Thursday, August 7, 2014

Are You Hooked? #18

TITLE: Blood Demon
GENRE: Supernatural Thriller

The white cabinets seemed to glare at her and the cheery yellow walls of the kitchen glowed too brightly, hurting her eyes. Jamie dried her shaking hands and hung the towel back on the oven handle. It’s the adrenaline, she thought.

She took one last look around, before walking through the narrow doorway into the family room. Her parents sat on the sofa watching TV, their backs to her. Like a reproach, her step father’s arm was slung casually across her mother’s shoulders.

“Kitchen’s cleaned up,“ Jamie said.

“Oh, thank you, honey,” her mom replied, turning her head. Crow’s feet crinkled around her eyes as she smiled at Jamie. Another cut in the emotional flaying.

“Sure.” Jamie leaned over to kiss her mother on the cheek. She lingered a moment, savoring her mother’s faint scent of warm bread and fresh wash. “I love you, mom.”

“I love you too, baby.” She returned Jamie’s kiss.

Moving to her stepfather, Jamie put a hand on his shoulder, “You, too, Dad.” She kissed his rough cheek. “I’m tired. I think I’m going to go read and make it an early night.”

“Ok, hon. See you in the morning.”

Jamie headed for the stairs. On the landing, she took one last look at them. Just a normal night. She swallowed the lump in her throat and climbed the stairs slowly.

In her room, she pulled out the note she’d hand written and read it one last time.

Mom and Dad,

I’m sorry. I love you, both, very much.


  1. Is this YA? I like the specific details you use in descriptions.

    I'm a little confused. I don't understand why her parents' affection for each other and for her are like a "reproach" or "emotional flaying", especially since Jamie seems wistful when she kisses her mother's cheek. If she feels such intense negative emotions, I wouldn't think she'd kiss either parent. If you could clarify the motivation for her feelings and actions, it would read more smoothly for me.

    By "wash" do you mean laundry or soap (like she just showered)?

    I am hooked, despite my confusion. Best of luck with your revisions!

  2. Thanks! This is very helpful. I'll look at the confusion issues. And I think I'm going to change that word "wash" as it's been sticking out to me, too.

  3. I get the sense of a suicide note from the last lines, but the rest of this feels like teenage snark. The details you chose to focus on with the parents aren't heavy enough if it is about her suicide. If not, then I'm lost.

  4. Thanks! That's really helpful. I didn't realize it came across as snarky at all. But you're right re: the suicide note.

  5. I agree with the other commenters about the disconnect with what’s going on inside her head and the actions she takes.

    I like the character and the end is a great hook, but I wonder if we don’t take too long to get there. We need to see her relationship with her parents, and nice job working that in in less than 250 words. Maybe snipping the first paragraph would get us to the hook a little quicker.

  6. I'm with everyone else in Confusion Land. I like the details about the cabinets glaring at her and the walls burning her eyes, but the rest of her thoughts just don't seem to match up with what's happening. When Jamie speaks, I hear defeat in her voice. Her parents seem distracted, in the way that parents can be at the end of the day (I'm sure I've probably sounded just like this to my kids at the end of a long day).

    But if she's seeing things so negatively, then wouldn't she be happy to be rid of this place and these people? Why does she seem so remorseful as she climbs the stairs?

  7. I like the moment with the parents and I'd suggest starting there with Jamie kissing them goodbye. The walls and cabinets are a bit overdescribed (too many adjectives I'd suggest cutting) and the real core is that this lady is leaving her family behind and she cares for them and that's what would hook me so I'd suggest getting there a bit sooner, especially the note which really hits me and wants me to learn more.

  8. The hook here is great - the MC is leaving her family, who she clearly loves, and I want to know why.

    I would like to suggest moving the leaving part up front though. As it is, I had no idea she was planning anything and because of that the arm hanging as a reproach made no sense. Neither did 'Another cut in the emotional flaying.'

    Although I understand the impulse to build suspense with those elements, they are so out of context for a reader just jumping in, that they lose most of their emotional impact.

    Is there a way you might start with her thinking about the note? About leaving? And then everything she sees around her will have that bittersweet feeling. I'd be curious to know why she's leaving.

    I would also though like a clearer indication of whether she wants to leave or has to. I'm not sure from this.

    But I have to say, it has potential. Good luck with it.

  9. Okay, I don't usually read comments before posting mine, and now I see it's a suicide note. Hmmm... definitely doesn't come across as that. The MC's feelings seem too muted for that. I think the 'adrenaline' is what pulls in the direction away from suicide. Generally people aren't excited before embarking on that last trip. They're usually too miserable to have adrenaline pumping. So it seems the confusion is a matter of tone. The tone needs to be darker, sadder, and the words she uses to describe things around her need to match her view of the world. If she notices her mother smells like warm bread, then how does that make her feel? Suicide level depression is so inward.

    But now I would definitely want to read more because I don't want her to die.

  10. This is such great feedback. Thank you all, so much! Now, I'm eager to revise.

  11. I was confused too. The reproach and the emotional flaying make it sound like her parents are being mean to her, but they aren't. They seemed rather nice.

    Maybe it was the adrenaline - made me think that maybe she had just come in from a run or something, but she's washing dishes, and I can't imagine how that would give her an adrenaline rush.

    Then she kisses her parents, and they both respond warmly, so the words the MC is speaking don't reflect what you're showing us.

    The note made me think she was either going to commit suicide or run away.

    I'd suggest working on a way to make her words and actions, and her parents actions, coincide. If her parents are being mentally abusive, let us see it. If they're being verbally abusive, let us hear it, and perhaps give us a bit more of the MC's internal thoughts so we see her despair and total lack of hope. Right now, she just seems sad, and sad people don't commit suicide. There has to be more going on.