Thursday, August 7, 2014

Are You Hooked? #21

GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Nadya held the burly man’s wrist in a tight grip—tight enough to be uncomfortable, but not tight enough to crunch bones. Inhaling deeply, her eyes fluttered closed. As repulsive as she found this man’s personality, she ached to lick the droplets of blood from his creamy skin. Instead, she looked down and dabbed Betadine over the manic eyes that straddled the vein in his wrist. She picked up her needle, dipped it in black ink, and began outlining the wide mouth that would complete the biker gang symbol. As she meticulously filled the pale mouth in with crooked teeth, her fingers dug into her client’s skin with increasing pressure. He grimaced.

“You do nice work.” The man’s voice was strained. A tough guy. She’d wait a few weeks, then hunt him down. Watch him until he showed his true nature. They always did. Especially after getting their tattoos.

Over the past sixteen years, Nadya had watched while the world spiraled down the drain, crime ever on the rise. The economy was finally starting to bounce back, but only for those with powerful allies. In Vancouver, that meant gang connections. Nadya memorized the man’s scent, looks, and voice, and mentally filed them as she bandaged his tattoo.

She rattled off the balance due. The man picked up his leather jacket, admiring the bright patch emblazoned on the back, and held out his unbandaged wrist.

“It’s five percent extra for chip payments,” she said. “There’s an ATM about three blocks away.”

“Just scan it.”


  1. I am intrigued. I was a little confused for a second when it talked about "the manic eyes that straddled the vein." It gave me pause, but once I read on a bit further it cleared up. The only other thing that made me stumble just a bit was "As she meticulously filled the pale mouth in..." My mind imagined her pouring something into a mouth. Changing it to "As she meticulously filled in the pale mouth..." I think that would be resolved.

    If this feels like I am grasping for suggestions, I am. This feels really solid.

  2. Interesting premise. I was confused in the first paragraph and re-read a few sentences to figure out what you meant with "the manic eyes that straddled the vein." It might help to clarify that the manic eyes are part of a tattoo she is working on. Also, maybe find a better description for "the world spiraled down the drain". That doesn't really tell me what happened or what the state of the world really is. Be specific and really draw the reader in with details.

  3. I was also confused by the "manic eyes." The Betadine isn't necessarily a strong enough clue for those of us less familiar with the tattooing process.

    Perhaps "the manic eyes she'd inked straddling the vein in his wrist" or "dabbed the extra ink away from the manic eyes" (or similar) would clarify your meaning for the reader.

    Though I'm not usually into vampire stories (which I inferred from your entry this is), I really like the worldbuilding you did in these few words, and would read on.

  4. This is strong. Really strong. I read it thinking, "This book is not my genre." and "But the writing is soooo good."

    It took me a while to get that the MC is a tattoo artist, but at the mention of ink, I got it. Maybe put the word a little higher up?

  5. I was hooked once I got the context of her as a tattoo artist. I suppose it depends if you want to suspend understanding by holding back that she's inking him (I thought bounty hunter/law enforcement at first). Otherwise, may help to move up the ink line, and then show her closing her eyes thinking about his blood. To me, that works better but it's your story.

    I like how a hint of the past is added in for context. The detail about Vancouver and the gangs show what your character is connected with, and if I'm reading this right, maybe she goes after criminals for blood like a (vampire?) vigilante.

  6. LOVE this. I am absolutely hooked. You did a brilliant job of setting the world, tone, and her characterization all up in just 250 words.

    Like others, it took me a second to realize she was a tattoo artist. That is an easy fix, with just a bit of shuffling, but it might be an important one to make. Otherwise, fantastic work!

  7. I agree with the other comments-confused by the "manic eyes" and I think moving the word "ink" up would make it clear.
    I also suggest nixing the "creamy" adjective. I think it's overused and doesn't seem to fit with this character.
    The paragraph that begins,"Over the past 16 years" seems like an info dump that pulled me out of the otherwise engaging opening scene. I think you can find a way to seamlessly weave the necessary back story info into the scene. Like, "These days, only people with tight gang connections had money for that kind of jacket." (I'm sure you could come up with something much better.)A nit-pick, is the man admiring his own jacket? Or is the MC admiring it?
    Otherwise I think it's an engaging scene that hooks! Well done!

  8. I feel like there’s too much detail given to the strength of the grip that Nadya is using in the first line. Then in the next line, her eyes close. Wouldn’t the burly man take this opportunity to attack?

    “As repulsive as she found this man’s personality, she ached to lick the droplets of blood from his creamy skin”

    I really liked this line. It’s a creative, almost artful , way of introducing her vampirism. That said, as I mentioned in the werewolf story entry, I’m about vampired and werewolfed out.

    “Instead, she looked down and dabbed Betadine over the manic eyes that straddled the vein in his wrist.”

    At first this really confused me, but then the next line explains it’s a tattoo and that makes more sense.

    The start of the third paragraph seems to head into a little bit of backstory. I’d consider snipping all but the last sentence.

    She tells him about the ATM, but I’m surprised. If he takes that option, he’s basically leaving without paying, and a tattoo is notoriously hard to repossess. He doesn’t seem like the kind that would simply return to pay out of some sense of personal honor anything resembling ethics.

  9. I like the setting, I like the premise, and I like the fact that you have created a character that lives so much outside the expected. She is not what she seems, and that is the best kind of character.

    I think some areas could be tighter and more focused. For example, 'As repulsive as she found this man's personality,..' is vague. What was repulsive about his personality? He's a rapist? He beats his girlfriend? Can you tell us maybe one thing and also how she knows? Through his scent? That would give the reader not only a glimmer of what she can do, but of her own personality. What she finds repulsive would help define her.

    'The world spiraled down the drain' is also vague for the narrator. On the other hand, it's not vague if she thinks it. For example, as a narrator, you should probably give an example - whatever it is that made this world so bad right now. But if Nadya thinks 'The world is spiraling down the drain and I'm sick of it (or good for me, more victims, or humans are nasty, or whatever).

    Good start though. Good luck.

  10. I liked the slow reveal. Very good!

  11. The first two lines need some tweaking and I also was confused about the tatooing. But once that was cleared up I was intrigued to read on. Perhaps she could watch the blood pulsing through his veins, never tiring of watching it's outline through the skin. Not my genre but much tighter writing here.