Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #2

TITLE: Hell On Earth
GENRE: Paranormal

Hi, my name is . . . well, let's just skip that part. Just call me Reis. It is not pronounced like 'rice' just to let you know. It is pronounced like 'rece'. Don't ever mispronounce my name. Ever. Seriously, it will not be your lucky day. I hate it when people call me by my first name or totally botch my last name. I may not care for my name, but no body has a reason to totally disrespect who I am.

So, to start my story, I decided to tell you a little bit about myself. I have already implied that I will not write my name. That is simply because to everyone except for close family members, I am known simply as Reis. Or the girl with the crazy hair. Apparently having a pixie hair cut the color of platinum blonde with blue streaks is classified as crazy. Who knew?

I am pretty short for my age; at 5'1" I stand as a striking figure. Actually very few people are ever really afraid of me, until they piss me off. I go to a boarding school in New York, New York. However, I rarely attend classes. But seriously, kids who might be reading this, do not follow my example unless you have a good reason like mine, and somehow, I doubt you have a really good excuse.

The few friends I have are not what I would call 'besties', but we get along with each other. Mostly.


  1. Ask yourself what happened here. The answer is 'nothing.' Your character talked. She is not in a situation, so as a reader, I don't know what I'm getting, and there's nothing here to pull me in.

    What is your main character's problem? What does she want? Why can't she have it/get it? Those are the things you want to make evident in your opening. Start the story on the day that is different, at the moment, or just before the moment, when things go wrong. That's what will draw the reader in.

  2. I do agree with Barbara.

    What she's suggesting is a hook -- it's a special je ne sais quoi that will keep people reading. Whether that quality is voice, an event that draws us in on page one, or something else.

    As it stands, your first page is very letter format. You're using second person point of view. Is the rest of the book 2nd person POV? Even if it is, one of the least compelling ways to introduce your main character is to, literally, introduce them. That's all telling us who Reis is. It's not giving the reader any opportunity to get to know Reis.

    I hope that makes sense.

  3. I'll have to agree with Barbara here. It's obvious that Reis is a unique and independent character, but this reads more like a description sheet than a story opening. You can show us she's a badass by giving us her reaction in a situation or showing us what she was doing instead of going to class or giving us an example of what happened when someone pissed Reis off. Just something to add dimensions to her and to give us a reason to follow her story. You've got a vivid character, so now let us see the world around her!

    Good luck!

  4. I agree with the folks above. You have a clearly defined character and voice, but I think that is currently so much the focus that you've pushed back introducing any sense of plot.

    Reis is also fairly antagonistic to the reader right off, which is off-putting. I'm fine with a twitchy or gruff narrator, but I have to care about them enough to like them or dislike them enough to care about reading more.

    I would need a sense of action and immediate location pretty soon to keep reading much more.

  5. Not getting any sense of the paranormal aspect, or really any kind of conflict. At all. If you want your mc to have a "relationship" with the reader like this, speaking directly to them throughout the book, you need to have something other than chatter to open the conversation.

    Even if there isn't any mention of the major plot, per se, there could be some sort of foreshadowing, or something to tell the reader what to expect, what kind of story this is going to be. Or even just some sort of tension.

    The voice is strong, but your mc is not exactly likeable. And the narrative is extremely telling. I tend not to like it when the mc "tells" the reader what they look like, but even more, I tend not to like it when the mc "tells" the reader everything about themselves in the first chapter. Particularly not when the mc could be interacting with someone else, which could create necessary conflict/tension/action, and "show" the reader who the mc is.

    If you show her skipping school, that "shows" us what kind of student she is. If you show her having to react to the stares if people don't like her hair, or climbing on something because she's short, you don't need any of this.

    Figure out where the first active scene is, and make that your opening instead. Work in things like appearance and age and attitude more naturally. Most importantly: !! Give her a goal, and make us root for her to achieve it. !!

    Just watch how much exposition you have that's just an excuse to describe the mc's attitude. If she were really this tough, she'd say it aloud, not in her head. Good luck!

  6. Hi!

    I agree with a lot of the comments above. I don't need to know this much information this quickly--it's commonly called an info dump. Let the information about your character emerge naturally.

    And while it's OK to have a gruff, unhappy character, that character should be likeable. And when the character yells at the reader right off the bat, she becomes unlikeable.

    I'm also not generally a fan of authors being intentionally secretive. There's a difference between mystery slowly unraveling in a natural way and information that seems intentionally left out for no good reason, that seems like it's purpose is to confuse the reader.

    Finally, be sure to proofreads (no body should be nobody).

  7. Author here. :) Thank you all so very much for your insight. This was my very first time getting critiqued (and entering a 'contest'), and I know it will help make this book even better! Thanks again!