Jan 1, 2012

Post #4


Special Agent Alexandra MacPherson can't decide which is worse - a witness who dies or a suspect who won't stay dead.

First 250:

Sometimes it all comes down to the gun you choose. SIG Sauer P226 .40 S&W or Rossi .357 Magnum revolver with a six-inch barrel. I’d picked the SIG. I should have gone with the Rossi.  
I sneaked a look at the battered clock on the wall of the loading dock. Doyle was only five minutes late. Not so long I worried he’d had second thoughts. I needed him to show soon, though, before my unease fermented into something harder to conceal.
The SIG was a cop’s gun. I knew if anything tipped off Doyle, it would be the gun. 
“He’s late,” Mike said.
I shrugged. Played like I didn’t care, hadn’t noticed. 
“You see the game last night?” Mike asked.
“What game?” 
“The Sox.”
God help me. A Sox fan. I’d happily watched the Phils beat the Braves the night before, but Kate Campbell didn’t give a shit about the national past time. “No,” I said. “I don’t follow baseball.”
“They play the Yankees tomorrow.”
“Well, I do hate the Yankees.”
“Who doesn’t?” Mike dropped the remnant of his cigarette to the floor of the dock and crushed it under his shoe.
Kate Campbell was a vegetarian who sold lattes at an internet cafe and lived in a dump near Temple University. A fugitive from the United Kingdom for alleged involvement in a train derailment in North West England, she fancied herself a modern day Guy Fawkes. 
I was ready to be done with Kate Campbell.



A. K. Fotinos-Hoyer said...

I love the voice of this piece :) The logline is short and sweet and definitely makes me want to read more - but I think a little more here wouldn't be a bad idea.

The first 250 were fast-paced and left me wanting more but still had a lot of character-building too. The only thing I would change is the second sentence - I'm not familiar with guns and the different types were a mouthful. I think you can get rid of the sentence altogether and it would strengthen the paragraph.

Thank you for sharing and best of luck!

Melodie Wright said...

I like your logline but it's just a start. Your have room to explain a little of the storyline and why it's different from all the other cop dramas out there.

Your first 250 words had me confused about who Kate Campbell was. Is she the person your MC is impersonating? I'm guessing so but a line making this clear would be helpful.
Also, there's no need to put the sentence - "like I didn't care, hadn't noticed" after telling us she shrugged. The shrug implies this reaction.
Good luck!

Mark Andreas said...

I think your logline is a great catchy first line! I want another sentence of what is on the line for the MC, what she needs to overcome and the consequences of failure.

first 250:
"I’d picked" should be "I picked," I believe, to stay consistent with tense.

this sentence was very confusing to me: "Not so long I worried he’d had second thoughts." I'd rewrite it to something like: "It wasn't long enough yet for me to worry that he'd had second thoughts."

I really liked the details about the conversation that had nothing to do with what the scene was about, builds great tension and creates realism. Nice job overall!

John Williams said...


Your log line is snappy and has a lot of conflict potential, but it leaves me with unanswered questions about the conflict itself. Why is Alexandra faced with having to choose which is worse? Why does the question matter? Why is a supposed government agent acting like a vigilante? Is she dirty? (You implied that she might prefer if a "suspect" had been killed, which implies without due process. Cause if he'd been a convicted felon, you'd have used a different description. This makes me think Alexandra might be a dirty agent. That's probably not your intent.)

Your first 250 words are a little florid. You introduce a Hobson's Choice, the POV character must choose between two guns, she'd picked one but should have picked the other. Why? The closest we come to an answer in your first 250 words is that the SIG is a cop's gun. Why does this matter? (Based on the logline, the implication is that she's the special agent and he's a criminal who will recognize her by her gun choice-- but it's left up to interpretation.)

Doyle is a non-entity in the first 250 characters. He's 5 minutes late, he'd know the SIG was a cop's gun (but we don't know why he'd care) and then nothing more.

You introduce Mike as a Sox fan and a smoker, but we don't get much else on him.

You develop Kate Campbell a lot, but you strongly imply it's a fake identity (so why do we care?) However, since you never actually say it's a fake ID, it could equally be interpreted to be a 3rd person waiting with our POV character and Mike. You say "I was ready to be done with Kate..." not "I was ready to be done being Kate..." Furthermore, that description of Kate is very vivid, but it makes me wonder what selling lattes in an internet cafe has to do with train derailment in NW England. (If Kate is simply a throw-away fake ID, you might want to tone down the seeming contradictions... or you might want to flesh it out more, but later in the story.)

You don't give us the POV character's name. I'm left to assume it's Alexandra. (Assume = bad)

I'm sorry to say, you have character soup. Four characters in 250 words, and only Kate is adequately introduced.

You show us that something criminal is going on (guns, loading docks, fake identities that are fugitives from another country), which means you have a conflict here (which is great!), it just needs more polish. I'd suggest you edit to remove unnecessary narrative and focus on what's important.

I can tell you've got a voice buried in there with sentences like "Sometimes it all comes down to the gun you choose" and "I was ready to be done with Kate Campbell", it just needs more work to tighten it up.

Good luck.

Chemist Ken said...

After the first intriguing paragraph (drop the "I'd picked the SIG" line; it's redundant), things ground to a halt. You need to keep things moving, although once I figured out that the MC was Kate (from reading the comments above, not from your text) I realized the conversation was your way of leading us into this secret. Get Kate identified much sooner so we're not confused.

Bron said...

The logline is good, but it's a bit short. I think you can add in another line about the stakes to Alexandra personally about this case.

As for the excerpt, the voice is good, and that's the hardest thing to master as a writer apparently, so you're definitely on the right track. The actual piece feels a little choppy to me though.

The technical terms about the guns in the second sentence could put off readers who don't know what they mean. You also start with the guns, then talk about Doyle being late, then go back to the guns. The switching between subjects didn't work for me.

The whole Kate/Alex thing didn't work for me either. I got that Kate was a false identity for Special Agent Alexandra, but the conversation in the loading dock between Alex and Mike confused me. Alex didn't seem worried about Mike noticing she was carrying a cop's gun, so I thought he was another law enforcement agent at first. But then why would she pretend she didn't follow baseball and stick to her false identity if Mike knows who she really is? I'm sure there's some way you can clarify this section, as other readers seemed to be confused too.

Turbo said...

The logline you have is good, but it's incomplete for anything but the briefest of pitches. I want more about the case and the circumstances that lead to the cool logline that you have. Zoom it out a little and give context.

I didn't like the gun talk, for similar reasons to folks above. It makes sense for an agent, but going into technical detail right away can spook some casual readers off.

I'd suggest starting with 'I should have gone with the Rossi. The SIG is a cop's gun, and if anything tipped off Doyle, it'd be the gun.'

and then go directly into the dialogue.

Make the identity (false or true) of Kate in relationship to our MC clear -- it may be that you do so right after this excerpt ends, so we are all getting more antsy about it than we should.

Good luck!