Friday, November 11, 2016


TITLE: Breathing in Darkness
GENRE: Adult Romantic thriller

Respected veterinarian Kane Raithby kidnaps Amy Hutchinson in a bid to force her scientist father to stop his horrific research. It was supposed to be a simple kidnapping, but Kane hadn’t counted on falling for Amy, the daughter of a monster. In his mission to destroy the father she loves, he risks destroying her as well.

He had plenty of practice invading other people’s lives. Five years of practice, to be precise, uncovering the shameful secrets people kept tucked away and learning to read beyond the lie of their online lives. Kane had been invading Amy Hutchinson’s life for three weeks. It was his job to understand as much about Amy as he could: what she liked, hoped for, dreamed of. What she feared. After three weeks of surveillance, this was his one overriding thought: he couldn’t stand this woman.

Kane Raithby stretched his long legs as far as he could in the confines of his Land Rover, a sweat trail working its way down his spine. Tired of the smell of cheap coffee, stale air and even staler recriminations, he opened a window. It didn’t help. Dry African air, heavy with dust and exhaust fumes, snuck into the car. And on a blistering Friday afternoon in December, a typical summer’s day in Johannesburg, hot air was the last thing he needed. He had enough of that just looking at Amy Hutchinson.

Shifting in his seat, he scratched at the beard he’d forced himself to grow. The security guard tasked with patrolling the car park outside the glass-fronted restaurant Amy was in made another slow, suspicious pass in front of his vehicle. Kane felt his pulse speed up as he realized that his hulking figure in a battered Land Rover Defender, hedged in by late-model BMWs and Mercs, was proving to be an unfortunate standout.


  1. I like the logline and the story so far. Even on the first page I'm beginning to like Kane already and the story makes me want to keep reading. A little confusion though - is Kane a private eye or veterinarian? The logline says 'veterinarian' but the 'it was his job to understand' line made me think he was hired as a private eye. Interesting start though. The logline paired with the first page makes me interested to see how Kane changes his mind about Amy.

  2. Interesting premise and great setup here. My one suggestion would be to cut down on some to help streamline it.... For example, start with his full name at the top 'KR had been invading people's lives for five years.'

    Good luck!

  3. There is a ton of intrigue in this premise. Knowing from the pitch that this guy's going to fall for Amy and that he currently hates her, I am so curious as to why. The third paragraph is PHENOMENAL - I know exactly where I am and I am there in the hot stifling car with him. Great sensory details overall! I felt like the logline could be cleaned up a bit. You tell us Amy's kidnapped in the first and second sentence and while I like the flow, it felt a bit long and clunky. But it's intriguing so win.:) Same for the excerpt. I feel like you could streamline some sentences (NOT THAT THIRD PARAGRAPH :) ) and tell me more with less. If that makes sense. Overall great job! I'm excited to see how you do on Tuesday! Good luck!

    1. correction - I meant second paragraph of the excerpt. KEEP THAT SECOND PARAGRAPH!

  4. Interesting premise, though the log line is fairly long. This could be tightened for greater impact.

    First line is compelling. I found myself interested in reading more. I did think he was more of a private investigator based on the first few lines, especially as it was his job to understand as much about the heroine as possible.

    Great use of sensory detail and showing us how cramped he is sitting in the car for a long period of time. These lines were the most compelling, drawing me in as I read.

    Question: according to a quick online search thread, December afternoons in Johannesburg average 26 °C (78.8 °F) and rainfall is at peak during this time of year. This might not be considered blistering hot if the MC is from elsewhere. Would it be dry African air at this time if it’s basically the rainy season?

    The first and last paragraphs could be tightened, eliminating filter phrases (eg. he felt…, he realized).

    As a thriller, this is interesting to me. But without a very early reason for me to understand why the hero is stalking and kidnapping the heroine, I don’t think I’d read on past the first page.

  5. This is going to be fun. The log line is wordy and if tighter would pack more punch. I liked the last line of the first paragraph a lot and wonder if it could be reworked and made into the first line. A thought--since he is experienced at surveillance, wouldn't he already have done something about a car that stands out?

  6. The except read pretty well and I like the voice.

    My nits would be: when he invades her life, I expected him to have inserted himself into her life, but he's just watching her, which doesn't seem like an intrusion. And this line needs trimming " The security guard tasked with patrolling the car park outside the glass-fronted restaurant Amy was in…"

  7. The logline drew me in. It could be tightened up, but it does get across what the story is about.

    The page confused me. In the logline, his beef is with Amy's father, and he's only kidnapping her to get at him. On the page, he hates Amy with a passion and there's no mention of her father. Without the logline, I would assume the MC was psycho, maybe a serial killer, and Amy was in serious trouble.

    If, during the course of the story, Amy will also fall for him, perhaps make the MC a bit more likeable. Let us see his softer side, his love for animals, or maybe he doesn't really want to do this but feels he has no choice. If the romance will be one sided, keep it as it is.

  8. Definitely intrigued.Great sensory details and tight writing. I'm a bit confused about a few things, though. From the logline, I know he's a veterinarian. And I assume he's trying to stop her father because he's harming animals. But the bit about "five years of practice" and invading people's lives/ learning their secrets....well, that doesn't sound like a vet. Add in the "simple kidnapping" and I'm thinking he's also involved with some sort of animal welfare underground group and he's kidnapped people before. The line, "five years, to be precise" tells me something happened five years ago, so hopefully that will get cleared up in the story, eventually.

    I guess I'm also curious why he needs to know so much about his kidnap victim. If he's kidnapping her in order to get to the dad, what difference does it make what Amy is afraid of or what she dreams about?

    So, a little bit of confusion, but I'm still really intrigued by the premise and would keep reading. Pacing feels just right, too.

  9. I really like that this is set in Joburg, which we don't see much, and I'm intrigued by the premise. However, if Kane is your romantic hero, you need to establish him as one first. Getting right into this situation makes him look like a stalker or the villain of the story. It's fine if he does bad things for a good reason, but we need to know that reason beforehand so we can at least sympathize with his extreme actions. Additionally, you keep telling us how much he dislikes Amy from what he's uncovered, but we don't see any of that, so we can't understand what's to dislike. (Is she vapid? Is she complicit in her father's dealings?) Also, as Barbara said above, his beef is with Amy's father, so I wonder if this might be more emotionally conflicting for Kane if he actually likes what he's learned about Amy and begins to second guess his plan. Lastly, show us somehow that he's a veterinarian right away, which might also make him more endearing from the start.

  10. Cut the first sentence - it's languid back story: not needed, and could be misleading (made me think he was a serial stalker and killer).

    "Kane had been invading Amy Hutchinson’s life for three weeks" is a MUCH stronger first line.

    Don't mix comparisons: real things with intangible ones. "Tired of the smell of cheap coffee, stale air and even staler recriminations" does not work. And by no stretch of the imagination do recriminations smell.

    "Dry African air, heavy with dust and exhaust fumes, snuck into the car." - 'snuck' is the wrong word here. Crept, sidled, slipped, whatever. Not snuck.

    "Kane felt his pulse speed up as he realized that his hulking figure in a battered Land Rover Defender, hedged in by late-model BMWs and Mercs, was proving to be an unfortunate standout." (1) He wouldn't just now realize it, (2) a guy wouldn't likely describe himself as hulking - that's the author's word (3) "was proving to be an unfortunate standout" is wordy and laborious.

    I'm being brutal here because you're good; this is a very strong start, which makes the blips stand out more. I would definitely keep reading.

    Note: I never read loglines before reading - first pages are best read cold. Your page has plenty on it to keep me reading; I don't need any more information. Just tighten it up.

  11. Love the log line and ready to read more. But, I did find areas mentioned above. Tighten and good luck.

  12. I like that this is from a man's perspective. The comparison of hot air made me smile. The writing is fluid, there was nothing to make me pause, save one, super, car nerd, nitpick-y thing: Range Rover Defenders are rare and very expensive. I've lusted after one for years. Even a beat up one would cost as much as a new Mercedes or BMW. I'd drop off the "Defender" and leave it at Range Rover.
    Good luck. :)

  13. I love the premise/logline. The sample kept my attention, but I almost wonder if it should start at paragraph 2, and the information in the first paragraph should be worked into the story later on?

  14. In addition to the aforementioned tightening of the logline, I agree to Sara's recommendation of tightening the first line to, "Kane had been invading Amy Hutchinson’s life for three weeks." I would further go on to immediately follow with what you have in the second paragraph before getting into the backstory. I think it would bring the reader closer to the character right off the bat. And then you can revisit the sentence about him not being able to stand her. It's just a bit of reorganizing, but it works! Good luck!