Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #17

TITLE: Hunted, Not Haunted
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

My stalker slinked into Cajun Treasures just moments after I did.

Our eyes met. A triumphant look, like she knew she'd cornered her prey, flickered across her face before she looked away. She appeared engrossed in the postcards and magnets for sale, but that was just part of the hunter's camouflage. She inched closer to where I stood, undoubtedly trying to corner me.

I thought about yelling, trying to get someone's attention, but my pride got the better of me. My hunter didn't appear dangerous in the least. She had no weapons, had uttered no threat, and didn't even seem mentally unbalanced.

But I had to elude capture.

I abruptly left Cajun Treasures and stepped back into the thick, humid air stifling Marvel Avenue. Instead of continuing the way I'd been going, I backtracked the way I'd come from. I ducked into Louisiana's Finest, yet another souvenir-selling tourist trap, hoping, praying, that it wouldn't serve as a trap for me. Peering out the front window, I spied my stalker leave Cajun Treasures and proceed in the direction we'd been traveling. As she walked further away from me, she glanced from side to side, obviously hunting me.

When she turned the corner, the breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding rushed out. But my relief was shattered with a jolt as my iPhone blared Beethoven's Fifth Symphony -- DUN DUN DUN DA! It's my favorite piece of classical music but when I was already petrified, it was a little too ominous.


  1. I have a lot of problems with this.
    Nothing happens. Your character already knows she's being hunted. During this scene, she doesn't learn anything new, or make any choices, or change the status quo in any way.
    What I get out of this is that you have a do-nothing character, who is going to re-act, rather than act in your story. I'm not interested.
    Please fix this and prove that I'm wrong.
    Good luck!

  2. This is an interesting premise for this scene. Character is being stalked (I like it!). But it's not executed to meet its potential. There's no tension here. I never felt the main character was in any danger if she was being stalked by someone who was appeared engross in postcards. I actually wondered if the MC was being overly dramatic.

    And for a first person POV I didn't feel I got to know the MC that well. There was a lot of telling action, but not much in terms of thoughts or emotions.

    One way to fix this would be looking at the word choice "glancing side to side" doesn't say "hunting" to me - it say "looking around" or maybe even checking out traffic. Also if the "hunter" doesn't appear dangerous, we need to know WHY the MC is scared.

    And my last comment (this may just be me) is that the hunted/prey metaphor reads like overkill. If you've got a good reason for using it, okay. But in the second line and the reference to "prey" I was over it. And as it continued throughout the excerpt, it bothered me because it seems so obvious or forced. You don't want something to pull people out of the story, which is what this did for me.

    I probably wouldn't keep reading this one.

  3. Not hooked, but I could be if you:

    Show us the stalker--hair, face, eyes, clothes, etc. Don't let her know this person is stalking. Maybe present a problem in the first sentence so we can go, Oh, oh, this person is in trouble.

  4. Not hooked. You have someone being stalked, and you refer to them as hunter and prey, but I never once felt like the MC was in danger. Not even the MC felt she was in danger.

    And when she leaves the first souvenir shop, why does the hunter wait for her to get away, then go looking for her? Why doesn't she follow her immediately? Why doesn't she just stand outside the store and wait for the MC to come out. It's not very realistic.

  5. I think with some addition of tense action we'd get a better sense of danger. To me, I'm just not feeling the danger right now.

    I'm not quite hooked, probably would give it a little longer and see.

  6. The line "But I had to elude capture" intrigued me because it made me think there was something more going on here than just a regular person avoiding a stalker.

    The last two sentences are a little awkward/too wordy. Keep it simple and active, something like: My iPhone blared DUN DUN DUN DA and I jumped. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was my favorite piece of classical music, but a little too ominous when I was already petrified.

  7. This scene should be tense but it's not. I agree with those above who noted that it never seems like the MC is in any actual danger.

    How does she know this person is a stalker and not just tracing a coincidental path through the same shops. She doesn't have any weapons and obviously appears normal so what tips off the MC.

    The only real sense I get of the main characters fear is when she baldly states she's "petrified" at the end. Before that she let's her "pride" take over and decides she can handle the stalker herself. All these elements seem disparate to me.

  8. Not hooked. I didn't feel the tension here. The MC seems perfectly safe where she is. The "stalker" doesn't do anything except shoot a triumphant look...and then looks at postcards. She doesn't do anything menacing.

    I have to agree with the SA. The hunter/prey metaphor got *really* old fast, especially since the MC was never in danger.

  9. There’s quite a bit of telling in this. You can tighten it up by replacing ‘abruptly’, ‘appeared engrossed’. The penultimate para has a lot of ‘-ing’ words – hoping, praying, peering etc.

    Could do with a little more tension, because apparently by the end of the scene her stalker has left.

  10. I tend to agree with SA's comments. There was not nearly enough tension here. It could be improved a lot with better word choice.

    The only other comment I would have is that the you don't use the setting to its full potential. You're in a cajun souvenir shop! This is a GREAT setting! We need to feel like we're there!! Give me crawdad aprons, tiny toy alligators, bottles of bayou's-best hot sauce. Whatever. Give us a Rowling-esk laundry list if you want, but we need some setting here! This is a great place for a scene. You just need to draw us in more. It may even help the tension part of it. :-)