Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #38

GENRE: Adult Women's Fiction

Dreama pulled her sweater up letting the vent chill her skin. Nowhere near enough relief. Images flashed of whipping off her top to reveal her bra, laughing at shocked and admiring looks. She wondered if that actually ever happened, or heatstroke was projecting a cooling fantasy.

People packed the Metro. She was lucky to have a seat, stretching her throbbing feet. It had already been a long day. One of many chaotic days over the next month.

Back on the street, pushing through crowds, she cursed the heatwave they’d been sweating through all week. She should be home, opening a book or logging online, but she promised Melinda yesterday at Thanksgiving to come watch the parade. She had regrets, but listening to her cousin's complaints later would be worse. Her work shirt was crammed in her bag, so she ducked in a restroom to change.
The sweater came from Melinda who’d sworn temperatures would drop. "Please! I want to see you wear it. Besides, you’ll look more festive," Melinda had drawled. "And less book nerdy. We know that's not really your style."

She’d punctuated with a sarcastic smile, which Dreama reflected in the mirror. Nerdy’s definitely more my style than cheesy Christmas sweater.

She shoved it in the bag, smoothed her Books-R-Us polo, and left the restroom cooler, though summer-like temperatures baked her pale skin. She took comfort knowing everyone was hot, though the heat was affecting D.C.'s odor and collective mood.

"Oh, no! So sorry!"

The apology resounded before warm liquid seeped onto her skin.


  1. One of many chaotic days over the next month. That sentence jumped out at me. Dreama knows the future. Just now I realize it's because of the holiday season, which perhaps you could let us know sooner. I like the thoughts of ripping off her sweater, but, I wish I'd have known the season sooner and where she was headed. The irony of someone drinking coffee in the heat wave and spilling it on her. I first thought she was in NYC. I'M a little lost

  2. This was too slow of an opening for me. The entire first page was about a woman being hot. Perhaps start somewhere else, or cut down on how often you're talking about the heat to get to the spilled coffee sooner. I would have liked some kind of hint as to the problem or situation,

    You might also let us know earlier that this is DC. Like Alice, I originally thought it was NYC.

  3. I also assumed NYC. This line confused me: stretching her throbbing feet. Can one really stretch your feet when wearing shoes? I imagine when you're happy to get a seat, you're eager to stretch your legs out in front of you to give them a rest. But that's very minor. Also a bit confused by the parade AFTER Thanksgiving. Wouldn't the parade be Thanksgiving day? Just a little unclear of the set-up here. That it's hot is conveyed too many times. We get it. I hope the coffee spilling is the inciting incident to the action/this woman's problem; otherwise, will it be necessary to include?

  4. I'm not entirely clear what's happening in the first paragraph. She's imagining doing this as relief from the heat, but she's not sure if she actually did this or not, or she's wondering if others have done that? I also saw this taking place on a beach or somewhere outdoors with the mention of heatstroke being a possibility, so I was surprised when the next paragraph tells us we're in a packed Metro. If they've had a heatwave lately, why was she in a sweater? I do like that you address the sweater shortly after, but I'm still not sure I'm convinced she needs to be in a sweater in the heat then on a Metro then back on the street and then ducking into a restroom to change. If it was hot and she had a change of clothes, it seems more likely that she'd be wearing her cooler clothes and then switching into the sweater for the parade. Then it sets us back up for the likely event that she changes back out of the sweater more so than complaining about the heat while she's wearing a sweater as our first impression of the character. Maybe back up and start at work then go to the parade, if the parade part is necessary?

    With a different starting point in mind, though, I do otherwise like that I'm getting to know the protagonist, even if the initial setup doesn't make me feel like we'd be besties until we get to the part about nerdy book style. So, there's potential here because I'm connecting; I'm just not agreeing or invested. I'd probably jump to further on in the manuscript on this one and see what the character is like a bit further on. Beginnings are often the word soup of a manuscript, and sometimes they're deceptive about what develops once the writer gets to know the characters, which may or may not be the case here.

    The title feels more Romance to me than Women's Fiction, too. Coupled with the desire to have the reader's first impression be of the character "whipping off her top to reveal her bra" and then the end were we assume someone spilled a coffee or other warm drink on her, this snippet makes me believe that we're about to be introduced to a soon-to-be love interest given the title. For me, that sets up the expectation for a Romance novel more so that Women's Fiction. Romance can occur in Women's Fiction, but it shouldn't be (at least for my tastes, I suppose) the focus, and the title makes me believe it will be more about the romance coming together than the journey of existing as a woman (and relating back to the reader's own journey).