Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #5

GENRE: Young Adult

I will never be Lady Hakebourn.

He will never speak to me. He will never touch me.

These reassuring thoughts repeated themselves in my mind as the maid continued fastening the buttons that ran up the back of the wedding dress. With every button, the laces beneath the dress pushed tighter against my skin, gradually squeezing the air from my lungs, making it harder to breathe-all to please the godforsaken realm of fashion.

The day's fitting was in preparation for next week's wedding. Since it was a hasty engagement, the dress had only arrived from the seamstress this morning.

Yes, a hasty engagement. Baron Hakebourn's second wife recently died of unknown reasons, though the gossips swore that he had simply beaten her too harshly one time too many. Of course, they stopped their mutterings as soon as I came within earshot, so I haven't heard more than a whisper of that.

And unfortunately, given my recent luck, the dress seemed to fit perfectly, meaning that I couldn't send it back and have another few days of freedom. As tempted as I was to secretly rip out the seams, I knew that would only be a temporary solution. And a cowardly one at that, to place the blame on the maids. My parents would be disappointed in me if they knew. Of course, if they were still alive, I wouldn't be stuck in this predicament.


  1. Hmmm. I get the impression that this is historical YA and this girl is set for an arranged marrage. I also get information overload. I thikn if there was more action/reaction from the narrator as she is going through this 'dressing' I would be hooked and it wouldnt matter to me if the previous wives were murdered or she knows the guy isn't going to love her.

    For me it's all in the details, and this doesnt give me any that shows the character and her reaction to what is happening to her.

  2. I liked it - and I agree with mepurfield that this does sound like historical YA.

    Wonder what the SA will think?

  3. I like this. There's conflict right away. We know she doesn't want to marry the guy, and we know at least part of the reason.

    We also see some of her character in wanting to rip out the seams, and more in second thoughts about it because the maids would be blamed and she doesn't want that.

    I think you've given us a good setup of your MC's, so good job.

    The only thing I would change is the comment about the dress seemed to fit perfectly. It either did or it didn't. Just say that it did and get rid of the 'seemed'. Pet peeve of mine, sorry.

    Good luck with this.

  4. A little confused about who she is marrying. It says she will never be Lady Hakebourn but then it sounds like she is about to marry Baron Hakebourn (although, if that were true, she would be a Baroness I think). I'd also suggest you confirm/hint to her age as this doesn't read like YA.

  5. Not my preferred genre, but this reads quickly, seems tight, feels interesting. I'm curious what she does. I'm guessing she has a plan, and the opening three sentences are not just denial.

  6. I like the historical feel, but the first two lines make me think this character is sad that he will never speak to her or touch her, who ever he is. Then it becomes clear she doesn't even want Baron Hakebourn. Is HE the he you mentioned above? I also agree it doesn't have an immediate YA feel to it, so maybe mentioning her age would help. Best of luck!

  7. I see the conflict immediately and would keep reading. I would suggest, however, you watch your use of inactive verbs and adverbs.

  8. I agree, this sounds like historical YA. I like the MC's voice.

  9. Well, my personal pet peeve is characters who talk to me. And that's all this opening is - your MC telling me her plight. Nothing happened in 250 words. You're filling the reader in.

    I'd rather see it happening. SHow me a maid helping her get her gown on. Give me some dialogue that tells me the Baron is a wife beater, and maybe even a murderer. In other words, give me a story, not a monologue.

    The idea itself seems interesting enough, but for me, it's not presented in an interesting way. Not hooked.

  10. Need a better sense of MC and what she's feeling and thinking. Is she marrying the baron of not?

  11. The first two lines make me think she's sad, that she'd marrying someone else and now she will never be Lady Hakebourn, the woman she really wants to be. The I read line 3 and realize I'm totally wrong.

    The "godforsaken realm of fashion" doesn't make sense to me. What is a realm of fashion?

    "Yes, a hasty engagement." The "Yes" makes it seem as though either someone asked a yes or no question, or the character is speaking directly to me, which hardly ever works for me.

    All that said...I'm still hooked. Why are her parents dead? Why is she marrying this guy? Why so quickly? I want answers to all these questions. I'd definitely keep reading.

  12. I like the style of writing and the voice - I can tell she's depressed. The voice is right for the time period.

    What's quite confusing are the opening lines - I had the impression she wasn't going to wed the man she loves. As though she's depressed by it. However, turns out that IS the man she's marrying?

    Would read a few more pages.

  13. Those first few sentences had me hooked, but the rest seems to drift too much into backstory to hold my interest. Is there a way to work this information in through the action, instead of just telling us?

    Also, by the last paragraph it sounds like she doesn't really have a plan for avoiding this marriage - which contradicts your first line. I did like the little twist in the fourth sentence though - when those were unexpectedly 'reassuring thoughts.'

  14. Sounds like the heroine is contemplating suicide as a permanent solution to an arranged marriage she does not want.

    I don't see any contradiction between the final paragraph and the opening line. I, too, read the opening line as evidence of angsty, unrequited love. But the paragraph explaining the demise of Hakebourn's 2nd wife rearranged my thinking. As a reader, I like that kind of forced change to my assumptions. I'd keep reading, though it reads a bit darker than the YA I read when I was the target audience.

  15. I can't get into this character. Or the story. Something is missing and not hooking me. And frankly, I'm confused too with the contradictions you have going. This needs some more work before you ever sent it to an agent or publisher. I wouldn't read on as it doesn't grab me and the characters seem weak and the plot seems dark. Best of luck with this one.

  16. I loved the first three paragraphs. But I agree with others that we should then move out of "telling" and into a scene. There's a lot of background information here. If she's getting ready for her wedding, maybe this would come out more naturally in a scene with someone else in it she can talk to (a friend or an enemy).

  17. If this is a historical setting, I'm not sure "the realm of fashion" is a phrase of the times. To be "Lady" Hakebourn, she'd be marrying "Lord", not "Baron" (I agree with Holly that her title would be Baroness). I had trouble picturing everything except the gown, so I think you need to polish the your MC's thoughts and anxieties by showing, rather than narrating. Otherwise, an interesting plot. I'd need to read more to decide if I was hooked.

  18. I'm hooked. I love historical. From comments above, it seems the first sentence might be too confusing. At first, I read it she was sad she wouldn't be the Lady, but I enjoyed the twist that she is declaring she will find a way out of this engagement?ac