Wednesday, August 19, 2009

20 Secret Agent

TITLE: Anointed
GENRE: Historical Fiction

February, 1904

Smoldering light from the sun cast orange and black shadows across Esther’s skin. She twisted her arm in front of the window, watching the shapes of tree branches fracture and stretch, growing more blurred as the seconds passed. Soon there would be only black. When the matron shuffled into the room, Esther kept her face turned toward the floor, even as the old woman stood beside her and touched her shoulder.

“Your brother will not be arriving this evening,” the matron said.

Esther’s stomach twisted in knots, but she stayed calm. “Yes, Ma’am.”

“He promised to catch the train from Corvallis first thing tomorrow.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Try to get some sleep.”

Esther kept her back straight, though her insides trembled. She did not know if she could spend another night in this room, with these girls. It’s for your own good, George told her when he first brought her to the Aid Society a few months before. Now this place wasn’t good enough and they wanted to send her to Illinois, to her father. She held back a shudder. Though she felt years older, she was still just sixteen, by law underage, and her protests went unheard. She knew for now it was best to obey or at least pretend.

As the matron turned to leave, Esther rose from the bed and took a step forward. “May I have my Bible?”


  1. I like this. The writing was smooth and clear. I'd keep reading to find out why Esther was there and what her future held.

  2. I found the first sentence a bit confusing. I had to read it twice, but it could just be The rest flowed. You have a nice, serene voice. I like it. I want to know what happens to her.

  3. I like that description in the first paragraph and I agree that your writing flows nicely.
    I'm intrigued enough that I'd like to read more.

  4. I'm not a big historical Fiction reader, but I enjoyed this quite a bit. I want to know why Esther is at the Aid Society and why she has to leave. Plus, the writing is clean and you've got some nice imagery.

  5. Was 16 'underage' in 1904?

    I do like the voice here and I'm curious exactly what her problem is. What's wrong with the other girls? Where is her brother?

  6. 16, so a YA historical fiction?

    I needed your premise further up in the order. Compare your work to the other historical fiction by 21. Her reveal was in the same location, but she got more umph and interest out of the preceding paragraphs. Her/His characters are moving, in action, conversation, things are happening, and I'm getting a clear interesting view.

    In this case where she is standing and trembling, I think you need to bring who she is and why she is there earlier into the beginning paragraphs. I don't get that clear sense of who she is or what is happening. Is she in a room, is she on the platform of a train station. I needed grounding.

    Why was she left? That was the intriguing question that I wanted answered so i immediately connected with who she was and her circumstance.

    Not hooked.

  7. I'm hooked, but just barely. The premise intrigued me. I want to know why she's there, why she's being moved, and why she had to ask for her Bible. I found myself guessing at the answers.

    What puts me on the iffy side is the writing. It's mostly clear and clean, without over-blown descriptions, but I had imagined her oustide until you mentioned the window, and then I imagined her standing at a window thru the whole scene, until I was suddenly told she was on a bed.

    I also imagined the matron had left after she said, 'try and get some sleep.' But then I found out she was still there, and that came as a surprise and read awkwardly. Fix things like that and you can eliminate the 'iffyness.'

  8. You used "twisted" twice in the first three paragraphs.

    I would change "Esther’s stomach twisted in knots" to just "Esther’s stomach knotted."

    Interesting beginning. Good luck!

  9. I pretty much agree with Meg. I feel that Esther is in a bad situation, but I don't feel compelled to care.

  10. I like this, but I'm not sure I got a clear sense of what the issue is. And while I thought your writing flowed nicely, I was a bit confused by why she twisted her arm in front of the window (plus you repeat twisting a few sentences down). I'm wondering if maybe starting somewhere a bit further on in the chapter would help?

    Overall all, though, I enjoyed thw writing and would probably read a bit further.

  11. I had no major problems with this submission but I wasn't immediately hooked, in part because I found the second sentence confusing. I'm also looking for Europe-set rather than U.S.-set historicals, so I wouldn't be the right agent for this.

  12. Not hooked, although I'm really not sure why. So it probably has something to do with my own personal taste. I was a little miffed when I discovered Esther is only sixteen, though. Seems more like the age of a young adult protagonist (and if she's not the real main character, then I wonder why we're reading about her first).

  13. Beautiful imagery. As said previously, the writing is smooth. Perhaps a little description of the expressions on the matron's face could help give more insight on the situation. I have in mind a scene from Anne of Green Gables when Anne is in an orphanage and about to be sent to Green Gables. The expressions and comments from the matron of the orphanage told us a lot about Anne.

    I get hints that make me like the MC, but I'm not engaged by her yet. I would read the next page, but I'm not solidly hooked yet.