Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Secret Agent #30

TITLE: Remembered
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

“Why does it vex you so?”

The Chancellor’s smooth voice echoed against the stone, accentuating both the size and emptiness of the hall. Aleksandr rested against the wall, his gaze drifting over the courtyard below. He still wore the battered and beaten clothing from yesterday’s successful raid. In the early morning light, a slight haze coated the dusty ground, obscuring most of the cottages in the distance. The acrid stench of soot and ash wafted from the east where thick billows of smoke rose on the horizon. Word had come late yesterday about the revolt in Paris, but it had been dwarfed amongst the celebration here. A small crowd was already gathered around the gallows in the center of the courtyard. Aleksandr frowned when the Chancellor repeated his question.

“How could it not?”

The restrained anger made the French he spoke clumsy. Aleksandr struggled to control the disdain, knowing he shouldn’t direct it towards his superior. He wasn’t angry with him, not angry with anyone in particular…except maybe himself for being this weak.

The elder council leader approached with a measured pace, his age just beginning to show in the slightly stiffened movements. Even decades removed from the field, Aleksandr knew the Chancellor was still as deadly as the Sentinels his council oversaw, the same warriors Aleksandr led. The Chancellor’s wizened face held the emotional control of the politician he had become in order to lead, but his eyes betrayed his confusion. He genuinely didn’t understand Aleksandr.

That made two of them.


  1. I think this is strong and get a real feel for the setting and characters. Good voice and clear, concise writing. Thanks for sharing and good luck.

  2. You have some wonderful imagery here, and the writing's pretty tight. I also liked the historical and/or epic fantasy feel of this (although that did make me question the reliability of the genre description).

    On the flip side, I did think this opening was a little too abrupt. I know we're supposed to drop our readers right into the middle of a scene, but I usually prefer a tad more setup. Also, while I liked the images, I thought they dragged the opening down a little (especially since you introduced quite a bit of back story as well). I had a hard time really engaging with the scene because there were so many long pauses.

    On the whole, though, I think this has a lot of promise. It definitely sounds like something I'd like to read.

    Good luck!

  3. Well done - a strong sense of setting and characters. I would like a hint of the romance angle, but I'm guessing that's where the "vexing" comes onto play.

    Good luck.

  4. I have to agree with Krista in that the first line made me think this took place in the past. There's nothing in the opening that tells me this YA or paranormal, it felt like an adult historical or possibly a fantasy opening.

    The writing is clean and strong and I have a good sense of the setting, but I'm confused by the genre.

  5. Are the "elder council leader" and the Chancellor the same person? If so, I'd stick to Chancellor-the line about his age lets us know he's elder.

    And while the descriptions are all well written- they go on a bit long between question and answer. Maybe you could start with a sentence or two about the acrid stench and soot and ash and the gallows- that's all interesting enough to keep us reading.

  6. Starting with dialogue is very tricky. Maybe you want to give us a little voice before introducing the dialogue?

    I do love your last line...I would read more!

  7. Nice! I like the setup of the MC's inner conflict and want to know more.

    Maybe a bit much backstory in the "revolt in Paris" and "dwarfed by the celebration here." I am curious about these events (yesterday?), as well as why a crowd has gathered around a gallows (today? but the gathering has something to do with yesterday's events ?).

    The information detracts from the characterization of the MC.
    I really want to know what vexes Aleksandr and why.

    Word choice: Replace "amongst" with "by"?

    Word choice: Aleksandr is feeling anger at himself and disdain for his superior?

    All in all, a strong, focused, clear style and opening.

  8. Beautiful prose. The line about the revolt in Paris drew me in, as does the opening question. Using the word "vex" in the opening line intrigued me because I'm wondering are we in the past? The future?
    That being said, while the descriptions are beautiful, I'd tighten it up just a bit so we can get to Aleksandr's answer quicker.

  9. Nice image of the situation. I have a sense of who the characters are, but I need a little more info to help me invest in the characters. Ramp up the tension- I'd like to see a hint at what's at stake for one of the two opening scene characters. I'm more curious about who is going to the gallows. You've gotten us to bite, now give us a tug so we're firmly in your lure.

  10. Your descriptions are really vivid, but it's a lot of description for an opening--at least for me. It almost feels more like something grabbed from the middle of a chapter than the first page.

    Like others have mentioned, I'm not really getting a sense of YA or paranormal or romance from it yet. Not saying it isn't there, but it doesn't *feel* that way in this first page.

    I'm intrigued by the set-up and what Aleksandr is vexed about and who's going to the gallows, and if it wasn't for the genre heading, I'd definitely keep reading...if I'd picked it up in the sci-fi/fantasy section of the bookstore.

  11. I loved the imagery. . .very vivid. . . I felt like I was there. Like some others, the interruption of the dialogue made me stumble, and while I enjoyed the backstory, I'd like to see more showing and less telling.

    I think an exchange between the characters would be more dynamic, and we could still get the same feel.

    Overall, I enjoyed the piece and would read more.

  12. I’m not sure what is going on here. You are showing us lots of images and I’m not sure what to focus on. I don’t even understand what the question is. Does what vex him? The smoke on the horizon? The word of the revolt in Paris? The successful raid? That people are celebrating? He doesn’t seem weak. Why does he think he’s weak. I’d slow down and lead the reader to what is most important to establish the scene and character.

    It could be that it is only 250 word and it will all be clarified soon. Also, it felt like fantasy to me.