Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Secret Agent Contest #18

TITLE: The Shoemaker's Daughter
GENRE: YA Retelling


   Shouts of delight mingled with his name quickened Phillip down the hall, propelling his bulk toward her office. Eyes alight, she grabbed his hand, pulling him through the doorway toward the water clock.

    “I’ve just had a message from Eli. He obtained the goblet!”

    He followed reluctantly to stand before the clock, water flowing down its face. It came to his chest, the falling water moving the gears, gravity marking the passage of time. In the bowl at the base, the last strands of steam silently curled upward. He stared with his wife at the remnants of the dissipating message, but he could read no meaning. There was, for him, only the monotonous trickle of water falling through the clock. It would have been soothing but for the contradiction of receiving a message.

    She squeezed his hand in both of hers. “I have been so unsettled about the Coming Out Ball.”

    He frowned, pulling his hand free. “Well, if you hadn’t thrown the goblet in the first place! Besides, you promised you wouldn’t involve Cole.”

    Shaking her head, she took his hand again. “I only said I would leave him out of it until after the ball. Somewhere, there is a young man capable of dancing as Cole could have. And with the courage to do it. I will see the dance I should have had with Cole.”

    “You set too much expectation on this ball.”

    “I will see that dance. Otherwise, the princes will go to the island.”


  1. Your third paragraph has lovely atmosphere. "Coming Out" Ball? meaning what it does today? (interesting) The names jumbled me up a little? My feeling is this will turn into a love triangle- or not. With little go on. I'm a little confused over the sentence: "I will see the dance I should have had with Cole.” Is there a way to clarify? You're alluding to something significant about "seeing the dance" as in visions? Curious, and I'd keep reading.

  2. Definite intrigue going on in this opening and it does pull me in, but I think there are some unanswered questions that, if answered, would make the start stronger along with tightening up the prose a bit.

    For example, these lines "Shouts of delight mingled with his name quickened Phillip down the hall, propelling his bulk toward her office. Eyes alight, she grabbed his hand..." feel a little overwritten prose-wise but underwritten character-wise. I don't feel connected to Phillip yet. Then, we don't know who the "she" is; give us her name and maybe a short description. After that we get a lot of world building but I'd like more context for the stuff we hear about: coming out ball, Cole, not getting him involved until later, someone who can dance as well as him - it's a lot for a short section. Can you slow down the moment and let us get closer to the characters so we can know more about their world?

  3. I'm interested to see where we go from here, but I’d caution you to be careful about being too vague. We have lots of secondary character introduced here and mention of dances and goblets and coming out balls and it’s a little confusing. You want to make sure that your reader is firmly positioned at the start of your story, that they know where and when they are and who the players are. Right now, I have more questions than answers. I also wondered if we’re dealing with adults (the mention of wife has me thinking adult) if this is a YA story?

  4. I'm slightly confused, with starting a YA novel with adult characters (even in a prologue, which are not usually found in contemporary novels, unfortunately, since I always love them). There's a definite sense of something but it's vague and lost in difficult to picture imagery and odd sentence structure. I'm not quite sure this is where you should be starting this book.