Wednesday, May 13, 2009

11 Secret Agent

TITLE: Dance of the Wolf
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Anna raced down the path, her long skirts bunched in her hands, when she heard the howling again.

On the heels of the beast’s lonely sound a rifle barked, drawing her up short. She shrank down and tried to calm her breathing when she heard a second shot ring out, this time followed by another howl, full of rage.

Clouds surrounded the moon and she saw nothing; heard only a whimper and a rustle in the brush ahead. More concerned for the wounded animal than herself, Anna pushed forward again until she broke though a thicket into a small clearing and gasped.

The clouds parted exposing the animal in all its glory. Not ten feet from her stood a beautiful wolf. None of the pictures she’d seen could compare. Midnight black with silver tipped ears and cape, eyes glowing red, the beast stood still, the only sound, its labored panting. The animal’s wide chest expanded with each intake of air and Anna waited, holding her breath as the magnificent creature stared but made no move toward her. What fear she may have harbored dissolved. The urge to touch that beautiful pelt overwhelmed her and heedless of the danger, she took a tentative step forward. The wolf stood its ground, silent, unmoving. She caught sight of something wet on its thick, dark fur and its eyes held a knowing, almost human look, before the animal’s gaze lowered and it bowed its massive head to her.


  1. Good opening, strong action and word choices, but I don't know if I'd keep reading. Werewolves aren't necessarily my thing. Again, not that there's anything wrong with the writing...just not my thing.

  2. I liked this. I could see it. Ihad sympathy for both Anna and the wolf.

    But I did have one question with the all important first sentence. It seemed to me the tenses didn't match. She raced down the path. I think She was racing might fit better though I know that's passive. Or use raced but change the when to as. See, she's already racing on the path and I don't know why. I'm assuming its because she's running from the wolf. She already knows its there. That's wy the sentence in past tense seemed off to me.

  3. Love the action here. The details add up to good suspense.

    I would keep reading.

  4. I might keep reading this, but I agree with susiej that the first sentence seems off. I read it as her running FROM the wolf too. Knowing that she wasn't, I'm left wondering why she ran toward the sound (especially considering the gunshots).

    I like werewolves, so that would be a major part of my willingness to keep reading considering the set-up seems off to me with her running into the situation.

  5. I think if I knew why she was running to the wolf (PETA supporter--j/k) then I might be more hooked. Maybe we would find that out in a few more words.

  6. I loved it and was totally hooked.

    I especially loved that you start with us thinking she's running from the wolf, but then turn that around with the third paragraph.

    Well done!

  7. The opening is solidly written and easy to visualize. Anna switches from running for her life to being drawn into the wolf too quickly for me. I don't get a good sense of the supernatural draw (if that's what it's supposed to be) that compels her to go to the wolf.

    I'm not quite hooked. Mainly because there's so much paranormal like this out there that there needs to be something really distinctive in the writing or the scene to set it apart.

  8. Why is Anna running, is the first thing I want to know. It's not made clear if she's running from the howling, or towards it, or if she's running from or towards something completely unrelated to the howling, and just happens to hear it on the way.

    The third paragraph is made awkward by the presence of an misused semi-colon.

    The fourth paragraph is good, but could benefit from something to make the cadence easier to bear; "not ten feet away from her stood a beautiful wolf."

    Again with "Whatever fear she may have harboured..."

    The comma between silent and unmoving would be better served with the word 'and' - "...silent and unmoving..."

    Things like this trip me up as I'm reading, and I'm not going to get into the story as much, because I'm constantly going to be correcting it in my mind. With some polishing up, this has potential to be very good.

    Almost hooked.

  9. (Without reading other comments...)

    While I liked how full a picture you painted, I think that this opening would greatly benefit from being pared down or broken apart. Your sentence lengths are: 18 words, 15 words, 26 words, 19 words, 24 words, etc., and you have dozens of dependent clauses in this excerpt alone.

    Overall, I think you could cut a lot of the description and focus on moving the story forward - toward the wolf, like Anna.

    If the writing had been tighter, the wolf seeming to bow to her would have had be hooked for sure.

    Good luck!

  10. No I'm sorry.... part of this is me not being into the whole werewolf thing. :)

    If I were into the genre though, I think that this meeting might be too soon. I'd want build up first.

  11. I enjoyed this and am hooked, but I'd like your sentences to be shorter. More concerned for the wounded animal than herself, Anna pushed forward again. She broke through a thicket and gasped. Actually, I'd like the gasp to be a two word sentence. She gasped. The urge to touch that beautiful pelt overwhelmed her. Heedles.... Change up your sentence length. It helps the reader to digest the story. Read it aloud into a recorder, then listen to yourself. (I hated the idea of doing this and it was the best thing I could have done. Wish I'd done it earlier.) I did think it odd she seemed to be running from the howling, but went in search of the animal.
    All that said, I'd keep reading for sure! It has a unicornish feeling at the end which I liked.

  12. The first three paragraphs happened too fast for me. I know she's running, but it's not clear if she's running away from the beast, if she's being hunted by the riflemen, or if she's running towards the beast to save it.

    Obviously, reading on, she's there for the animal, but you don't get that sense in the beginning.

    I like that you started with the action in your opening, but I think the reader is thrown too abruptly into the story. Some clarification in the beginning about who this girl is and what her motives are would be nice.

    But I loved your fourth paragraph. :) But then again, I'm a sucker for beautiful, dangerous animals and shapeshifters.

  13. Hooked. I thought you did what you're supposed to do. You intro'd your MC and a potential problem and placed us in the middle of the action.

    I know who the MC is. I know her dilemma at the moment, I know what kind of story I'm getting without having to read a blurb about it, and you're not drowning me in a lot of backstory, explaining why she likes the wolf and cares for it more than herself. I'll find all that out as I read on. And read on I will.

    The writing could be a bit tighter here and there, so you might want to consider some cutting and rephrasing, but overall, very nice!

  14. I didn't see anything here that might set this story apart from others like it. It's not that the writing is bad (although I'm wondering why your wolf is wearing a cape) I'm just not hearing much of a voice.

    Maybe re-write, and find what is special about Anna's story and start with that.

  15. Sorry, not hooked. I felt no connection to the Anna, though I did like the descriptions.

  16. This one isn't hooking me either, for a number of reasons.

    First and foremost, you have a comma abuse problem. Your overuse of commas makes the actual writing so distracting that it's hard to parse your meaning.

    Let's use an example sentence:

    "Midnight black with silver tipped ears and cape, eyes glowing red, the beast stood still, the only sound, its labored panting. "

    If you read this aloud, it would sound like this (remember, commas are pauses):

    "Midnight black with silver tipped ears and cape
    eyes glowing red
    the beast stood still
    the only sound
    its labored panting."

    Do you see how this can be distracting?

    There are other elements of the writing which are jarring, including tenses not matching.

    The other reason this isn't hooking me is that it's a pretty stereotypical opening. I'm not getting a sense of who Anna or the wolf are, and why I should care about either of them.

  17. Author here. :)

    Thank you all for your comments. I won't be available tomorrow so wanted to post now.

    You've given me much to think about. I know it's difficult to critique when it's a genre you don't read or aren't into and I appreciate them all.

    I wanted to clarify something. One of you commented on how you can't see my wolf wearing a cape. The fur that surrounds the wolf's neck and runs across the shoulders is the thickest part of the pelt and is called the 'cape'. :)

    Thank you all again.