Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #46

TITLE: Gilded
GENRE: YA Asian Paranormal

I don't get nervous. Maybe it's from the archery competitions or maybe it's like my mom says--I've the spirit of a tiger. But tonight my heart pounds like never before.

I'd like to say the hanbok is the culprit. The dress is so puffy and itchy and disgustingly long that I wish it had ripped to shreds when it got stuck in the taxi door. Unfortunately it only got a teeny tear. Not to mention its puke-worthy Pepto-Bismol color. (My mission is to ban that color from the planet.)

Or it could be that when I forgot my bow and arrows, Mom forced me to taxi it all the way back through the jam-packed streets of Seoul to get them. I tried to reason with her that the museum had plenty of entertainment. She wouldn't hear of it. The worst part was we didn't even arrive late!

But really it all boils down to the fact that when I manage to extricate myself from the taxi and gaze up at the museum steps, I'm ready to head back home.

Problem. Home is half a world away.

Last month, Dad's company transferred him from Los Angeles to Seoul. It was supposed to be the best thing ever for our family (yeah, right). Dad would climb the business ladder, Mom would visit distant relatives, and I'd reconnect with my Korean heritage and go to a prestigious international school.

No one thought to ask what I wanted.


  1. A protagonist (I assume) sitting and thinking about exposition is the least possible exciting opening. I would like to know more about her archery skills if it’s relevant to the story.

  2. I like the writing and the voice, but I'm confused as to what's actually happening. The narrator says "tonight my heart pounds like never before," but we never find out why (or if we did, I totally missed it amongst all the other stream of consciousness).

  3. I'd have to agree with Adam.

    Good luck with SA!

  4. I too am confused by what is happening, seems to skip around quite a bit. The paranormal aspect is interesting, but the story just failed to draw me in.
    Good luck!

  5. Sounds like an interesting read! I like that you're attempting a multi-cultural setting. Strong voice as well. Love the Pepto-colored dress.

  6. The voice is good, but this beginning is confusing. I'm not sure what is happening. Is the MC reflecting on all this at the archery competition? Or is she demonstrating archery at the museum? I'm not sure.

    As the commenters above said, nothing has actually happened yet. It sounds like a interesting story but I'd prefer if we were introduced to it with a scene where something is happening. Maybe even the arrival at the museum as it happens.

  7. I can't picture what the MC is doing. I think the passage gets stronger as it goes, but I need some action here to draw me in.

  8. I don't really know what's going on either, but I don't care. I'm hooked with the word hanbok, because I know the story takes place in Korea, or is about a Korean, and I don't really care which. But then I like Korea and would like to read a story that takes place there.

    I also think the comment about the handbook is spot on. While I never wore one myself while I lived in Korea, I heard that they are really itchy to wear and are only worn for special occasions, like the Lunar New Year.


  9. You seem to jump around a lot. I think that putting Pepto and bows-and-arrows right next ot each other requires some explanation. What's the initail conflict? Is this person mad a her parents or shy to be in a performance?

  10. (What is the first line supposed to mean? I couldn't tell if that was in the email and accidentally got added, or if the narrator was speaking that way. I'm assuming a pasting error, but still.)

    Afraid I'm not hooked--I was confused as to what was actually going on, and there felt to be too much backstory right off; I would rather like to see the focus and what is going on, then have the back story details woven in around the present action and scene.

  11. Tiny bit uneven, and jumps around a bit (and to me Pepto-Bismol color is a cliche). Don't understand The worst part was we didn't even arrive late! Also not sure why it "boils down to" her wanting to head home.

    But I like the set-up: the museum, the bows and arrows, the puffy dress (although it wasn't clear to me that "hanbok" meant dress, but that's an easy fix), the transfer to Seoul.

    And love the last line: No one thought to ask what I wanted. Definitely would turn the page.

  12. I thought you had a lot of interesting elements here. It seems this will be a story that could take me to some places I've never been.

    But right now, it's just a person talking. Show her getting out of the taxicab, her dress ripping. Show us the colors of her hanbok, describe it so we can see it. Show her pulling it from her skin or scratching herself becasue it's itchy.

    The mere fact that this is set in Korea gives you a leg up. Don't explain to the reader. Make everything clear in the context of the story by using details, action and dialogue.

  13. There are a lot of original, intriguing elements here and the voice is very nice. But I think you are trying to convey a lot of information very quickly. Consider whether you have to accomplish everything in the first 250 words. If so, try mapping out the action and the emotion you want to evoke in the reader to help you get the sequence right. Good luck.

  14. The voice is great but it sounds like a younger YA - not a bad thing, but I would definitely keep reading.