Thursday, August 7, 2014

Are You Hooked? #17

TITLE: Werewold in the Fold
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

The manager’s voice became careful. “If you were hired, what would you do if some of your co-workers came up to you saying there was a werewolf in the department, and asking what you wanted to do about it?”

James was sweating the interview questions, so he had to stay absolutely still so his slacks wouldn't make those obscene sucking sounds against the vinyl chair he was sitting in. He took a breath, knowing his answer was both honest and presentable. “I would say, ‘What bigotry is this?’ I have no problem with Werewolf-Americans, and I would have little patience with those who do.”

The manager nodded. “That’s the answer.” About a hundred pounds overweight, Robert seemed to assume his double chin and beard would hide the sloppy knot in his tie. He rose from his desk and shook hands with James, letting him know he could expect a second interview later that day.

“Thanks, Robert. I guess I’ll get back to work.” Strange, to hear those words come out of his mouth. But this was the life of a temp: work at a place for six months, take a half hour out for an interview to become permanent at that very same position—which in this case, meant writing training manuals for the call center he was standing in—then go right back to his desk as if nothing had happened.

Robert wagged a finger at him. “Just make sure the new RA manual gets done.”


  1. The opening lines are a little jarring. Without knowing the setting or situation, I was confused. I think starting with the first sentence of the second paragraph (about the pants not making the sucking sounds on the vinyl) might be a stronger opening line. Also, it might help to hint at whether this is a legit question about werewolves or if the manager is just asking a crazy question to see how James responds under pressure.

  2. I agree with sbcrispell about the first lines being confusing without context.

    I have never heard slacks make an obscene sound against vinyl. Usually it's bare skin that makes that sound; maybe leather?

    It's a bit awkward when you reveal the manager's name. Why don't you reveal it the first time you mention him?

    Would someone who writes training manuals interface with customers? The interview question doesn't seem applicable to the job to me. If it's a question they ask every employee, perhaps you could frame it that way.

    The concept is intriguing. Best of luck with your revisions!

  3. The only part about this that hooks me at all is that werewolves are a recognized minority in society. An interview isn't really gripping. There really isn't enough at stake here for me to care about. Maybe you're starting the book at the wrong place.

  4. This has nice voice and some real promise. The entry feels a bit like a page two rather than a first page though. Adding a first line with some context where you connect the character with the setting will help. You can show comic voice--first lines are great for that. Maybe something about him being a temp, which seems loaded with opportunity (having temped for several years).

    I would look for wordyness, and see where words can be trimmed by using stronger verbs. Though people do actually talk like the manager ("came up to you saying there was.." "asking you what you wanted to do"), nixing the -ing verbs and trimming that up will make it pop.

    Overall watch for overusing -ing verbs when you don't need to. Said vs. was saying, sat vs. was sitting, etc.

  5. I enjoyed this overall. Here are my thoughts:

    Unless you’re going for humorous, it was hard to imagine that James’ jeans were so sweat-soaked from an interview that he had to be careful of obscene sucking sounds against the vinyl. I’ve personally never heard of that type of problem, to be honest.

    Even though it’s in the same paragraph as his dialogue, the name Robert threw me, since he’d been called “the manager” up until then. Maybe describe his shiny nametag or something, or find some other clever way to get to know his name?

    I agree with a couple comments suggesting adding stakes to the scene—perhaps start a page or two earlier and show him nervous about the upcoming interview because it’s such a golden opportunity and he doesn’t want to blow it. Would definitely make the scene more gripping if we knew that info beforehand.

    I thought this was fun, though. It’s interesting that werewolves are a minority in this society (at least, I hope they are haha.). Good job and good luck!

  6. @ChrisV – there’s a joke to be made about adding stakes to a scene about werewolves…

    Anyway -

    My initial reaction is to be cautious of another werewolf story. I’m about vampired and werewolfed out. Yes, I just turned vampire and werewolf into verbs. I’m a writer. I can make up words if I want, right??

    Okay -

    The dialogue is good, but I’d like a bit more grounding in the setting.

    “his slacks wouldn't make those obscene sucking sounds against the vinyl chair he was sitting in.”

    This line really threw me. I’m not aware of any material of slacks that makes a sucking sound when rubbed against a vinyl chair.

    “He took a breath, knowing his answer was both honest and presentable.”

    This is telling the reader what to think of the answer. I would suggest that you just give the answer and leave out the commentary.

    “James was sweating the interview questions”

    Would it be possible to show his nervousness, rather than tell the reader how he’s feeling?

  7. The opening line also had me with that question and then James' answer tell me a lot about the world without too much description which is well done and I am invested!

    The only suggestion I had was that the POV switches from James to Robert very quickly in such a short span of time I got confused as to whom I should be following as reader. And it's important in the beginning to establish voice and character so it'd be nice to stick with one from the outset and then have new POVs introduced later.

  8. The opening didn't read like a first page to me. It read like I came in in the middle of something. Perhaps reconsider it. The manager's dialogue could work without the tag in front of it, but a lot of people don't like starting a story with dialogue. Maybe something short that places him? He could be taking in his fellow employees at his new job - the suit, the single mom, the gay guy, the Goth, the werewolf.

    I agree about the pants and the noise. I don't buy it. I also agree about the intro of the manager's name. It had me wondering if James was really Robert and I has somehow forgotten his name.

    There just wasn't a whole lot here for me. Yes, you have a werewolf being an accepted member of society, but there's still no problem. Does the MC hate werewolves? Is he a werewolf himself but still living in the closet? Does he have an irrational fear of werewolves? Give us a hint of what the problem is, and that will draw the reader in.