Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Secret Agent #36

TITLE: Dark One’s Mistress
GENRE: Adult Fantasy

"Clarabelle!" The cry rang out, scattering the pigeons resting atop the roofs and sending the nearby cats into a fit of hissing as they scampered for cover.

Clara halted on the edge of the street, her face burning as the echo of her mother's manly bellow continued. All around her, men and women paused in their daily business. The street gained an eerie silence. In the past, she'd heard worldlier folk boast that such deathly quiet could only be heard here in Everdark.

Then someone coughed, another person sneezed, and the sounds flooded back. The hum of talk. The clink of coins. A few turned to stare at her, the young woman in question, but mostly, the irate cry seemed to be forgotten.

A sigh huffed through her lips. Why does she have to scream like that? She contented herself with the roll of her eyes, wishing the heat in her cheeks would fade. It wasn't as if she was some small child. She knew her duties well. Knew the streets even better.

She shuffled her burden: bread, half a wheel of cheese, a skin of goat's milk and a tiny, dog-eared book on the world beyond. The last was for herself. Literally titled The World Beyond. Beyond what, she didn't know, but it sounded intriguing.

In the pit of her stomach, she knew concern hadn't driven her mother's voice. Not concern for Clara, anyhow. She'd taken too long, pure and simple. It wasn't her fault the baker's son had gone missing was it now?


  1. The writing here is good. Sometimes, with these really short introductions to the world, I wonder if we're really able to get enough of a feel for a piece of work. I say that, because I'm not certain you've started in the right place. For all I know the inciting incident is on the next page, but I don't know that. This is why the first 250 words can be really hard.

    Again, your writing is great, you've really set the scene here nicely, but I wonder if you aren't focusing too much on the scene. We have a whole page, and we don't get to talking much about the MC until the next to last paragraph. And what we learn about her in that paragraph is that she was out fetching stuff for her mom and might be a book enthusiast. I'd like to see a little less of the stage setting and a little more of what's going on with the MC. It would help us to know her more, her feelings, etc.

    You hint at something more by mentioning the baker's son is missing, so you've hinted at what's to come.

  2. I thought this was brilliant. Would live to read more.

  3. I really liked this! Great job! I think there's already a good sense of setting and some conflict for the character, and nice detail in your descriptions. I would definitely read on. Good luck!

  4. I was a little confused at why the shout created the subsequent silence; I also have a bit of a reaction to phrases like "A sigh huffed". It reads, to me, a little like YA--brisk and clear, but not exactly what I was expecting from an adult novel.

  5. I like the world introduction and the missing baker's son, but I'd like a little more feel for Clara. Getting rid of the huffing and eye rolling would allow for a few more words on her behalf. Her heated cheeks give enough indication of how she feels about her mother calling for her. I'd read on.

  6. I really liked this. I thought the scene was nicely set and I was left wanting to know what Clara had done to elicit such a scream from her mother. I would definitely keep reading, especially if there's more about The World Beyond to come. That title is intriguing in and of itself.

  7. I think you've set up some nice worldbuilding here. I like the scene you're building.

    But I wasn't drawn in as much to Clarabelle. Partly, I think that's because her reactions seemed oddly slow -- after her mother's shout I would have expected to see her move quickly, but the description intermingled in the scene made her reactions seem unrealistically delayed. Partly it's because her reference to her mother's "manly bellow" and the "sigh huffing" through her lips make her seem a little unsympathetic. I don't have any reason to dislike her mother, but it's not clear to me what's making Clara react so negatively to her, so it makes Clara seem a little hard to like.

    But I think this has potential, with the pacing and character issues ironed out.

  8. Thank you all for your comments.

    lsjohnson: She's just turned seventeen, maybe that's partly why you get a ya feel.

    Kay Kauffman: Unfortunately, she loses the book ... just before she's kidnapped ... ^_^