Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #10

TITLE: The Jackpot
GENRE: Adult Commercial Fiction

When he stopped by his cousin Leroy's in time for the late news, Julius Wheeler was worth one hundred and ninety-eight dollars. His assets included eight compact discs, a plastic picnic table, a broken iPod, and a mattress of questionable repute. He paid two hundred dollars a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Carrolton Oaks, a crumbling housing project just inside the eastern border of Richmond, Virginia. Twenty hours a week, he cleaned the twenty-ninth floor of a downtown law firm as a member of a CleanSweep work crew. He made eight dollars an hour.

"Hey, Julius, you buy a lotto?" Leroy asked.

"Yeah," Julius said, cracking open a beer and taking a seat in the center of the threadbare couch in Leroy's apartment. It sagged in the middle and was peppered with cigarette burns.

"How many?"


"Ain't gonna win s*** buying one," Leroy said, fanning out his tickets for Julius to see. "I got eight. Gonna make me rich. What numbers you play?"

"Just had the machine pick 'em. Like it make a difference. Nobody ever win these things."

"Bulls***," Leroy said. "You think like that, you be stuck in that s***** apartment the rest of your life, and I be living on the beach. You come visit anytime."

"We shouldn't even be playing," Julius said, thinking about his s***** apartment and how much he preferred it to his eight-by-eight cinderblock cell at Red Onion State Prison, where he spent three long years.


  1. I like this once you get into the dialogue, but I found the number of numbers in the first paragraph just made me dizzy. I'd suggest you make some of them less specific. For example, you can get the same effect by saying he made minimum wage rather than eight dollars an hour.

  2. I am interested in this character and what happens to him. You write really great dialogue. I like that we're immediately talking about money with lotto tickets and 'what people are worth'. You lose me a little at the end of the 1st paragraph. Starting at "He paid two hundred dollars a month" and explaining his job. etc. It just doesn't seem necessary or tell me anything new.

  3. I think the dialogue is very well done, too. I'd stop the first paragraph at the end of "and a mattress of questionable repute" I think the other stuff is implied by those lines and those first lines are much stronger.

  4. The grocery list of items Julius owns is distracting. I suggest stopping after the first sentence and leaving out the rest.

    The dialogue is really good. Very realistic and throws the reader into the setting quite well.

    I'd read on.

    Best of luck

  5. I remember this from an earlier SA contest. I liked it then and I like it now! I really love the list of items he owns--he's a man who's worth no more than his measly belongings--but I kinda like the suggestion to cut after the mattress. It might make the list stand out more strongly. Dialogue is great and I'd definitely read on. Nice job!

  6. Perhaps start this with Julius walking into the apartment and then Leroy's dialogue, which will start it off with some action, and then add the list of what Julius owns at the end when he's thinking about his apartment and being in jail? It might work better there.

    And I have to say I was more interested in Leroy than Julius, probably because he was more upbeat and Julius seemed really depressed. I didn't dislike Julius, but I don't have a reason to like him at this point either.

    I'm assuming he's going to win the lotto and his life will change, and that's what makes me want to read more, but if his personality didn't pick up a bit, I don't know if I'd stay with it.

    I did like the writing, and the dialogue is great. The setting and their lives felt real. I just wanted a bit more life from Julius.

  7. I enjoyed the dialogue and would like to know what happens to Julius and to Leroy. I think if you started right up with the dialogue it would make a stronger opening. Perhaps you could insert some of the details from the introduction into the dialogue???

    Nice job....

  8. I like the voice and the writing a lot. I'm hooked and would read on.

  9. I love the voice in this and the line "mattress of questionable repute". But, I agree with the others who mentioned paring down the first few paragraphs. The description is great, but slightly overdone.

    I think the dialogue is perfect. I would definitely keep reading to see if they won the lotto and why Julius had spent time in prison.

  10. I'm the opposite of the other posters. I think your narrative is great but that the dialogue seems forced and choppy. The narrative is good though. Either way, I'd keep reading in hopes that it would shape up.

    Good job.

  11. I liked everything about it. I thought the descriptions made the scene and their plights concrete and that was reinforced by realistic dialogue. The subject of how or if people change after winning money they didn't earn has been done, but so has everything else. I like your fresh take on this rags to riches story, and would definitely read on. I also like that the two of them are like an old married couple (echos of odd couple). bravo. Every epic journey by the hero needs a sidekick.

    Oh Hooked.

  12. So I take it someone is about to win the lottery. Presumably Julius. That's a story that could have potential.

    I think the opening is good but went on a little long. I agree with posters who said it could end after the mattress of questionable repute, a phrase I liked a lot.

    I thought the conversation was sort of boring to be honest. it might be the way real people talk, but real conversations aren't always that interesting. I think that's why we look to fiction. I think it could use a little snaping up and maybe some of it could be worked into the text anyway.

    I think you have some interesting characters and the voice has potential.