Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #3

TITLE: Distracted Living
GENRE: Women’s Fiction

It was a perfect morning in Chicago. The kind of day when cold and snow were forgotten and every harsh word forgiven. As Cilla Perkins drove east on Wacker Drive, her hair blowing in the breeze and her phone in the passenger seat, she wondered why people would live anywhere else.

The infinite possibility of the morning stretched from the Chicago River to Lake Michigan, giving Cilla hope that Blake Klemensky would forgive and forget and move forward with their New Year’s wedding.

The imposing fortress of the Merchandise Mart rose in front of her. To her left, the curving green glass of 333 Wacker caught the morning sky as it hugged the bend of the river. Cilla thought of the gleaming glass set down among the older stone structures as Chicago’s man-made mountains..

She had been texting Blake since dawn, knowing he slept with his phone an inch from his head. She also knew he rose early every day to work on a different muscle group. He must have seen her apologies and her invitation to lunch at the Billy Goat. They had quarreled the night before over watching a Cubs game on TV versus going to a gallery opening. All she said was she was tired of watching sports all the time. That his glory days as an athlete were over and that he should work on developing something besides his muscles.


  1. Uh oh. Cilla's in deep. Looks like she hit Blake where it really hurts - his entire identity - and doesn't even realize it. The "All she said..." tells me she still doesn't think she said anything that bad. I think it will take more than texts to straighten this out. I'm not sure what you mean by the man-made mountains sentence, and I've read it a few times. Anyway, I hope Cilla gains some insight and quick. Maybe the story is about that?

  2. This sounds great! I got the trouble in paradise vibe as well and am very interested in seeing where this story is going. I also agree about the man made mountains line, where is that going?

  3. I really, really like the last paragraph. That is where the story really starts for me. I felt like the first three were a little too descriptive. Knowing the MC has been texting her BF since dawn with no response after she said those awful things (that made me chuckle, by the way) really sets the stage for a great story. Perhaps if you put that bit first it would draw the reader in more?

    I like the first two paragraphs, as well, but I'm wondering if they might fit in better after you introduce the conflict?

    Overall great writing, though.

  4. The writing here is strong, but I don't like Cilla enough to continue reading. Texting her BF all morning to apologize strikes me as needy and I don't have a sense of who she is as an individual, outside of her relationship. That's really just a matter of taste, though.

    I'm all for novels with a strong sense of place, but I thought the references to Chicago landmarks were a little overdone (Wacker Drive, Lake Michigan, Merchandise Mart, the Cubs). One well-chosen image would be enough to establish the location. Maybe consider expanding a bit on the image in the first paragraph and cutting some of the later references. E.g., as Cilla Perkins drove east down Wacker Drive, with the river snaking along on her left, and the skyscrapers rising on either side like the walls of a man-made canyon, she wondered why anyone would live anywhere else.

  5. What makes it a perfect morning? Add in some description because it could be anything. It could be that she got coffee on time from her shop and it could be that the day is clear and sunny. It obviously isn't perfect because of her relationship.

    It seemed incongruous that the morning was perfect, yet she was really preoccupied with the arguement. I'd tie this conflict together more explicitly by saying somethign like "everything was perfect, except that she wasn't sure she was going to get married anymore" or something like that.

    good luck!

  6. Have to say, this didn't really grab me right away. The 'perfect morning' comment doesn't make sense in the context of her emotional turmoil.

    There's too much description of external things, and not enough information about the MC for me to really care about her. A few well placed setting details are enough. Save the words to make us care about Cilla.

  7. I think the premise is good, that she needs to save her wedding (if that is the main story arc) but starting a story in a car with a lot of description isn't the most dynamic. I think I'd like to see the argument to start. And I'm also not sure if I was in her situation I'd describe any morning as perfect if I thought my love life was crumbling. Where is she driving too. It's a bit distracting with the excerpt because I'm wondering te whole time where shes going.

  8. You write nice prose and I like the opening paragraph.

    But I feel like this scene jumps around too much between ideas. I've barely gotten to know Cilla when I'm jumping between her goals and desires, then where she actually is, then what happened to her last night. I think if you focus on the logical connections between her thoughts -- how is she getting from one reminiscence to another, how is she experiencing the events happening to her? -- you'll be able to make this a more streamlined and compelling opening.