Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Secret Agent #9

TITLE: The Curse
GENRE: Adult Paranormal Fiction

I was born into this life a witch – naked and pink as nature intended. And it was because of my birthright I was taken out of this world, naked just the same. Less pink. Less pure.

Hartford, Connecticut. 1652.

Unclothed, not a thread of dignity left, I sat, hunched and mortified. All eyesburned into my back, as the boat, a shallop large enough to support myself an seven others, rocked and billowed with the wind. Storm clouds tumbling over head, a chill in the air, I looked down at my body. My skin was gray and brown with filth, sickly and goose-fleshed, bruised and cut. My hair too was in a miserable state: matted and dangling, the red mesh of curls concealing my bare breasts.

Hands and ankles trussed with rope, I received a taste of what was to come. Beneath my bare feet washed the river water. The cold of it trickled from my toes up my spine, leaving me with a grievous shiver.

Swooped up, I was no longer sitting.

By the undersides of my arms and with gloved hands two men hoisted me. From my seat I was placed on the splintered edge of the shallop, sharp wooden picks poking at my backside, sticking me in my most sensitive of skin, purging a yelp out my mouth.

In an instant I was face to face with my accusers: former friends,the minister, fellow townspeople.

Familiar eyes upon me, more gloved hands approached, holding tight to their ends of a thickly twined rope.


  1. Lots of intrigue, and it's definitely interesting. I only had two issues- I found the date and place coming after the first lines to be a little disruptive. Also, the line "swooped up, I was no longer sitting" to be awkward. It has a dangling modifier and one implies the other, so I think I'd just find a way to fix that. Otherwise, I can really feel her misery. Good work!

  2. Ohh, I think I read this first line in another online contest. So glad I got to read more. And I want even more now. Gotta know what happens to this character. Great job!

  3. I really like the voice, it gave me goosebumps!

    I would suggest revising this sentence, as I think it sounds out of order:
    "By the undersides of my arms and with gloved hands two men hoisted me."

  4. I think I read your query on AQC =)

    I think you have a good start here. Is it meant to be as stream of consciousness as it is? I think it works, but I'd try to keep it consistent throughout. I have a feeling this character isn't sure of her surroundings, perhaps due to dehydration or other concerns.

    I like the idea you have here. I'd see if you can tighten things up a little bit (again, keep the writing consistent) but otherwise good job.

  5. The setting and tone are immediately understood. There are a few technical issues you might consider changing.
    o A sail can be billowed by the wind, not a boat.
    o "Swooped up" is a little off-putting. It sounds a little romantic and out of place.

  6. i love the way her voice lilts (not sure that is the right word) and is passive like they spoke in that time period. i am interested and would read on for sure. wondered about a typos - eyesburned should be two words?

  7. This is intriguing and dark (in a good way), but other than at the beginning where she says she's mortified, there's no emotion. Surely she's terrified. And how does she feel about the fact that her accusers are former friends? I think just a line or two of introspection is all you need.

  8. This is an interesting premise. I'm not normally into stories that start with the MC's death, but I'd make an exception for this.

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  10. I saw your opening line elsewhere on the 'net. Was it first line grabber? Anyway, I'm guessing this first scene is a flashback (given your genre is not historical). I'm fine with it since that opening line grounds it for me.

    Your writing is strong with vivid imagery. A few places could be pared down: you can remove: "I looked down at my body." just describe it. These lines can combine: "Beneath my bare feet washed the river water. The cold of it trickled from my toes up my spine, leaving me with a grievous shiver."

    the last few paragraphs read passive and distanced -- is this on purpose? If not I would suggest making this more active: "Two men hoisted me with gloved hands onto the splintered edge of the shallop. Sharp wooden picks poked at my backside, sticking me in my most sensitive of skin. I yelped."

  11. I *love* the opening lines! (memorable from recent First Line Grabber)

    If the death takes place in 1652, then I'd move place and date to the top. Otherwise perhaps delete since it interrupts the flow of your eloquent story-telling.

    This is a great premise and evocative introduction to your witch.

    I actually like "swooped up" as a phrase. Lots of great descriptive language.

    I think you could sharpen it further to be even more powerful. Eg "All eyes burned into my back as the shallop rocked in the wind."
    (We'll meet the seven others soon enough - in just a moment or two.) In the Unclothed... sentence, I'd love to know something more about how she sat, or where. On her knees, on a crate, on a wooden seat, on the 'floor' of a boat (I don't know boat-words)? Hunched to shield her breasts? Mortified by fact of nakedness or feeling of shame? (Perhaps I should be a more patient reader and will find reveal this soon!)

    The storm clouds could be noisy (rumbled?) rather than just a visual description. The air could chill her body (more active phrasing). Instead of merely looking at her body, what does she think/feel when she sees it? Is she upset, dispirited, resistant, exhausted?

    Interesting idea to have cold trickle upwards from her toes. I can't decide if this is an awkward use of 'trickle' or indicative of a backwards sort of paranormal world.

    I definitely want to know what deeds brought her to this point. And whether she's the curser or the victim of someone's curse. Thanks for sharing your opening!

  12. I think the date would be better at the beginning, but that's just my preference. The phrasing is odd in some places, but I think the voice suits the character so far, and it doesn't bother me. I'm interested in reading more at this point.

  13. This is a strong start. I, too, stumbled a bit with the date appearing after the first two sentences, but that's not a major deterrent. The situation is intriguing and I agree with others that I'd like to see a bit more emotion from the narrator. I think you're off to a wonderful start with this.