7. There definitley seems to be an undercurrent here that Perfect, isn't. I'm intrigued and would read more.

  8. I'm intrigued.
    I did love the sentence about not the welcome he expected from a town named perfect.

    From the first couple of sentences I thought that he was the policeman.

    It could be tightened up and reconsider some of your dialouge, make sure it's adding to your plot or characterization.

    Other posters commented they felt there was an undertone that Perfect wasn't perfect. I did not get that at all. I think you could portray that more (if that's what you are going for) with the actions, dialouge, and manerisms of the police officer.

  9. The name of the town hooked me, but you're opening is not strong by any means. You could tighten it up, kill the wordiness.

    (1) A siren's wail pierced the air. (yuck)

    James Rollins tightened his grip on the steering wheel. Police sirens, blue lights. Not the welcome he'd expected in a town named Perfect.

    Short, sweet, to the point. Forget syrupy words that get in the way.

    (2) who are these people? the reader needs to know!

    When introducing characters, mention who the heck they are the first time they are mentioned:

    "What's up?" James's son Michael jerked toward the front seat, bumping his head on the ceiling.

    "He's getting pulled over by a cop. That's what." his daughter Sarah squealed. "Way to go, Dad-o."

    then we can get on with the story knowing who they are and not wondering if these are just pot smoking friends in the back seat. Don't leave it up to the reader to guess, show/tell them what's what.

  10. The very last two sentences/ paragraphs are awesome. The rest I found a little bit jerky, needing smoothing and clarification.

    I'm also wondering, what comes AFTER that great line? It sounds like the end of a section, but it would be hard to imagine this being a complete scene, much less a complete chapter.

  11. This was very intriguing. Nothing huge happens and yet . . . it's there (whatever 'it' is.) As someone said, there is that undercurrent that not everything will be perfect in Perfect, and that, I think, is what draws me in.

    Great job with introducing characters. We learn who they are through their actions and dialogue, rather than a narrator telling us.

    I'm hooked, and dying to know where you'll take it. My first inclination is to think terror and mayhem a la Stephen King, but this is gentle women's fiction. Really wish I could read more!

  12. Really hooked!
    I agree with Barbara, it feels suspenseful- although it's womens fiction. Either way, I would like to see where this goes. Great job!

  13. What I like about this is how tense James is when he gets pulled over, and how relieved he is when it’s only that his tire is low on air – it makes you think he has something big to hide (though if he does, his kids don’t seem to know it, as they seem pretty amused by the situation). The dialog works well but other than that I found this to be pretty bland. More tension between the family members would have made it more interesting, and given me a stronger handle on who the characters are. Somewhat hooked.

  14. agree with what most of the other said.

    i liked lia's suggestions.