Wednesday, February 10, 2010

17 Secret Agent

TITLE: Victor's Rage
GENRE: Historical fiction



1848 - Grambergen, Kingdom of Hanover

Rieke stared at the small, open casket. When the cart bumped through a
pothole in the dusty road the corpse rocked, and the sweet, metallic
smell of blood clogged her nose. "There was no need to kill him," she
said to her cousin Willem who walked beside her.

The slim, young man with the tousled, fair hair took her hand. "It had
to be. Baron von Schele won’t understand it any other way. We are like
the Göttingen Seven."

"Where’s the link between seven professors and a dead dog?" She looked
at the dead hound in the casket.

"But Rieke." Willem looked at her. "Their letter of protest against the
abolition of our constitution has jolted the whole kingdom."

"Most of them have been expelled from Hanover. Do you want to risk that?"
He puffed out his chest. "They set a sign, and today, we follow in their
footsteps. We will show the gentry that they can’t do with us as they please."
Rieke hated it when Willem became political. She sighed. "If we have to
stage a burial we should at least have cleaned the corpse." She pointed
to the dead hound. Nobody had made an effort to wash the blood out of
its fur. Although it was still quite cool this early in the year,
numerous flies buzzed around the dead body.

It is a shame that a dog must die because the farmers are quarreling
with its owner, she thought.

11 comments:

hhook said...

Hi!

Great job with the sensory details here. However I was a bit confused as to who was speaking in the second to last paragraph, so you may want to separate speakers into their own paragraphs.

Kathleen MacIver said...

I really like that you've put us straight into a scene where something is happening!

One thing... the "she said to her cousin Willem who walked beside her" is awkward. How about a new paragraph:

She glanced at her cousin Willem who walked beside her. "There was no need to kill him," she said.

I was lost after that, though. I just don't understand what they're talking about, what Reike means, whether there's only a dead hound or someone else in the casket, etc. After reading it three times, I think I might have figured it out, but you want your readers to get it the first time.

Unfortunately...this is the tough part about starting in the middle of action! It pulls the reader in, but it's harder to portray exactly what's going on!

Your grammar and sentence structure is good, so once you figure out how to fix this, your story will move right along!

Jessica said...

I like the idea of starting with the dead dog in the casket--intriguing beginning! However the politics is a little heavy right off the bat. Rather than explaining the connection between the dog and the world at large, Willem confused me more than you probably wanted! I felt like I should know already about the Gottingen Seven and the current political situation.

An intriguing start, but not sure I would read on.

Lucy Woodhull said...

I have to admit, I have NO idea what's going on here. There's a cart, but they're walking? I thought she was in the cart at first. The dog is in a casket? Is that usual? Why are they staging a burial for a dog? The politics stuff went right over my head.

Not hooked I'm afraid -- out of sheer confusion.

Higley Browne said...

I agree with Jessica. I loved the whole dead dog thing, though it took me rereading to realize the corpse in the casket was a dog.

It was the whole politics heaviness that made my eyes glaze over.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Good writing. I like the dog in casket thing instead of it being a person. Though I'm not big on dead dogs, the twist is handled well.

I get a strong "as you know, Bob" sense from the dialogue. It's reading more like "here's what's going on and what you will need to know to continue reading" than something these characters might say to each other.

On the other hand, you don't tell every detail, so maybe it's just me and I've read too many entries in too short a time.

Also seems like in 1848, no one's going to bury a dog. I'm curious about why there's all this ritual to it.

Barbara said...

I thought what was going on was pretty clear. When you mentioned a small casket, I assumed it was a child, but in the third parg. you say it's a dog, and then you make it clear the burial is a protest - a way to make a point.

I think a lot of the confusion probably comes from the lack of paragraphing and dialogue tags, which makes it hard to discern who is saying what.

And perhaps when describing the politics of the time, you tell us who the Gottingen seven are and why they were expelled. At this point, we don't have a clue. You could make it evident through dialogue, but make it casual so it comes off as natural rather than as a way to get info to the reader.

Cat said...

Thank you all for your comments so far. I am glad no one realized by the way I use the language that I am German. I never took into account that none of you has ever been to school in Germany (The Göttingen Seven (including the Brothers Grimm) are THAT well known over here). I will rewrite the story once again keeping that in mind. Thanks for your help it's greatly appreciated.

Bron said...

Hi Cat,

Hopefully you see this comment too. I really liked that it was a dead dog in the casket, not a person (not that I like the idea of dead dogs, but you know what I mean). I was definitely hooked, but like others I was confused in the second paragraphs about who was talking. I was also a bit confused about the Göttingen Seven, but you've explained that and how you'll fix it. I certainly didn't pick up that English wasn't your first language, so well done!

This was one of my favourites so far (and I'm working backwards).

Secret Agent said...

I like that there's a dog in the casket, but once you describe it as a "corpse" it feels a bit like messing with the reader. I don't think enough is gained by saving the surprise. It's interesting enough that it's a dead dog in a casket without also (seemingly) intentionally misleading the reader.

Also, I was lost early since there are so many references to places and names and things we don't know about. I think we need more grounding early on to get our bearings in this world.

Cheryl S said...

I think that corpse is the wrong word to use in this context, since it implies human remains. A more apt term would have been carcass - and been less confusing to the reader.

But considering that English is not your first language and you are talking about historical events not well known out of Europe, I think this was a solid effort-and wish you all the best with it.