Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #10

GENRE: YA Science-Fiction

Mercia was no longer the city her father died to defend.

Eliza choked back the sorrow scratching at her throat as a deluge of rain smothered the car. Every time the sliver of hope reared its head she told herself nothing but memories remained. Still, as the windscreen wipers squeaked and her minder, Ian, bent double over the steering wheel to navigate their approach to Mercia’s gates, Eliza’s pulse quickened.

There had to be something to salvage.

Eliza took in the umbrellas dancing along the pavement, blurry behind fog on the windows. Goodbye, Blackwater, and the rules and regulations of the wayward house. Toodle-oo to the freedom of news, movement, and generally not living under the laws of a glorified idiot.

Good riddance to the place that wasn’t, and never could be, home.

Thunder rolled as Ian muttered about schedules, and timing, and ‘bloody weather’. England definitely didn’t do storms by halves, but Eliza blocked it all out, immune. If you weren’t moaning about the weather, were you even British?

 “Remember what I told you.” Ian waited to make sure she was listening. “No punching people and taking names.”

Eliza rolled her eyes. It had been one girl, and one punch, and she already knew the bitch’s name. Granted, Eliza ended up breaking the girl’s nose, but it had served her right. Eliza drew in a long breath—counsellors would be proud of her—and exhaled. One wrong move and Ian would send her straight back.


  1. 'Eliza choked back the sorrow scratching at her throat as a deluge of rain smothered the car. ' -- I think this would be the better opening line.

  2. I actually really like the first line -- sets the mood and I think it probably captures the theme, am I right? I would say though that I was confused with the naming - Mercia, then Eliza. I wonder if you could say something along the line: This was no longer the city her father had died defending. Also, I'm not sure what this line means and think it might need clarification: "Every time the sliver of hope reared its head she told herself nothing but memories remained."

    There's really great atmospheric suspense here, and the exposition of character in so little words and with so little exposition is masterful!

  3. I agree with kgbb about the first line, and I'd make your current first line the second one, which makes clear what she's hoping for. It wasn't clear to me as is.

    I also wasn't sure if they were leaving Mercia, or just arriving. Was she being sent to Mercia, or being kicked out?

    The mood was set beautifully. Nice atmosphere and sense of place. You might replace some of the Eliza's with pronouns.

  4. Love the voice here-- very strong writing. Makes me want to continue reading for sure. I like, "If you weren’t moaning about the weather, were you even British?" The descriptions of the rain and fog take on a palpability as if it's a set piece, which is skillful, considering we're talking about nothing but mist. Nice work. If we're going to talk about switching up first lines, I vote for starting with the "Good Riddance" line, then picking things back up. I think you can completely switch it out for the current first line. Thing is, though, you've got several very effective punchy lines here to choose from to open the narrative!

  5. Wasn't sure about the first just kind of hangs there I also think the second line is a more grabby beginning because I automatically care about a character than a random name of a place.
    The situation here does seem interesting.

  6. This is a real strong opening about Eliza. You had me hooked in this snippet. I do agree with others on the first line. Your hook needs to be punchier to reel agents in. I love the chemistry between Eliza and Ian.

    I have some minor nits: use single quotes for inside emphasis and doubles for outside like for describing the storm. Try to use adverbs sparingly and show how general if you can. Watch out for using "to be" which is passive. Overall, you have a compelling read. Good luck.

  7. I'm very intrigues about what happened to the city!!

    I have some confusion about the tone. It starts out somber, with the MC emotional and full of regret and a little fear... then the other character and the prose are kind of flippant about the whole situation. By the end, they're joking. I Can tell this is an emotionally complex moment for MC, but I think there could be a little clearing up done in terms of tone!

    ALSO, this is just a silly little language nerd note, but if your title is in Spanish or French, it's not correct--

    If the valiants are plural, in Spanish, it's VIVAN LOS VALIENTES

    In French, it's VIVENT LES VAILLANTS

    1. I think it's simply supposed to be viva as in "long live." That's cool about the languages, though!

    2. Yes, but it doesn't make sense with "La" being an article for singular nouns and "valiants" being plural. Just a nitpick!!

  8. At first it sounds like we’re approaching the city gates of Mercia, but then it sounded to me like we were still driving along the streets she was leaving behind, so perhaps tighten this a notch. Also, goodbye to rules and regulations I understand. But goodbye to the freedom of news, movement and living under the laws of an idiot… I didn’t quite follow this. It seems like she’s happy to be leaving, but goodbye to freedom doesn’t sound like a good thing, and I’m not sure what freedom of news actually means. I’m sure the meaning becomes apparent as we continue reading, but for the very first page, I’d try to avoid confusing the reader too much. The last paragraph is great though!

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