Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #37

GENRE: YA Pre-Distopian Paranormal

The shadows hunt me.

The trees above me barely sway with their stealthy prowl. I know they're chasing me, stalking my every breath. Over my shoulder, from the corner of my eye, even the breeze at my back, I am surrounded. The Khayal are scum, filthy swine and want nothing more than to watch me die. I feel the same way about them. Their disease ridden infestation is a plague to humanity. I can destroy them all, if they don't catch me first.

The sodden ground splats beneath my boots with each painful vault, but I don't care how much noise I make anymore ...they know I'm here.

Run - Run, my mind screams. Sweat drips between my shoulder blades, pooling in my waistband.
I ignore the gash in my calf. I'm losing too much blood. I intensify the grip on my bow to stay alert.
I won't give up, I won't quit, no matter how much my body protests.

One more mile and I'll be clear of the trees. That will make it harder for the shadows to move. I slide five feet down the hill, leading out of the forest. I don't stop. I only push harder. My vision wanes. I shake it off and run from memory.

I've been part of this SEEK team for barely a month and already I've caught more lurking Khayal than my comrades combined. Search, Evade, Extract, Kill - SEEK. I burned through the first three.


  1. What's a pre-dystopian? I've never heard of that genre.

  2. I really like this opening. It's intense. But I'm, too, wondering what pre-dystopian paranormal is...

  3. The writing is fine, but I really couldn't get involved. I think you try to squeeze too much information in here to hook the reader, but one just get confused. The character is very driven and motivated, and I like it, but it feels like you are punching the reader with a plethora of information. Perhaps the MC has some companions with him, fighting closely, maybe would be a good idea to insert some dialogue? Also, there's really no need to insist that much on how he is pushing his body's limits, how much he hurts etc, just once sentence would do! Really enjoyed the construction of the writing, though

  4. I really like the MC. :) And, like others, I'm wondering what pre-dystopian paranormal is.

    Anyways, in the very first sentence, I'm confused as to whether the TREES themselves are in fact the Khayal. I find out later that the Khayal are not the trees, but shadowy creatures. Could you make that more clear in the beginning? The use of "their" made me confused, I think.

    I appreciate the use of your short, immediate sentences to create a feeling of intensity but it would be nice to vary the pace juuuuuust a little bit so it doesn't come across as being totally choppy.

    The whole idea of SEEK is VERY intriguing, I really want to know more about that--but, alas, this is only the first 250 words . . . More than anything, the mention of this team pulled me into your story. :)

  5. "The trees above me barely sway with their stealthy prowl. I know they're chasing me, stalking my every breath."

    That section indicates that the trees are chasing the main character. I know it mentions afterwards that it is Khayal that is actually doing the chasing, but in order for that paragraph to flow properly, you need a precedent, which is a noun before the pronoun, which is "they" or "she" or "he."

    I like the voice, but the sentences do seem fairly choppy. Try adding variety to the beginning of the sentences, instead of the word "I."

    For instance, instead of "I won't give up, I won't quit, no matter how much my body protests," you could rearrange it to:

    "No matter how much my body protests, I refuse to give up, to quit."

    See? It sort of takes away the repetition, yet maintains the same urgency.

  6. This reminds me of The Hunger Games with the running, the chasing, and the bow. I like the sense of urgency, but I was confused as to what exactly is chasing the MC. The first sentence says shadows, then it's the trees, then it's the Khayal.

    There's a bit of a contradiction with "I ignore the gash in my calf. I'm losing too much blood." If s/he is ignoring it, how does s/he know their losing too much blood?

    I'd read on to find out where this is going, though! Good luck!

  7. I like the aggressive style of your writing, but if you can get it to flow a little better this could really sing. The above comments are spot on, I think. The condition of your MC and his/her hatred for the Khayal are secondary to the SEEK, which is by far the thing that pulled me into the story the most.

    As for the "pre-dystopian" genre, it has me wondering if the MC will fail, thus triggering an apocalypse. That alone is worth continuing the reading. Well done and good luck!

  8. Agreed with comments of Vincent Kale that I'd like to see a better flow to this. Also -- I am uncertain what pre-dystopia means. It seems as if the dystopia is already arrived. I do like the premise in this and some of the imagery is good.

    Miss Aspirant

  9. I like the idea of a team assigned to search out paranormals in a down and dirty kind of way, but I found the writing too melodramatic and with too many cliches.

    Remember, if you have a good story, you don't need a lot of extraneous description to create tension. It comes through on its own.

  10. I wanted to see the Khayal. They're chasing your MC. He's surrounded by them. So why not show one? Maybe one slips from the shadows or jumps out and attacks him. Then we actually get to see the enemy he's talking about, as well as how he handles the situation -- which will be much more interesting than him running through a forest or saying I burned thru the first three. Let's see how fearsome the Khayal are, and let's see your MC take one out.

  11. I would keep reading. I was drawn into the imagery and the MC'S voice. I like the suggestion of showing us the Khayal and seeing the MC take one out then start running.