Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #4

TITLE: The Book of Two
GENRE: Women's Commercial Fiction

Kate let go of my hand and stopped walking with a stubborn insistence. The memory of her long steady stride haunted the grey sidewalks and I felt the lush green of summer fall from each tree. When she didn't follow, I continued moving forward, sweat dripping from my forehead, despite having left the air conditioned truck only a few moments before. I turned back with a sigh loud enough to hear. "Come on. Let's do this."

She stood with the slightest smile. Her eyes were bright; completely present and in this very moment, but her silence taunted me. I tried to summon the patience that our time together rarely afforded, then walked back towards her, reaching my hand out as gently as I could. "Mom says you need a dress." I pulled at her fingers with a soft nudge and she moved reluctantly with me, dragging her feet near the curb.

As we walked into the boutique, the saleswoman, tall and thin in her tailored slacks and heels, gave me a dull once-over before quickly turning away. I sensed the softness of the colorful fabrics around me and I walked away from Kate. I hoped that she would gravitate towards something I could buy for her. I couldn't imagine holding clothes up to her body and shouting loudly, "Well wouldn't that look lovely", as I'd seen my mother to do on more than one occasion. Then she would proceed to purchase the same ribbed turtleneck in five different colors.


  1. I like this. The only thing I would suggest would be to cut out some of the adjectives. For example, you describe both the sidewalks and the leaves in the same sentence and that's not enough time for a reader to get both pictures in and out of his/her head. Try to focus on only one description per paragraph but do it well. So if you want to describe the trees, really describe the trees but don't give us the sidewalk, truck etc... too.

  2. IT's hard to tell who's the aggressor -- it first seems like Kate is doing the pulling, but then later the narrator is pulling at her fingers.

    Also, there's some major overwriting in here -- "the memory of her long steady..." sentence seems a bit overdone.

    I think there's some nice conflict between two sisters here, but you could work on digging it out a little more from the excessive description.

  3. For me, this had too many problems. How can a sidewalk be haunted by memories of a stride? If the MC keeps walking when the little sister stops, how does she know the little sister stops with stubborn insistence? She isn't looking at little sister. If little is sister is being stubborn, why is she smiling? Wouldn't she have an angry or upset look on her face? And if she is really being stubbornly insistent, why does she go with big sister so easily when prodded? Why does the MC have to shout at her in the store when she doesn't have to shout at her out on the street?

    On the other hand, the two sisters are a bit intriguing. I'm wondering if little sister is hard of hearing and why Mom isn't taking her shopping. So you are raising questions in my mind that make me want to read more. But overall, there were just too many inconsistencies here for me. Working on them would make a big difference.

  4. I'm very intrigued by this. I get the sense that Kate is disabled in some way. The "memory of her long steady stride" refers back to a time before her disability. Through lovely prose, you're showing the narrator's love masked by flits of frustration. This is a promising start and I'd read on.

  5. This is a little purple for my tastes" "stubborn insistence," "lush green of summer fall" Is the weather really that important in this scene? I want to know Kate.

    You do a great job of setting up the sister's disability.

    Best of luck

  6. I would read on...

    I'm curious about Kate and what has happened to her. I'm curious about the narrator. Is this a sister? a brother? What is the relationship with the mother? It sounds like the characters will be layered. :)

    I agree that in the second sentence you could cut the description of the trees and make the paragraph stronger.

    I visualized a small town on main street, lined with trees and little shops...I wonder if I'm right???

    Best wished with your manuscript.

  7. I like this, even though I'm not one hundred percent sure what's happening here. The writing is beautiful in spots, but, as stated above in the purple prose comment, there are small bits that feel over-written.

    It's so hard to criticize--because I'd read on, but it's about the hook. I'm not totally hooked. I need a better snapshot of the characters to ground me and really make me care about them.

  8. I would read on as well. The relationship between the sisters has me intrigued. I also wonder where the mother is.

    I agree with the suggestion to cut/revise that one sentence about the haunted sidewalks. The idea behind it makes me want to know more, but the phrasing took me out of the story for a bit.

    I do like that line about the ribbed turtleneck in five different colors -- helps me get a sense of the sister.

    Best wishes!

  9. These 250 words are more a slice of life, than an inciting incident. What will change in their lives? In commercial fiction this needs to be up front.

    Having said that, I like your lyrical style. It reminds me more of a literary novel, but some literary (if it is) can be very commercial, so treck on.

    A couple little things: 'my mother to do' (remove to).

    'I tried to summon the patience our time together would ...' (I dropped 'that')

    Some 'that's' can be dropped and the sentence still makes perfect sense.

    The sentence (last paragraph) that starts, "I sensed the softness has two thoughts joined by and that have nothing to do with each other. Consider: I flet if I walked away form the colorful fabrics she, on her own would gravitate ...

    drop loudly, from shouting loudly. It's redundant.

    Your ms. is anchored in a solid and complex relationship and will be an enjoyable read after you work out the minor kinks.

  10. I originally thought the narrator was male, tugging along a girlfriend. The stubbornness, the sweat, the truck all made me think 'guy'. If you mean to be intriguing, it's working. But I'd like to hear more voice.

    I'm not sure if I'm hooked, but I'm intrigued and would read more.

    Dr. Krog

  11. I also thought the narrator was male at first.

    Unfortunately, I'm not really hooked. It feels over-written. I got bored at the long descriptions. There's no action, no conflict. I don't think I would read on.

  12. So I also thought the MC was male. And even when the Mom was introduced, I thought it was a brother and sister for some reason. if that's not the case, there's something wrong. Ther'es something wrong either way since there were so many divided opinions on this. I think for me it was about the awkwardness in the shop and the moment and the not enough time together--seemingly male traits for some reason, although first I attributed them to a boyfriend.

    I also felt there were some werid turns of phrase here--the memory haunting the sidewalk. Also, a semicolon separates two independent sentences. Yours does not.

    Also, I guess I'm not sure what this opening page does for us really. It doesn't really start us off with any action. It doesn't really set the scene. It doesn't vividly describe a place. It doesn't establish a strong voice. So I'm left with a sort of blah what is going on feeling that's hard to overcome.

    I don't know what the story is about but I'm sure it could be interesting and the characters seem to have potential, but I don't think these beginning paragraphs bring it out. I would reqork this.