Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #12

TITLE: Real Princes Don't Wear Velvet
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

It was all over in a second, really.

Lord Archibald, younger son of the Duke of Chestershire, let out a not-very-lordly ummmph as a damp rag clamped over his nose and mouth.

Archie tried to hold his breath as he was whisked off his feet with mortifying ease (at thirteen years of age he was, as his grandma put it, "a crying waste of perfectly good veal"). Kidnapping tricks hadn't changed much from the Stone, Dark, or Middle Ages, but they'd definitely improved the potion. The chemical scent flared up his nostrils and burned straight to his brain.

Everything went black.

When Archie opened his eyes, groggy and sick, the ground was galloping away under him. His hands were bound and his head was inside a sack, and his first thought was: Wonder what was in here before this?

A breath, then: I don't think I want to know.

That wasn't all.

Did he mention he was wearing a dressing gown? And it wasn't the normal one he brought to boarding school, made of exquisite hand-woven silk and entirely befitting of the son of a duke. But no. He was wearing his favorite cotton dressing gown, which he loved to wear back home. The one with little green clovers on it. And--small cornflower blue unicorns.

Archie cringed. At least they were blue. Blue unicorns were all right--weren't they? And no one would laugh if his body turned up somewhere in them.


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  2. I liked the tone of this. My major comment was that there were a few anacronysms. The main one was "cornflower blue." I don't think this would be a term used in this era.

    Also, this whole thing reads 1st person in disguise ("did he mention").

    Otherwise, I liked it, and would probobly read more. :)


  3. A couple of cliches here: It was all over and everything went black.

    Maybe show us more of what's happening rather than telling us.

    I think your story starts with the last paragraph. That's where you hooked me.

  4. Generally I'm not a fantasy reader, but this was funny and reeled me in.

    Love the line, "...the ground was galloping away under him."

    I like the idea of Archie being embarrassed by his gown, but honestly, would he REALLY wear one with unicorns on it, even at home? Maybe the gown is embarassing in some other way.

    I'd definitely read on.

  5. I liked some of this. There was some voice and good bit of humor.

    I would reconsider the
    Kidnapping tricks hadn't changed much from the Stone, Dark, or Middle Ages, but they'd definitely improved the potion, because it lets us know right away he's kidnapped and makes the entire hands bound and head in a sack line rather redundant, when I think that line is actually a much strong line than the kidnapping line.

    Also I'd consider revising Did he mention...? Just state it or it jars me out of the story.

    I didn't care for how the sentence
    And--small conflower blue unicorns. The -- didn't seem to be placed properly to me.

    These embarassing jammies remind me of the joke about getting into an accident and your mother asks if you had on clean underwear.

    I'm not quite hooked.

  6. I enjoyed this start although perhaps I read too much into it - from the line about kidnapping tricks not changing, I was expecting an immortal or a reincarnation. The reference to the dressing gown seemed a little out of place. Archie worrying about his dressing gown is a nice touch but it seems like something is missing just before this.

  7. This is really funny. I'd keep reading. Love the "ground was galloping away" and the unicorns.

    I'm not sure about the sentences: "That wasn't all.
    Did he mention he was wearing a dressing gown?" They didn't seem to flow with the rest. Maybe you could say something like: His third thought was... to lead into the dressing gown part.

    You don't need the -- between "And--small"; starting the sentence with 'And' has created enough of a pause.

  8. This isn't perfect but the voice is hilarious and it's entertaining. I'd definitely read on.

  9. I love the sense of humor in this one, and there were some nice turns of phrases. Unfortunately, those made the weaker ones stand out more.

    The first sentence didn't grab. I like the next one better. Next, I was wondering why he didn't struggle or anything. Was he just standing there, letting them kidnap him? He seems to know a lot about kidnapping for a MG character; makes me wonder if he's kidnapped often.

    The "Did he mention" part... I'm not a fan of talking to the reader. Maybe something like "Worse, he was wearing his dressing gown..."

    Overall, he doesn't seem very worried about being kidnapped. Makes me wonder what's going on.

  10. Liked the humor. But I didn't realize it was an actual kidnapping. The boy sounded more concerned about his clothes, unless he's used to getting kidnapped?

  11. This was a fun read but there are too many things that seem 'off' to me. The POV seemed to change back and forth from narrator to Archie, and Archie never reacts to anything, he just stands around and lets whatever is happening happen.

    How does he know about kidnapping methods from earlier times? And in medieval times, did they call the dark and stone ages the dark and stone ages?

    The ground was galloping away- was a nice line, but Archie's head is in a bag, so he wouldn't see it, which makes it a moot point. Same with the dressing gown. How does he know which one he's wearing if his head is in a bag and all he can see is black?

    It really is a fun piece, but it still has to make sense. Perhaps another revision or two?

  12. The action started off right away, I liked that. I don't think my first thought would be about the smell of the bag though. I want to know why he was taken & by who, so yes, I would read on. Hooked Good Luck ;-)

  13. I really enjoyed this. I loved the voice and the humor with the unicorns on the dressing gown. My only real crit here would be to pare down the second paragraph a bit, as the description of what his grandmother would have said took me out of the action a bit. But despite that, I'd keep reading.

  14. I like the tone and the humor, but it also tends to distance us from what it happening to your MC. More immediate reactions and a bit of struggling would make him a stronger, more sympathetic character to draw us in--more sense of him actually being in danger.

    I also think you should start a minute or two earlier in the action. If we saw him getting ready for bed (or whatever he's doing), we could get a much better feel for place and time (not to mention the embarrassing gown). That would make the kidnapping feel much more vivid.

  15. I love the voice. You get a really good sense of character. The fact that he's as worried about his dressing gown as his predicament is enough to make me read on.
    And I loved the title.

  16. I like the opening line and I love the humor. But be careful not to let the humor overshadow the tension. despite how funny this scene can be, it should also be tense - he's being kidnapped!

    We need to get more of just self-deprecating thoughts. We need his thoughts and feelings, including a little fear and unease.

    I would keep reading.