Wednesday, May 13, 2009

35 Secret Agent

TITLE: La Belle Mort
GENRE: Alternate History / Paranormal Romance

October, 1943
Oradour-sur-Glane, France

"Simone," René shouted to his daughter. "It's time to go."

"Coming Papa," Simone answered from the barn. She was excited about going into the village. It had been months since she ventured off their little farm.

"We have a lot to do today, daughter," René yelled, a little impatiently.

Simone ran from the barn, gracefully clearing the fence with her long stride. René cringed. He could see his little girl wrapped up in the wire fence, tumbling headlong into the mud, arms and legs splayed in all directions. But she bounded over the low fence like a gazelle. She was no longer the clumsy little girl of last fall - or even a few months ago.

In the fall of 1943 Simone Saint-Claire was just beginning her life. She was seventeen, and in spite of her natural tendencies as a tomboy, had blossomed into a ravishingly beautiful young woman.

"Simone," René chided his daughter. "You can't go to market like that. Go put on a dress."

"None of my old dresses fit, Papa," she countered. Not that she wanted to wear them anyway. She was more comfortable in her brother's pants and shirt.

René indulged her, as in everything else. Over the summer he had let her do as she pleased, wear what she wanted. He didn't know anything of women's fashion, and at work on the farm the sturdy pants were, as his daughter argued, more functional.


  1. This sounds like a historical and tragic epic. Nicely introduced. I interested in more. Nice Job.

  2. I liked it. I'd read more - though I don't think it's strictly necessary to state the year. My other quibble is that I don't think "ravishingly beautiful" is an appropriate description. It has sexual connotations. This doesn't work because he dad is the one making the observation

  3. Enjoyed the read.

    I believe the paragraph 'In the fall of" would make a good beginning hook to pull the reader in. I would move it up to open the story.
    I would be interested in reading more.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Interesting period. I liked it and would read on. One thing: I had to go back and figure out POV as I wasn't sure if it had switched from the father to the daughter.

  5. "He could see his little girl..."

    At first I thought Simone was five or six years old. Stop referring to her as a little girl. Young woman might be better.

    Why is Rene indulging her? Is she his only daughter? Is he a good father? Can he just not be bothered with how his daughter represents him at the market?

    Needs some tightening, but over all, not really bad.

  6. Don't know if I'm hooked, but nicely done. I rolled with the POV switches, they were clear to me. I already like Simone as a character.

  7. I'm hooked. My only quibble is when you TOLD us she's a don't tell. But that's a minor quibble. I'd read more!

  8. I agree that you need to tighten. Watch POV shifts. And too much in dialogue tags.

    I'm interested in their relationship, but I don't really see a "hook." I'd read on though, to see where the chapter goes.

  9. On one hand, the girl sounds a bit younger than 17. But then we're seeing her through her dad's eyes, and HE sees her as a child.

    But I think the writing here is very nice, and yes, I'm hooked.

  10. I have issues with this. First, I'd cut the fifth paragraph completely. It's telling rather than showing and it yanked me out of the story. The POV shifts were odd, but I think I could get used to them. The biggest thing for me is it's billed as paranormal romance, and this reads like a historical piece. If you had just said it was alternate history, maybe I'd be able to ignore that, but as it is, I'm looking for the paranormal. If I didn't find it soon, I'd close the book. I'm still trying to decide if I would read further looking for it.

  11. I would definately read on. I love the voice and feel of the story, and you can sense that something is just on the horizon ready to ruin everything.


  12. I liked this but would not read on because I felt confused at the POV shifts. You might consider picking on POV and sticking with it in the scene. Whose perspective is the most important in this opening scene? The daughter's or father's? What is your goal in this scene -- that should guide you in picking a POV.

    Good luck!

  13. Overall, I liked it. I agree with writeaholic about the POV. Who's more important in the story? My only nit is I don't like a father describing his daughter as 'ravishingly.' The word is too sexual. Oh- and sh'e not just beginning her life at 17. Maybe just beginning her life as a woman? But I did find it interesting and I would read on.

  14. There is something about this that I like. The setting and the love between father and daughter.

    I like omnicient, but it didn't feel purposeful here.

    Where is mom? Or other family? Maybe hint at that somewhere in these first 250.

    I'd read on. But I'd want to get somewhere fast.

  15. This reads like YA to me. If this is for young adults, I'm hooked, if it's for adults... then, I think it reads too young.

    Nice work.

  16. Most of my nits echo the others posted. One thing that started to rub was the fact that you only have two people in this and, maybe because of the POV thing, I'm not sure, everything is Simone, Rene, Simone, Rene and on and on. There's two people. Don't be afraid of an occasional he or she. By the time I got to the end, I decided if I had to read the character's names in every paragraph, there's no way I'd continue, interesting or not.

  17. I think others have made all the comments I was going to make, but I'll repeat them for emphasis.

    Firstly, I'd cut paragraph 5. It's all telling. We already know that it's 1943 and that her name is Simone. We'll find out the rest as the story progresses. I found this with my own manuscript - I'd write a telling paragraph explaining who everyone was, but once I cut that paragraph the information still flowed naturally.

    It also seems a bit strange to me that he would picture her tripping over the fence after she's already cleared it. Perhaps he could imagine this first, and then she could complete her leap? In fact, perhaps you could cut this paragraph too. Do we need to know this early in the story that she was clumsy and now isn't? (This isn't a rhetorical question - I'm genuinely curious. I'd definitely cut the fifth one, but this one could go either way.)

  18. This is not hooking me, largely because it comes across as overwrought. I feel like I'm listening to an external narrator tell me this story; by doing that, you're putting me at a distance, and telling me that I don't really need to care about Simone and her father.