Wednesday, September 9, 2009

1 Secret Agent

TITLE: Possession
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

Smoke and metal bit my nostrils as I lifted my head off the gravel roadside. Glass cut my skin and sticky liquid dripped over my left eye. Blood. I wiped it away and climbed to my feet, blinking against the searing sun. I spotted them just beyond the overturned car. My heart slammed against my ribcage.


I stumbled over a bent car door and staggered through a funnel of smoke to my mom’s sprawled body. Her arms were skewed, reminding me of an abandoned doll’s. A snowstorm of panic whirled through my head, blinding and freezing. I dropped beside her; my knees scraped the pavement. But I didn’t care. All I could focus on was the gash slashed across her chest. Blood oozed from her body and snaked across the hot pavement. I pressed my shaking hands over the wound. I had to stop the bleeding. But how?

My eyes flicked to my dad. His chest was ripped open, too. I checked his pulse. Dead. Bile clotted my throat. This can’t be happening! It was obvious we were in a car wreck. But no, that wasn’t what happened. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to remember, but all I found was a hungry void.

“Twila!” Mom’s voice was all raspy.

I snapped my eyes open and pushed my long hair, more bloody than brown now, away and pressed my ear to her lips.

“You must stop them.” Her violet eyes shone.


“The mutation. Promise me.”

What she was talking about?


  1. I would read more. There were some descriptive phrases that sounded a bit awkward to me, such as:

    Smoke and metal bit my nostrils...

    I snapped my eyes open...

    The verbs used in this context just sound a bit strange to me. But, regardless, this sounds really interesting and something I would read!

  2. I'm hooked. I'd read more.

    My crit partners often tell me to "de-was" my writing. I found a few here and would probably recommend that for this writer. I like how the action starts right away.

  3. I liked the very ending, but up until then there was too much gore for me without knowing the characters yet.

  4. I'd read more, but I would think the MC to be more hysterical.

    But still hooked!

  5. I thought it was pretty good. It held my attention and made me want to read on to see what had happened. It sounded like a car accident, but I knew it would be monsters of some sort because of the genre.

    It was a bit over-written, I thought. I had the same reactions to the same phrases mentioned by ajcastle, as well as a few more.

    And you may want to consider a rewrite of the 4th parg. She's pressing down on Mom's wound, and without moving, she's suddenly checking Dad's pulse, And "it was obvious we were in a car wreck," means exactly that. You might say something like - The scene had the appearance of a car wreck, but . . .

  6. The "bit my nostrils" jarred me as well. I think "Panic whirled...." would be stronger without the "A snowstorm of" before it.

    I enjoyed this and would read more.

  7. Holy.... ! :O

    First - this could be tighter in spots, but I'm definitely hooked.

  8. I'm curious but not hooked. This could definitely be tightened up a bit more, especially in the first three paragraphs. But I'm curious about the mutations!

  9. I had to read the first sentence twice because of the "Smoke and metal bit my nostrils." I'd read on because I like the very last bit. It stirs intrigue and brings up questions I'd want to get the answers to. However, the begining was a bit gory and I'm not really squeamish. That said, I'd give it a few more pages.

  10. Secret Agent chiming in to say that I would NOT read more--I don't think the voice sounds convincingly like a teen.

  11. I am hooked and woul definitely read on!

    That said, this opening feels overwritten and could be tightened up and polished a bit more.
    Also, many YA novels seem to open with crashes or accidents or the death of parents, just something to remember!

  12. I think I would classify myself as curious but unhooked too. For something as terrible, as hideous as being in a car accident and seeing both your parents lying injured/dead the language seemed to controlled -- too clear. There's no time for imagery, simile or even linear thought: no time for anything but panic.

    So a phrase like this seems too rational:

    Her arms were skewed, reminding me of an abandoned doll’s.

    Would your mother's outflung, broken arms remind you of anything at such a time?

    Perhaps it's just a bit much for the first scene? But I write this as one who is somewhat suspicious of the whole 'hook' thing. Sometimes hooks are superb ways to draw a reader in -- but here... I don't know. Maybe if you backed the action up even five minutes, enough for us to care a bit about the girl and her parents -- and then BAM.

    On the other hand, there's so much to spring off from here. The stakes are clearly very very high which is excellent.

  13. Having been bit by both smoke and metal bothered me too. One is substantial and could actually bite into the skin (when flung) the other insubstantial and could provide a biting (jarring) sensation. Using both meanings in one word didn't work for me.

    Another silly issue, probably mine alone, is "must." Have I ever really spoken the word must aloud? I can't remember. Maybe? Speaking, I almost always say have to. Most of the people I know say 'have to.' It may only be my age, but must goes with an effete accent or in the old exercise joke -- I must, I must, I must increase my bust.

    I would not read on -- unless I'd paid money for it already, then I'd try push through a few more pages.

  14. I wouldn't ask for more- it felt over written. However, the concept is intriguing.

  15. Totally hooked, but mainly on the second last sentence. Mutations sound like this could be a new spin on vampires or other paranormal being, so that grabs me immediately. Would read on a bit more, but the voice seemed more controlled than realistic (maybe over-editing?) and that would irritate me after a chap or so. But I'm also guessing that the voice might soothe out after a bit

  16. I like the story but I was stopped in the same places as the others.
    -bit my nostrils
    -abandoned doll's, etc.

    I would probably keep reading cause I'm curious about the mutation, but I'm also concerned that her mother wants the daughter to avenge her death against the mutation. If its important enough for her to stop it, why hasn't her mother told her about it before?

  17. Could be hooked...but not yet. The narration at the beginning was overwritten, especially for the scene (even though I'm a writer, if I found my parents in that condition, I would not take the time to think to myself that their blood was snaking across the hot pavement). The dialogue, on the other hand, did catch my attention. A mutation sounds intriguing, especially since the main character has no idea what that is.

  18. It feels 'firstish' as I've been told by somebody before. Like you're still in the first draft and working out for yourself what happens and who these characters are.

    Keep going so you find out!

  19. I would keep reading, but if the story was as overwritten as these first few paragraphs are, I suspect I wouldn't get more than 20-some pages in.

  20. I liked it. I would totally read on, and might put it on my alphabetized shelf of favorites. Cant wait to get to the romance part. = )
    Good work!

  21. I'm not hooked. It all seems to happen a little too quickly. She regains consciousness, Mum's critically injured, Dad's dead, then Mum's trying to tell her something. It's a lot to squeeze into 250 words and I feel you can't go into enough detail on each. The father's death especially seemed to be passed over too quickly.

  22. Hooked :)

    Love this line:
    "A snowstorm of panic whirled through my head, blinding and freezing."

    Nice job!

  23. This does feel over written. Such a horrific scene needs plainer words, not comparing her mother's body to an abandoned doll. That might work if someone came upon a stranger's body. For me, the language is doing the opposite of what you want it to.
    You've started with a exciting scene and we need to get into it more.

  24. Not hooked. This felt forced, and the traumatic car accident is a common starting point (I'm thinking of Evermore, which starts with multiple flashbacks of a car accident.) Plus you're pacing feels a bit off, it just didn't flow for me.

  25. Dear Author:

    Read aloud. Rewrite. Tighten a bit. In traumatic scenes, it's easy to overdo - less can be more.

    You must stop them and declaration from dying mother seems like scene from late-night bad movie.

    But I'd keep reading, because I'm suspecting there's a good story under here.


  26. I'm hooked,
    Excellent writing. You started at just the right place sending your hero on a quest for the truth.
    Pickies: she was in the last sentence should be was she.
    And is the mutation, the mutants...I'd read on to clarify?
    Great job...good luck.