Monday, March 1, 2021

Are You Hooked? #8

TITLE: Beneath The Arctic Moon
GENRE: Romantic Suspense

"Never seen one like this, eh, Trevor?” the old Trooper muttered, nudging his wide-brimmed hat, tearing his eyes away from the mangled body to his partner. “She’s a young one, this one.”

Trevor shook his head, chewing the end of his pen. “No, Artie,” he agreed grimly, “and I thought I’d seen it all." Replacing the cover over the young woman’s battered face, he jotted down a few more notes before waving to the waiting ME. “She’s all yours.”

“I’m gonna call it like I see it, Trevor,” Artie leaned closer to Trevor, his voice lowered. “Same brunette hair,” he tugged nervously at the cross around his thick neck before adding, “and same voodoo painted on the walls.”

Trevor frowned, staring at the blazing red symbols, their paint still dripping grotesquely down the stark white wall. His stomach clenched. “Serial?”

Artie nodded his bushy white head. “Serial.”

“Maybe,” Trevor sighed, looking down at his notes. “But, it’s not religious.”


“Meaning,” Trevor pointed to the paint, “If it is as we suspect, the same person, that red paint is just that, paint, and nothing more,” he snapped a photo of the symbols with his phone. “And these symbols have little to do with the victim.” 

Artie frowned his confusion. “How do you know what the symbols mean?”

Trevor shrugged. “They’re not voodun, if that’s what you’re worried about, Artie.”

Artie shot him an offended look before tucking his cross beneath his shirt. “Who says I’m worried?"


  1. You bring us into this world immediately and give a good sense of where the story might be going (though I'm intrigued that the genre is romantic suspense... it doesn't feel like a romance off the bat). I did think you could draw the reader in a bit more with more detailed descriptions of the scene and the body, along with some more information about Trevor and Artie through physical descriptions, gestures, etc. Nice job!

  2. Great opening. It pulls me in. However, it doesn't read as Romantic Suspense and if I was looking for that and this was the start, I'd stop. It reads more like straight up suspense, or mystery or even thriller.

  3. It took me several rereads to follow the action. Could just be me. At first I thought it was a war setting (I think because of the use of "Trooper" and the immediate mention of a body, although I get it now). Also, a lot of "as you know" crammed into the dialogue IMO. I'd keep reading because I think the writing shows promise, but I could use a bit more grounding.

  4. I'd definitely keep reading. You do a great job establishing Artie's character and the relationship between the two partners--the older, more experienced but maybe a bit narrow-minded and the younger, more modern partner who seems like he has specialized training or education to balance his lack of experience.

    My suggestion would be to have Trevor go ahead and answer the question of how he knows the murder isn't religious right away instead of dragging it out. (And maybe you do in the next sentence, one of the downsides of the "first 250 words" limitation.) I get frustrated if one person knows something and won't share for no good reason.

    Overall, great work. I enjoyed it.

    1. One other suggestion, after reading the other comments: Can you give an idea of the setting, just in general terms? Indoors or outdoors? Day or night? Summer or winter? It would only take a few extra words. Is the body lying on asphalt, dirt, linoleum, etc.? Or you could mention the blood on the stark white wall of the *hospital* or the *living room* or wherever she is. It doesn't take a whole paragraph of scene-setting to clue us in and get us located in the setting.

  5. Thank you all so much for your comments! ��
    I really appreciate your taking the time to read and critique my first 250 words. I am excited to get started on utilizing your suggestions.
    Happy writing!

  6. I agree with above, the use of 'Trooper' in the first paragraph doesn't quite click. Your prose is otherwise nicely clean.

    Full disclosure: I'm making a point of responding to all entries, whether I'm normally interested in the genre or not. As someone who isn't normally interested in romantic suspense, I'm afraid this intro didn't hook me. Rest assured that is *entirely* a matter of taste; your prose is clean enough that if this were some other genre, I'd probably read the next few pages.

  7. Interesting for sure. The first sentence felt too long to me, though. The hat part was a little hard to picture, so that's what I'd recommend taking out. There are enough gestures already. Them saying each other's names so many times seemed unlikely. People don't need to do that in normal conversation. And, to me, red voodoo looking paint symbols on the wall of more than one crime scene wouldn't cause anyone to speculate but to assume right away that this was a serial killer. The paint would be the first clue, not the very common brunette hair color. Nevertheless, who doesn't love a good serial killer story? And I'm intrigued how the one guy knows some stuff about voodoo already.

  8. I am willing to keep reading to see what is going on. :-) I liked the first sentence. Caught my interest. I think the second "Trevor" in dialogue is not needed because the two characters are established. And I did have to read the "No, Artie" twice to see if he meant no to her age or never seen it before. I think it referred to the "never seen it before." Maybe clear that up. But great job. Best of luck in your writing journey!

  9. Agree with what's already been said. Symbols trump hair color every time. ;)

    Trevor's "No, Artie" in the second paragraph made me stop and re-read because I thought he was disagreeing about the woman's age. You might want to cut Artie's line about her being young to avoid confusion.

    Give your dialogue room to breathe. Trimming a few of the character's gestures allows the others to have more of an impact. Let the reader fill in the blanks because your characters' dialogue rings true.

  10. Great dialogue and interesting start! The ME through me and I would suggest not using this abbreviation in the opening. Good luck!

  11. I was hooked. Great dialogue. But maybe not allow the ME to take the body yet. Move it to a little later. It seems like good dialogue to have around a body. Plus there's no mention of the work the ME does after they're waved over.

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