Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Secret Agent #26

TITLE: Behind the Hornet's Nest
GENRE: Young Adult

Lewis Stevenson picked up the bone-handled knife just as the back door of the mercantile burst open. He glanced up at the bearded man in the buff-colored duster and brown leather hat who filled the doorway. His cousin, George Roberts.

The smell of horses, sizzling steak and hot iron from the blacksmith shop wafted in on the chilling breeze. George brushed the snow off the brim of his hat and entered. "So this is where you're hiding out."

"I ain't hiding." Lewis cast his eyes down at the crate labeled canned goods. "Can't seem to keep the shelves full, that's all. Every time I turn around, we're out of something."

George stamped the snow off his black boots. "Ha. Any other time we get important visitors here in St. Paul you're out there making sure the platform is sturdy. You're parking wagons for people so-as to keep 'em lined up just right and helping stable their horses. I know you, cousin. You're hiding."

Lewis ripped open the wooden crate, pulled out the packing straw and carried the crate to the front room of the shop. George followed, his boots clumping past the front counter where jars of bright colored candy sticks tempted young merchants. Past the bookshelf full of thick bound books that Lewis hadn't had time to investigate. Past the pickle barrel and the wood stove, snapping with fresh oak. He stopped by the shelf under the front window where Nelson put items he thought would draw people in.

9 comments:

  1. ooo, a western. It reads very well. I would take out that hyphen btw so-as and add an "ly" to bright in the last 'graph. Good start here!

    Best~ :o)

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  2. Hi there! You have some great description here. I can really see what you're describing. My problem is that it feels like there's a lot. Not much is happening. Cowardice or hiding is hinted at, but it doesn't go anywhere. I don't like judging books by the first page or so, but if I had to, I'm sorry to say that I personally am not hooked.

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  3. This is great!! Seriously well written. I'm definitely hooked. The imagery was fantastic and the MC interesting. I'd absolutely read more. Keep up the great work :)

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  4. I like this! Good world-building, good hint of tension and the promise of something about to happen, good relationship between the cousins.

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  5. I really like your writing. The first two sentences pulled me in, but the third was a bit anticlimactic.

    I think you would have a stronger opening if you combined the first two paragraphs. Something like this, maybe?

    Lewis Stevenson picked up the bone-handled knife just as the back door of the mercantile burst open. The smell of horses, sizzling steak and hot iron from the blacksmith shop wafted in on the chilling breeze. He glanced up at the bearded man in the buff-colored duster and brown leather hat who filled the doorway. His cousin, George Roberts, brushed the snow off the brim of his hat and entered. "So this is where you're hiding out."

    Your dialogue is good. Realistic.

    Your last paragraph is full of great imagery that I would not want to miss, but it would be good to get in a little more information as to why your MC is hiding.

    But you can't rush a western, right? I just need the next page. :)

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  6. I liked Lisa B.'s suggestion about combining those first few sentences.

    I thought this was solid, evocative writing, and even if you don't define the whole conflict in the first 250 words, we have a great setting and know that the MC is acting unusual and that his cousin knows it. That's enough intrigue for me to keep reading.

    St. Paul, Minnesota, right?

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  7. There is no hook here. WHy is he hiding? Seems like that would be your hook. Who is coming in on that train, and why doesn't he want to see them?

    You could get it in easily as internal thoughts as he's unpacking a crate or walking from the back of the store to the front. As is, Cousin George is the more stand-out character here because Lewis doesn't react.

    George says he knows Lewis is hiding, and Lewis doesn't react in any way. He doesn't tell George to shut up. He doesn't think that George is right, or a fool, or a busybody. He thinks about the candy in the jars and the wood in the stove. Perhaps give us less description of the store and more of Lewis' motivation/thoughts.

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  8. I love the feel of this beginning. I agree just a bit with Barbara that I'd like to know what your character is feeling/thinking through this part other than just straight observation of the world around him (although - it is gorgeous observation).

    You hit the mood for this and I took a very western-ish vibe right off the back. Great scene setting!

    Good luck!

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  9. Maybe this is nit-picky, but I dislike when I am told character's first and last names in the opening of a story. I find it seldom that it even matters if I know a character's last name at all, so giving me this information up front, when it's not vital, is more detail than necessary. I agree that the tension here is good--Lewis is obviously hiding from something, and I want to find out what--but there is too much unnecessary detail over all. Does it matter if the knife is bone handled? Do I need to know that Robert is wearing black boots? The last paragraph, too, shows Lewis doing insignificant actions. This can be used to pace the story, but it's more likely that it can just be cut and replaced with detail that will advance the plot. But the voice here is strong. Kudos.

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