Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mini Are You Hooked #14

TITLE: Estranged
GENRE: Fantasy

Jeremy slouched in the passenger seat, face pressed against the window, his breath steaming the cool glass. Outside, people in black drifted downhill, passing like a procession of shades under the dark, leafy oaks of the cemetery. Too few for one who had lived so long, but such numbers mattered little to the living, and even less to the dead.

He watched them go, scurrying from the moody clouds on the horizon, anxious umbrellas popping open as they fled the coming storm. Most were already moving on: masks of grief slipping smoothly from tear stricken faces, smiles returning, thoughts drifting once more from the eternal to the mundane. Jeremy didn’t blame them – couldn’t blame them – he’d moved on long before.

They pulled away, Jeremy’s gaze sliding lazily over the scene, everything mixing and blurring gray as they picked up speed. The rain started, a rough drizzle that pattered the hood of the black Mercedes and turned the dull gray of the sky into a wet haze. The wind kicked up and the rain slanted, pelting his window. Behind them, dark clouds gave chase.

“Would you like to talk?” Mary asked.

“About what?”

Jeremy didn’t move, but his eyes flicked to his sister. She looked elegant in her black skirt suit – if elegant was even appropriate for such a day – and her short brown hair hung neatly at
her shoulders. The mascara smeared lightly under her eyes evidence she still cared. At least more than he did.


  1. The description is nicely done, but I'm not getting much sense of tension here or what the overall story is about. Sorry, not hooked.

  2. I agree with Sandra. The imagery is beautiful. I loved the setting but the conflict isn't as pronounced as it should be.

    The MC just seems impassive to me, which makes me wonder why the reader should care.

  3. I certainly get the feeling that something is going on and I'd like to know what it is. The detail of the sister with mascara smudged under her eyes is very nice. I'd keep reading and would love to read more.

  4. I agree that there's an effective mood here but not much conflict yet. Also, I got a little hung up on "shades" because I can think of window shades or shades of colors but neither of those seems to fit--do you mean procession of shadows?

    Also, in "The mascara smeared lightly under her eyes evidence she still cared" you need a verb: "was evidence" or "showed". Or you could even say, "There was mascara smeared lightly under her eyes, evidence she still cared."

  5. I really loved this. The distant and philosophical tone of the point of view worked well except for one thing.

    The face pressed against the window and breath steaming the glass made me picture a child. But the voice is sophisticated so I kept having this strange reorientation. It's not a big problem, but I'll have to get a much better sense of who Jeremy is soon after this.

    Also, though I liked the poetic language, somehow the last sentence of the first paragraph didn't read right to me. The comment about how few people were there clashed with the idea that the living didn't care. Yeah, the dead don't care, but I feel as though the part about the living either needs more info (like why THESE people don't care) or should be cut out for clarity's sake. Your description does a great job showing the idle lack of concern anyway.

  6. Great characterization and setting, although I'm getting a depressed, almost lazy vibe off the main character. Add some action, and I'd be hooked.

  7. Really interesting set up. I'm intrigued by Jeremy's detachment. I was hung up on "such numbers mattered little to the living," though. I think it does matter to people whether their loved ones are remembered by many or few.

  8. I think you set a beautifully morose mood, but I didn't feel any edge to it. I'm a little wishy-washy about this one. I think you could play up the the 'such numbers mattered little to the living, and even less to the dead' portion to build on the tension. As it stands now, I'm not hooked, but I could be. :)

  9. In the beginning paragraph, your first line was "Jeremy slouched in the passenger seat, face pressed again the window...."
    I found myself instead of reading on, quickly trying to skim through to figure out was Jeremy on a airplane, train, in a car or an old horse carriage.
    Since I was too busy trying to figure out where the passenger seat was, I kinda missed a bunch of stuff and then started over.

    So then your next line "Outside people in black drifted downhill..." then since I was too busy the first time skimming to figure out my setting from the passenger seat, I then quickly skimmed to figure out what you meant by the people in black and why were they skiing downhill? Were they zombies, people with painted faces or people dressed in black and by then after trying to get my bearings on where this story setting is, I just didn't want to go on.

    Now normally I don't need a check list to start as story but when the first two lines are trying to grab you with a setting but then not really answering the questions, I wasn't prone to want to read of because I thought it was going to be too much work to keep checking and understanding.

    Now if this was in the first chapter somewhere, this would have been really good. I just wasn't hooked for a beginning.

  10. Wow! Fantastic imagery. And I totally felt the character's mood -he is numb for a reason! And I really want to know why.
    So hooked :)

  11. Way hooked, from the first sentence. Loved it.

  12. Loved the imagery and mood setting, but I think you might want to have an argument between them pop out a little bit faster. Some sort of tension or question. Hooked for awhile.

  13. Thanks so much to everyone for all the great comments! Really helpful stuff :)

  14. "Anxious umbrellas" is absolutely brilliant. Love it! I have to admit, tho, the funeral/rain pairing gets a bit old for me- seems like most writers like those two to go hand in hand. But, that aside, somewhat hooked. And yes, passenger seat gave me trouble- I immediately thought "plane". Maybe "slouched in the back seat of the limo" or something like that would give clarification right away.

  15. I think I'd read on, but so far it's a lot of description. It's pretty description, but, especially for a very first page, it might be a little overwritten. At this point we're more interested in what's going on than what it looks like. Right now, all I know is that there's a mopey guy in a car watching a funeral. I don't know whose funeral, why he's there, why we're supposed to care, etc. and answering at least some of those questions might pull the reader in more.

    That said, my tastes tend to run closer to the commercial than the literary, so that might be completely personal. And in the end, I'd still read further, which is what matters in the end!

    Good luck!

  16. I admire the amount of bell-ringing details you have in this beginning. As far as the mascara sentence is concerned, just inserting a comma after "eyes" would do the trick.
    If you were an already-published writer, this beginning would hook your legions of fans. If you're trying to break into the world of writing, the others who say you need more conflict up front are right -- readers who don't know who you are want some conflict on the first page.

    Mark in the Seattle area

  17. For me, too much description, backstory and telling-ness.

    Is this the right place to begin this story?

  18. Again - thanks to everyone for the comments. Really appreciate it!