Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #35

TITLE: A Shadow of Divine Perfection
GENRE: Adult Commercial Fiction

Emma Meyer glanced uneasily around the gift shop, prepared to duck out of sight if necessary.

Her watch showed 4:45. Technically, she and Molly were still at work, even though they'd already donned winter coats and boots. But, in their defense, at least they were still physically in the National Gallery building. Molly Edwards, tour guide extraordinaire--and somewhat sloppy roommate, if truth be told--could give an abbreviated tour, should someone know she worked there and request a tour, and Emma could make a staff member a photocopy, if they had a tracking device and located her one floor below her office, so far away from her desk.

“I'm gonna get you a bunch of these for Christmas, Moll.” Emma giggled as she pointed to a pyramid of ceramic cups showing Botticelli's famous lovers, Venus and Mars, lounging after yet another exhausting romp.

“Molly?” Emma spun around and found her friend near the gift shop entrance, squinting in the window at a ghostly reflection, applying a fresh coat of red to her lips.

Oh, Molly. Emma's chin dropped to her chest.

Molly had suggested ditching work early and heading downstairs. Emma had been against it. As she'd explained to Molly, although she didn't exactly love making photocopies and getting coffees for the staff, those duties went along with her internship and the position meant too much to her to risk screwing it up.


  1. I am confused.

    Emma's over the top reaction may be explained later but for now, all I see is Molly putting on lipstick. Why would Emma 'spin around' and react so strongly?

    Also, I would sprinkle character traits gently and not deluge the reader with 'tour guide extraordinaire' and 'sloppy roommate' all in one sentence. And the phrase 'truth be told' slows everything down.

    I liked the ' the ghostly reflection...', BTW. That was very cool imagery.

    not hooked.

  2. Could you remove the bracket in "I')m"?

  3. I had to read it twice to realize exactly what was happening here.

    I like the description of Molly in the first paragraph.

    I would read further to see why they were ditching work early, but I think this scene could use some work to help the reader envision what's happening.

  4. I'm not sure I'm hooked yet. They seem to be likeable characters so far, but the fact that they're ditching work isn't enough to get me into the story. I'd give just a little bit more of a hint as to the reason. You don't have to give it all away, but I need to know that it's for a better reason than just because they can or because they want to go see a movie or something else mundane people skip work for.

  5. I'm also not sure why Emma is so startled to see Molly applying makeup. I'm assuming that why they are skipping work comes up in the next few paragraphs - 250 words isn't much.

  6. I'm confused, too--it was all going great till the spinning around. Also, we already know she left work, so the last paragraph seems a bit redundant. All that said, I think the first paragraphs work very well.

  7. I like your flow, except for the second paragraph. It's too dense. It's better to sprinkle her characteristics throughout the earlier chapters (like spice). With this paragraph smaller, you would have then had a chance to hook us with an clear description of an inciting incident. See the book on writing "Hooked" by Edgerton, if you'd like to follow my reasoning. It changed the way I write.
    I want to be hooked because I love the feel of museum stories.

  8. I thought the writing was snappy and the characters cute. I'm with everyone who was a little thrown by the strong reaction to Molly putting on lipstick. I'm assuming the explanation comes pretty soon. I'd read on to find it.

  9. The second paragraph was a major info dump. I can't see how ducking out of work 15 minutes early is that huge of a conflict. Emma's reaction to Molly's lipstick application seems a little over the top. If Emma is so worried about losing her job, then you might emphasize that and explain why she'd risk it for her friend.

    Best of luck

  10. I had trouble following what was happening here and it's not really compelling me to read more.

    The last sentence (?) in the second paragraph seems to go on and on and may need to be reworked.

  11. I liked the characters, and I didn't take the second paragraph to be too much description at all. In fact, I like the "sloppy roommate" jibe and the "tracking device" because it shows a bit of Emma's voice.

    Because Adult Commercial Fiction covers a wide range of genres, I was unsure of the direction of the story. If problems with the internship or problems with Molly are part of the central conflict, then this could be a good start. If not, then the scene should have less emphasis and should lead directly into the conflict.

    The last paragraph was all telling and no showing. I got nothing new about their characters, but just info we already gleaned from the earlier paragraphs. A reader should know from your first sentence it probably wasn't Emma's idea to leave early and no one in their right mind would love being a go-fer for a living.

    Overall, I like the voice and characters enough to read a bit further to see where the story was heading, but I'd need to see the conflict very soon.

  12. but I'd need to see the conflict very soon.


  13. I liked this a lot. The only thing I had trouble with was the very last paragraph where you use a lot of the word had. Normally I don't notice that stuff, but it kind of stood out to me as a lot.

  14. I wasn't hooked. I don't get it. Two girls ditch their posts and roam around the place they work. This definitely needs something more, perhaps a hint of the problem to come.

  15. I liked this, but Emma seemed to change mood a bit too easily. First she's uneasy, then she's giggling, then she's dismayed. The giggling bit didn't seem to fit with the other two.

    I was also confused about why she reacted so strongly to Molly applying lipstick. At first I thought maybe the lipstick meant Molly wanted to meet up with some unsuitable boy and had lied to Emma about it. Then, on re-reading, I thought maybe Emma was upset because Molly was too far out in the open and they were supposed to be hiding. If you clarify this I think the scene would be more effective.

    I really like your writing and if you fix these minor issues, I'd read on.

  16. So 1 page just isn't always enough to get a sense of a book. Not all books start with a murder on the 1st page or some dramatic craziness. This could be one.

    That said, there were some definite issues that could be addressed to make this stronger. That last sentence in the 2nd paragraph was really crazy long and unwieldy. I wasn't even sure why we needed so much info right then, let alone in one sentence.

    What were they doing still in the building? Why weren't they leaving? And then if they were doing it, what was all that stuf about Emma being against it later and not wanting to risk her job?

    It seemed off to a good start with a kind of sneaky, we're doing something wrong and hope we don't get caught tone, but then kind of fell flat from there and went somewhere that felt confusing.

    I don't know what that whole lipstick thing was either. But i could maybe get past that if everything else felt tighter.

    It's hard to say what this is about but this page could definitely be reworked to make us want to read more.

  17. The next sentence, which I couldn't include because of word count, was: "Molly wanted to seduce a man. Sort of." (And Emma is against this, setting up the conflict.)