Wednesday, May 13, 2009

25 Secret Agent

TITLE: Pretty Souls
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Something was dreadfully wrong. Staring at a sliver of moonlight, I couldn't repress the shudder that coursed through my body. It had little to do with the night air nipping at my skin like rambunctious puppies. Every inch of me that was human wanted nothing more than to seek comfort and seclusion snuggled under the covers of my bed. The other part? The beast? She thrilled at the idea of danger. I aimed for letting the first half win. "Do we have to go through with this?"

"Well, we can always talk about the topic you chose for your creative writing assignment." Cass sounded more like a mother-hen than my foster sister. My younger foster sister at that. "I mean, come on, a story about the hamster-thief vampire? Are you really that desperate for material?

Though grateful that her chatter pulled me from my worries, I still rolled my eyes. "No, Cass, I just don't have enough hours in the day to be creative with my English assignments. Mrs. Peddington won't care anyway; I swear she's just an empty shell of a human being. I could write the great American novel, and she wouldn't mark it higher than a 'C'." After a covert glance revealed an empty street, we resumed our course, hugging the buildings' shadows. "Besides, they always say to write what you know."

Cassidy grabbed my arm – a little more tightly than necessary – and jerked me to a stop. "I don't think this is what they meant by that, Elle."


  1. Hooked. I want to know what kind of non-human thing she is. Way to give hints, but not directly tell us. Discussing something as normal as an English assignment and teacher is good to throw in the middle of a tense situation for non-human characters.

  2. I liked this. I especially like Cassidy.

    A few suggestions: the first might want to say something like I turned to Cass, because I thought the MC was talking to herself and then was surprised to find she wasn't.

    And the second sentence, I would move the opening clause to the end, so that the sentence and the wrongness reads more immediate. Something was dreadfully wrong. I couldn't repress the shudder that coursed through my body...

  3. Wow! This made me want to read more. Although I thought that the rambunctious puppies line was a bit distracting. I am intrigued about what she is and what they are up to. Good job!

  4. I like the concept you have going on here, but as scary as an assignment might be for the average teen it isn't really dangerous. Unless the point is that she wants to write about a taboo subject and that is what is dangerous? I am hooked on the hope it is the latter.

    I would change the puppy analogy to something else. No one associates puppies with danger.

    Nice work!

  5. It puts me in mind of a werewolf story, and then you throw in a hint of 'maybe-it's-vampires' at the end, and it leaves me confused.

    The discussion of the English assignment is a really good way to ground it in YA - no matter what sort of creature they are at night, they still seem to be likable kids.

    Needs some tightening, and I'm not quite hooked, but it's a good beginning.

  6. I'm definitely intrigued. Your title grabbed me, and I loved the info in the first paragraph I would greak this info up, however, especially with respect to the dialogue.

    I, too, am curious as to what kind of beast she is.

    The second paragraph is confusing to me. "Do we have to go through with this?" implies they are doing something. Cass answers with "We can talk about your writing assignment," which left me confused and fairly certain she hadn't answered the MC's question.

    The dialogue in paragraph 3 was a little long, imo. I'd try to trim it down, as it does distract me some from the tension in this piece.

    I loved "hugging the buildings' shadows." It's very descriptive without trying too hard, and I get a greater sense that the 2 characters are up to no good.

    The final paragraph is confusing. Elle is the one asking in the first paragraph if they have to go through with this, which implies Cassidy is the one in charge. But the last line of dialogue leads me to believe that Cassidy is the reluctant party in their little outing.

    Overall, I loved the tone of the piece and the suspense you created. I would keep reading.

  7. Nothing wrong with the writing, just not my genre. It reads like so many other in genre and not there's anything wrong with that, it just didn't grab me enough to get me more interested in the story.

  8. At first I thought this was a romance! The language in the first few lines sounds like standard romance writing--"dreadfully wrong" and "couldn't repress the shudder that coursed through my body" especially. It doesn't sound like YA urban fantasy to me. I agree with the comments about the puppies. I like the last paragraph, it adds some intrigue, but not quite hooked.

  9. Consider cutting "something was..." and begin with "Staring..."

    Consider cutting the questions and just write "the other part, the beast was thrilled,..."

    The dull English assignment doesn't work here. But yet the "write what you know" line is intriguing as is the Cassidy response. Maybe cut a little of the English assignment dialogue?

  10. And by "greak," I meant tweak. Oops...

  11. Hm... this one was confusing for me. And I got turned off by the writing part. That's just a personal thing.

  12. I can't find anything physically wrong with the writing, but for some reason I'm not hooked enough to read on. I think perhaps it might be all the talk about the teacher.

  13. There's enough here to keep me reading. Just when I think it's rather ordinary, you throw in a line that throws that theory out the window.

    I think you could let us know at the beginning that these two girls are skulking around sommewhere. It would help create a mood. As is, it gives the impression that they're safe at home, maybe sitting on their front stairs, discussing doing something, rather than actually doing it. I didn't realize they were actually foing it until the second last paragraph.

    If you show them moving along in the night while they're talking, it will create a creepier mood for you.

    The puppies definitely do not fit the mood. Use something creepier, like spiders.

    Hooked, but just barely.

  14. *Posted without reading other comments*

    I'm hooked. The phrase "every inch of me that was human" was very intriguing, and I liked the conversation with her foster sister. I felt it conveyed information without being infodumpy.

    The only thing I wasn't sure about was the phrase 'nipping at my skin like rambunctious puppies'. Don't get me wrong, I loved the line. But it made me laugh, and I'm not sure that's the feeling you want to convey after the opening sentence of 'something was dreadfully wrong'. It just didn't seem to fit with the rest of the serious first paragraph.

  15. I liked the opening, but you lost me as soon as you compared the air to "rambunctious puppies." That's just not something I can relate to because air doesn't do that.

    After that I got interested again, but so confused about the hamster-thief vampire. I actually thought you meant a vampire who is a thief and, er, part hamster. Sorry, it's probably just me, but that's how I read it.

    I liked the dialogue, thought, and the rest of the writing was very smooth.

  16. Unfortunately, I'm not hooked by this one either.

    I feel that your writing is utilizing adjectives too much. From the first line to the nipping night air (which is totally not possible and a very bad simile), everything seemed overwrought and overblown.

    I also feel that the voice of your protagonist sounds too much like an adult attempting to sound like a teenager, so ultimately, it doesn't work for me.