A British Robot reads my story for me…

I spent hours reworking on the last three chapters of my story, worried that they didn’t flow too well. But then, two weeks later, exhausted, I refer back to my original draft of those chapters—and guess what? I find myself saying: Hmmm…not too bad…not too bad…oooh, I like it!—So I ended up sticking with the draft I had been trying to fix all along, seeing that there was nothing wrong with it.

ANYWAY, I promised to give an excerpt from TRC’s rewrite. So…I decided to be creative. Why make you guys read it when I can have a British robot read it FOR you guys? I hope you guys have as much fun as I did. Be sure to keep your ears open for the most hilarious line ever–it’s where a harlot says to Lucas: “Oh, look at ‘em legs. Never saw such long ‘n lean ones in the whole course of me life. I wouldn’t mind a pair of ‘em wrapped around me.” The way the Voice reads it sounds as if it is a meaningful, moving line. She sounds like she is on the brink of tears.

Yes…laugh all you want. Because I laughed my head off. But turning your MS into spoken word is a great way to catch the problems that need to be edited.

Part One 

Part Two 

If you have no idea what this Robot is reading, then…Oh fine, I’ll post it up.

Chapter One Rewrite

England, 1811

His boot heels rang against the cobblestone street, which glistened in the light rain. Street lamps did little to ward away the shadows of the evening, leaving his countenance unreadable beneath the brim of his hat. Only when the cheroot he smoked glowed did it light his features enough to reveal a pair of gray eyes.

The gentleman slipped a miniature portrait out of his pocket and inspected the face of a young woman no older than sixteen. It was not a beautiful face, for it was too narrow, the cheeks too prominent, and the chin too pointed. But that was easily substituted by the restrained animation which seemed to brim over in her clear brown eyes and the arch of her lips. Finally, after all these months, he had found her.

Reaching the threshold of the brothel, he carefully tucked away the portrait, and glanced up. The small letters above the door read Harleton House.

‘She should be two-and-twenty by now,’ he thought, and dropped the cheroot. Its stub hissed in a puddle before he ground it out with his heel. He raised his fist and knocked on the door of what he’d been told was one of the best houses in Brighton. It was soon opened by the keeper of the establishment who, upon seeing how well the stranger was dressed, favoured him with a fawning smile. “Good evening, sir.”

He gave her a curt nod. “I’m here to inquire after a young woman.”

“Oh?”

The open door left a picture frame which allowed him a better view of the woman’s voluptuous body, her powdered face, decorated with a patch at the corner of her lips, and the crowd of harlots and drunkards behind her. His eyes returned back to the Madam, as she asked:

“Of who, pray?”

Instead of replying, he pushed against the door; the woman at once opened it. When he stepped in the laughter and cajoling that had filled the brothel sank into hushed murmurs. The debauched creatures stared at him as he walked past, the Madam sauntering behind. Before he got far, a plump hand grabbed his arm, dirt lining the crescent of the nails.

“Oh, look at ‘em legs,” cooed the woman, eyeing his figure. “Never saw such long ‘n lean ones in the whole of me life. I wouldn’t mind a pair of ‘em wrapped around me.”

He glanced at her yellow teeth encased by her smiling red lips. He peeled her fingers off and walked on. “Good lord,” he muttered, realizing that this was not the finest house in Brighton. His journey here would indeed prove cruel if Amanda had turned out like this lot. Frowning, he looked around, searching for the face from the portrait. Seeing no one similar, he turned to look at the Madam.

“I’m looking for an Amanda Hollingworth—” and he added, that nothing should hinder his scheme “—I took an interest in her.”

“Amanda? She may be a sweet lass, but she’s only a maid, sir. We’ve got girls who know how to properly please a man,” she replied, grinning, even daring to nudge him with her elbow. But the grin faltered when she was subjected to his indifferent stare.

“No, I’ve come for Amanda, no one else,” he replied, and to nullify any suspicion, he offered her a bag of coins. “Now, where is she?”

The Madam snatched the coins from his hand. Her brows rose high as she stared into the bag. With a smile, she declared him to be the best gentleman that ever breathed! And then she called out in a stentorian voice, “Amanda! Amanda!” A pause. “Amandaaaaa.” Another pause ensued before it was followed by a sudden: “Ah! There she is. D’you see her, sir?”

He scanned the crowd. In the far corner of the brothel, he saw the face from the portrait: the common brown eyes, the brows which were oblique, dark slashes across her white skin, her long cascade of brown hair. She wore a vulgar dress and white threaded stockings. Her countenance no longer held the vigour and sparkle which had so defined the girl in the painting. Whatever had stolen the youth from her had transformed her features to sharp angles.

###

Amanda Hollingworth did not hear the call of her name. After fetching the tenth bottle of wine for a patron, she weaved her way towards the door of the reception room, throwing her shawl quickly about her before leaving the house—if only for a moment. She had to pump water out in the yard, before she could heat it in a cauldron, so that the girls might have warm water to wash in.

She heaved out a sigh.

There was so much to do before she could retire to bed. And in a matter of hours she would have to rise again to clean the reception room for the guests, though it would require such attention many times over, before the day was out. Then to scrub the front steps, which would be dirtied again a quarter of an hour later. And then, before she could even think of taking any breakfast, she would have to scoop the ashes from the grate and lay the fires afresh, the soot catching in her lungs.

She looked at her hands chapped and bleeding from work. ‘I was meant for more than this,’ she thought, but then she shook her head. There was no benefit in such wistful thinking. She had to accept life as it was. A life serving harlots and rakes, Amanda told herself, as she looked up to see a man swaggering towards her. She tried to move away, but his hand reached out in time to catch her by the waist.

“Come ‘ere,” he slurred, his hot breath creeping down her dress. “I’ll be good to ye.”

“Sir, not now,” she said through her clenched teeth, a stiff smile pinned to her lips. The smile that trembled from the pressure required to keep it from tilting into a thin line. She was nothing more to these men than a walking instrument of pleasure. “I need to attend to my work—”

“Yer may attend t’ me, girl,” he laughed out, his stale breath wafting over her face. When she tried to push him away, with a growl, he shoved her back against the wall and buried his head between her shoulders. His hand lowered to grab and squeeze her. “Ripe fer the pluckin’,” came his voice, muffled against her throat.

Amanda’s stomach churned with disgust. She lifted her heel, about to ground it into his foot, when the man was suddenly shoved aside. Relief flooded her. But the moment Amanda looked up, her relief was substituted by dread. The Madam stood glaring at her, face contorted with annoyance. The scars on Amanda’s back burned. She had angered this woman once before by insulting a patron.

“I’m sorry. I was trying to work,” Amanda quickly explained. “I had to get the water ready for the girls. But then this man came and—”

“You little chit,” the woman sneered, “can’t you hear a word I say?” She grabbed Amanda’s wrist, dragged her across the room and brought her before yet another man. From the corner of her painted red mouth, the Madam murmured so only Amanda could hear over the noise, “Go on to your new cully now. He paid more than you’ll ever be worth to me.”

Her cully? Amanda’s eyes travelled up the length of his well-cut figure and she had to crane her head slightly back to study his face. Shivers ran down her spine upon seeing the stern features of a handsome man in his late twenties.

“You’re his now,” the Madam said, thrusting her forward. Amanda stumbled a bit, her knees weak with trepidation. “I don’t know how you met a gent like this one, but—Ah, I shan’t keep you waiting, sir. Good night.” And with that, the Madam favoured the gentleman with a curtsey before ambling away with her easily-made fortune.

Amanda looked around in confusion before fixing her eyes back on the stranger. “You want me?”

“Yes,” he said slowly, “I want you.”

“But I don’t know you. There must be some mistake.”

He leaned toward her, his lips inches away from her ear. “Keep your voice down. Whether you like it or not, you’re coming with me.” Without giving her room to speak, he placed his hand on the small of her back and escorted her out the entrance and into the open.

She followed him through the light rainfall, glancing back at the brothel several times. Even that rat hole seemed more of a haven to her at the moment. She looked at the stranger again. What could he possibly want with her, a mere maid? She searched for a reason until she came across a possibility that sent chills down her spine. It was not unheard of for men to abuse harlots before abandoning their bodies in alleyways . . .

She’d worked so hard to stay alive these past months and now, this

When they arrived before the chaise pulled by four horses, the gentleman held out his hand, which she took with reluctance. She climbed up inside the vehicle and slid to the far corner. He soon joined her and signalled at the driver to drive on. At once the conveyance lurched into movement.

Her breathing quickened. She glanced out the window. The brothel was already growing smaller in the distance. Where is he taking me?—the question continued to ring in her mind. Her eyes dropped to the street outside, passing quickly beneath the wheels. How many bones would she break by jumping out? 

Before she could make any such attempt, her vision whirled upward, as the stranger caught her by the chin and tilted her face to the moonlight. His heavy-lidded eyes followed the arc of her brows, the line of her nose, and the curve of her lips. Amanda’s fingers grew icy beneath her palm while he stared at her for a contemplative moment. He returned his attention back to something in his hand—it was a portrait, she noticed—then to her face once more. “Yes,” he murmured, half to himself, “you’re the one.”

Amanda shot away from him. “The one? The one for what?”

Rather than answering her, he reached over to open the window. She flinched as cold rain splattered across her face. He held out a handkerchief, and when the white cloth darkened from the rain, he brought it in, shutting the window.

She went still as he leaned forward to her and pressed the handkerchief against her face. Her gaze slipped past him and rested on her reflection against the window. The layer of powder was being wiped off. She saw the strips of her skin, the faint bruises on her cheeks. Her eyes returned to him. “What are you doing?”

“Wiping away the paint. You no longer belong to the brothel.”

Her mind whirled. She no longer belonged to the brothel? Why? Did she belong to him now? What was he going to do to her? She wanted to ask, but her tongue was frozen. A shiver ran through her as a drop of paint-stained water slid from her jaw down to her throat. When his hand lowered to wipe the wetness away, his knuckles brushed against the skin beneath her chin. She immediately hit his hand aside, shocked by such intimacy—an intimacy that triggered foul images in her head.

“This isn’t a very promising beginning,” he said.

“What do you want from me?” she cried. “Who are you?”

“My family calls me Lucas and the public addresses me as Lord Candover.”

Her lips parted and her eyes went wide. “You have a title?” This fact only confused her more. What would a nobleman want with a maid? “You spent a fortune on me, or at least, it is to me. Why are you doing this when you don’t even know me? Of course, I am grateful, but—”

“My dear, I am no saint, but simply a man under a certain obligation,” he replied dryly. “And I do know you. You were born in America. When you were twenty, you moved to England with your family. But during the journey, you were orphaned. You remained in your brother’s care, until, by a strange and unfortunate turn of events, you ended up in a brothel. And there you have been working all this time. Now, is that enough information to have the right to say ‘I know you’?”

Amanda gaped at him. The facts he had uttered were not ones known to many. As the carriage passed by another street lamp, its light lifted the shadow from his features completely, rendering his countenance clear. She studied him carefully for the first time, trying to discern the answer his lips chose not to impart. His face, narrow with hollow cheeks, conveyed the brooding elegance of an aristocrat. She rummaged through her memory but in vain. She had never seen him before.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “How did you know where I was? Who told you—” Then she stopped. There was only one other man in all of England who knew as much. The color drained from her face. “Oh, God,” she whispered.

 Oh yes. I sent to Agent#1 the rewrite she requested. Wish me luck!–because I certainly need it! The manuscript will arrive at New York by…Thursday!

TEASER # 1
TEASER # 2

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16 Comments

Filed under The Runaway Courtesan

16 responses to “A British Robot reads my story for me…

  1. Lol, that’s so awesome. I DID laugh when she got to that particular line. I think we should both make a British friend….with a really heavy accent…and ask them to read the MS out loud O.O

    GOOD LUCK WITH THE AGENT!!!! Can’t wait to hear more about it 🙂

    Like

    • Yes, fabulous idea. A female and male British friend so they can read the lines of the male and female characters hahahaha. I tried once to read the story myself–but I sounded even more ridiculous

      Like

  2. Jamie H.

    Hey June! That’s great. I love your style, it’s so authentic and fun to read. 😀 And that robot is so cool! How would one go about getting a British robot?

    Like

  3. Oh, dear. That sounded quite ridiculous, haha. And good luck with the agent!

    Like

    • Yes! Very ridiculous! ….But, you know what? I converted chapter 20 (the chapters I’ve been struggling to polish up) into spoken word and…it…actually helped. Listening to someone else read it helped me figure out whether it flowed well or not. You should try it out one day!

      Like

  4. Reading out loud–either by yourself or enlisting a robot–does help, as you mentioned in your last comment. This is why I need to get back to critique group–it’s the only place I don’t feel goofy reading my stuff out loud!

    And the recordings made me decide–all robots should be British. Can we make this happen?

    Let us know how things go with the agents–I’m crossing fingers for you (and, I won’t lie, for me too ;))

    Like

  5. @rowennna: Oh my gosh! I didn’t know you’ve started to query!–or maybe I did, but forgot. Ahhhhhhh go Rowenna! I should check your blog out more often. Too bad wordpress isn’t like blogspot where updated blogs are listed.

    Like

  6. A. R.

    I haven’t gotten to listen to the robot yet b/c my computer at work has no speakeres, but I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity. Loved the changes, you did an excellent job with making it work. I hope the editor likes it as much, but I’m sure he/she will.

    Like

    • You should convert your work into spokentext as well! it is so awsome. And I am SO GLAD that you like the changes! I was a bit scared to post this up. Now I can finally breathe out in relief.

      Like

  7. Kim

    That’s actually a TERRIFIC rewrite! I like how Amanda is still nervous and flinchy when being touched, how she is still haunted and traumatized by working as a maid at a brothel because of all the things she has seen.

    Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. All excellent. And good luck!

    Roboto was cool 😀

    Like

    • Yes! Kim, glad to know you’re on board! Amanda is indeed the same person–just not as broken. But broken enough. And I find that I’m able to write her better. I confess that I had trouble writing about Amanda as I was a girl with no experience with prostitution. So I had to do some massive research on prostitutes. I even went so far as to try and track down such ladies online so I might interview them. I only got so far as to get a recommendation from this guy as to who to ask. I emailed the girl, tried to be as delicate about the matter as I possibly could, but no reply came. So I resorted to videos on Youtube where streetwalkers were interviewed.

      Conclusion: I had difficult getting into the head of a woman in such a disposition. So the rewritten Amanda is much easier for me to deal with.

      Like

  8. Wow! When you said rewrite, you meant rewrite… 🙂 I love it. I think it adds depth and builds tension (she’s more ambiguous as a maid than a prostitute, less likely to attract attention). And you write a maid well!

    Good luck!!

    Like

    • Thank you! I’m happy to know you enjoyed my “rewrite” (I thought I would only need to tweak words around. But it ended up being a–reconstruction). It’s good to receive comments like yours, to know how another person, besides the writer herself who read the chapter until her eyes ached, viewed the story. For example, I had no idea that Amanda would seem more ambiguous as a maid. But I like the sound of that–ambiguous.

      Oh! I read a maid well? That’s good to know. I never wrote about a maid heroine in the whole of my life. So it’s something new. I needed tons of help though to get started.

      Like

  9. Pingback: Interview: Mark McKay « June's Blog

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