Tuesday, March 13, 2012

FLG: #3 500-words

TITLE: Le Petite Mort and the Heart Table (WIP)
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

As Death’s apprentice, Dede was fairly certain she never should’ve been short listed for the next Goddess of Love opening, let alone selected for the position. She shuddered at the thought of having to tell Death the news.

“Are you sure you won’t reconsider?”

Aphrodite reclined on her throne, her hard gaze never wavering from Dede’s. “The Council of the Heart Table has spoken. You will be Astarte’s replacement.”

Dede drew in a deep breath and uncurled her fists. “I’m not Semitic. I can’t replace her.”

One blood-red brow arched up. “Oh, do you now know who your mother is?”

She held back a wince. “No. But I’ve never felt an affinity when their rituals are performed.”

Aphrodite’s fingers tapped against the golden apple crowning the armrest of her throne. “Our understanding is you have never shown affinity for any of the pantheons in particular. Besides that of your father’s line, you have shown reactions to the rituals performed for members of the Council. You are our only option.”

Dede closed her eyes for a moment, gathering together the chaos stirring in her center. She forced it into the tiny space she reserved for things she had to deal with at a later time. The space was getting a wee bit crowded of late. With Death’s latest contract, even the illusion of sleep had been taken away from her.

She played her trump card. “Death will never let you take me.”

“In matters of Council appointment, Death has no say. We recognize you have a duty to perform for him, but you will be a member of the Council. The next meeting is in two days.”

“Why are you even bothering with bringing me on board? The Semitic Pantheon is nearly extinct. No one will notice if Astarte’s not replaced.”

Aphrodite’s gaze turned icy and she sat up straight. Dede remembered too late the Council Chair’s reputation for viciousness when people crossed her.

Dede smiled. Her face may have cracked a bit, but she smiled. “Two days. I’ll be here. May I please be excused?”

The hourglass sands in her head streamed off a minute before Aphrodite gave her response. It was a wave of the hand, but Dede turned tail and scooted out of the Council’s chamber. She would have ran, but that would have been undignified. If there was one thing Death had taught her, it was to always be dignified.

The crowd at the elevators had her switching track to the stairs. The pitch black stone lining the walls of the United Councils Building made the stairwells almost everyone’s least favorite place in the world. The only light that survived in them was from Hellmouth torches. She took the stairs in measured strides, wishing her power for teleporting wasn’t blocked along with natural light. Three floors down, through an archway into the light and she was back in the lobby. She hurried over to the far corner only waving as people called her name.


  1. The concept is great. However, five names were used in a short amount of time, and I felt like I was missing out on a lot of information and that I came in during part of a conversation between people I don't know. I also didn't get a sense of the surroundings.

  2. I love your premise. This has a lot of potential. I agree with Lanette. There are too many names and what is a Semitic?

    You need to work on your world building and simplify this scene. I love how you've built Aphrodite as cold but a blood-red brow? That's weird. It doesn't bring up a pretty image. Maybe you could make her brow black - like old blood. although that's weird too.

    There is one sentence with tense problems - she would have ran. Did you mean run?

    You've got some great stuff to work with here. I think it'll be great once you've worked out all the bugs.

  3. Love the snappy first line. I don't love the "She shuddered..." though, because the shuddering is disconnected from anything. Where is Dede? It feels ungrounded. What about something less physical? (Because I do agree that telling Death is not going to be fun...)

    Who speaks that first line of dialogue? Can you move up Aphrodite reclining next to it, that way the dialogue is connected to her action and it's obvious she's speaking?

    After reading the rest of it, it looks like there wasn't a contest or anything? No reason for there to be a shortlist? The first line is funny, but the rest seems more serious.

    I'm a little confused about the worldbuilding -- what's going on, why things are happening, and how our heroine got wrangled into this -- though I'm willing to give it some time. You can't answer all the questions in the first few hundred words!

    But I would like some grounding. I want to feel...not safe exactly, but secure? Like I can trust that you're going to get me into the story without a hitch. My instinct is that this might not be the best place to start the story -- a conversation that's mostly over. I feel like maybe rewinding to when she gets the news, or fast forwarding to when she's telling Death might be better choices? Because as interesting as this premise is, I have to admit that this beginning doesn't do much for me.

    That said, I think there's a lot of potential here for some great worldbuilding and humorous moments, and I love the premise. Best of luck!

  4. I won't stress what has already been stressed but I will say this: A first page and chapter is an introduction to your world. It is a tourist's first thread into that environment and it must be as smooth, hospitable and lovely as possible if you want them to return.

    This particular opening has too many elements of world building for us to care. We don't know the novel's jargon. You can introduce this stuff, yes, but slowly.

    I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I think less is more.

    I'm still a fan of the concept. It's wicked sick!

  5. I agree with the other commentators--too much information, too little time. Build your world and your characters carefully so that the reader can love both.

  6. I'm intrigued by the concept and the humor promised to us by the first line but I felt let down by this sample. The dialogue felt very stilted to me and since I don't really know what is going on, the conversation made me want to start skimming, which is just a hair away from deciding to stop reading completely & reject.

    I think we need to connect with the character a bit more before we get all this world building thrown at us.

  7. I didn't feel grounded enough in this world by the end of the sample. It felt like everything was thrown at me, and it was a little hard to follow.

  8. To me, the first two sentences before the dialogue read like a pitch or the opening to your query. It felt hard to follow because, as a few people pointed out, we were given a lot of information but not enough context. I didn't know what the "Semitic Pantheon" was or how Death and Aphrodite are connected. If Dede is the focal point that connects all of these elements, then we need to get to know her role in the story first.

  9. Sarah LaPolla said it. Let us get to know Dede in a simpler scene first with less world-building.

  10. Jodi and Sarah are making this easy on me. What they said!

  11. First of all: Like I said before, it should actually be "La Petite Mort," not "le petite mort." I speak French, and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to get your title wrong off the bat. ;)

    That said, I agree with what all the others said! I'm a bit confused by this, but I certainly do love your premise.


  12. I concur with the concurer! (Concuress?) Keep working on it- it's a great premise!

  13. I thought it was very inconsistent--a few very snappy lines that made me feel like there is a real writer there, surrounded by confusing world building and the odd Semitic construct. If there is a real almost historic purpose in using the word, fine. Otherwise, I'd probably change it. I felt like we were going to get religious, and that raised my antennae. I think it's not ready yet.