Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #46

TITLE: Royal Trial
GENRE: Historical + (Romance-Gone-Awry)

Everything’s different.

Lady Lena Zan Aurin’s eyes lifted from the dusty streets of Lir. Although she vaguely acknowledged the market’s flashy new shops, she struggled to piece together the fragmented images around her. The chaos around her seemed to match her frenzied thoughts.

But what was I expecting? After five years, was everything supposed to remain the same?

The slender nineteen-year-old wafted through the bustling multitude with an unconscious familiarity. Her dark cloak and traveling attire, combined with her five-foot frame, let Lena blend in with the crowd.

How could it have grown so busy this quickly? Perhaps Andon has–

No. I won’t even think that name. Not yet.

It was a memory of a life she had no desire to resume.

Lena tried to distract herself with the wares of the many vendors, but to no avail. The scene was much too odd for her to feel entirely at home.

Home. That makes sense. Go home first.

It was a place to start, assuming that no one had appropriated the family manor in her absence. Perhaps some of the old servants would still be there. Horisk and Sonit and Iliare and Lor and Alessa—if no one else, at least Lor and Alessa.

Everything else has changed; they’re probably gone, too.

No. They had to be there. They would never abandon her.

Lena strode in the direction of the Zan Aurin manor, as eager to reach her old home as the insatiable crowds were to buy the merchants’ wares.


  1. I enjoyed this. I have a preference for slower openings, and you were able to orient the reader and give us a sense of impending conflict while easing us into the setting at a comfortable pace.

  2. This feels more like fantasy than historical, but I'm game. I'd read more if it was fantasy, but as a historical? I'm picky about my historical romances being set in a place I'm familiar with to some extent.

  3. Yes to me it leans more towards fantasy. That aside, I enjoyed this excerpt. From the cloak to the family manor...I'm interested in how the story unfolds.

  4. You know, I'm totally with you guys. I thought it was fantasy (made-up country + swords), but because it doesn't have magic/dragons/etc, an agent told me it counted as historical. I kind of just want to put "this is a genre-blender-of-doom," but something tells me that wouldn't go over as well ;)

  5. Yeah, definetily the wrong genre. Historical has to take place in our world, just in the past... Also the (+romance gone awry) isn't needed. Make it romance and let us see the relationship progress and fail. Its still romance. You don't need to tell us what happens to it.
    It was a slow opening and I did feel some emotional connection with the character but I think you could tighten things a little. Maybe even start with her in front of her old house (or what's left of it). Put us right in the action rather than having her walk to the scene first. But that's just a suggestion. I would read on, though I don't know how far.

  6. Could you change it to "fantasy" then? (And remove the romance-gone-awry? It doesn't have enough "romance" in it to be in a "romance" genre. This is more of the fallout of an already failed romance.)

  7. The opening paragraph is almost there--I would suggest taking out the repetition of "around her" from the last line and the "seemed to" so it reads more crisp:

    "The chaos matched her frenzied thoughts."

    This is nitpicky, but the "tried to distract" line is something I see a lot and to me feels wordy at the expense of showing the distraction. Show her flipping through the wares, what they are which might give a sense of setting, and then she shows some form of exasperation followed by the internal thoughts. I'm not a huge stickler on All Show No Tell but little spots like that in an opening page can be used to show things about your character or the world rather than a summary-type phrase that doesn't do much.

    Otherwise, I liked the voice here. And agree, this is probably some form of fantasy since it's not based on a real historical place.

  8. Well should be marked as Fantasy...

    For me, I don't get much of a sense of place or what is going on. What we get is a lot of thoughts, but no real interacting with the setting. We're told it's a "bustling multitude" with "many vendors," but I don't feel or see any of that. Also, the namedrop of Andon does nothing in this.

    Why is she struggling to piece together fragmented images? It's not like she's in a hall of mirrors.

    I wouldn't read further until it was cleared up and streamlined.

  9. What I got from this is that she is just returning after being gone for a long time. What's missing is where she's been, why she was gone, why she's returning. I don't think you need to answer all those questions, but perhaps give us some info on one of them, (not a lot. Just a line.) which will create a bit of suspense.

    You might also start with her reaching the manor, since nothing happens in town. The story won't be any different if she doesn't pass through town. (I'm guessing)

    On the writing end, watch lines like 'her eyes lifted from the dusty street.' It lends itself to images of eyes rising up from the ground.

  10. This leans more towards fantasy for me.

    The opening made me curious where Lena had gotten to and why she couldn't say Andon's name.

    I felt like the beginning was too much in Lena's head. I like action right from the get go. I'm not saying change it, but something to consider.

  11. Barbara, thanks for the "eyes" comment. I just busted up laughing at work, then changed it to "gaze."

    If you guys were to keep reading, you would find that something VERY pertinent (chase scene and everything) happens in the market within the next page ;)

  12. The entry indicates that this is Historical Romance, but there’s no indication of what time period or what country it takes place in. I’d like to see a stronger sense of Lena and her personality, and why she has come home. Right now I have more of a sense of the chaos of the marketplace, which is nice and atmospheric, but doesn’t create tension.

  13. I enjoyed the entry but also find myself wondering what time period this takes place in or even what country. I think its missing the little details that help detemine the historical period.

    It also reads like fantasy to me.