Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #5

TITLE: Banished Blood
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Rhonnie and Edeira exchanged tired glances as the screams got louder.

“It sounds like your Mom is having fun with this one Rhonnie. She usually doesn’t take this long to finish them off.”

“Yeah this one must be personal, those are usually the ones that take the longest,” Rhonnie replied.

This was the third time in a week they had accompanied her parents on one of their assignments. They were supposed to be on security detail while the subject of the day got tortured and subsequently executed.

Orlarion, Rhonnie’s dad, poked his head out the door. “You girls can come in now for the end.”

They filed in behind him and surveyed the blood spattered room. It was much quieter now. The screams had stopped and were replaced by a soft gurgling. Now the loudest sound that could be heard was the soft clicking of Edeira's stilettos and Olarion hooves on the marble floor as they shifted around the room.

The closer they got, Alanna, Rhonnie’s mom, could be heard panting loudly. They crowded around the target, his eyes bulging and mouth puckered, opening and closing like a goldfish. With the perfect frontal view, it was clear to see where the gurgling was coming from, the male’s throat had been slit wide open. Rhonnie's parents felt the moments before death are the most important, because you owed your victim at least an ounce of respect by looking them in the eye as life left their bodies.


  1. *raises hand for confession* This is my entry! It was my first time entering ANY contest and I definitely know it could have been better. I already see two things that jumped out at me that shouldn't be there. Next time I will copy directly from the document! But still, I appreciate any and all feedback!

  2. My only comment is to watch out for "was" sentences. That's passive and you want to use active writing to pull your reader along. "It was clear", "This was the third time" and "It was much quiter" can be reworded for more punch. Also beware of "could be heard". Go for strong writing, active sentences whenever you can. Good luck!

  3. I am so sorry, but the content here is so disturbing, that I cannot focus on anything else. I don't know who's being tortured, if human or not, but the whole thing with the children first hearing the screams and then coming in to watch the victim die... Sorry, it is really too much. I would definitely NOT read any further, no matter how good the writing might be.

  4. Sorry Louisaklein, perhaps I should rework this part so that it's clear, Rhonnie and Edeira are NOT children. They are adults 100%. Now I know what to work on.

  5. Oooo, I thought they were kids too, but I read a lot of UF so it wasn't disturbing. I made the assumption they were supernatural creatures.

    I don't think you need the fourth paragraph. Let's them "whine" about it later after the build up.

  6. I think the fact that the parents brought the children in was interesting and not disturbing. I just want to know why? I would read more.

  7. It caught my interest that's for sure. I think the writing could be tightened up in places but I would read on just to know the who, what, when and why of the situation. Its disturbing in a good way.

  8. Sorry, this is not my cup of tea, even if the "children" are adults. Phrases like "your mom" (mom should be lower case, BTW) "Rhonnie's dad" and "Rhonnie's mom" made me think they were children, too. And the fact that they accompanied their parents.

    But aside from the "sick" factor, there are a few writing errors. Names and expression should be separated from the sentence by a comma. [... this one, Rhonnie. // Yeah, this one must be personal...] Watch for need of hyphen [blood-spattered] or semi-colon [...where the gurgling was coming from; the male’s throat...].

    What are Olarian hooves? If the characters are supernatural it should be clear sooner, I think. (But then I don't read urban fantasy, so sorry if my comments are off-base!)

  9. Dark and gritty is good, especially for urban fantasy but the first sentence doesn't grab me. If your mc's are tired, so am I.

    You haven't established a reason for me to like or sympathize with your mc's at all so they come across as evil. If this is written from the villain's pov then great, but I'm not sure that's what you're doing here. Also, they do read as young...teens?

    You could show this scene better than telling it as well. Like put them in the room with the torture, have them see what is happening to the victim, pump up the tension, give us something to care about. You've got an idea here that can work if it's tweaked...I'm intrigued but I need more to pull me further in.

  10. I do like this section overall. There are a few things you can do to speed this up. In the third paragraph, cut the "those are usually the ones that take the longest,' Rhonnie replied." since we know that Rhonnie is the only other person AND it stands to reason that's why Rhonnie is mentioning it must be personal.

    Third time in a week, this week. Cut "for the end." That would give a bit more tension as for what they're going in for.

    I'm also not sure how I feel about you pointing out who is Rhonnie's dad and mom. It does feel like they're children (and is more interesting if they were).

    When it all comes down to it though, I liked how dark it got really quickly. Reminds me a bit of near the end of Brazil. I would definitely read more just to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

  11. Hmm. I like the first sentence, and it made me want to read on. I'm curious about the overall scene, and what's going on. But, there are several bits that just don't feel quite right when I read through it. I think it just needs a little bit of tightening up.
    I think there is a lot of explaining whose who for the first page. For example, you say at the top the Rhonnie's mum is in there, so I think later you could either say 'Rhonnie's mum' or 'Alanna' - I'd maybe go with 'Rhonnie's mum' and save the name for later, once you've caught the readers attention more.
    Something about the first two sentences of dialogue just isn't clicking with me - I'm wondering if making them shorter would help make it snap more?
    I'd also change "The closer they got" to "As they got closer" - the former is usually followed by 'the more they could xyz' - it doesn't really flow well with 'Alanna could be heard panting'. After that, the comma in 'coming from, the male's throat had' should probably be a colon.

    I'd read on, but I think the writing needs a bit more work.

  12. I also thought they were younger, maybe early teens if they're supposed to be working security detail.

    I was totally all right with the gore / creepiness, and intrigued by the scene you set, but the writing felt a little clumsy to me. For instance:
    "They crowded around the target, his eyes bulging and mouth puckered, opening and closing like a goldfish." The syntax is off, so even though a reader can tell what you mean (that his mouth opens and closes, not the crowded people), it reads awkwardly. There are a few moments like that, and if you tighten up the text, it will be a much stronger opening.

  13. Love it! I can't believe nobody commented on the wit at the beginning. You led the readers to believe the girls were hearing Rhonnie's parents having sex, then threw expectations on their heads by revealing it was an assassination. I thought that was great, and I adored the incongruity of the light, bored tone with the disturbing happenings. My fave fantasy author loves to use humour in 'inappropriate' places, and for some reason it just works. I see that here.

    One thing: who is the protag here? Is it Rhonnie or Edeira? Whom should I latch on to? And yes, maybe say 'mother' and 'father' instead of 'mom' and 'dad' because the shortened form makes the girls seem younger. The fact that they're trailing Rhonnie's parents on their assassination gigs does make them come across as young.

    Great job, I'd certainly read on!

  14. As noted, there are a few things with the writing that could be tightened up. I noticed quite a bit of missing punctuation.

    The danger of opening with a scene like this is that it makes it very, very hard for the reader (well, for most readers, I'd think) to connect with the characters. I have that problem. I'm concerned that I might be spending 200 pages or so with characters who enjoy torturing people, and that's not something I want to do.

    Granted, it could be that Rhonnie and Edeira are not the main protags, or that the story is one about how they get out of whatever it is their parents are doing--which presumably back cover copy would tell me. So if I knew more of the context, I might read on. From what I have to go on, however, I would not.

    But the detail of "Edeira's stilettos and Olarion['s] hooves" is a nice one.

  15. Well, I never thought I'd be a person who'd say this, but I'm not sure I want to read a story that's sort of celebrating murder and torture, or treating it as if it's nothing much. There was just something about it that had me saying - no, this just isn't right.

    I did think Rhonnie and Edeira were teens. Their dialogue comes off that way to me, and calling them Mother and Father, as someone else suggested, could help with that.

    It also might help if the reader knew who they were killing and torturing, and why they were doing it. If they were good guys killing demons it might take some of the sting off.

  16. Thanks for all the suggestions. I wish we had the chance to post more, because of course there's a reason for it all and it's not because they're bored and just like torture. I will definitely rework a few things so you understand thats not the case early on.

  17. I find this opening a bit off-putting, since we don't have context for the girls' age. Especially since we don’t have an insight into how these girls feel about being the lookouts for torture, or why the person being tortured is being tortured. How do they feel about being roped into this?