Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #4

TITLE: Supernatural Freak
GENRE: urban fantasy

Being alone, in the middle of nowhere, at night, is a scary situation. Still, the true Londoner doesn't lose her head, but takes a deep breath, smoothes the pleats on her jacket and goes in search of a Bobby, or a black cab.

Only foreigners freak out in such circumstances. Londoners, on the other hand, being the most British of all British people, never ever freak out. But, when you are a paranormal expert who's in a deserted area of the Docks and was supposed to heal a werewolf with the aid of a shaman who hasn't showed up, I'm afraid the only reasonable reaction is to...

"Run!" Mr Wilson growls, getting worryingly hirsute. He has a point. A skinny girl in her twenties is no match for a werewolf, and I don't think that telling him I'm a dog person would make much of a difference. Trouble is that he's standing between me and my car, so my only option is to run in the opposite direction. My feet sink into the sand of the Thames' shore, the river a creepy black ribbon, untouched by the full moon’s rays. It takes what looks like ages to cross the sand and reach the building-site, a hundred yards away. I should have never trusted that damn shaman. How could I have been so stupid? A long howl fills the air. My client has now fully transformed. In a second he will pick up my scent and hunt me down.


  1. Once I got over the Londoner this Londoner that, Brit this Brit that...I was surprised and read the rest with ease. I'm sure Mr. Wilson doesn't get to her but how she escapes him is what I want to know. Interesting!

  2. I think this would be stronger if you started at "A skinny girl" etc. Everything prior to that felt a bit forced to me. Also curious to let other readers chime in on this, but the use of the word 'hirsute' felt out of place. I didn't know what it meant, so I had to look it up, and wondered if it was just a case of getting thesaurus-happy.

    It picked up toward the end though, and I would've kept reading to see where the story was headed.

  3. For me this starts in the wrong place. Too much telling in the first two paragraphs.

    Consider starting with the sentence that begins "My feet sink...". That gets reader immediately into story. Simply naming the Thames tells us where the action is taking place.

    Then rearrange the rest to support the opening action.

    I'm also a little confused by the use of "freak out" which is a very modern term, and "bobby" which is old fashioned. But since it is fantasy, I would read further.

  4. I got a little over-Londoned in the first paragraph and, frankly, the second paragraph sounded a bit like a log line. But if you start with the third paragraph, by the time it's done we know we're in London, and we have a good sense of the sensibilities of your story.

  5. I agree with the others. Once I got to the third paragraph the story took off. That's when I was engaged in the story. And I would read more...did he get her?

    I also agree with the use of hirsute. Since it's an action scene a simpler word would flow a bit easier.

  6. You say she's alone and in the middle of nowhere, but she's neither. She's in a deserted area with a werewolf.

    While I like reading books set in foreign countries, I agree, the story doesn't take off until the third paragraph. I'm now hooked into wondering how she'll get away.

    I'd delete "How could I have been so stupid?" and start a new paragraph with "A long howl fills the air."

  7. It's clear there are some good ideas here, but it just doesn't hook me.

    The transition to "Run!" reminds me of Stephen King's IT, which did that with chapter breaks and is done beautifully. Not sure how I feel about it here.

    The London being British of all British felt more like an outsider fantasizing about how cool it must be to be British.

    After the Dog person sentence, I like the atmosphere and the grittiness as the MC starts to run, but unfortunately it still didn't make me want to read anymore.

  8. If you start with the third paragraph, at the A skinny girl part, it would be great. It's hard to get into a story when all it starts with is basically self praising. But I'd like to know what happens. I hope she won't get eaten. And maybe use the A long howl fills the air to transition to another paragraph. Anyways, she seems like a funny character. Keep working at it:)

  9. I got the impression that this girl is a foreigner, and not local, but I'm not quite sure. If she is, then maybe adding "like me" after 'only foreigners' would help clear that up.
    The first sentence made me picture a scene out in the countryside, or maybe in the woods somewhere - somewhere that I'd think of as 'the middle of nowhere'. London is big, and busy, and even quieter parts are not what I'd associate with the phrase 'middle of nowhere'.
    'Pleats on her jacket' also felt a bit weird to me. Sure, you might smooth pleats on a skirt, but I've never heard someone talk about smoothing pleats on a jacket.

    I did really like the last paragraph, but I think the first bit needs a little more work.

  10. The first two paragraphs sort of repeat the same theme, so my suggestion is to lose the first one altogether in favor of the punchier writing in the second. The first line could be amended to show what such situations are; or maybe say "unfamiliar circumstances" to be general. The never "ever" seems a bit much, I would lose the ever.

    While I get the sentiment of the paranormal expert line, it doesn't quite flow like it should; try reading aloud for cadence and see what extraneous words can be cut to tighten. Something like:
    "But, as a paranormal expert in a deserted area of the docks, intending to heal a werewolf with the aid of a shaman, who clearly had not shown up, the only reasonable..." etc.

    I do like the imagery of the river as a creepy black ribbon. That paragraph might work better cut into smaller paragraphs for pacing; for action I think quick, short, snappy. Some good stuff is getting a little lost in there.

    I'm guessing you can use Gail Carriger's novels as comparative titles; sounds like a likely companion for fans of her series.

  11. Thanks everyone for the feedback so far, I will for sure rework those two paragraphs! And Stephsco:I AM A HUGE FAN OF GAIL CARRIGER, THANKS FOR THE COMPARISON, I AM REALLY FLATTERED!

  12. Perhaps cut the first two pargs, since, as someone else said, she is neither alone or in the middle of nowhere, and instead, place her wherever she is. Give us a creepy description of the locale, maybe show her and the werewolf arriving, give us a bit of dialogue, and without those two opening pargs that don't really add anything, you have room to describe the werewolf's transformation instead of saying he completely transformed.


  13. Though the title is unfortunate, these are very strong opening paragraphs, giving a sense of voice and character (and world) without overwhelming the reader with description. The only thing unclear was the time period.

  14. Just wanted to add one more thought. The line "I never should have trusted that Shaman." is wonderfully intriguing. Consider starting with that and supporting it with the rest of the action.