Wednesday, January 14, 2009


TITLE: The Mirror
GENRE: YA dark fantasy

Dark shapes drifted in front of the car, blocking the lights from the freeway. I glanced at Dad, wondering if he saw them too. He didn't blink, didn't seem alarmed by anything in front of us.

My vision burned with the instantaneous flash of red lights. Dad slammed on his brakes. "Hold on, Annie."

After the deafening squeal of tires and the horrible roar of an engine, something slammed into the back of our car. Almost stopped, now we were thrust forward, colliding with the truck in front of us.

A tide of heat rose up, along with the smell of burnt rubber. More dark shadows fluttered outside my window. When I looked, I saw two coppery sparks, like eyes. They blinked out in the next moment, and I wondered if I was hallucinating.


"Stay in the car." He looked out his window, too. "Are you hurt?"

I looked down at my legs. My right knee was pinned under the glove box, but I couldn't feel it. "I—I don't know."

He wiped blood off his forehead and onto his pants. "I think—"

A dark cloud flew toward the car, blocking out the lights from the casinos along the Strip. The coppery eyes glittered in the center of the blackness. The shadow made contact with our car on my dad's side. With a screech of metal our car swung sideways. My door crunched into the tailgate of a semi. Something clear dripped onto my window.



  1. Wow! This has changed drastically! I really like it though. Definitely hooked!

  2. YES! I'm Hooked. I'd love to read on!

  3. Holy cow! I really liked Jon's beginning, but this is beyond good. I really like the change!

  4. Hooked, definitely!

    There's a couple places where I think you could tighten and amp up the tension, for example....

    "When I looked, I saw two coppery sparks, like eyes. They blinked out in the next moment, and I wondered if I was hallucinating." The "I saw" and "I wondered" lessen some of the immediacy. You could easily rewrite without them.

    But that's just a nitpicky thought, feel free to ignore. Great job!

  5. Intriguing and I'd read on . . . but would still want to tighten up the writing a bit more. You're in an area of the market that is getting very saturated, and you're going to have to open quite fabulously to stand out from all the other 'dark paranormals' sitting in my towering pile. You'd be amazed how many open in a fairly similar way to this. But I'm being picky - this is good. :)

  6. This is very nicely done. I'm a little startled the girl didn't notice her leg getting wedged into paralysis, but I suppose that could be shock.

    Hooked, definitely.

  7. Love the last line--one word that cranks up the tension. I'd read on--good work!

  8. Not hooked. It read too much like a report, for me. This happened then this, then this . . .

    She's seeing dark shapes in front of the windshield and wonders if her father can see them. Is she surprised to see them, scared to see them? Does she wonder what they are? Does she know what they are? And what do they look like? Ghouls, animals, squares and circles? Give us an idea.

    For me, that's what's missiing here. There's nothing personal in it. No feelings and emotions. She's in a horrible car crash, her leg is paralyzed, she sees these great coppery eyes staring at her from out of a cloud, and she doesn't react at all.

    Perhaps get some feeling and emotion in here and let us know how all this is affecting her personally. The premise is great. Perhaps work on execution.

  9. Don't agree with Secret Agent here. I'm not sure where the writing could be tightened.

  10. I'm on the fence about this one. See, I loved the description and didn't feel lost while reading it (a very tricky thing to do) but on the other hand, something didn't pull me in. I'm not sure if the dialogue seemed forced or if I'm just not a fan of car crashs. The writing is solid and I'd give it a few more pages at least to figure out how I felt about it.

  11. Really liked it, but, I think the accident could use a little more detail - I had to go back and re-read it a few times to be sure they'd actually been in an accident. The hook is definitely there though.

  12. Very interesting, but leaves me as confused as the characters. Not a bad thing, necessarily.

    Sets up a tense mood right away and I like that. Would definitely read on to see what's just happened and about to happen.

    Only thing, this is like the 5th entry that begins with a girl and her dad (or grandpa) under strained circumstances. It can't be helped, but you should realize it makes competition (and I don't just mean here) tougher.

  13. Wow. Talk about starting off with a bang - or what will soon be a bang.

    Yes, hooked.

  14. I'm hooked, too. This is definately a story I would keep reading.

  15. Hooked!

    In particular, I thought the dialog and the description at the end was very well done.

  16. I'm so hooked.

    One thing. I'm not sure I would yell to my kids to hold on while slamming on the brakes. I'd be more focused on not hitting the car in front of me. I understand why you put it there (name dropping), but it's a teeny thing that stood out at me.

    Good luck!

  17. I've yelled at my kids to hold on while slamming on the brakes. :)

  18. I'm hooked! I can't think of a single other book that starts this way. Your premise is very unique. I agree with SECRET AGENT; the writing is good. I would love to read on!

  19. MC needs work on voice. I would read on.

  20. I'm hooked to. Great writing. Interesting story, but I agree with Ink wench, take out the 'saw' and 'wondered' and it reads much better.

  21. I liked this, but I think it’s too clinical. I want to see more emotion, more reaction.

    In the first paragraph, I’d expect her to say something or ask him “What is that?” not just wonder if he saw it. The scene is too passive for a car crash. Maybe she could hold on, sound frightened or freaked out as the accident unfolds.

    In the fourth paragraph, I’d probably drop the “when I looked” -- it’s assumed. Plus, you have more wondering.

    I think you are missing some great opportunities to show us her emotions in the aftermath -- her leg is pinned in the car, her father is bleeding, the car is crumpled, strange things are outside her window.

    But overall, I’d read more.

  22. I'm hooked.

    I like starting your story with a car crash.

    I think the writing could be tightened. The word "dark" is used 3 time in 250 words. "Coppery", an unusual, stand-out word is used twice.

    If you transform your passive phrases: "My vision burned with the instantaneous flash of red lights." Becomes: Red flashes burned my eyes.

    "After the deafening squeal of tires and the horrible roar of an engine,..." becomes: The deafening squeal of tires, the roar of an engine...

    I guess I need more urgency.

    Nice sensory detail

  23. Hooked me…
    Because there is action, danger, fear of the unknown. I do think some of the scene needs reworded, but overall it caught my interest. I would keep reading.

  24. Yeah, I'd read on. Good job.

    However, I was thrown out of the scene a little by some of the adjectives:

    "After the deafening squeal of tires and the horrible roar of an engine..." I don't think you need deafening or horrible.

  25. You definitely start with tension, but I think your language needs to be tightened up more to really male this scene punch. Shorter sentences, more active word choices, and getting right into the action rather than the set up will really bring this scene together.

  26. Definite promise for me, but this took away from thae frantic situation. 'After the deafening squeal of tires and the horrible roar of an engine' It slowed it down. And the coppery description twice wasn't good for me.

  27. yes - i would love to read more of this!

  28. It hooked me even though I'm not a fan of the genre. You do a nice job of throwing us right into the scene and force us to start swimming for our lives right away! Nice job!

  29. Pretty creepy. I'm hooked. I want to know what's attacking them. Good writing. And The Strip- I love Vegas. there's not many teen books that take place there.

  30. I like this - it's very dark and creepy right at the beginning, but I would prefer more panic or fear or something from your MC.

    The one thing that threw me - and I may just be dense, but I can't see a car door colliding with a semi's tailgate. I didn't even know semis had tailgates, but I would think the difference in height would be a problem. As I said, probably just me.

    I would definitely keep reading.

  31. Great start...I'd read more

  32. Very mysterious and scary. I have to know what the dark figures are, so I'd read further.