Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Secret Agent #30

TITLE: Trowel and Error
GENRE: Adult Contemporary romance

Random gusts of wind buffeted the rental car and raindrops spattered the windshield as Eleanor Blake gripped the steering wheel. When menacing clouds first gathered on the horizon, she considered her options. She hated the thought of driving through a storm, but delaying her carefully planned journey was worse. Now that those clouds were dumping torrential rain, she regretted her decision. Her driving experience was limited and she was keenly aware that every mile she traveled must be retraced before she was home again.

Red lights glared on the car ahead of her and she tapped the brakes. The traffic slowed, then stopped. But something was moving up ahead, along the shoulder of the road. The windows were fogged and pebbled with raindrops, making it hard to see. A lone figure, hunched under a backpack. Jeans. A pair of hiking boots. Eleanor was sympathetic, but every warning she ever heard about hitchhikers clamored in her mind. Offering this stranger a ride might be kind, but that didn't make it smart. Or right. Not for her. Still, she couldn’t look away from the unfortunate traveler. Water dripped from the end of a ponytail and ran down the back of a denim jacket. A woman! Her sympathy was rekindled, the sense of danger faded. She pressed the button to lower the window.

“Can I give you a ride?”

The walker turned and Eleanor's eyes widened as a jolt of adrenaline flooded her stomach. The person looking back at her was a man.


  1. I think you should start from, "A lone figure..... and after the person looking back at her was a man" cut to your opening paragraph of Eleanor and the storm.
    Because that what hooks the romance reader from the start. I am piqued want to know if he's the hero. How I wish we could get a description, but yeah pare down the opening para and start closer to the meeting. I am hooked.

  2. I like the surprise of the hitch hiker being female, and that's the core of the hook for this opening. I don't mind the scene setting of the opening paragraph, but using passive voice takes the urgency out of it, so maybe rewording that part will envigorate the opening.

  3. The first reason why I read this was because our characters share the same last name ;-). But then I kept on reading and I like the surprise that she's feeling confident giving a woman a ride, but then is confronted by a man. So I'd like to read if she's going to speed off or if she's giving him a ride.

    I like the overall voice. A tidy up would bring it up a little. Keep at it. I hope the guy is good looking ;-)

    What I noticed is the passive writing in some way. You could condense sentences a little. Eliminate 'was' since you use it a lot. Sentences like: The windows were fogged and pebbled with raindrops, making it hard to see, could be changed to: The fogged windows, pebbled with raindrops obscured her vision. Try to eliminate as many, was, were, etc.

  4. While I like the voice, I feel that some of your sentences are densely packed with description. If you have "the this and the this did this as the this and the this made that noise", it's quite a lot for a reader to take in without a pause for breath. It might serve the flow of your story better to mix up sentence lengths a little bit.

  5. I think your first sentence should be the one about the menacing clouds. Your current opening line is well written but generic in comparison to the menacing clouds line. I think it's a stronger hook. I love the nice twist of the hitchhiker being a woman. I think it needs another pass of edits and you'll really have a solid , intriguing opening. This is good.

  6. Some nice details about the MC here, I get the idea she's not much of an adventurer and here she is, on the cusp of an adventure.

    Consider starting with: Eleanor blake hated driving, especially in a storm. Random gusts of wind buffeted the rental car and raindrops spattered the windshield, but to delay her trip may as well cancel it.

    I also agree with the suggestion to revise with an eye on weak verbs, wordiness, and variety in sentence structure and length.

    Since this is a romance, I also wonder if the mystery figure should appear even earlier.

  7. The first paragraph felt a little dry. But by the second paragraph, I felt a little more connected to the story so I would cut the first paragraph and just start from the second.

    In the second paragraph, I was able to understand her personality and thought process a little more. I laughed when she realized that the “woman” she was trying to offer a ride to because she thought it would be safer was actually a man. Oops, lol. Nice job on writing it in a way I could visualize it and make me want to read more.

    Thanks for entering!

  8. I wasn't grabbed by the opening right away. I didn't feel like there was much voice to this character; rather, it was like I was being told about her journey by somebody else.

    I think you can open on the hitchhiker. That drew me in right away; I could feel that conflict of emotions, because I've felt it myself, and I'm sure many readers have, too.

    Same with driving in the rain. We've all done it, it makes plenty of us nervous. You're in a good position that you need very little scene-setting in this case and can just jump forward to the part that will catch our interest the most -- the awkward position of offering a ride to what she thought was a woman and realizing it's a man.

    I would definitely read on! Best of luck with this.