Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #11

TITLE: A Mad, Wicked Folly
GENRE: YA Historical

The pottery jug shattered against the wall, porridge oozed down the cement walls of my prison cell and splattered onto the floor. The wardress yelped in alarm and rushed out, slamming the door behind her. With that defiant act I sealed my fate. But I was willing to take my place among the other women who had volunteered for this torture: the ones who wore Sylvia's Holloway brooch so proudly---a badge of honor that marked them out as martyrs, something that I never had the courage to be.

I closed my eyes and let the events of the last months flick past, as if I were at a bioscope, watching a moving picture show starring me, Victoria Darling: Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentleman and watch our heroine make a shambles of her life.

Because of my folly, my beloved was lost to me forever. I tried to recall the touch of his hands upon my skin and the feel of his lips upon mine, the scent of the crushed grass as we sat together on the hillside that day in Rye. But I saw instead that dreadful night when I broke his heart, and how he walked away from me, steps heavy and slow as the London fog swirled round him until his outline blurred and faded and was gone.

I had lost him, but I would become the woman he saw in me all along. If only I could make it through the next few minutes


  1. WOW! There are so many sensory details in these first few words. Also, I have a clear view of who the protagonist is from the intro. I like how you open with action, but also with character development. The language does a great job of showing that this is a historical piece. I do feel as if the language could lost on a YA reader in some parts, but I just think that means that this manuscript would be for the more sophisticated reader.

    Great historical and I would love to read more!

  2. I like it, nice writing, I'm intrigued to know why she's in prison. Only thing I'd say is it reads more like an adult romance novel than YA.

  3. Pehaps start with "I threw the pottery jug and it shattered against the wall." That way, we know immediately who is doing the throwing, and it also says something about your MC right away. You might also say why she threw it, or better yet, let it come out in dialogue. Perhaps the wardress shouts something back at her.

    After that, everything is backstory and you lost me. At this point, I don't care about her love. I'm wondering where she is and why she's there. I'm wondering what time period I'm in. I would have been more interested if you had continued the scene.

    You say because of her folly, she lost her love, but you don't say what that folly was. Not knowing doesn't make me want to read on to find out. Knowing what her folly was, but perhaps not knowing 'why' she did what she did, would make me read more.

    Overall, there's nothing here to pull me forward.

    I do remember this title from another contest, but I don't remember this scene. I'm wondering if this was the one with the warden with the whip? If so, I liked that opening better.

  4. I agree with Barbara on the point that the love story should have waited. Leaving us with questions is a good thing,

    Also the opening scene had me right away. I would have liked to know why she was in prison.

    I would definitely like to see a few more pages.

  5. Oooh, interesting! I'm not entirely sure yet how to link suffrage to whatever it is that's supposed to happen in the next few minutes, but I'd definitely read on. The voice sounds YA too, to me.

    I think the first paragraph could be stronger though. Or at least a bit clearer. The first sentence might be better with a semicolon. And some parts seem a bit jumbled. For the most part I think it's great - but I think there may be a bit of flow to be won.

    Also, I think you mean gentleMEN.

    It's just nitpicking though - I'm hooked.

    And I love the title. I wonder if the folly she means is the same as the title refers to. :-)


    And this is probably going to sound completely ridiculous - but the first two paragraphs sounded erm... Scottish to me. :P

  6. Bit overwritten - and too much info dumped. I think you're going to want to focus on one thing at a time - the prison/martyr/torture thing, or the beloved-lost-forever thing. Because otherwise you're overloading the reader and giving your heroine short shrift - nothing here makes me care about her or truly see her.

  7. I disagree with the last comment - as I thought you had great imagery in your opening sequence, all of which gave great insight into your protagonist.

    Enjoyed the flow and would like to know why she's in prison and what she did to the man she loves.

    I'd read more.

  8. I'm intrigued to know why your protag is in prison but I think there's too much going on for an opening. It's almost as if you're in a rush to get everything up front.

    Not a fan of having a protag "think back" so early on in the text.

    Also, the voice did not feel YA to me at all; much more of an adult tone.

  9. This sounds more adult than YA, and while the love story info is interesting, it pulls the reader out of the present action of rebellion. Perhaps focus on that first, backstory later. That said, your imagery and voice are wonderful!

  10. Love the first paragraph. Lots of great sensory details.

    Nit-picky thing: The first two lines need to be separated with a period or a semi-colon.

    I agree w/the comment about the flashback so soon. You've done a tremendous job of setting me in that scene where she throws the jug, and I want to see more of the consequence and reaction she gets. What will happen to her now? Also, is she now joining the martyrs? Something she had never had the courage to be *before now*? That was a bit unclear for me.

    Best wishes with this!

  11. I felt your protagonist through your choice of words, so I loved it. You might tack-on "of torture" at the end just to make it perfectly clear, she's back to the here and now.