Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Where Blood Runs Black
GENRE: YA Historical

Loud, drunken laughter echoed out from the saloon and onto the street. I smiled, knowing the man would already be drunk this late in the afternoon. That would certainly make my job easier.
This was the end of the line for Wolfe. I’d been tracking him for weeks and weeks. Now I had him cornered.

I smirked as I eyed one of his wanted posters hanging a few feet away. They’d be taking those down shortly. Just as soon as Wolfe was jailed. Not only would he be locked up, but I’d be a little richer, too.

Wolfe was the only remarkable thing in this town. There was nothing more than the same dusty streets and ramshackle, wooden buildings I’d gotten used to seeing. Most towns looked the same, no matter what territory I happened to be in.

I pushed back the brim of my hat and sauntered toward the saloon’s doors. My eyes stayed alert, though I made sure to keep my pace slow and relaxed. I wanted to join the scene as a bystander.
My skirt did a good job hiding both the pistol and knife strapped to my legs. My belt was tightly cinched to accentuate my waist and my shirt was close-fitting as well. Any outlaw I chased was like all the rest – easily distracted by a woman’s body. If Wolfe was distracted, then he’d be a quick catch. After all, no outlaw ever expected a woman to be the one to bring them to justice.


  1. I love the western vibe and wouldn’t mind even more atmosphere and setting early on! It wasn’t until the mention of the dusty streets that I was really able to picture this scene in my head. Could you pull in other senses like sound and scent to really make the setting come alive?

    The main character at first seems like she has a plan to catch Wolfe. I was wondering why she was so confident and would’ve liked to have been shown the reason for that confidence more than being told by the MC. But then in the last paragraph, it doesn’t seem the MC really does have a plan beyond distracting Wolfe with her body. So I wasn’t sure what to think, then. If there’s a way to smooth out the MC’s thought process, it could pull me deeper into her POV.

    Small note: I wonder if the second paragraph might actually make a better first? The loud drunken laugher means more to me once I have the context, and “This was the end of the line for Wolfe” just reads like a stronger first sentence to me.

    Thanks for letting us read :)

  2. This certainly paints a picture of the time period and brings us into the scene -- the voice is great too! My overall and main critique of these 250 words is that they seem a bit choppy - a bit like there's no organization/flow to the order that they're given and I wonder if that's significant? If not, then maybe shift them around a bit, play with them to see if you can arrange them in a manner that seems less choppy. A writing prof once told us that if you think of a story start as a large camera panning over a wide space and then honing in on a specific part of that space, that can be a great way to get into a story too. So talk about Wolfe and the wanted posters, and the remarkable thing about this town. Then pan into the saloon and the noises, or her dress and how it catches men every time? Like I say, these 250 are great, just choppy in their flow so...I hope this is helpful to you!

  3. I liked the atmosphere, the time period is shown really well. So far I dont feel hooked, I hope there's something more to this characters skills then distracting men with her body!

  4. I liked the opening parg. It immediately sets us in time and place. I would suggest changing 'the man' though, to Wolfe. She knows who she's talking about, so why would she say 'the man?'

    I'd suggest cutting the rest and just continue on with the story. Get her inside the saloon and show us the confrontation. If the town is unremarkable, and the story action will be inside, why describe it? And you can get in the fact that she's female through action and dialogue. Maybe her skirt/dress swishes as she pushes through the saloon's swinging doors. Maybe someone tells her what a purty dress she has on. Maybe at some point she whips a knife out from under her skirt. The action, suspense, tension, emotion, is all in the story, not in the MC chatting with the reader. Stick with story. Forget the reader exists.

  5. I agree with the others suggestions. I do like the time period and the feel for this story. I think Barbara has solid suggestions to think about going forward. You do make me want to care about Wolfe and why she's after him. Consider tightening it more by removing "to be" passive words and adverbs to make it more active and trimmer to show more than tell. You can make it work.

  6. I was actually surprised to discover she was a woman when you said “skirt” and it was such a good surprise. The sauntering and smirking had me thinking male, so this was a fun little discovery. I think you did a nice job of setting the scene without dipping too far into clichĂ©. I do wonder how she’s going to kill him if her pistol and knife are strapped to her legs, but I’m hooked enough to want to keep reading to find out how she’ll do it.
    No need to say “the man.” Just say “he.”
    I think a little bit of line editing would tighten the prose a bit more. For example, “They’d be taking those [posters] down shortly. Just as soon as Wolfe was jailed…I’d be richer too.” I think some of these things go without saying, and may be a little too on-the-nose. And again later on with “all men are easily distracted by a woman’s body,” not necessary to clarify that Wolfe too is likely to be easily distracted and therefore a quick catch. Good concept, just needs a bit of tightening.

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