Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #48

TITLE: Grim Crush
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

He was taking too long to die.

Sometimes it seemed like these things took longer than usual. I guess I shouldn’t be too eager to collect a person’s soul, but the waiting and anticipation drove me nuts.

I stepped up to the precipice of the cliff until the tips of my boots hung off the edge. Leaning forward, I stared down the fifty or so yards to the ground below. When I shifted my feet, tiny rocks tumbled down the red-orange crags of the cliff face.

Yep, a fall from here will do it all right.

Sighing, I stood up straight and crossed my arms, staring off to my left. I hated that I had to be here early. Death had some pretty stupid rules. I could be doing something else rather than waiting for this guy to kick the bucket.

He was probably in his mid-twenties. A guy of average build, with black hair like mine. He had on a backpack and held a camera in his hands; an expensive one with a large lens like what photographers used. He was taking pictures of the birds in the trees, while standing way too close to the precipice.

A nature buff. Great. I’d picked up another one of these last week. They needed to learn to be more careful.

The nature guy took another step back, his foot inches from the cliff edge. He continued taking pictures without paying attention to the sheer drop behind him.


  1. Ooh! I love this! I want to keep reading! I'm a huge fan of first person POV, as well as anything paranormal, and of course, soul collectors ... so I have no critique for you.

  2. This sounds interesting; I haven't really come across too many stories involving a soul collector. Overall, very nice start, so I don't really have any critique.

  3. Very interesting. It definitely has a great hook, I don't think anyone could read this and not want to know what happens next. If I can make one little suggestion, it's something I'm guilty of and people have pointed it out to me in the past, try to de-word your sentences a little. 'He had on a backpack' can easily become 'He wore a backpack'--'and held a camera in his hands' could just be 'and held a camera' since usually when you're holding something it is with your hands. Just a suggestion. That's the only thing I saw. That aside, I'd totally read this book

  4. I love the first line.

    But then, I'm a little confused. If he's taking too long to die, I thought he was already in the process of dying. But the last line reads like he hasn't started dying yet.

    Definitely an interesting premise.

  5. Really nice work. I agree with Yttar -- I thought he was already in the process of dying. This was cleared up when I found out she was waiting for him to arrive, but it still threw me a little.

    Very well written, no real complaints. I would change 'like what photographers used' to 'like photograhers used' but since nobody else picked up on it I could be wrong.

    My only thing is that I'm not very enamoured of your MC yet -- she's too impatient for this guy to die. That said, it makes sense for a soul collector to be desentised to stuff like this -- I just hope she has a likeable moment soon. I suspect one is coming.

  6. Like the first line. Though, I thought he was already dying. I like to see her more eager, nutty, in a visceral manner, if she was that impatient. Overall, I liked it.

  7. The first line totally got me. I have a morbid curiosity and this pulled me in.

    In a way I enjoyed how this played out because at first it seemed that he (she?) is in the process of killing him, but then it seems that he is beside, or a distance away from the next victim. At first I found the reveal exciting, and then I found myself a little confused. Not sure what you were going for. Regardless, I am curious to see what it all means.

    I also like the idea that death has rules. nice touch.

  8. I had some trouble visualizing where the narrator and the photographer were in space. Also, I've had people say this to me: watch for commonly-used phrases. "Drove me nuts," "kick the bucket," and "average build" stood out to me. But great hook! Good luck.

  9. Hooked. I'm with Jessie--avoid cliche phrases--and I think there's a little too much "to be" here when you could have used stronger verbs.

    But really hooked on story idea!

  10. I love this idea, but I too was confused by the first line (which I did love, by the way, very grabby) and the fact that she's still waiting for him. Avoid some of the cliches and this is really engaging, very interesting premise! I'd keep reading if I had more pages.

  11. I loved the first line. Hooked me right away. Great premise; I would definitely keep reading!

  12. This one hooks me right from the start. There is great conflict, great pacing, and a main character that is intriguing. Very well written.

  13. I like this. Strong voice in your narrator.

    The last couple paragraphs seemed to lose some of their uniqueness though, compared to the opening. The first paragraphs had a great rhythm to them that I didn't feel the last couple of paragraphs kept.

    I'd keep reading though.

  14. I love the premise, because I love Dead Like Me, which was my immediate point of reference. I wasn't confused and thinking the subject was in the process of dying b/c I've watched the show and knew exactly what you meant.

    I was a bit frustrated not to know the gender of the MC/speaker, though I assume it's male. When it's in book form and there's a book jacket, etc. this won't matter as much, but on a cold read, it's something to think about.

    I agree with others that you could get some more bang for buck out of your 250 if you cut some words and add a bit of scene setting. Maybe a short throwaway phrase of where they are (California? Appalachians? etc. etc.). I would also throw in the time in addition to your MC's annoyance about it. Ok, he has to be there early -- 5 a.m.? 6 a.m.? As a reader, if I know the time it not only puts me better into the MC's state of mind (groggy, etc.), but could help you with scene setting. Has the sun come up?

    Regardless, I like the voice and the premise and I would read on!

  15. Nice, solid opening. The world and the character's unique gift/ability is established right away with a few simple phrases. I agree with teverock's comment about word choices; look for those stronger verbs to replace had and get to reduce wordiness. That's just streamlining, but the structure here is good.

  16. I liked it. I didn't have a problem with understanding the beginning due to the story's title.

    I would keep reading.

    The only thing that stood out to me is that precipice is used twice within a few paragraphs from each other. I think because it is such a strong word it stands out.