Friday, November 30, 2012

(9) Historical: The Dane

TITLE: The Dane
GENRE: Historical

When a trusting young farmhand gets cheated and accused of rape in 1890 America, he flees and lands work in the Chicago stockyards. Rather than return penniless to his love in Denmark, he heads west with a stranger to the goldfields of Colorado — where the body count rises with the altitude.

This was worse. Worse than the near-capsizing of the Copenhagen. That had been over in a moment and in broad daylight. Andreas gripped the sides of the bolted down washstand in his dark cabin as the ship pitched and rolled in the November Atlantic. Captain Moller had failed to outrun the massive storm and now struggled to keep the Geiser aright in this three-day gale.

A gold pocket watch swayed in his vest, but Andreas could only guess at the time. The lights failed hours ago, and there was no hint of dawn outside his portal.

Andreas retched into the basin, cursing that he’d embarked on the voyage with only a handful of ginger cookies. He wished he were on solid ground. He wished he never had to face another crossing in his life. He wished he’d never left Kirsten in Denmark in the first place.

His stomach lurched again. His sickness was more than mal de mare or terror. He felt despair. He’d broken his word. He was late, a year overdue. He hadn’t heard from her since January. Had she waited?

The ship rolled fiercely, tossing Andreas against the outside wall. Struggling in the dark, he could not find anything to grab hold of. He could hear the screams of his fellow passengers over the creaking of the ship and the rushing water. Even if he could swim, he knew he’d never survive if the ship went down. As it rocked back, Andreas fell through the blackness.


  1. I think you've done a good job here of establishing your main character and his concerns.

    At the end I am not quite sure if the ship is sinking or if he has just been knocked unconscious. But I want read on to find out.

  2. I know I've seen the logline for this one before because it stuck with me. :) (And I'm a sucker for this time period in US history.)

    I think it's really hard to establish a captivating, yet authentic voice in historical fiction. The one you've created here is spot-on. I'd love to see this published one day, just so I can read it.

    I was a little bit confused about where Andreas is going. To the US or back to Denmark?

    Best of luck!

  3. The writing here is fine, but this is not engaging me. (But I’ve said before, historical isn’t my cup of tea.) The logline doesn’t seem to have much conflict except for the last bit, so I want to know more about that. And the sample didn’t grab me. Where is Andreas going? What’s different about the trip on the Geiser and the one on the Copenhagen? The author should establish the character and setting some more, I think. It also seems to jump around too much for such a short bit. First, Andreas thinks about the captain, then the time, then Kirsten and his sickness, but he’s not really doing anything. Is the ship capsizing? I feel like there would be more importance and survival instinct if that were the case. Right now, it's a bit bland for the beginning of what could be a lush and suspenseful historical novel.

  4. I enjoy historical fiction and like this entry. I agree I don't know quite where we're off to yet, but don't really's only 250 words in and as of yet I don't feel lost or bored...only motivated to keep reading.

  5. I like the details here for historical fiction--the excerpt does a nice job setting the scene and helping the reader really visualize what's going on.

    I did get a little confused reading the logline and then the excerpt--I'm not sure how a farmhand would have a gold watch, and it seems like he's going back to Denmark in the writing. However, if I hadn't read the logline first, I think the writing would have been pretty straightforward.

  6. I like the premise of the logline, so I would give this a shot just based on that. As with the others, I mainly wasn't sure where Andreas was going. It sounds like he's going back to Denmark though because he's thinking of Kirsten and wondering if she waited for him. If so, it needs to be made more obvious. The phrase 'fell through the blackness' is also unclear. Lost consciousness? Or simply fell because it's dark in his cabin? But I would keep reading simply because the story itself promises a lot of good things. Good luck!

  7. I like the writing so far. Even though it's a slow start, the writing is good enough to lure me to want to keep reading. And I'm intrigued by him returning to see if his lover waited for him. The only criticism I have is with your last line about him falling into darkness. That sounds like a line that would end a chapter, not a 250 word segment. It's a little dramatic for being in the first 250....Overall, good job. I'd keep reading.

  8. Poor young man, lonely, seasick, and frightened. I wished I didn't read the logline first, because I focused too much on figuring why he was traveling to Denmark as opposed the Colorado gold fields. I'm sure the explanation will follow. Nice start.

  9. I agree with much of what was said - I wished I had read this independently of your log line, because I kept trying to connect what was set up in the log line with what was happening on the first page.
    I like the voice you have created and find it believable for the character - the main thing that pulled me out was the mention of the captain and what he was doing...