Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Secret Agent #31

GENRE: YA Historical

“Here you go, lad. It’s a wonder your teeth don’t rot right out of your head!” Mr. Ware said leaning over the counter with a grunt and a fistful of penny candies for Emmet.

Emmet bared his teeth into a big grin like he had seen horses do, revealing his fine set of pearly whites seemingly in no danger of rotting any time in the near future. Mr. Ware chuckled and ruffled the top of Emmet’s unruly mop of blonde hair. “You are something, aren’t you?”

Emmet half skipped, half hopped out of Ware’s Mercantile, the bell on the door jangling as it closed behind him. Outside on Market Street, Emmet looked up and down the expanse of dirt road that made up the heart of commerce in the town of Colusa, California. Mid-day, Colusa slumbered with most inside for their noon meals.

He sniffed at the lack of activity with the exception of a lone rider and began to make his way due west. Buildings on Market provided shade on one side and the relentless California sun on the other. Across Market lay an open square where a courthouse was being built and where he sometimes picked around the building materials for treasures.

Kicking the dust of the road up underneath his feet, he clutched the penny candies tightly, his reward for running to the postal service for Mr. Ware. He could almost taste the sweets melting in his mouth. But not yet…he would wait until he got to the tunnels.


  1. You're doing a good job at giving us a sense of the historical setting - that was clear to me even before I read the genre at the top. On this page Emmet feels more like a younger kid than a teenager to me, based on his passion for sweets, his looking for treasures, and how he's treated (the "unruly mop of blonde hair" strikes me more as describing a younger child). A small note: I like the comparison to the horse, but I think you could tighten that up to something like, "Emmet grinned like a horse, showing off his pearly whites."

  2. I love it. Seriously. Great job. I want to read more.
    Having just read the previous comment, I'm surprised to note that is YA. I agree that this seems far more MG than YA.

  3. The opening of this sounds a little removed from Emmet's POV, probably because you're describing him as if you (the author) are looking at him rather than describing what Emmet sees.

    I agree that the skipping and candy makes him sound very young. A teenager in historical is much more mature than now, not less.

    Good luck!

  4. You do a great job of conveying a historical tone, but this read much younger than YA. Between Emmet loving candy, his hair being ruffled, and Emmet skipping out of the shop—it felt much more like MG. Also, at times, Emmet almost seemed animal-like? Between baring his teeth like a horse and sniffing at the air—we aren’t getting a great sense of him as a true character. And right now, there is very little conflict on the page. I’d love to have a greater sense of what I am reading on to find out.