Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #43

TITLE: Kiss Me Dead
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Christian watched the dying girl, and did nothing.

Watery sprays shimmered in the moonlight from the girl’s flailing arms, and her fear chopped across the water like turbulent waves. Longing tightened his stomach. He dug his nails into his palms and, teeth clenched, turned his head away.

He despised his addiction.

Christian envied her and her release from this life. Not that he loathed life…he simply loathed the life he led. And though he yearned to walk away, he knew he wouldn’t. He would stay and watch her die.

And then take her.

Her flooded gasps saturated the night’s stillness and her head dipped below the surface. Christian crept from the trees that circled the lake, his movement stilted from cold. The iciness came from his bones, his marrow, his soul. He’d gone too long without a hit, and now he suffered.

Christian lurched over her discarded dress and stopped just short of wetting his boots. The lake was snow-melt frigid. He detested the cold, and the water, as all his kind did.

With a violent thrust, her body broke the surface. Christian’s short intake of breath followed him backwards. Wet moonlight clung to her breasts, and the mark on her cheek glowed like slick silver.

The girl’s hands slapped the water. She slid deeper into the shadowy lake, lifting her chin, but the water covered her mouth, sucking out one last, drowning breath before consuming her nose and fear-glassed eyes.

Still he watched, and did nothing to save her.


  1. Whoa - this is an intense beginning. It reads well and pulls me in. The only line that didn't work for me was "Christian’s short intake of breath followed him backwards. " - I couldn't quite figure out what that his breath followed him backwards. The most major issue, though, for me, is that he's supremely unsympathetic. While this is really well written and exciting I'd hope something happens that make me want to spend some 300 pages with him, because right now I'm not sure how I'd feel about reading a whole book about this character. Still, some seriously exciting writing. Good luck!
    Dana (#41)

  2. Overall, I'm hooked. This could benefit from some tightening up, and you may want to watch for phrases that don't make sense like the one Dana mentioned above and also "her fear chopped across the water". Fear doesn't do that and it's over-written.

    Great job for the most part, and I would definitely read more.

  3. Creepy.

    This is certainly vivid and intense, my only concern is making sure the reader empathizes with the character eventually. Because at the moment he sort of freaks me out.

    One other niggling thing: I don't think you need to dig his nails into his palms and clench his teeth in the same sentence; one is enough.

  4. I'm totally sucked in, but did trip over a few of the overwritten sentences. "Watery sprays shimmered in the moonlight from the girl’s flailing arms." Don't be afraid to simplify with..."The spray from her flailing arms shimmered in the moonlight." I would definitely keep reading though, hoping he either becomes the villain we love to hate or has a change of heart on the next page.

  5. The first line is a real grabber! The entire beginning is very intense, making me want to keep reading and learn more about this character, what "his kind" is, the the story behind his "addiction" and about the life he leads and loathes. In other words, I'm hooked :-)

  6. O.O <-- That was me while reading it. Eesh, so creepy! But I loved it.

    As for the unsympatheticness (wow...) of our MC--I'm personally okay with it at the moment. He's so disturbingly fascinating that I want to know more about him.

    I agree about the "short intake of breath" line not being clear.

    Good luck! This is great :)

  7. Creepy, but I would definitely read on! You captured the reader's attention in the first sentence. Well done!

    Is he some type of vampire? I hope if he is, this is a very original take on that!

  8. I was really into the opening, until the "Christian envied her..." I'm not sure why, but that part pulled me out of the tension.

    "And then take her" sounded...well, I'll just say that the way I read that was likely not the way you wanted me to read it, and it also made me uncertain I wanted to read much more.

    Otherwise it was interesting, and the end was more intriguing again, but that little paragraph earlier on really did throw me off.

  9. The character and situation are gripping, deliciously creepy and mysterious. I'm hooked.

  10. This is awesomely creepy, and at this point, I'm really not liking Christian. But that's good because it will keep me reading.

    Watch for over-writing. Some of your descriptions feel over the top, which is fine every now and then, but three or four in such a short space feels forced.

  11. Its intense, though not my style. Ugh- I don't know that I could read something where the protag does nothing to save a dying person.

    Another vampire or paranormal? Just not my thing. But good writing.

  12. Creepy Vampire waits for his next hit - I must admit this drew me in.


  13. I read the "And then take her" line just like Kaitlyne did. But I've also been reading a lot of romance lately- I don't necessarily think you should change it. Especially because I get what he's doing and there's no other way to say it!

    Also, yes, he's pretty unsympathetic, but I think that's what makes him interesting. Plus, the line about loathing the life he lives makes it sound like I'm going to like him/feel sorry for him later on.

    The scene was intense...I'm hooked.

  14. Some parts were a little overwritten, fear chopping across water, not sure I get that description. was that intense. I love anti-heroes and I have a feeling he'd be a doozy of one. I'd definitely read on. Strong writing, strong visuals, great job. ;)

  15. I love the first line. Simple. Concise. Compelling.

    And then I get to the rest which is largely overwritten. The descriptions are too much. His agony and internal dialogue is a little too much (He tells us how much he's suffering, which sort of annoys me). I feel like I am supposed to feel sorry for him, which has the opposite effect, especially with what he is doing.

    I read the line "he stopped just short of wetting his boots" and got the giggles.

    In the end, I kind of thought the girl was coming out of the water because she had some kind of non-drowning super power and was going to come out and kick his butt.

    I'd definitely read more if you threw in a twist like that.

  16. I would definitely read on.

    Let me start with my favorite part, the opening line. “Christian watched the dying girl, and did nothing”. What a brilliant way to open a story. It grabs you and sets you right in the middle of some action. You can tell a lot about Christian as well. He’ll be an anti-hero if anything and you’ll have to slowly warm up to him.

    There were some sentences that made me pause from the flow like “Watery sprays shimmered in the moonlight from the girl’s flailing arms, and her fear chopped across the water like turbulent waves” and “Christian’s short intake of breath followed him backwards”. Both of these sentences are off to me. “Watery sprays shimmered in the moonlight” is way to frilly following such an impacting first sentence like “Christian watched the dying girl, and did nothing”. Breath following him backwards also doesn’t make sense because breath goes forward.

    There are also some sentences I absolutely loved like “The lake was snow-melt frigid” and “And though he yearned to walk away, he knew he wouldn’t”. What a perfect way to talk about how cold a lake is. And the use of ‘yearned’ is perfect. No other word would fit.

  17. I feel like such a virus being the only one who isn't smitten by this.

    The author is trying way too hard to be lyrical. And I'm pretty sure that second paragraph starts in the POV of the water.

    This piece also falls flat for me because we don't have a single reason why Christian left this girl to die, except that he had gone too long without a "hit"? Vague, much? The writer is holding back to create a false sense of mystery, and all we have are pretty sentences that tell us nothing about his motives OR the cause. Maybe if it were Mystery, but this is YA Fantasy.

    Starting with death is overdone. I know it's all about the execution but I don't know a lot of teens who are hooked by the thought of someone dying. First pages, chapters and sentences are supposed to outline change or a routine that is about to change. I really didn't sense that in this piece.

    I think you need to be more precise in your writing, especially since teens like things to be straight forward. I will not tell you how to write your stuff, for all I know this could be your style--and that is absolutely fantastic! But for the time being, a little less fluff and a lot more clarity.

  18. I was pulled in because I am fascinated with stories of addiction. I kind of hope he isn't a vamp and that the addiction is something newer or cooler, but even if he is a vamp, I am sill intrigued.

  19. This is the type of writing where I feel the voice is buried somewhere under a heap of wordy description. There are some great word choices in there, but so many descriptors crowd the lines that I found it clunky to read through. The opening line has a simplicity as others pointed out, but that gets very bogged down by what follows. A mix of clean prose with some great descriptors thrown in would read more smoothly.

    I'm wondering if this is more of a prologue and the story will continue from another person's POV; I say this since it seems unlikely to feature a protagonist who watches someone die and enjoys it, unless this is one of those that sets up with current drama and then flashes back to tell the story leading up to it.

    Overall, I think this draft needs some peer critique, if you have a writer's group to go to or someone who can take a closer look and help you pull out the story you want to tell.

  20. Great opening line! To me--and this stuff is SO subjective--the wording does not scream YA. But then Green's writing does not scream YA.'re just left with my opinion. Still, I think this has some great tension!

  21. Whoa. I read this earlier and kept thinking about it throughout the day. I'm hooked!

  22. Definitely interested in knowing more.

    I think you could fix a couple issues people have had by changing "then take her." to "then take her soul/blood/essence etc."
    Something more specific to give us that first hint of what he is and to avoid the other connotation which would probably close the book for almost everyone.

    Good luck!

  23. I liked this because it really forces the reader to not look away from what is a really horrible thing. It's almost like having no choice but to watch a spider crawling up your leg - getting closer, closer. I agree that the description is occasionally too much. This is an example of an excerpt that would possibly take on a diff. meaning if we had a synopsis or query letter to guide us. Who knows? Maybe Christian has done a good thing - perhaps the person drowning was evil. Maybe not. But, anyway, the writing is strong and I would want to read more.

  24. Am I bad because I really wanted him to save her? Because I think him going against his addiction is more interesting?

    This is just me, but I despised Christian. And I felt like I've seen this MC before and I wanted something else. I didn't want the entire interlude to be just what I thought it was: that he did nothing.

    Occasionally, the description gets heavy here and him creeping around her discarded dress, right at the edge made me hope he was going in to help her. And then he didn't.

    Word #251 probably tells me why, but there was no conflict for me here.