Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #7

TITLE: Blood for Wolves
GENRE: Fantasy

For most people the idea of being surrounded by wolves is terrifying. I loved it.

Being a wolf biologist just outside of Yellowstone Park wasn’t all sunshine and roses, though. Sometimes it meant waking up before dawn even thought about cracking and sitting in a cramped blind for hours on end in the hopes of glimpsing something. In this case, the newest additions to the Blue Royal Pack.

The alpha female I’d dubbed Isabeau crawled out of her den and scanned the area, ears alert and nose twitching, before she stretched, claws digging into the dewy ground.No doubt she smelled me, but I’d set up the blind long ago to ensure my scent became commonplace.She shook herself, the radio collar jostling around her neck.I tried to shift without making too much noise. Please bring out the kids today, please bring out the kids today. I held my notebook and pen ready.Isabeau yawned. My, what big teeth you have.

After what seemed like hours, she finally turned to huff at the den opening.Christmas had just come early.One by one the pups padded out of the packed earthen den, gazing around in interest.Their fuzzy puppy fur practically glowed in the early morning light. It was all I could do not to squeal in delight. I scribbled down notes on identifying marks and emerging personality traits. One black pup stumbled over anything he could get his paws on, the spitting image of Navarre, the alpha male.


  1. The writing is smooth and it's easy to read, but there is no hook here. There's nothing here that makes me ask, 'I wonder what will happen next.'

    And then there's the genre. There's also nothing here that says this is fantasy. There's no touch of anything strange or weird or eerie or out of place. WHile I can imagine that somewhere along the line, there will be werewolves involved, if it wasn't listed as fantasy, I would imagine this was contemporary. So, while it is well done, I don't think it is doing the job it needs to do.

    Perhaps work some fantasy or mysterious element into the opening, and start a bit closer to the moment when things go wrong, or the problem arises. Get that moment, or at least the start of that moment, on your first page.

  2. I agree with Barbara (above). This was smooth and easy to read, but felt a bit like a narrated nature show. On the other hand, I really enjoyed reading it :) Some pieces can get away with taking their time. Personally, I was engaged, but I can see how some readers would be waiting for the fantasy hook.

  3. I disagree. I think as long as something weird or off happens by the end of the first chapter, then it works as a fantasy. It doesn't have to be in the first 250 necessarily.

    Love that the MC is a biologist (not sure you need the wolf before biologist though).

    Loved the My, what big teeth you have thought.

    I would read on.

  4. second sentence sounded pretty boring to me.

    I did love the "my what big teeth you have" that gave character and richness that countered the more documentary-type feel.

    I don't think it needs a fantasy element right away, but some kind of conflict or something that drives the reader to turn the pages would probably be good. what is she waiting for? how long has it been since the pups came out? what's the conflict?

  5. I also disagree with the need to put, well, either the hook OR the fantasy element in the first 250 words.

    Although, I guess what I mean by "hook", is the main problem. Here, the hook is the writing and the situation. The hook is that the main characters is a wildlife biologist who is studying wolves.

    Lots of fantasy has a lead-in that's mundane, especially if the main character isn't already aware of the fantastical elements.

    I would keep reading, yes, though I find the first two paragraphs a little prosaic (and I'm not sure if you need them). I want to get into the details of her life now and her career as soon as possible.

  6. As a trained forester, this is right up my alley. It drew me in immediately, I could feel the MC balance between hope and boredom, felt her excitement. I'd read more.

  7. Lol. I expect them to turn into people, now... or hawks, maybe....

    I guess because I got the reference, the whole thing got shaded Fantasy for me from the word Isabeau.

    I thought it was well written--maybe not entirely gripping. I don't get a lot of hint of conflict or stakes here. It's all very academic right now. Where's the problem? Why should I care? Whatever the inciting incident is, get it closer to the front.

  8. I'd also like a hint of what the conflict is, some sense of where the story is going. The first 250 words feel more like a Nevada Barr mystery than a fantasy. Not a bad thing, but I have no idea what I'm in for.

  9. I don't know! I just couldn't quite get into it. I think it lacked a necessary tension or strength of voice. I'm sorry, it just seemed too much telling and I wasn't feeling it! I think maybe it's the tone in the second paragrah. Rather than saying, I'm this and here I am, what about making me feel how uncomfortable he is. I've been squashed behind these damn bushes for the last four hours, and then I saw a movement, and when the breeze blew towards me, I smelt them. They were coming. I grabbed my notepad....
    You know what I've just done is quite lame, but I'm just trying to nudge. Hope you don't mind.
    All the best with this. It will be great!

  10. Sorry, this one isn't working for me. It's not bad, it's just not very dynamic or interesting. You don't really give very vivid descriptions of what is probably a visually arresting scene and I'm not getting much of a sense of character.

    You don't need to start in the middle of a big action scene to create momentum at the beginning of a book but you do need to intrigue us somehow and I don't think you've succeeded here.

    You're a good writer, that's not the problem, I think you just need to think very hard about establishing character and setting in this scene.