Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #29

TITLE: Shadows Over Love
GENRE: Alternative Historical Romance

Montague signaled. Crashes, screams, moans and a few shots rent the air of the quiet neighborhood caught in the boundary between residential London and the docks. He slid inside the doorway behind the last of his agents. One of the anarchists thought to slip around them and out into the street. Montague smirked and stuck his foot out. The man fell flat on his face. Dragging him back into the dying melee, Montague surveyed the scene.

Sparsely furnished, the back room of the chemist's shop was littered with the makings of explosives and automatons. He picked up one disarticulated arm and held it in front of the man in his grip. "Your work?"

The man spat at him and garbled something in some Eastern European dialect.

"I'll take that as a maybe." He threw the man at his closest agent. "Tie him up."

Scanning the room, he searched out the reputed leader of the cadre. Cuts and blooming contusions marred her skin. She sneered at him.

"Miss Yekaterina Krylova?"

For a moment, he thought she would imitate her compatriot and spit at him, but at the last moment, she sat back in the chair to which she'd been shackled.

"Who would like to know?" Contempt colored her voice. Accompanied by a sneer, he knew well what she thought of him.

"The man who could send you back to the work fields of Siberia."


  1. I'm not exactly hooked, but I would keep reading out of curiosity, to find out exactly what these people have done and who Montague is.

    That said, I don't think "Montague signaled" is a strong enough opening sentence. After all, it could mean anything, up to and including that Montague is a sentient traffic light.

    I think that starting off with the results of his actions - the shouting and gunshots as men rush the anarchist compound (that is what they're doing, right?) - would be a stronger opening, followed by a Montague-focused paragraph that establishes who he is and what he's doing, relevant to the scene.

    Still, always nice to see an Alternate History around. ^_^ Good work and good luck.

  2. I like that you started with action. However, I wanted a little more info about Montaque in order to connect with him.

    I would read a little more though to see where this is going.

  3. I'd start with paragraph 2 as the lead and then add some background later. That way, a stage is set, we get to the action right away.

  4. I liked what you were going for, but I don't think it's there yet.

    Your opening reads likes Montague signals and the action suddenly begins. But, as it turns out, the action has already started, and Montague is signalling to move in on the anarchists' hideout.

    You've got Montague surveying the scene and scanning the scene. If you want to show what the MC is seeing, just describe it. Since we're in the viewpoint of your MC, we assume it's what he's seeing. Omit the scanning and surveying.

    Accompanied by a sneer, he knew well what she thought of him. -- This means he was accompanied by a sneer. It needs to be part of the previous sentence, because it is the woman who is sneering.

    The story itself is interesting and exciting. Perhaps do another rewrite or two with an eye on the writing and what your words and sentences are actually saying.

  5. I think the premise is interesting and that draws me in, but I'm not a huge fan of the writing. some word choices threw me off and pulled me out of the passage.

    Some of the things were:

    "spat at him and garbled something" - garbled doesn't seem like the right choice

    "neighborhood caught in the boundary between residential London and the docks" - adding "caught" and the rest of the sentence after that really lengthens the sentence and kills the mood of a sudden attack. Instead of seeing the swiftly developing fight, the reader gets bogged down with a bit of setting that could be included elsewhere

    "blooming contusions" - using "Bruises" would be more alliterative and seem more natural. Contusions sounds weird in an vernacular.

  6. This is a romance? Seems more like a thriller with this opening gambit. The pacing is pretty good, and the drawing of a scene and landscape. But everything here feels familiar -- the set-up, the take-down, the relaxed all-powerful commander, the contemptuous rebel leader with the sex Russian-y name. Even her rejoinder, "Who would like to know?" feels ripped from a potboiler movie script. Some might like this sort of "familiarity" in a romantic/thriller, but it's not my thing.