Thursday, July 17, 2008

#78 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

TITLE: The Crichton Heir
GENRE: Historical Romance


Gordon Sinclair’s thoughts were abruptly interrupted by the blood curdling scream that cut through the cool early morning. Staring into the gray fog, he could barely make out the figure of a woman, two men on each side of her.


Elizabeth, why'd ye do it?” Gordon muttered to himself. He stood toward the back of the stairs leading to the scaffold, a lonely noose swinging slightly in the breeze above them kept drawing his eye.


The woman approaching was barely recognizable. Gordon still couldn't believe the events that had led them both here. As he watched their approach, he could see the filth that adhered to Elizabeth’s once creamy skin. Her long brown hair was unbound and hung matted and dull past her shoulders. He forced himself to memorize each detail, knowing he would need strength to do what had to be done.


His lips tightened as he clenched his jaw. His brows drew together, watching Elizabeth’s once lively eyes shift from side to side like a crazed animal in a snare. The self-assured Lady Crichton, beautiful and proud, was gone. What Gordon saw now was the shell of a woman. Broken and terrified to face her fate, a fate that she brought upon herself.

24 comments:

  1. I like it, but the old school English doesn't do it for me. Even if the setting lends itself to it, I have to say that it seems more of a gimmick than something that actually works to its benefit.

    To be nitpicky, some of the word choice throws me off as well, but I won't get into that too much.

    Overall I'd be intrigued to read more, it's not my genre, but the opening makes me like it.

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  2. The cliches stand out, and I think about them instead of the writing.
    Blood curdling/gray fog/ - those in particular. Then there is the word "long" to describe her hair, and then it says goes past her shoulders - so why the long? Let me work harder to envision the scene.

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  3. I would like to see more emotion from the character. All we get is his description of her. But I want to know how it makes him feel to see her like that, how it makes him feel to know that she may not be alive much longer. We really don't get any of that from the scene, making it feel flat.

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  4. I like that we're confronted with conflict and mystery from the beginning. Who is Elizabeth and what did she do?

    I do agree with some comments above. There are several cliches (blood-curdling, crazed animal in a snare)that you might want to delete and rethink.

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  5. Yes to tweaking some of the descriptions, but this works, I think, in the romance
    genre. You want to know what the woman has done, why she is there with two men that morning. It poses questions that the reader would want answered.

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  6. I'm not a big fan of adjectives. This many in an opening along with the use of cliches, like a blood curdling scream, makes me think I'd start skimming, and if the style of writing continued I'd wouldnt read past the second or third page. You have the elements of an interesting plot set up though.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  7. I would read on. I'd open closer to (or with) "Elizabeth, why'd ye do it?" Needs some cleaning up (watch out for cliches!) I like :)

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  8. Yes.

    I quibbled a little bit wording like this: "His lips tightened as he clenched his jaw. His brows drew together" <- I would probably cut down to just him clenching his jaw.

    And I kept squinting at: "why'd ye do it", trying to figure out why the contraction didn't look right next to "ye".

    But I would read on to see what she had done =)

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  9. No, sorry, this one didn't hook me, but it might have more to do with personal taste then anything. I would definitely change the blood curdling scream, as mentioned by others.

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  10. Tentatively yes. I like the premise, but the abundance of passive voice in here, especially in the first line, turned me off. But the premise is interesting. I'd say cut down on some of the flowery language and unneeded adjectives, and insert some active words, and this piece would really fly.

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  11. These comments are very insightful-- what a great resource! Personally I think this style is appropriate, and the plot setup is interesting regardless of the genre.

    Overall, this might have me reading a romance novel even though I generally have no interest in reading such books. Nice work!

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  12. To me this reads just a little too flat. I can see the scene and I can watch like a camera panning over certain parts of a play, but there isn't any emotion, I don't know where they are (except for in the fog) and I don't feel connected or interested in the characters. Pass.

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  13. No. The blood curdling scream seems melodramatic, since I imagine Elizabeth has known about her death sentence for a while. As a personal preference, I think I'd rather see the book start before things with Elizabeth go bad. Right now, I have no reason to feel sorrow for her or Gordon. The emotion falls flat without knowing more about the characters.

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  14. No.

    The cliches stand out too much and are too distracting from the actual story (I rarely read past an opening that begins with a bloodcurdling scream).

    I'm mildly intrigued about the situation but I think the writing itself needs to be freshened up before it'll hook me.

    Good luck,

    ~Merc

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  15. There are some cliches, and some passive sentences but I liked it. I would read more.

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  16. Half-Past Kissin' TimeJuly 19, 2008 at 1:05 AM

    This is really a great place for feedback, isn't it? So far, the advice seems mostly helpful. I would add that "two men on each side of her" makes four men. This is an intriguing piece of plot.

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  17. Yes!

    Don't think much of "tightening lips", but the description of the woman about some sort of (I assume) terrible Fate is good.

    Nicely done.

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  18. This is close to hooking me. You don't usually get a romance that opens this way, a plus; we're left wondering what she did and why, a plus too. I'd love to get a little more insight into Gordon and a little less musing ("thoughts abruptly interrupted", the "memorizing each detail"). I also wondered who screamed, Elizabeth? Why then? There's something to this, and hopefully one more polish will make it shine.

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  19. Yes with another polish or two.

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  20. Again, with the disappearing comments.

    Not hooked.

    I like the era and setting but there's too much describing the woman's looks and not enough emotion behind Gordon's thoughts.

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  21. Sorry, no. Too many cliches, but romance isn't my genre of choice to read, so I can't offer much in the way of constructive thoughts.

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  22. I have never read Historical Romance (or any romance for that matter) but I would think the language would be appropriate, and I think with more to read it would seem odd as a couple others have stated.

    I definitely am left wanting to know what she did--the set up is very different and intriguing.

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  23. Yes, I want to know more! It's not really my genre, but my interest is peaked.

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  24. I agree with most of the people here. It's a great "hook" of an opening, but because it's a great hook, you've got to let the scene work for itself.

    "Show don't tell" right? The flowery words and descriptions of Elizabeth don't match. Her eyes are still lively if they're shifting from side to side like a crazed animal yes? I'd let a quick conversation between Gordon and Elizabeth highlight her demeanor, rather than talk about it through exposition.

    Great start though, and would love to read more. Good work.

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