Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #13

TITLE: In an Instant
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

Beth Rhinehardt was smiling when the white SUV came out of nowhere and clipped her back bumper on the passenger side, spinning her around and depositing her in the path of oncoming traffic. She cursed as the old Honda skidded on unseen ice. But a split second later, she caught some traction, enough to regain a measure of control. "Whoa," she said, clenching the wheel with shaking fingers. "That could have been ugly."

Adrenaline coursed through her veins. She glanced in her rearview mirror, but the SUV had vanished. Great, she thought. That's just great.

And then, something warm tickled her right ear. She uttered a startled shriek; her head jerked around, the steering wheel dragging to the right. Rubber hissed on black ice, and suddenly the world was going by sideways--ground, buildings and sky blurring like numbers on a roulette wheel.

The car straightened out just in time for her to see a tree rushing toward her, filling up the windshield with impending destruction--a fitting bookend to the wreck she'd made of her life. I'm going to die, she thought, and two faces flashed before her eyes, one doe-eyed, one crinkling hazel. And I never even got to tell them I'm sorry.

She threw out both arms as metal collided with century-old wood. The reek of smoke filled her nostrils; something smacked her in the face, and as safety glass rained down, her left arm exploded in agony.


  1. I like the descriptions of the events. I also love the voice of the protag, so far. I'd definitely read on. Good job.

  2. I'm sorry, I wouldn't read on. I didn't get a feeling of immediacy in the accident - didn't make me feel the urgency and the connection of events in the accident didn't feel real. I guess, while I love starting in an action scene, this is really too short for me to be connected to story enough to feel anything for heroine. Maybe a little more lead into the accident would be useful. Just my opinion.

  3. This read pretty flat. This happened, then this, then this. The opening parg is all told. At the moment she gets hit, she doesn't know it's a white SUV, but you tell us that up front. She can't know that because she hasn't seen it yet.

    Show her toodling along, then have her feel the clip on the bumper. Don't tell us the car spun, show it spinning. Then let her feel the wheels gripping the pavement. We have to be there with her, and showing what happens puts us there.

    Cut things like 'adrenaline coursed through her veins.' Instead, show us how mad she is. Does she bang the steering wheel? When she curses, put it in dialogue, don't say she cursed.

    If you rewrite this with showing in mind, you'll have a much stronger, more gripping piece.

  4. I disagree with the last 2 comments - but hey, I guess that's the point of leaving comments, right? :)

    I liked the action you've got going - and I found myself reenacting what a crash would be like in my head...and felt you did a solid job showing us.

    I'm curious to know what the "something warm" was, that tickled her to make her spin out of control again.

    I liked the line of "a fitting bookend to the wreck she'd made of her life." But I would make the line "And I never even got to tell them I'm sorry." it's own paragraph. She's feeling remorse for something - and it's going to impact 2 other people...and like many, she never got to tell them what it was that's bothering her (at least that's what she's thinking).

    I enjoyed your story - and would read on.

  5. I'm not really feeling it. At least the first half. She just got hit and spun around and all the reader gets is "She cursed". I would be doing a whole lot more than that. It'd be nice if we had her bodies reaction as well.

    The second half read much better to me. I agree with the comment about about making the line "And I never even got to tell them I'm sorry." its own paragraph.

  6. I'm actually kinda confused. So the white SUV taps her bumper, juts her out in on-coming traffic, but she's able to gain control and everything is fine. Close call. BUt then something trickles down her ear, she hits black ice and has a serious accident? Maybe it's just me, but I'm lost. Sorry, I had a hard time getting into it.

  7. There are things technically wrong with this that should make me not like it - but they don't. The writing is strong enough to propel me past a somewhat hackneyed and confusing opening. For me, the perfectionist, not feeling compelled to point out what's wrong with this, says a lot.

    I think there's a story here, and strong writing, and I sure as shootin' would turn the page to find out.

  8. PS - To me, this is a great example of potential. There are some things wrong with this page, but despite them, it screams potential - and very possibly a manuscript that just needs some tweaking to be brilliant. (And no, I don't know this author!)

  9. Sarah, as the author (hope it's OK for me to comment), I'm crazy to know what the technical problems are. Please, elaborate! :)

  10. There is a nice voice here; the writing has talent. But I'm caught up in all the technicalities of the situation. Bump. Skid. Slam. Hit. I don't get a great sense of the protag.

    That said, I'm still intrigued enough to want to read on. I'd just suggest getting to the point a little fast. Maybe starting with her coming right at the tree. Bang. "I'm going to die, she thought." Wow. That would be powerful.

  11. Kathleen: I'll email you - easier to do if I just mark up the text.

  12. Good. Thrown right into the action. But here’s some pickies. The warm at her ear seemed to be blood, if it is wouldn’t it have trickled from her ear, or oozed downward. I wondered if the blood was connected to the second accident or the first because the discovery seems to happen at the same time (same sentence) as the second accident. Maybe clarify a little now that you have a little more than 250. If the tickle and the second accident are separate events they need separate sentences like Something warm tickled her ear. NEW Para: She uttered . . . (actually that's no net change in words).

    I was surprised that she’d know the age of the tree considering her state of mind and the amount of expertise necessary (I'd rather see you try . . . an old fat tree). There's also not a hint of her attitude as in she's joking in the face of disaster and would she really have time to joke with a tree?

    I liked your writing and I’d read on.