Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Name That Genre: Critique Round #4

TITLE: Touch of Death (#27)
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

“Yeah, I needed this like I needed a hole in the head,” Jordan groaned. Although given her present situation, probably not the best choice of words.

“Hey Princess! Are you deaf?” the demanding voice growled. But she simple sat there unmoved and continued to drink her double caff venti macchiato – or whatever the mortal called it.

Her cell went off with an incoming text. It read: D kindly requests your presence back at home.

Of course she does. Jordan sighed and stood up to leave. Grabbing her coat, she began to walk towards the door.

“I’m sorry, but am I interrupting something?” the brute snapped again, impatiently.

The cell dinged again and Jordan groaned. She lifted the phone and read: Immediately if not sooner!

With a deafening bang and a loud scream from everyone else in the restaurant, Jordan saw her impatient cell shot to pieces out of her hand.

“Now, as I was saying, ARE YOU DEAF?” The man aimed his loaded weapon at the back of her head.

“Well if I wasn’t before I am now. Thanks.” She put her hand to her ear in an effort to stop the ringing.

“Then let me repeat. This is a hold up so get your ass on the ground or kiss it goodbye!” The trembling figures of the restaurant’s other patrons starred up at her from the floor, silently begging her to just do as they said.

“Look, Moron, why don’t you and your little friends just run along before you get yourselves hurt.”

“Moron?” The man snapped his fingers and one his cronies charged over to grabbed hold of her, but Jordan grabbed his hand and twisted it backward causing an audible crack.

“I suggest you keep your hands to yourself,” she replied.

The man stumbled backwards.


  1. I really enjoyed the way your protagonist can't be bothered with the tough-guy armed robber. :D

    I'm interested in reading further to see who commands her service, and what they want with her at this moment—not to mention what she was doing in this mortal-occupied restaurant in the first place.

    Nicely done. Good luck with the rest of it! :)

  2. There are so many unanswered questions here in the very best way! Combined with the handful of details about the MC (and her awesomely badass attitude), this absolutely makes me want to read on!

    Love knowing that she's not human, yet in a very ordinary setting. Wondering if she is alone -- why is she eating along in a restaurant. Is she waiting for someone? Watching someone?

    A couple of small things threw me. It would be good to get a sense right away that this is a restaurant. I couldn't tell whether we were inside or outside, and then (once you mention the door) wasn't sure whether this is a public space, a home, etc.

    “'I’m sorry, but am I interrupting something?' the brute snapped again, impatiently" and later, "'Now, as I was saying...": The gunman's language sounded more sarcastic than I might expect for someone robbing a place. I'd expect him to be antsier, jumpier. Obviously I don't know this guy, and maybe he's a character who crops up again, but as a generic bank robber, he's a bit too interested in sarcastic banter with this annoying (to him) obstacle to the $ rather than getting the $ and getting out of there.

    Tiny details: misspelling of simple for simply and starring for staring, plus repetition with "impatiently" and "impatient" about halfway down.

    Nice going! Hope to see more of your novel here again!

  3. I already like the MC and am intrigued by her superhuman abilities. I was confused by her cell phone being shot to pieces. Is she immune to bullets? Would this not surprise the bad guys that her hand was not blown off or at least bleeding from all the sharp cell phone pieces?

    The first 300 words definitely held my interest and I would read on.

  4. Jordan comes off as a very tough, jaded character, no doubt. She's totally got this gang's number. I liked the snarky, "Well if I wasn't before, I am now," comment, but I didn't understand how the shot was so precise.

    The writing is clean for the most part. There are a couple of places where I think you could make more impact. "... the demanding voice growled," seems unneccesarily telling, and at the same time, vague because we don't know who he is or what's going on. Also, "the brute snapped again, impatiently"—I pretty well get that's he's impatient from what he says, but you could also show him doing something impatient without straight up telling us. (What's an "impatient" cell?)

    I'm going to have to be a voice of dissent, though, and say I'm not connecting with Jordan. I get that she's a lofty immortal, but in these first few lines, despite being a badass, she's not extremely sympathetic. She doesn't seem to care about the people in the restaurant (she's going to leave them there). She has a cell phone and so would appear accustomed to Earthly things, but she doesn't know what her drink is (or didn't bother to listen--except that her guess is oddly specific) and she calls the waiter/waitress/barista/whoever "mortal" instead of just calling him/her by the profession--which sort of sounds like she just descended and hasn't gotten used to the filthy peasants yet. And maybe that's her thing, maybe that's what you were going for, but it does make her the type of character I'm not all that interested in. Other readers' mileages will vary, of course, and you've gotten mostly feedback that she's great, so...

    IMO, I think, even though you want to paint her as a really tough character, bored by these little men, you should give her at least a little something humanizing at first for us to hang our hats on (and if you do a few lines down, then never mind).

  5. You do a great job of introducing Jordan's character by showing instead of telling. Everyone else is terrified, and she's just mildly irritated. Well done.

    In the rest of the excerpt, I was confused because I don't know where we are or what exactly what's happening until later. If you set the scene (in a restaurant surrounded by people, robbers storm in), the action will be clearer. It will also give Jordan's reactions more impact if we see them in context. (I was especially confused by her first line of dialogue because we don't know what she's reacting to.)

    You have all the pieces you need. It's just a matter of putting them all in the right order.

  6. For me this is too much too soon. I'm intrigued by this immortal and would like to know a little more about her before we dive into this scene. Why is she in the cafe in the first place?

    I think you mean this scene to be exciting. But because there's no build up, there's no tension. Even Jordan acts more bored than anything else. Consider starting a little farther back. Let's see what's going through her mind before/as the thugs walk in. Let her notice them spreading out, pull weapons, use her immortal power to read their intentions(or whatever her secret power allows her to do). Let's hear the panic of the patrons as they hit the floor. It will be a much more effective scene if we are a little scared for her before she initiates her Superwoman maneuvers.

  7. Does the guy scream when she snaps his hands back? That would be icing on the cake. :)

    I think you might need to roll back just a tad, like a sentence maybe to show the guy coming into the shop and how many because that's a little confusing, but I'm loving how bored she is. It's great characterization, shows how not threatened she is by it and maybe even how mundane the situation is to her.

  8. Something felt a little bit off but I couldn't quite put my finger on it when I left my first comment. After reading some of the other critiques, I have to agree that rolling back just a tad would make a world of difference. Having the men come in and ordering the patrons to the floor all while Jordan ignores the thugs would make the beginning less confusing and draw me in that much quicker. Good Luck.