Thursday, August 7, 2014

Are You Hooked? #25

TITLE: The Mistake
GENRE: Adult thriller

Sam Moranga began self-medicating at Mile Marker 18. His right hand was coated to the wrist with bright yellow rubberized plastic intended for tool handles. He raised the joint to his lips while his bright yellow left fingers spun the wheel on the lighter his father had given him when he turned fourteen. He inhaled deeply and held the smoke for a full sixty seconds. As he slowly exhaled a sweet-smelling white cloud, he slid his foot off the accelerator and coasted just past Mile Marker 13. He turned right, drove half a mile up the unmapped dirt logging road to the fire cut that gave him a clear view of the road two point six miles back where he’d come from. He U-turned, aiming his truck downhill. He set the parking brake, took another long, satisfying drag, put his medicine back in the metal pill box, and slid the box into his shirt pocket.

Then he put on his crash helmet.

Sam had stolen the F-150, the most popular vehicle in America, from a construction site down in Virginia. The winch protruded from the front like an ancient Greek battering ram. He figured it would more than compensate for the dozen airbags inside the brand-new 2007 Lexus LS 460 he was about to collide with.

According to the readout on his equipment, his target’s vehicle was five miles out, traveling at sixty-two miles per hour. A little slower than planned.

Which meant she’d live maybe three seconds longer than expected.


  1. A chilling last line that makes me want to read on.

    That said, I'm not quite sure about the first paragraph. It seems a tad too long with maybe too much detail.

    But, overall, good job.

  2. I agree that the first paragraph drags a bit. That said, I LOVE the first line! I was immediately like, What?! But then the action slowed. I understand wanting things to feel...deliberate...but I felt like this took me out of the story a bit. Maybe shorten just a bit. I, too, love the last line. I would definitely want to read more!

  3. I'd agree with the above. There's a little too much "this happened, then this happened, and then this happened" in the first paragraph. Once you get to the part about the stolen vehicle, it rockets off.

  4. I like the first line a lot. It immediately makes me wonder why he's doing this and makes me want to read more. But the rest of the paragraph is less exciting. Maybe cut it down, dropping the mundane details about lighting the joint and Mile marker 13 and exhaling the smoke. I want to get to the very interesting set up that comes after that, especially once the crash helmet comes on. It's so intriguing and gives me so many questions I want answered that I would read on to see what happens next.

  5. I agree about the opening being strong and the ending, but in between it's as if you're focusing too much on setting the scene. A few details will sear it in our minds more clearly than an abundance will. I'd definitely read on based on the opening and the closing.

  6. I'm definitely interested to find out more after the first and last lines. I was confused initially at what his hands were doing. If he is holding a joint in one hand and lighting it with the other, how is he driving the car he's in?

    I really like the winch being compared to a battering ram. It fits nicely with the crash helmet and the idea that he's going to ram into another car.

    Overall it is very intriguing, but a bit bulky in the first paragraph. Great submission!

  7. Great beginning! I like the opening line - and the details in the first paragraph. They give you enough information to set the reader up for the short sentences that snatch you and rocket you along. I'm not sure I'd be as into the quickly moving action without them. Fast paced action needs context or its a big 'so what.'

  8. I would like to get a little closer inside the MC's POV. I don't get any sense of what he's thinking or feeling (except that he's self-medicating, presumably to dull any emotional response ?)I like the details in the first paragraph. The fact that his dad gave him a lighter when he turned 14 conveys so much. I'm having trouble finding a reason to relate to or care about the MC though. Also I find the transition to the paragraph that begins, "Sam had stolen ..." jarring. This paragraph seems to go further outside the character's POV, as if it's a narrator conveying back story.
    Nice opening though! And for the record, I don't normally read adult thrillers, so take my comments with a BIG grain of salt. In fact I usually read YA and I'm probably wrong in my assumption that this even is a MC and you can probably disregard my comments completely.

  9. There is a repetition of bright yellow in the opening paragraph.

    “road two point six miles back where he’d come from.”
    That seems awfully precise. I don’t find that level of precision in character from what we’ve been shown so far.

    “the most popular vehicle in America”
    This isn’t a car commercial. Is this really necessary?

    I really didn’t get cold hearted assassin from the setup until the very end. He also doesn’t come across as someone smart enough to calculate the exact moment he needs to push the truck down the hill to impact the car. You mention the crash helmet, but I can’t imaging he intends to stay in the truck. A collision violent enough to kill his target would certainly gravely endanger his own life as well.

  10. Sorry, but if I picked this up in a bookshop and read the first paragraph - I'd put it down and pick up the next book. It's too long and full of information that doesn't move the story forward - turned right, drove half a mile, unmapped dirt logging road, road is 2.6 miles back, u-turned, set the park brake - we don't need to know any of this to set the scene and you're wasting valuable real estate on the first page.

    I also didn't get the (multiple) references to yellow gloves. I'm assuming it's to prevent fingerprints, but that isn't relevant at the beginning because we don't know the car is stolen, so I'm just left scratching my head.

    The unnecessary information continues into the next paragraph. We don't need to know the F-150 is the most popular vehicle in America or that he filched it from a construction site in Virginia. None of that adds anything to the story.

  11. First and last line are awesome. Middle is too much chatter. I skipped the middle 100 words. We should be deep, DEEP in the character's head here. He's not going to be thinking about where he got the car, how popular it is, or what it looks like. He's going to be focused on his goal.

  12. First line is very intriguing as well as the last one. Although this is fast-paced I'm missing some sensory input about feelings, some kind of emotional impact. For example, using the lighter his father had given him - would this light up a scorching memory or feeling for him? That would help us be more in Sam's head too. Depending on your audience, you could have made a one-two sentences about the turns and used the space to put me in the setting more or get me closer to how he felt about stealing the vehicle - elated, hands shaking; depressed and near tears; flooded with adrenalin more high than he got from the drugs, wherever you want to take us on this drive.