Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Briar
GENRE: YA retelling

"Ladies and gentlemen," Mr. Bowler boomed into the microphone, his voice slightly louder than necessary. He stood on a platform overlooking the city of West-borough of Locksdale. The sun illuminated the city in the early morning casting dark shadows oer the East-borough of the city. Not that it mattered to Mr. an Mrs. Bowler. The most important people lived in West-borough and all were gathered outside of the courthouse. "I am pleased to announce the birth of my first born!"

Mrs. Bowler looked down at the nanny beside her on the platform. The penny haired woman held a tiny bundle wrapped in blue at which she cooed repeatedly to. Mrs. Bowler pushed a lock of sunny hair from her face, her eyes narrowed until the blue had all but disappeared. "Stop that."

The nurse looked up in confusion as the baby started fussing. "He's hungry madam."

"I don't care. You shouldn't coo to the baby. It's annoying," Mrs. Bowler replied as she adjusted the tiny feathered hat atop her perfect curls. It matched the same dark gray color of her husbands top hat.

"Yes madam," the nanny replied with a small bow.

"Born yesterday, please welcome my first son, and only child, Briar Bowler," Mr. Bolwer announced as he took the babe from the nanny's arms. He held up the child for the whole to see.

A full head of golden hair turned to the noise as the crowd cheered and gaped.


  1. Love the characterization. I'd take out a dialogue tag so it reads thus: "...annoying." Mrs. Bowler adjusted..." It's obvious who she's talking to, the replied is extra baggage.
    That first paragraph is a little wordy, I'm not sure I'd talk about the divide between the town so soon. It feels like you're forcing into the beginning. (the not that it mattered line is a little awkward.) Just let that come out naturally later in the story. I wonder which fairy tale this is a retelling of?

  2. I thought the characterization was very good in this too! This felt very middle grade instead of YA, but I think it's because it has omniscient-type voice. The main thing that struck me is that there wasn't a teenage character, and I wasn't sure who to focus on because there didn't seem to be a main character. I think you want to make that clear on the first page.

  3. The tone of this is very young, more early MG than YA. If the son is the main character, consider whether you are starting the story in the right place.

  4. I can't help but wonder if this is the right place to start the story. I come away from this uncertain of who the main character is (I'm afraid it's the baby, and if this is YA, I don't understand why it's necessary to start with him as an infant), and that doesn't help entice me to continue. There's also just not quite enough tension that I feel as though I MUST know what happens next. There are some conflicts hinted at, but again, it's not enough to hook me. This might just be personal taste, but I'd suggest you at least consider if this scene is really necessary to include, or if you could start the story a little later when something more is happening.

  5. Nicely done. You set the tone really well and laid the stakes down nicely. Obviously there is something special about the baby. He is quite the talk of the town that day.

    Maybe say "Mrs. Bowler glanced down..." instead of "looked" because you write a pretty arrogant and uncaring statement from her later on: "I don't care. You shouldn't coo..."

    One more thing, I would suggest do not start the entire book with a quote from a character. Have him stand on the podium first and then speak.

  6. I noticed several typos that will need to be fixed. Some of the description felt a little repetitive and I think the page could be tightened up some, but I'd keep reading to see which fairy tale this is.

  7. Without a clear sense of the main character or the conflict here, I felt pretty distanced from the story and, therefore, less inclined to keep reading. I wondered if it would be more compelling to start the story a little later. I also noticed a few typos you’ll want to address.