Thursday, July 17, 2008

#46 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

GENRE: Historical fiction

“What is the most important thing you’ve ever done?”

Maybe women in faraway Constantinople where the emperors ruled did important things, but women in my village rarely did. I’d heard once of an empress who exiled the Patriarch of Constantinople and hounded him to his death some fifty years ago, but women outside the Roman Empire didn’t have that much power. Certainly they didn’t in a place that tripled in size every spring with the caravans from the far eastern lands.

“I saved a woman’s life once,” I answered slowly. The question wasn’t what my mother prepared me to expect. The man my father had picked for my husband should ask about my sewing skills and cooking. Don’t lie, Mother said, but don’t tell him how bad my meals could be.

Bulyar smiled under his mustache, and I relaxed. “Saved a woman’s life? I’d say that that’s a pretty remarkable thing to do.”

I smiled and wanted to ask him the same question, but he spoke first. “What else do you think you can do, Nino? You’ve lived in the bathhouse your whole life. Could you manage one yourself?”

My family owned the bathhouse, I didn’t live in it like the slaves did, but I nodded. “Of course. There’s not much I couldn’t do.”

“You can keep the records? Handle the money? Fuel the boilers?” Bulyar pressed. “Your father said that you once stopped an explosion. I thought that you would say that.”


  1. Yes. I would absolutely read more.
    Something about that first paragraph seemed awkward, but I liked the rest.

  2. The first paragraph - too much info packed into the sentences. Go slower - the writing is good, but I feel rushed when I'm reading it
    (mentally). Otherwise, yes.

  3. The whole Constantinople paragraph was a drag but once you get into the interview this works.

  4. Yes. I love the setting of the story (Ancient History fan), I like the FMC, and I like the voice :) I want to find out how'll she'll cope handling the bathouse, and what will happen to draw her away from it.

  5. This is just me being nit-picky but what era is this in? I know my history well enough that as soon as I start reaidn historical fiction I want to know when and where I am and I want your facts to be dead accurate. If they aren't, I'll pass. And I want to have the characters act appropriate for their era and culture, not mine.

    The characters sound a little to forced and modern for what I'd picture in some eras, but without knowing the year I'm waffeling big time of this.

  6. The second and third sentences are a little wordy, but other than that, I'd read on. I like the way this starts, and I think it could be a very interesting novel .

  7. Doesn't hook me, sorry. While it was interesting, it isn't the sort of thing that appeals to me, and I couldn't figure out the time frame/era from the style of the narrator's voice. I dunno, it just didn't seem to fit an ancient setting, but that could be me.

    It's decent, just not my thing. :)

    Good luck,


  8. I'd say yes, on the condition that you jump from the opening quote to the rest of the interview. There's too much extrapolation in between for my tastes.

  9. I agree that the second paragraph could be scratched. I would like to see just a little more.

  10. I might read a little more, at least to see where it goes. I'd suggesting trimming or deleting most of the Constantinople paragraph. It drags and isn't half as interesting as the conversation between Nino and Bulyar.

  11. I didn't like the second paragraph or the begining of the third. I do like Bulyar I would want to read more about him.

    Good Luck.


  12. Probably yes.

    The strongest part of your writing is the dialogue. Your characters and their lives intrigue me. The second paragraph slowed me down with too much information. I would have like to known who the characters were; I almost felt as if I'd turned a few pages into the book. You have an excellent command of descriptive words.


  13. Yeah, second para's way too long, but otherwise I'd give it a go. I'm not a big historical fiction gal, so the slightly more modern tone is actually a plus for me, though it would drive the die-hards crazy I imagine O:)

  14. Cut out that second paragraph and I'd read on with no problems.

  15. Maybe.

    Where is this taking place?

  16. The setting for this scene is what is now the Republic of Georgia on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, 450 A.D. After their marriage, Bulyar and Nino go to his home, Thrace, which is modern Bulgaria.

    The author thanks you all for your comments.

  17. Slightly Not hooked.

    I'm interested in the dynamic you've set up. The suitor asking the woman what she can do beyond sewing and cooking, so I'm interested in why. Since you started with a para about great women in history, I'm also interested to know if the MC will become one of them. But the voice seemed too modern for ancient Rome and threw me off.

  18. Sorry, not my thing.

    I think the setting is interesting. Whilst it's relevant to the opening line, the following paragraph of expositionary back story slows the pace and breaks the dialogue IMO.

    The dialogue itself carries quite a bit of interest, as does the topic of a bath house. I wonder if you can incorporate the setting in smaller, less obtrusive snippets.


    Good luck

  19. I'm going with cautiously interested. I like what I see, and I like history, but it does seem to need some tightening in the Constantinople paragraph.

  20. As a historical fiction fan, I'm totally hooked. Definitely would read on.

  21. A no for me, sorry to say. The voice doesn't strike me as being what I'd expect for historical fiction (most notably in the dialog), and it had me scrolling back up to double-check that it is in fact that genre. That second paragraph is really tough and opening with an interview seemed like a writer trick, rather than being and invisible and effortless-seeming structure that might be more effective in engaging readers.