Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Secret Agent #11

TITLE: Warder
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Phone. Someone was calling her. Mona lifted her head and shoulders from the couch wincing as her abraded elbows scraped against the nubby, durable fabric she’d let herself be talked into buying. Practical yes, comfortable, no.

Wait. Why was she on the couch?

Right. Smythe's driveway this morning. The ground buckling under her feet. Sheer panic as boulders erupted. Her body slamming into the icy ground as she lost traction.

Training my a**.
No matter what shit Warder Smythe tried to tell her, her detecting and escaping the spell wasn’t planned. She didn't remember much after she left him to sell his crap to the thin air. Driving. Cursing Folk and Smythe and the elfblood which made her a Warder. Stumbling in through her front door.

The phone rang again.

She could not answer it and piss Smythe off.

But then, if he was calling because he needed help warding Folk and mortals from errant magic, and someone got hurt because she hadn’t picked up.... S***. Looked like she needed to get off the couch and get the dang phone.

Mona hurriedly sat up, her scraped knees and bruised elbow protesting. The only good news was she might be able to get out of Smythe what really happened. She wasn't buying his story about setting the trap, neither of them could create workings, despite being able to see and manipulate magic. His claiming he set the spell both annoyed and worried her. Why had he claimed he’d created something he couldn’t have possibly made?


  1. Hmm...I read it twice and get the gist, but am finding myself confused with what's going on.
    Like, 'sell his crap to the thin air'. I have no idea what she's referring to...maybe I'm not supposed to but it's really vague.

    Also, the 2nd sentence is a bit overstimulating for me...could be simplified for a punchier effect.

    If some details could be fleshed out, I think you'd have a pretty good beginning. I would likely read on a few pages, but unless more details surfaced, I don't think I'd be intrigued enough to continue.

  2. I was/am confused. I think the paranormal world building details need slowing down. Maybe at this point just a hint or two.

  3. I liked the details like the practical, but not comfortable couch. The pacing of this excerpt felt a little to fast. I wanted to understand what was going on, but found it difficult. I was confused about the title? Warder which is used for Smythe especially when combined with the phrase '…help warding Folk…"

    That said, I like elves and would read more to gain a better understanding of the world you created.

  4. This seems like an interesting world. I'm curious to know more about it. My impression so far is that it's an urban fantasy type setting, which I really like.

  5. I think it's kind of a tough sell to open a story with the character's own confusion; the reader is also confused. I read through this a few times and it's not quite working for me. Maybe starting in a different place will give more context to your character and the world she lives in.

    good luck with your story :)

  6. Curious but I haven't quite figured it out. I'm not well versed in paranormal romance so I may be missing/misunderstanding genre clues like elfblood, traps, and warding. (and magic and spell of course)

    I'm a fan of sentence fragments but the opening would be clearer if you framed some of them into more integrated narrative. Especially the back-story ones from her memory of the past morning. Those could be "The ground had buckled under her feet." etc. Then save fragments for the current-moment / her immediate thoughts of what was happening 'now'.

    I'd definitely start with a complete sentence, even if simply 'The phone rang.' though that's not as active or intriguing as
    "Why was she on the couch?"

    If, in the opening, she's going to have detailed thoughts about Smythe (rather than just a single passing one) and interacting with him / imagining his responses to her, then you should flesh out his character and identity more.

    Info on the couch's fabric and purchase doesn't seem essential to the opening/story.

    Maybe open with an even more concrete description of her physical awareness of aches and soreness, to offer readers a deeper POV. Think about actually being inside her pained body instead of describing her body's actions (elbows, head, shoulders) as one (even, as she) would view from the outside.

    You can delete adverbs like "hurriedly".

    I don't really understand enough about Smythe or Mona yet, or all they have gone through this morning, to appreciate the drama implied in your closing question here. What he has claimed about "the spell" seems distant.

    I am curious to learn more about the erupting boulders and buckling ground. That might be a place to start, directly, rather than having her reflect back on it. Or at least flesh out her memories of the event to make it more real for readers.

    Good luck with your writing!

  7. I think I'm getting the idea, but I need more grounding in this world to understand it. I don't read a lot of fantasy, so please take my comments accordingly-

    First, I thought the line "she'd let herself be talked into buying" was awkward. What about "she'd been talked into?" Just a suggestion.

    I like that you explain what a warder is, up until then I thought Warder was his first name.

    I questioned the use of 'dang.' Nitpicky, I know, but the MC has already used profanity twice in this page. Dang seemed out of place.

    The last paragraph was where I really got lost. I expect in fantasy to feel a little disoriented going in, but this last paragraph felt like too many things I don't understand all at once - setting the trap, creating workings.

    I'm not really sure how this is normally done, but my gut feeling is that as a reader I'd like to know more about Mona, and have the world-building stretched out so that it doesn't feel so much like an information dump.
    I hope some of this was helpful. Good luck!

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  9. Your third sentence is long and somewhat awkward. There is a comma splice in the penultimate paragraph.

    I feel like you're throwing too much at us at once. Ease us into your world. It's like getting into a 105 degree hot tub. Decrease the temperature and then increase as we adjust.

  10. I think you're unloading too much information in this first page. We need more grounding in the world before you throw so much at us. You should concentrate on showing more action in this first page. Then start to filter in more of the details later.

    I agree with others who've said you should do more with the first sentence, like saying the phone rang. The second time, you could say "The phone again" and we'll know what you mean.

    I thought the second sentence had too many adjectives in it, although I did like the idea of the practical, but not comfortable couch. I used to have one just like it.

    I wonder if it would be possible to start the book with an earlier scene, like in the driveway, with the ground buckling and boulders erupting. Waking up is not the strongest way to begin a novel.

    You have some intriguing details here but you just need to present them stronger in this beginning.

  11. Ouch! Yeah, I don't think I'd be picking up the phone if my trainer called either, after a session like that. :) But does she have caller ID?

    Great little clues! The hints of backstory pulled me right into the world and gave an immediate glimpse of her abilities/role in it--no question that this is paranormal.

    Clarify this part more: "her detecting and escaping the spell wasn't planned". Right now, makes it sound like he tried to kill her instead of either a training exercise to bring out abilities she's expected to have or some spell that showed up to surprise them both. If she thinks it was intentional and meant to hurt her--why would she care if she pissed him off? If she just thinks he's lying--why wouldn't she pick up to demand answers?

    Maybe forgot an injury: abraded elbowS at the beginning, but only one bruised elbow at the end.

    I'd read on to see if she takes Smythe to task--and to find out if Smythe is another trainee or her mentor. Mona has enough suspicion and questions of her own to bring the intrigue out, and it'd be great to see from the outset more determination from her to discover those truths.

  12. I'm pleased to note that I'm not alone in being confused by this one. There are some great elements here--the heroine was railroaded (basically) into buying an uncomfortable couch. That give me an idea about her. However, that can't hold up the rest of the *very* confusing narrative. I understand that she's waking up and is disoriented. That's often a useful tool to get the reader up to speed as well. However, it doesn't work here. This world is too strange to jump into, cold. You need to ease the reader into this new world. The 4th paragraph in particular is a mess of confusion. There's a difference between being vague or coy and just being confusing. Some of the word choices are awkward, too, ex. "create working". What does that mean? I think you probably have an interesting story to tell, but I'd start from the beginning and slowly ease the reader into it.