Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Secret Agent Contest #1

GENRE: Adult Upmarket Women's Fiction

We haven’t spoken since Allentown. Bob listens to sports radio and occasionally digs at something in his ear as I stare out the window at distant, seemingly idyllic farms that turn dilapidated and disappointing the closer we get to them. I’m not the least bit concerned about the silence. It’s one of the perks, actually, of twenty-nine years of marriage—knowing you don’t have to worry about filling the dead air. And besides, I’m sure Bob is as lost in thought over the events of today as I am. Sadie was our last to go. It’s a big deal.

“The roommate seems nice,” I finally say.

Bob doesn’t answer. He leans in and cocks his head toward the radio. Two guys named Joe, both with Long Island accents (pronounced Lung Island) are talking about a baseball player named Manny whose injury and forthcoming surgery will keep him out for the rest of the season. Joe and Joe take a caller.

“I’m a little worried about how they are going to organize that room,” I say, letting my ongoing internal monologue spill out, “It’s so much smaller than I thought it would be. And it isn’t a real closet. It’s an armoire. I should have insisted she leave her winter clothes home until Thanksgiving.”
One of the Joes is arguing with the caller who thinks Manny should pay back part of his fifteen million dollar salary. Joe calls him an idiot and hangs up on him. Bob turns up the volume. I persevere.


  1. I'm hooked, but I did have a few hiccups. 1. "We haven't spoken since Allentown." The second sentence makes clear that you mean "since leaving Allentown" but this could be "since something happened in Allentown, years ago." 2. "Sadie was our last to go." This could be a cow dying, rather than the youngest child going off to school. 3. "So much smaller... And it isn't a real closet." At first I thought you were talking about the room itself. I love the scene-setting and tiny details... how a married couple communicates!

  2. I like the setting, the details and the mood of the car as a couple seemingly drops their youngest off at college. I think it could use a little more tension, some foreshadowing, suspense. It seems to lack the hook, a spark, that would make me want to read more. Maybe it's in the next para, but I think it would be good if you could add something in the first few paragraphs. Good luck!

  3. I like your opening. The sample does a good job of setting up your character's longing. Maybe hint a bit more at what that longing is... is it for Bob, her children, something more / someone else? Right now I'm left wondering if her comment that "the silence is a perk" of being married this long is part of the lie she tells herself. I'm guessing, yes. My suggestion is since this is first person, is to make it a bit more personal. Right now it feels distant, though that maybe the style. For example, instead of referring to her husband as Bob, wouldn't she refer to him as "my husband?" Maybe cut down on the bits describing the radio announcers because 1) it doesn't seem like your main character would really be focused much on their actual words, more the fact that her husband is and 2) it takes up valuable real estate in your first 250 words. Overall, I enjoyed reading it and empathized with your character. Good luck!

  4. I like this. The references to Allentown and Long Island are an effective, quick way to establish setting. The narrator says she's not concerned about the silence but that's belied by the way she keeps trying to fill it. Already I can feel the disconnect between her and Bob. I'm not usually a big fan of present tense, but it looks like you're making it work here. Good luck!

  5. If the sports' announcements reflect something about their marriage: injury, rehab, second chances, then I would keep it. If it doesn't, I would tighten and summarize the announcements, rather than include direct quotes from the announcers.

  6. It's written well, but I wanted more, I wanted a hook. What is your inciting incident, and can you get it on page one?

    I also thought you could do without the baseball. Maybe just show us that he's more interested in the game than anything she has to say, and let it go, if that's the point you're going for. Get a little oomph onto the page.

  7. I so love the nuance in this relationship. I can feel the tension in the car already and wonder what waits for this couple when they get home.

  8. Bob sounds like a jackass and I can't wait for her to leave him lol. I like this, I don't like the word "seemingly" in there, I think it is stronger without it. And I also think the radio stuff goes on too long. But other than that I think it is strong!