Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #3

TITLE:  Dasvidanya Rodina
GENRE:  Women's Fiction

“Lyuda, what is happening, are the dead still lying dead?”

It is Aleksandra Mischenko, a girl who has been with me since we shared a cell in our first imprisonment, before we were put into wagons and made to go far away, so many lives ago.

Most everyone are shut within their house but I am standing in our doorway, watching and awaiting. Watching and awaiting is all I have done since first I am taken.

We are, our prison camp of all women, having now a new camp commander who arrived shortly after the glistening of the snow.

On the dawning of this day when the snow began to melt and reflect the sun within its sparkling crystals, a large group of men arrived in our lost camp. These were men who carried themselves and the revolution upon their faces and in their posture; men for you to be always afraid.

They have shortly after arriving, taken away our former camp commander and immediately after, executed four of our other guards for reasons we do not know why.We were all of us assembled and made to watch. Never have I seen such a horrible thing as a man having his life removed with a bullet to the back of his head. It is a gruesome and mournful thing.

Three of them wept and begged for their lives but one of them said nothing. I cried for him despite he was a man who made me on occasion to be a pleasure for him.


  1. I believe the first sentence is actually two sentences and should be split after 'happening.'

    And while this subject of a prison camp is intriguing, the bulk of the first 250 is backstory and an information dump.

    Consider whether all this information could wait until the action and main character is established.

  2. I didn't get that this was back story. It read as though it was happening at the moment. I agree with Michelle on splitting the first sentence into two.

    I like the starkness of your writing, plus you have an intriguing voice. I think both of those serve to create a powerful and emotional piece of literary fiction.

  3. I like that first sentence. What else would the dead be doing? It sounds like it might be a common regional phrase, but it does put me in a mind for paranormal or horror story.

    This has a lot of good atmosphere. I'm curious about the plight of the women and who the new men are, but there are several other grammatical mistakes in this short piece that distracted me from the story. You might want to get this edited before you sub it again.

    Google won't let me search "Dasvidanya," and it keeps giving me results for "Dasvidaniya." You might double check and make sure you're using the spelling you want to. I'd go with whichever roman-alphabet spelling is more commonly used.

    Good luck with this! It sounds like it has great potential if you can get it polished up.

  4. I'm really puzzled by the voice of this piece. It sounds like the story is being told by a Russian who speaks English as a second language. I can't tell whether that is the author's natural writing style or whether the author has deliberately chosen an unconventional sentence structure for effect. In other words, are the "mistakes" really mistakes?

    Either way, while there is a lovely, poetic quality to the writing, it takes some effort to understand, and I'm afraid it might get tedious if the entire novel is written in this same voice.

    I'm intrigued by the setting, but the sequence of events is disjointed and there's not enough happening in the present moment to keep me engaged. As far as I can tell, the narrator is standing in a doorway, thinking about an execution that occurred earlier in the day. This would be a much more gripping opening if we saw the execution in real time, rather than in retrospect.

  5. I am really intrigued by this excerpt. The story sounds intense and poignant. I was also confused about whether this is a current scene or a flashback (or both). I think that's because the voice sounds authentically like someone whose native language is Russian, which I assume from the title is deliberate. It might be difficult to read for a whole book, but I'm enjoying it so far.

  6. I like the voice and the set up here. It took me a few lines to get into the speech pattern, but I think that's expected.

    The one line that felt clunky to me is this: On the dawning of this day when the snow began to melt and reflect the sun within its sparkling crystals, a large group of men arrived in our lost camp.

    I would pare this down and cut some extra words. The line that follows is powerful, so a more succinct line will help set it up.

  7. I started off thinking this was full of errors, but as I read on, it became clear this was the woman's voice. It works, I think. It immediately gives me a sense of place. But like Rebecca, I wonder if it will become difficult or tiresome after a while.

    The opening sentence implies something is happening but, not only is nothing happening, (Or if it is, we're not seeing it) your MC doesn't even answer her friend. Instead of responding to another character in the story, she's busy explaining things to me. Aleksandra doesn't know I exist, no will any of the other characters in the story. The MC should be unaware of me, too. Instead of having her explain things to the reader, let her act and react to the things and people around her in the story. What is happening in the story now? That's what your MC should be involved in.

  8. This is an interesting setting with lots of potential but there are some issues with the sentence structure that would give me pause. For example 'They have shortly after arriving, taken away our former camp commander..' should be 'Shortly after we arrived, they took away our camp commander.' You should then ask yourself if you want to tell the reader this information or show them by an action scene and dialogue. Keep writing - it sounds like you have a story you want to tell!