Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #37

GENRE: Fantasy

The interview was a catastrophe. It started out fine-better than fine. Kyle, the sales manager for the bumper sticker company, Illumination Studios, met me in the warm confines of a nearby Starbucks, purchased me a grande green tea, and selected a table in the corner, away from the door and the cold blast of November air every customer brought in with them. Soft music, cappuccino-machine clacks and whirs, and the murmur of conversation created a cocoon of privacy.

I handed Kyle a copy of my resume, though his company already had one on file, and settled in, determined to prove myself the mandatory employee for the boring junior sales associate position. I wasn't particularly qualified and I would normally have rather peeled hangnails than perform cold calls-which is what I strongly suspected the position was, despite the trumped-up ad in The Sacramento Bee-but four weeks, seven failed interviews, and bills that were copulating like bunnies with each successive day of unemployment proved very strong motivators.

Strong enough for me to ignore the desperate reason I'd applied for the job in the first place.

Kyle set my resume to the side of the table without glancing at it. He scrutinized me over the top of his grande dry cappuccino. Kyle exuded salesman, from his maroon button-up shirt and khaki trousers to his thinning brown hair with its frosted tips.


  1. Not hooked.

    You have a good premise but the lack of action doesn’t make me want to continue. Kick it into high gear, give the reader conflict.

    Good description of Kyle. Makes me want to smack him on principle alone but you have lots of back story. Give the reader angst, cut the description of the company and Starbucks down to a minimum.

    Example of extras in parenthesis:

    I handed Kyle a copy of my resume, (though his company already had one on file, and settled in,) determined to prove myself the mandatory employee (for the boring junior sales associate position)

    That said I loved the copulating bills. Good picture…er, well maybe not a picture.

  2. Not hooked.

    Very slow start that doesn't do much of anything.

    I like the first sentence, but if you immediately went into why it was a catastrophe, then you can suck the reader in, too.

  3. Really nice writing but I do agree with the general "cut to the chase" sentiment. Good luck! I laughed at both the bunny bills and Kyle. I, too, wish to smack him.

  4. I was drawn in by the desperation of the narrator's situation, and by the promise of a forthcoming catastrophe. Though I can see the others' points about some bits being cuttable, I would read on.

  5. Slow start, but good writing. I'd hope the next 50 to 100 words would really jump start this story. If not, a rewrite might be needed to get to the conflict/action.

  6. It would be better to start with the last paragraph. Any interesting details, like the description of the Starbuck's in the first paragraph, can be worked in later. If any details get left out in a rewrite, they weren't that important.

  7. I really like it. I would make "The interview was a catastrophe." its own paragraph to give it more power, then follow with the rest as is. I want to know why our MC would sink so low as to do cold calls (ugh!The lowest form of sales,and the most difficult.)Those busy bunny bills are adding up, something obviously happened to put our MC off-course and I want to know more!

  8. I agree with Markmurata that it would be great to start this piece with the last paragraph. Show the reader what a catastrophe the interview is, rather than telling them.

    I'm intrigued to know what this job really is - perhaps you could start with this revelation instead.

    Your main character seemed to have a bit of an attitude too that I wasn't sure readers would find appealing. The main character seems a bit conceited yet with 7 failed interviews behind them it was hard to see why they might feel like this. I'm not sure you need all this back story.

    If you cut to the action straight away I think this could be a really intriguing story.

  9. I'd delete the first paragraph. Why would I want to read about the interview if I already know it's a catastrophe? In fact, I'd delete everything prior to "I wasn't particularly qualified," which is where I got interested in this. All the previous stuff can be better imagined or inferred. From that point on, though, this is interesting writing and I'd keep going.

  10. After reading this, I feel like the hook is just about to come up in the next paragraph or two. But the point is, it's not here, which is the whole pupose of this exercise.

    I agree about starting this later. No need to tell us the interview is a disaster if you're going to show the disaster. No need to describe Starbucks. It's like McDonalds--we all know what they look like. Just zero in on the active bits and make the opening move so we get to the hook sooner.

  11. Nice writing. I did feel somewhat connected to the character, but not enough to be hooked. I'm one who likes a ton of action right off the bat. Not everyone is like that, but I fear that's why I wasn't hooked...too much narration to start with.

    I'm particularly fond of the last paragraph. Felt like nice description there. :-)

  12. Though the description is good, there is way too much of it for the start of a story. There is no action, no dialogue, nothing really to draw me in.

  13. I really like the voice here, which helped me connect with your main character right away, and you've got some original and well put together phrases. Everything is set up so that we expect the job he will be offered is quite different from what he expects (Kyle not even glancing at his resume) and I'm curious to know what his desperate reasons were for applying for the job, if not the bills copulating like bunnies. Your writing is so self assured that I would eagerly read on.