Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #2

TITLE: Where All the Missing Pieces Go
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Waiting in front of Lord and Lady Crocket’s dining room, I could only think of one possible explanation for why I’d been summoned. They were kicking me out.

Mrs. Cowl had her hands clasped behind her back as she stood beside me staring at the doors. Sunlight flickered down through the glass ceiling, casting a rainbow across her gray-streaked bun. She didn’t have to be here, waiting with me. As head housekeeper, I knew she had a million other things she needed to be doing instead. So she probably knew.

Thirty-three days. That was how long it’d been. I’d lived here my entire life, and while I didn’t expect to live here forever, I guess I didn’t think they’d actually kick me out. This was my home.

The footman appeared from behind the door and held it open for me. “Her Ladyship will see you now.”

After one last glance at Mrs. Cowl, I stepped inside and squinted. Of all the airy rooms of the solarium, this had always been my favorite. Arching stained-glass windows lined the outside wall, their sun-warmed scenes drenching the parquet. Combined with the glass ceiling, it sometimes felt like I was standing inside a kaleidoscope.

They were all at the table. Lord Crocket was reading the paper, Lady Crocket was swirling a biscotti in her coffee. Only Sari and Stella looked up as I approached.

“Our petition to ban Magicals from Picadell was denied,” Lord Crocket said, shaking out his paper and turning the page.


  1. This opening creates a nice air of mystery. I liked the small touches you add with the glass windows and rainbows.

    A small suggestion would be to use stronger verbs in the paragraph describing the family at the table. Try taking out 'was' and getting a more action oriented word in its place, such as sat, read, held, swirled

  2. I love the title on this one!

    I enjoyed the description of the solarium, and the writing was pretty good.

    Bit of some nitpicking:

    "As head housekeeper, I knew she had a million other things she needed to be doing instead. So she probably knew." The placing of the apositive makes it sound like the narrator is the head housekepper, but I think Mrs. Crowl is the head housekeeper (unless I'm wrong). You could just leave out the "I knew" part.

    I'm not quite sure I understand the "thirty-three days" line. Is that how long she's been alive? Or is that hyperbole to indicate that she's been there far longer than anywhere else, even if it was only thirty-three days?

    While I am interested in the world you're building, it doesn't really start to show itself until the last line, so I'd like to be more invested in the MC. Is he/she (I might also like to know that) employed there? A ward of some kind? What's going to happen to her if she's kicked out?

  3. I think this is a pretty solid opening. The pace moves along, something is happening, and hints of the world and setting are shown without dropping it like an anvil.

    My only nitpick is to look at some of the had/haves. Sometimes you need that word, but other times the sentence can be rearraged with a stronger verb. I think this is a great start.

  4. The narrator can think of only one reason he's been summoned -- because he's being kicked out. But he didn't actually think they'd do it. It seems like a leap, and I'd like to know how he went from disbelief to certainty.

    I was also confused about the thirty-three days line. Thirty-three days since what? I think that's supposed to be a tease, to draw the reader along, but I just felt like I'd missed something. Even if you said, "Thirty-three days since the incident," I'd know he was referring to something I just haven't learned about, and I'd be interested to find out what it was.

    The footman announces, "Her ladyship will see you now," but when he enters, Lord Crocket does the talking. That just felt off to me. (If it was deliberate and you'll explain more later, then that could be a really nice, subtle way to lay groundwork about their relationship.)

    The last line about banning Magicals caught my attention. That sounds like a great source of conflict.

  5. I love the title. It doesn't hint at the fantasy in the story but provides a clue to the theme, which intrigues me immediately.

    I also like the flow of your beginning. You ease me into this story with lots of good, pertinent details.

    You lost me at the third paragraph. I didn't understand that an event had happened 33 days ago.

    But then the ending was great. I love the mystery of what Magicals are and what this means for the protagonist. Overall, a pleasure to read and plenty to keep me interested. Great job!

  6. Loved the title! It's intriguing and caught my interest.

    I thought this was vague. The MC believes he/she is being thrown out. Why? There must be a reason she thinks this? Perhaps include that.

    Mrs. cowl probably knew. Knew what? Why she was summoned, or that she was being kicked out, or why she was being kicked out.

    I don't know what the 33 days relates to. That's how long what has been?

    And then she is summoned and specifically asked to come in, and no one pays any attention to her.

    If some of these answers, or hints at these answers, was added, it would add some context, a reason for what's happening. You might also add how the MC feels about this meeting, about the possibility of leaving - frightened, nervous, angry.

    And you might wat to look at your tenses, get rid of the hads and the was's.

  7. I was intrigued by the title and the line about the magicals, but I probably wouldn't have read on with this beginning.

    The problem for me was that the first few paragraphs before we reached the solarium felt too vague. I felt like you were trying to dangle little bits of intrigue for the reader, like the 33 days line and "she probably knew." But the hints were too small. Instead of drawing me in, they confused me and frustrated me.

    I wonder how much of this is necessary. What would happen if you started with the line about the petition to remove the magicals and went from there?

  8. You have found a great title now you need to make sure that the quality of the writing delivers on that promise. Pay careful attention to repetition - eg. 'I'd lived here my entire life, and although I didn't expect to live here..'You've repeated 'live here' twice. Perhaps think about how you might convey this information by showing instead of telling the reader. I liked the twist that I thought I was getting a 'Downton Abbey' but it is clearly a fantasy not historical fiction. Best of luck!