Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #27

TITLE: The Invisible Life of Gabrielle
GENRE: YA High Concept Women's

   The rabies would kill her. Gabrielle’s fate had shifted the moment the dog’s teeth penetrated her skin. As she lay on the mattress in the dark, death’s presence was palpable. It skulked in the corner, stealing away light and color. She could almost hear it laughing. She was afraid to die, but she was more terrified of the madness. There was no end worse than rabies.

    In a few weeks’ time she would be more animal than human, tied to a stake out back. She would bite and scratch anyone who dared come near. Consumed by thirst, she would refuse the cups of water her frightened family would push toward her. When death finally took her, they would all be grateful. Gabrielle swallowed hard, her mind racing to the moments before everything had changed.

    “You’ll come with me to the first bullfight of the year, won’t you Gabi? We need to start working on our outfits soon if we’re going to make an impression.” Fleur, whose marigold tones had been part of Gabrielle’s life since they were babies in their respective mothers’ bellies, tossed a wet pair of trousers into a basket perched at the water’s edge. Why fold the laundry, she would argue, if we just have to hang everything up on the clothesline when we get back home? “Manuel will be the matador. I’m dying to see which lady he’ll present with the bull’s ear.”

    “Hoping it will be you!”


  1. I think you have a very interesting beginning! It definitely pulls you in with the first line. That being said, it felt a little removed. I struggled being grounded in the timeline of her story. Had she just been bitten? Has it been awhile? She's telling me as a reader how scared she is but i don't feel it. Rabies, because it's so rare, is definitely frightening. As a reader, I want it to be tangible though. Does the bite burn right now? Is she hot with fever? Is it scabbing and itchy because it's been a few days and is healing? Is she losing control of her limbs yet? I know she mentions that in a few weeks she'll get to a certain point, but what is happening now? I feel like you could do more with the imagery and sensations she's feeling rather than the hypothetical to draw in your readers. Even if she was just bitten and she doesn't have the symptoms yet, a dog bite hurts. Show us that. I'm not very concerned for her at this point because I don't see how bad it is. I just think it would help to ground your readers in the sensory elements so we feel for her more (and know how long it's been without straight out telling us) and are drawn into the situation. Stating Death is in the corner is pretty intense without the actual symptoms being present. Unless she's a hypochondriac or over exaggerating her situation of course. :)

  2. I find the jump back to the past a little jarring (assuming that's what this is at the 3rd paragraph). It's not just the timeline jump that's odd. It's also the voice that changes.

    Also, I'm not sure if it's a typo but this says it's YA and Women's which doesn't exist. I'm guessing it's YA, but I'm not sure.

    Good luck!

  3. I was also thrown by the genre - it can't be YA and Women's Fiction. Plus it seems like maybe it's fantasy? A world that would put a dying person on a stake out back... I've learned about giving back story that it's best if you can do it in a way that shows how it is affecting the character in the present moment. Instead of her mind racing, maybe a lead in about how missing the bullfight and her relationship with her friend are running through her thoughts in the present. I agree with Crystal, too, that I would like more details about what she's actually experiencing with the rabies, not just what it means for her in the future. Nice work!

  4. The genre threw me at first here. Either the project is YA or Women’s Fiction. There are stories that certainly have crossover appeal, but the project should land squarely in one camp or the other. Then I was confused by what was happening. She’s been bit, but why are there no rabies vaccines available to her? Why would it change her into an animal? And then the main character is thinking about bullfights? This is an interesting start, but I’d comb through to make sure your thoughts are actually being translated on the page. Right now, as a reader with no outside knowledge, it is a little challenge to piece together what is happening.

  5. You need to decide what your genre is. It can be high-concept YA but not also women's fiction. I think you need to start the story when she is with Fleur. I want to know how and why she became infected with rabies and why her family can't help her, but I need what happened to get her in this place before this problem started.