Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #12

TITLE: A PROPER SCANDAL
GENRE: Historical Romance

One could say it was a sound carriage. It appeared perfectly capable of transporting its passengers from one point to the next. Its sole problem lay in its destination.

Minnie glanced behind as she made her way down the stone stairs of Miss Martins Finishing School, biting back a smile. The headmistress glared back, her beady eyes watchful as ever.

By some small miracle, the forged letter had worked its magic and allowed Minnie this far, but she worried her pretty lies would rot away as the day grew older to expose the truth.

The aged coachman waited at the bottom of the stairs, extending a shaky hand to help her into the carriage. The blue bag at her feet would do the trick nicely. The others on the roof would need to be lost, a sacrifice for the greater cause at hand.

“Oh,” she cried, her hand at her chest. “There must be another bag inside. I should have two with me in the carriage.”

The coachman stepped back, his hand on the carriage door. “There were only these by the door, miss.” His bushy white brows slanted downward, adding another crease to the wrinkles crowding his face.

“Silly me.” She shook her head, worry washing over her flushed face. “I must have forgotten one in the hall as I made my goodbyes.”

“Of course, miss. Just a moment. Then we will be on our way.”




9 comments:

MargotG said...

I like this opening. We get a sense that Minnie has pulled a trick to run away. We also get the sense she plans to steal the coach and leave the driver behind.

Two suggestions.
o Consider starting with "Minnie glanced...". That gets us right into the action. Shift the current opening line down after the statement about the aged coachman. Then make "The blue bag... etc." a separate paragraph.

o For me, the "she cried" is a little melodramatic. Consider describing her action instead; a frown creased her brow as she looked at the baggage at her feet, or something like that.

We know a little about the main character, time and place of the setting and a little about what she is trying to do.

A nice job over all and I would want to read more.

Ryan Hancock said...

I'm interested to see what she's going to do. The elevated language of the time lend the writing an air of authority, but that is undermined by awkward run-ons like, "By some...to expose the truth." (To fix that, I'd just end the sentence at "...rot away as the day grew older." The rest is implied.)
I'd read on to see if you find your stride. This is a character that I'd probably find very interesting.

HeatherCRaglin said...

This is intriguing. I think I like Minnie so I'm interested to see what she's up to.
I'd suggest cutting "...to expose the truth" in the third paragraph. The first part of the sentence makes that understood and unnecessary.
The language is formal. Perfect if that's what you're going for. If you want more casual you can use some contractions.

Unknown said...

I'm still on the fence about Minnie. Is she a manipulator and a liar, or is she a likeable person forced into a desperate act? I don't know and I would definitely read more to find out.
The sentence about her pretty lies rotting away would be very powerful if you shortened it.
I am an avid historical romance reader and I would certainly want more of this story.
One final comment: I'm still waiting to understand the hook of the carriages sole problem lay in it's destination. I'm guessing it is because when she steals it, she will take it somewhere else, but I was distracted while waiting for discover the answer.

Stephsco said...

I was very drawn in by the opening. I love the voice.

I agree with another comment that a few places the sentences read like run-ons. This is minor, but a few spots could be broken up into shorter sentences. Example: She bit back a smile. and She worried her pretty lies... I think those work better as their own sentences.

I hope that a glimpse of what these pretty lies is comes soon to give the reader a little more to latch onto. Also, maybe one specific detail to solidify the time/place (though it's very clear this is historical).

Good luck!

lizosisek said...

Right away, you've got us immersed in the action of Minnie trying to pull something over on everyone. Already I'm intrigued. I think you could move things along a bit better by cutting some of the adjectives, though. I'm not sure we need all of these descriptions ("pretty" lies, "blue" bag, "bushy white" brows, etc.). Is the bag's color significant? If not, I think you could cut some of these adjectives and get the story moving a bit more quickly. Then again, that may have just been my reading of this.

Good luck!

Wendy Qualls said...

Miss Martin needs an apostrophe in her school's name :-P

"...she worried her pretty lies would rot away as the day grew older to expose the truth." - awkward syntax here.

This looks like it could have potential, but it also feels like you have a lot of Chekov's guns lined up here. The specific details about the quality of the carriage, the fake letter, the age of the coachman, and the switch-up with the bags (which I didn't quite follow) all feel like they're being set up to be important in your heroine's daring escape (from, I presume some fate arranged for her she doesn't want). If they are, that's great - you're doing it right! If not, though, I'd consider looking for a way to shift the focus from the mundane details of her departure to what she's actually thinking/worried about.

Barbara said...

I thought you could put the opening line about the carriage somewhere else. Putting it first makes it important, and it isn't. It's her escape that matters on this page. The carriage may help in that escape, but the escape matters more.

The writing was the biggest issue.

Minnie glanced behind (HER)(AND BIT BACK A SMILE) as she made her way (What does that mean? Did she run, saunter, hurry?) down the stone stairs of Miss Martin(')s Finishing School.

By some small miracle, the forged letter had worked its magic and allowed Minnie (HER TO GET) this far, but she worried her pretty lies would rot away as the day grew older to expose (AND EXPOSED) the truth.

The aged coachman waited at the bottom of the stairs, extending a shaky hand to help her into the carriage. (This means he waiting to do it, not that he IS doing it, which implies she's still running down the stairs.)

The blue bag at her feet (If she's still running down the stairs, the bag can't be at her feet.)would do the trick nicely.

The others on the roof (OF THE CARRIAGE) would need to be lost, a sacrifice for the greater cause at hand.

“Oh,” she cried, her hand at her chest. “There must be another bag inside. I should have two with me in the carriage.”(First, she never reached the carriage, as you've written it. Second, she doesn't know if there are any bags in the carriage or not (unless she's lying) because she hasn't looked inside.)

SO what's happening here is that what you have written isn't what you are trying to convey. Perhaps try a rewrite for better precision and clarity.

Secret Agent said...

I think this is great situation and a fun character to open with. There’s a disconnect between the first and second paragraphs since we don’t circle back to carriage for a bit, so I would also suggest starting with Minnie and moving the carriage line down to paragraph four, after you introduce the coachman. (That placement also ties the "blue bag will do the trick" line more closely to Minnie's plan and the carriage's destination.) Overall, this could use a little polishing/cleaning up, but there are a lot of promising elements here.