Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #42

TITLE: Welcome to My Mother 'Hood
GENRE: Humor

I barely got out of the way of the dog, Snarl, and the cat, Psycho, as they tore past me deep in the throes of "catch me of you can," both heading up the stairs, fur and drool flying.

Our oldest son, Sullen, loped into the house, deposited his guitar on the dining room table and his sneakers on the living room rug I'djust vacuumed. Soon I was being treated to ear-splitting levels of Guitar Hero. As I was trying to grab the tufts of fur floating through the air, the phone rang.

"Hey there, Donna Reed! You coming down with something?"

Jane knows I hate that nickname since it conjures up the image of a perfectly put together housewife, which, since I'm usually in desperate need of a dye job and my make-up disappears within an hour of application, I am decidely not.

After disloging and errant tuft of fur from my mouth, I said "Just dodging the third installment of "If I catch you, you're toast!"

"Ah, Snarl and Psycho at it again?" Jane chuckled.

"Oh yeah," I answered, moving quickly out of the way as they tore past me coming back down the stairs, followed by our youngest, Surly, who was egging them on. Hearing the crash of the food and water bowls in the kitchen, along with Surly's resounding "Cool!," I tiredly sat on the bottom step of the staircase and sighed.

"What's up with you?" I asked Jane, while trying to remember where I'd stashed the Motrin.


  1. I enjoyed this, and the voice, a lot, but it got a little derailed when the phone call happened. Jane's call read very "as you know, Bob" to me. She inserts the nickname, and then it gets explained to us. She correctly guesses the cat and dog fight, which tells us nothing new.

    In terms of the nickname, I'd love for the stuff about being the anti-Donna to be revealed in action rather than telling us about it. It would be more interesting and funnier. For example, Jane calls her Donna Reed, and then something explodes. That tells us what we need to know without it being spoon-fed. Although I question the premise, because by now does anyone think a housewife is actually Donna Reed? Aren't they all frazzled because, well, because the job is hard?

    I also loved the first few nicknames, but by the time we got to "Surly" the joke had worn thin. Maybe he could have one that's a little less obvious that the reader has to work to understand through the action?

    I've got one in this batch of SA, and I get how freaking hard it is to paint the world in 250 words. Oy, do I. Maybe jumping into the purpose of Jane's call would wake up the zoo-of-a-household story and inflect some purpose. The whole exchange about the dog and cat is unnecessary.

    Good luck! Humor is hard, and you've got a great start!

  2. This is really smooth and fun. However, I don't have much to grab onto yet as a reason to care about this woman. We've got a well-painted situation, but we don't have a goal or a problem.

    I know that might be unfair; 250 words is awfully short and your inciting incident may well come up in the next 50. But that's just my response to this excerpt.

  3. Yes, right now it's just a situation and I can't quite grasp what the story will be. The writing could be a bit smoother, though it is very funny and rife with possibility. But there are many awkward sentences. For example, you use the word since twice in the same sentence of paragraph three. That pulls me out. Also lots of adjectives tend to drag things down. Perhaps cut some of this back and get to the meat of the story sooner and I think I'd be hooked.

  4. The title made me smile, and I think you have a lot of potential in your writing. I agree that the call seems to slow things down rather than igniting my interest level, but the nicknames are cute and the MC already feels like someone I might be able to relate to on quite a few levels. Although at that point I might be reaching for the red wine instead of the motrin! Best of luck and thanks for sharing!

  5. Between the phone call, the Jane name thrown out there and the cat and dog, I found it confusing. Also, one of my very first thoughts aligned with one of the above comments regarding the Donna Reed reference and following explanation--it was a little to "telly."

  6. I find this situation relatable as a mother of three. But I think the first sentence, fore example, is too long. There's too much happening in one sentence, and it just kind of overwhelming for the reader. Simplify the sentences, cut words like 'and' and 'so' where you can to tighten things up.
    I didn't understand the Donna Reed reference at all. I had to Google her to find out.
    I'm not quite hooked yet.

  7. I found this humorous and the title gave me a real giggle. I didn't care for the children's names though. It's a bit much.

    But the opening hooked me enough to want to read more.

  8. Thanks for all the comments, I appreciate each one! Jane and Lucy: You're so right, 250 words is very hard to get the set-up, particularly when it's the prologue to the story! This is the first time I've had anyone other than friends and family critique my writing and while it was nerve-wracking, it was definitely worth it! Thanks again! :)

  9. Not quite hooked. You do a great job of setting the scene, but that's all you do. I agree with you other commenters about the phone call - it doesn't introduce any conflict or anything new about the character or her world that we don't already know.