Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #45

TITLE: Death by High Heals
GENRE: Mystery

"What the hell did you hit him with?"

"My shoe."

"Your shoe? Damn it Lindsay, you can't kill someone with a shoe."

"Hello, they're Via Spiga pumps."

"Ugh." I rolled my eyes.

A man sat, unmoving in a chair, with his back towards us.

"Stay put." I walked across the room and stopped in front of the chair. I wasn't sure which was worse, the smell or view of his organs spilled out onto his lap.

"Tell me again what happened?"

"I told you, he was sitting in that chair when I got home. I took off my shoe and hit him in the back of the head and then I ran over to your place."

"Then you don't know how he got this big hole in his chest?"

"What? No, I swear. I hit him and ran."

"Come over here and see if you recognize him."

"Gross, no way."

"Quit being a coward and get your a** over here."

"A coward? Did you just call me a coward because I don't want to look at some dead guy?"

"Just get over here."

"Freeze, Aurora Falls Police."

"Ah hell." I muttered. "Hey Duncan."

"Kim Murphy, is that you? Oh man the Chief's not gonna like this."

"Yeah well, I'm not too thrilled myself."

"The chief?" Lindsay asked.

"The chief of police, he's my dad."

"I take it you're Miss Pembrook?"


"And that's the dead guy over there? You sure he's dead?"

"Yeah that's him and he's definitely dead."


  1. This doesn't sound like YA to me. These sound like adult characters. It's hard to tell sine the scene is almost all dialogue. I'm not even sure who's talking or how many people are there.

    At the beginning of a scene, it's always good to give us some description to anchor us in the place and time where the story is taking place and a sense of who the characters are in the scene.

    Not hooked.

    Also I'm not sure if it's a play on words or not but if you mean shoes in your title, the correct spelling is "heels".

  2. I feel like there is too much dialogue without enough explanation of the characters. I have trouble caring about the dead body--or MC's connection to the case because I don't feel like I know enough about any of the characters. But that is just my opinion!

  3. I agree with both of the above. It feels like adult characters, and there seems to be a bit too much dialog and not enough beats in between.

    I like this line "I wasn't sure which was worse, the smell or view of his organs spilled out onto his lap." and I think it would make a GREAT first line. Then the narrator can say "What did you hit him with?" and tell us how the second speaker reacted to the question and put "so-and-so said" so we know who she is.

    It's good dialog and it's interesting. It's just a bit confusing and vague.

  4. I like LJB's idea for a beginning. Yes, ground the beginning and add a few tags to enhance this scene.

    Did you know that the title says "High Heals". Is it a play on words or a mistake? Heels?

    Work on it, and you'll have your hook.

  5. I think the dialogue between the two girls is great. But I agree with the above comments--we aren't grounded here. We have a death scene in front of us, but have no idea why the narrator is here or what her relationship to Lindsay is. We need more substance, more descriptions between the bits of dialogue. With that, I think this could work.

  6. Too much dialogue right off the bat. The premise is intriguing, but right now I don't have empathy for any of the characters and I'm a little confused. Who tells them to freeze? I got lost after that point. I think if you could add in a few lines of narration here and there you would have something.

  7. Ok, so I won't dwell on the excessive dialogue. But I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue between the girls, the descriptive shoe, etc. Lots of potential here, just maybe a few tweeks. Break it up with some more scene descriptions maybe.

  8. So this is sort of chick lit/mystery? Not my type of book, so I'm unfairly biased right off the bat - but nothing here makes me interested in the crime or care about the characters. (But again, being light-hearted about a person with organs spilling out doesn't appeal to me.) And perhaps a few too many names for an opening passage: Lindsay, Duncan, Kim Murphy, Miss Pembrook ...

  9. I think you've got a great premise here, but I agree with what others have said: this feels more adult than YA to me and the excessive dialogue seems like talking heads without being grounded in the scene.

    However, the dialogue itself is great. I like the idea mentioned in a previous comment about starting off with a brief description (even one sentence, just to ground the reader would do), then add a few more beats the dialogue.

    Good start!

  10. Thanks for sharing your work in such a public forum. That takes guts.

    My comments are just a quick impression, as if I were browsing in a bookstore.

    My major issue is that this is almost all dialogue. We don't know who is conversing and whose head we are supposed to be in. The presmise of killing someone with Via Spiga pumps is funny, in a sick sort of way, but I think you ned to set the scene up before you have the conversation.

  11. The dialogue is really well done. I liked this. It flowed well without any confusion on which one was speaking until "Freeze, Aurora Falls Police." That needed some intro. "Freeze," said a deep male voice or something like that.

    But even so, I have to agree with the others. The reader needs some grounding in the scene- walked across the office, the bedroom, the living room, resteraunt- what? where are we?

  12. From a writer's mind, the dialogue is hard to follow. From a reader's frame, I like it (with appropriate fixes). It reminds me of the TV show with the young woman whose father is the former Chief of Police. It's fresh. I love the line, "Hello. Their Via Spiga pumps."

    Don't give up the dream!

  13. I like it but it needs some work. What I don't understand is why people keep saying it is YA when it is clearly marked Mystery.

  14. Because it's a YA contest. Is it not a YA mystery?
    The voices sound very YA to me. It's the kind of conversation I'd imagine Paris and Nicole having if they found a body in their apartment. Oh, and if Paris and Nicole had senses of humour.
    It's very comical despite the man with the hole in his chest. More observations from Kim's point of view to locate the reader and explain the situation details and it would be a fun read. It does sent up the mystery very well, as the girl with the high end fashion sense is sure to be blamed. Wonder how she feels about prison orange?

  15. Sorry guys, but this does sound like YA. Yes, it could be adults, but teens talk like this too. They are clever little smart a**es. And so is this dialogue. :) Although it does need a few more dialogue tags, I'm sure you'll tell us a little more about the scene now that you've hooked us, right?

  16. You probably have the message by now - too much dialogue, not enough grounding. :-)
    If those problems were fixed, I'd keep reading. I like their ditzy reaction to the body.

  17. I agree that the dialogue got a little confusing and you need a little more action between the spoken lines, but I'm hooked. Maybe it's because I'm a shoe buff but the Via Spiga line cracked me up. I love it.

    I love the voice, too. Evanovich fan? Just a guess. :-)

  18. First of all, high heels is spelled with a double E, not an EA. Unless there is some reason for this, you should probably fix that first. As a complete spelling Nazi, I found it distracting. I don't mind the dialogue TOO much, I was bothered more by the fact that there were very few dialogue tags and I had to keep reading back to see who the heck was talking. Tough to read that way...

  19. I have to agree with the above comments- I had a very hard time following who said what. I didn't know how old the speakers were, or where they were speaking, either (in the protagonist's house, maybe?).

    I understand that it's hard to establish who, what, where, etc. in an isolated 250-word clip of your manuscript. I'm sure if we were able to keep reading, the setting and characters would be established soon.

  20. I thought the dialogue worked until the police arrived. Adding the third person to the mix made it unclear at times as to who was speaking.

    I thought Lindsey could mention Kim's name in one of her earlier lines so we'd know sooner if the MC was male or female.

    And I'm wondering if you're trying to do something different and plan on doing a novel in all dialogue?

    Personally, I wasn't hooked because I'd prefer a bit more than what you've given me. If it were a play, I might reconsider.

  21. Kinda fun, but I don't think this is YA.

  22. The light-hearted reaction to a dead body really turned me off, especially for YA.