Wednesday, January 13, 2010

46 Secret Agent

TITLE: Branca
GENRE: Young adult

Mid 18th century

The queen allowed the servant girl to remove her heavy overcoat. A draft blew its way through the fortress wall, and she shivered. Shrugging her shoulders, she gave the girl a slight shove. “Bring me some tea.”

“Yes, your majesty.” Keeping her eyes averted, the girl disappeared down a long hall.

The queen paused outside the throne room, listening to the king in audience with a few peasants. Someone complaining about a goat crashing through his fence. She rolled her eyes, not understanding how the king could have patience with such nonsense. The man was too soft for her taste. Were she on the throne, this province would be stronger.

Someone rapped on the exterior door, the sound echoing off the stones to her right. Probably another unhappy citizen. A curl of chestnut brown hair slid down her neck. She pushed it back into place, admiring the sparkle of the large ruby ring on her right hand. Warmth radiated from the stone, tingling as it made its way down her arm. A magical ring, one that magnified her Power, allowing her to hear the thoughts of anyone she touched.

The man servant opened the door. She couldn’t make out the words, but the discussion grew heated. The queen made her way to the front entry, nearly bumping into the man servant.

“Your majesty.” His lips quivered in agitation, and he readjusted the ruffles of his blouse. “A man at the door insists on seeing you.”


  1. The first two sentences confused me enough to stop reading. I couldn't tell if the queen allowed the servant girl to remove the servant girl's coat or the queen's coat (to whom is the "her" referring?). Same problem in the second sentence. Is the queen shivering or the girl?

  2. You show a lot about this queen in the way the servants are afraid of her.

    There are some antecedent issues in the first paragraph. It's hard to use she and her when you have two female characters.

    Not sure how she's not on the throne if she's the queen. I think this might be a bit clearer if you show her itching to take the reins and how she's being blocked from it.

    Overall, I'd like a little more show and a little less tell with the important details - like the ring and the desire for real power. I think your story is just about to start with the last paragraph.

  3. This didn't do a whole lot for me but I'm not huge on this particular sub-genre (historicals). One thing that made it hard for me was that we don't get the queen's name. I'm sure you have a reason for that but it's something that drew me out of the excerpt.

  4. Sorry, this did nothing for me, but I'm not sure why. Maybe the voice. Maybe the lack of connection to the protagonist. Right now, if the queen is your mc, I don't care enough about her to keep reading. Right now, I'm not even sure if she if the main character, or if this is a prologue.

    By the way, who shiivered? 'She' is closer to servant girl, so that makes me think you mean her. But then you use she in the next sentence to refer to the queen. Watch out for your pronouns or else you'll confuse your reader.

  5. I'm assuming the queen is the MC from this excerpt. If so, this doesn't feel very YA to me. YA MCs are usually in the 15-18 range. Also, the queen is not very likeable which is a turn off.

  6. I mentioned the same type of thing for an earlier excerpt, but this character is likely not a teenager, so it is awkward for a YA opener. Likewise, I'm having a hard time reconciling the action to the type of essential that would be portrayed in a prologue. It's nicely written, but when I finish reading it I'm not sure what has happened or what the inciting action is.

  7. Hooked. Your writing is very smooth and easy to read, and I've already got a good grip on the queen's character. I'd read on to find out what the man at the door wants.

    My biggest concern, and one that will likely trip up a lot of agents, is the fact that this doesn't feel very young adult-ish. Perhaps you make it clear in your query why this fits into that genre, but judging by this first page alone, it seems very adult.

    Also, isn't manservant one word? I'm not sure, but it might be worth looking up...

  8. Because this was YA, I thought it was going to be from the servant girl's POV, but then it was the queen.
    If the MC is not YA age, I'm not sure if that will pass.

  9. Lovely prose, but I got a little lost in all of the description. I know a lot about the queen's hair color and texture and lots about the ruby ring, but I've just read 250 words and I'm anxious to know where the action is.

  10. The first paragraph confused me and this being in the POV of the queen made me feel that it wasn't really YA. But after the first paragraph your prose flowed smoothly and I found some interesting ideas in there, for instance the ring. So I'd probably keep reading a little further.

  11. Grammatically perfect and well written. These Excerpts are short so I didn't get enough of the story. I assume this is a preface and that we will meet the MC later. It would be easy to read further because your writing flows.

  12. I thought it well written, but I'm not sure what’s happening. I would read on to find out though. I'm thinking the Queen is about to read someone's thoughts and you've probably got that in the next sentence.

  13. I echo what others have said - doesn't feel YA because of the queen's POV.

    Also, the historical setting doesn't feel authentic to me. European kings didn't personally receive peasants in the palace/castle for such trivial matters as a goat crashing through a fence; the peasant would have rather applied to a steward or someone else in charge of such matters. Actually, a peasant being received in the palace at all would have been extremely rare.

    However, the writing is nice and smooth, so good job there!

  14. The ring was intriguing, but I agree with some of the others about the problems (the confusion about who 'she' refers to in the first paragraph, and that the King wouldn't receive peasants). I also agree with Sarah that your story seems as though it's about to start in the last par or so.

  15. The magical ring is intriguing, but I wonder, would a Queen touch her servant, let alone shove? Then she would know the servant girl's thoughts and does she want to? The Queen is very condescending of the peasants, and it seems a disconnect that she would lower her station to shove a servant.

    I do like the writing and am interested how the ring plays out in the story.

  16. It's interesting, but I'm not sure if it's enough to make me keep reading, based on this. It's well-written, like others said, but it just feels like there's something lacking that could smack me in the face and make me want to turn the page, and I can't pinpoint what that thing is.