Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Secret Agent #6

Title: The Imprint of Desire
Genre: Historical Fiction

Edinburgh, 1733.

Jack drew his hands into his sleeves. The wind whistled along the high stone wall, rippled the gentlemen’s coats, and puffed the water-splotched capes of the fine ladies who’d braved the dreary clouds to join them.

A small part of him wished he weren’t here. The part of his left arm that ached from carrying Lady Roxbury's casket upon his shoulder, along High Street, down Cowgate, and into Greyfriars’ Churchyard. The part of his foot, sore in his stiff-ankled shoe coverings, the mark of mourning. The part of his heart that beat too fast when cordoned on all sides, as he was now, by the press of strangers and the town’s most notable Protestants, judges, and titled men and women. None like him. No Irish Catholics, no nearly abducted children, and no other young black men.

His breath ratcheted. The breeze blew on his white-wigged curls and he tried to time the rise and fall of his chest to the wind’s pulsing rhythms. Slid to the edge of the crowd and pressed his back against the blessedly solid stone wall. His hands crunched together. No sight he could see but the widowed earl’s bent head, and Admiral Lord Dunmore's beside it, fixed firm in his vision. The rest of the assembly blurred in a jumble of cloaks and canes and tartan scarves. His chest pattered, bum da dum, like a soldier drummer boy’s, as once he’d hopped to be.


  1. Good start to the story. A few nit-picky things: "braved the dreary clouds" seems awkward, especially since you already said it was raining; "he weren't here" should be wasn't; "the mark of mourning" sounds too much like an info dump phrase. Can you word it differently? Incorporate it into the "stiff ankled shoe coverings"? Since he is a man, he would be a widower, not widowed, which would denote a woman. But sounds like an interesting story.

  2. You’ve got some great images here, and I’m intrigued enough about Jack to read on.

    Like Eileen, I also tripped up on “the widowed Earl.” Maybe you can switch widowed to bereaved. I also wasn’t quite sure what you meant by “nearly abducted children.” And the last sentence has a typo, “Hopped” instead of hoped”.

  3. Atmospheric and interesting beginning. I think you've set the stage well, leaving the reader with questions that they'll want answers to.

  4. opening par/lines pulls the reader into the scene and time period. Other details support the time period, such as the shoe coverings.
    Par two: begins with A small part...but then you give examples of his sore left arm and his sore foot and his sore heart. Maybe you could begin that sentence in plural: Small parts of Jack wished he weren't here.
    Is the reader to deduce that Jack is Irish Catholic, was nearly abducted as a child, and is a young, black man wearing a curly white wig?

    In par. 3, there are some sentence fragments that I would like to see you place a noun/subject at the beginning. "No sight could he see" seems awkward as the beginning of that sentence. I like the inclusion of onomatopaeia.
    Agree with other comments about spelling and widowed.
    I can "see" the scene you have created through my reader's eyes:)

  5. Is the MC a young black Irish Catholic man who was nearly abducted as a child? I’m definitely intrigued given the time and place but confused about what “nearly abducted” refers to here.

    A few more strategically-placed clues would help me get a better grasp on Jack from the top of the story. How did he end up as a pallbearer for Lady Roxbury? Did he know her personally or was this simply a hired job? I had other pesky logistical questions (if he’s carrying a casket how is he free to shrug both hands into his sleeves?) but overall I like the moodiness and tension in this scene and I’d read on to see if the action picks up.

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