Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March Secret Agent #38

TITLE: Rossio 59
GENRE: YA - Historical

Lisbon, 1941

Antonio wove through the crowd, eyes alert for the best target. Maybe a suitcase, not too big. Not one belonging to a haggard refugee stumbling off the train from Madrid, or to a mother with clinging, crying children. No. Better to find one owned by a man with a smart suit and hat, who was certainly better off than Antonio and his grandmother would ever be.

All along the platform, men handed bags out the open doors, calling "Make way.” Beside them, tired passengers and grumpy children climbed down.

Antonio’s foot hit a pair of glasses, the lenses still intact. They skittered ahead of him. No owner in sight. Antonio bent down and slid them into a pocket. They’d be worth a few escudos.

Further along, among the jumble of luggage on the platform, a small leather suitcase lay on its side. Not too new, and unattended. A 17-year-old could carry it out of the station without attracting attention. Antonio knelt beside it, pretending to adjust his shoe, and gripped the handle. He started to stand, then froze.

From a few yards away, a slim girl about his age stared at him. Her clothes were travel-worn but stylish, and thick, shoulder-length hair framed a pale face. Her eyes narrowed.

Merda. It wasn’t even her bag. Antonio set the suitcase upright, as if that had been his plan all along, and pushed himself to a standing position. The girl tossed her head, still glaring. She wasn’t buying it.


  1. Nice. You did a great job setting the scene, showing us the MC. This hooked me in, especially the scene toward the end where he tries to pretend he wasn't stealing the bag. I'd read on to find out how he gets out of the situation. Nicely done. Best of luck.

  2. I think you have done a good job of setting up a scene that we are curious about. Why is he stealing things? Consider cutting the opening paragraph? I like the idea of starting right in the middle of the action and adding more details about his grandmother later.

  3. I like this. Great job of setting the scene. I agree with januaryj about cutting the first paragraph and weaving in some of those details later. I'm curious enough to keep reading.

    Good luck.

  4. I really like your MC--good "bad guys" are among my favorites. I also like your handling of setting and your choice to set your story in Portugal. The second paragraph reads a little clunky to me. You may want to weave the info in elsewhere or get rid of it altogether. Either way, it doesn't need its own paragraph. Maybe you want it around when he spots the luggage as that's when the focus, so to speak, has shifted to luggage. Overall, though, you definitely hooked me.

  5. This is a strong opening. It definitely makes me curious about what is going on and what will happen.

  6. I liked this. Great use of visuals and "showing" details. I got a good sense of the scene, and the interaction with the girl is intriguing. The only super minor part that gave me pause is the mention of the 17-year-old; I get it's a clever way to refer to the character's age, but it slowed me down. Perhaps the age could be worked in when he sees the girl who is about his own age. (This is super nitpicky, so if no one else mentions, ignore!)

  7. I really like the tone and am curious as to what is going on, especially being in WWII time period. ..I'd keep reading to find out what is worth the risk of being caught stealing. Already we know there's quite a bit at stake!

  8. Great beginning. Character and situation and tension. I wondered, however, why he didn't take the bag if he knew it wasn't the girl's. And, maybe he still does . . .
    Maggie May

  9. I loved how you set the scene. I was in the train station with Antonio and knew exactly what his motivation was. I, also, feel like you should find a different way to let us know his age. The mention of his specific age took me out of the story a little. Also, why does this girl know he's about to steal the suitcase? Has she been watching him?
    I would definitely keep reading.

  10. I would only stop reading if he doesn't ultimately steal the bag. Great style. Good POV. I'm super into finding out what the girl's deal is. Tell me she's a better crook then him and I will fork over the cash right now.

  11. This is a very strong opening! I love your voice, and you have a strong setting and sense of character. I've read through your entry a few times now trying to come up with something to actually critique, and the only (very nitpicky) note I have is that your second paragraph breaks your flow a little and looks strange standing on its own. It does contribute to setting, but I don't know that it's necessary. At the very least, you can incorporate it elsewhere.

    Anything else I have to say would be thoroughly optional. This is great as-is, and I would absolutely continue reading.

    Thanks for entering!