Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #45

TITLE: Hidden in Shadows
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

My prey muttered a curse and slid a few feet down the miniature mountainside. I handled the gravel climb with ease, but the man I stalked panted heavily and looked around with wild eyes.

Some rocks tumbled down as he stumbled, and I ducked behind an oak tree. I didnâ't want my prey to spot me and make a break for it. I'd waited four days for this -- my opportunity to hunt and kill him at my leisure. Four painstakingly long days in which the lowlife spent his days with other lowlifes, and my patience had nearly worn down to the point I wanted to kill both him and his friends.

A druggie who siphoned his rich wife's accounts and regularly used their young boy as a punching bag until he was a bloody and broken mess, I despised the malefactor. Little kids were innocents, they deserved better than that. At least the wife had the sense to run away with her boy. Not once, but twice. When the dirtbag kept following them, demanding more money, she had called on me to save them.

How ironic. I would be saving two lives by stealing one.

The sun sank heavy, ready for slumber. Reds and oranges blurred together like a bucolic landscape from Thomas Kinkade. The view from the top must be beautiful. That is, if the sweetgum and pine trees didn't hide it.

I peeked around the oak.


  1. Not quite hooked yet.

    Good strong feel of the hunt. If your character is a paranormal, is there other sensory input? Scent, perhaps? Something to indicate what type of hunter has POV.

    Also, your imagery is beautiful, but caution against using a direct metaphor, e.g. Thomas Kinkade. It pulls me out of the story a little and if I didn't know the painter, I might even take the time to wonder who or even Google it. The reference also might date your story, which may or may not be something you want.

  2. Nice set up. But want more, hopefully get it in the next couple of pages.

    mini mountain, I totally hate that description because it's so vague. Is it a real moutain, but small or a hill that's big or neither.

    The 3rd paragraph, I think that might come a little too soon. I know we want to feel good about the hunter, as a reader we should assume some information like that is coming, so maybe give it to us a little at a time (total opinion)

    I'd read on.

  3. You have a great setup here, and I like the idea of the vampire fang-for-hire. Just a little confused as to why this guy is out in the woods- from what you've told me, tbe prey dosen't seem the type for hiking.
    It's also not clear if the prey's running away or not. He's looking with wild eyes, but hasn't bolted yet.
    i think you could get more specific about things "hanging out wiht lowlifes" should either be more specific, or out (do we really need it?)
    If your MC is just about to kill someone, and he's waited days for this chance, why is he worried about the view?
    Almost hooked, not quite.

  4. Strong sense of voice, not sure we need all this telling just yet though. Would have liked to have the hunt go on a bit further before the introduction of the backstory. First sent of the third paragraph is awkward - the narrator (I) is not the druggie, but that's how your sent structure makes it seem. Loved the "I would be saving two lives by stealing one."

  5. Not quite hooked yet. I don't know if I like your MC enough yet to get on board with watching him/her kill someone. At first I thought the "prey" was some sort of paranormal creature that justified hunting it. This sounds like a bad dude who should get thrown in jail. Is this a reality without due process?

    The paragraph describing the landscape was well-written but seemed out of sync with the rest. She's hunting this guy like an animal but takes a minute to admire the scenery. I don't buy it.

    I'd like a better idea of who the MC is and why I should be on their side.

  6. I like the immediacy of the hunt, but the writing is a tad heavy for my taste. Keep us in the immediate moment longer. Hook us with the hunt itself before you bring in backstory.

    Trust the reader. We don't need the word 'prey' more than once, 'the man I stalked,' etc. We get it.

    The "druggie" paragraph really stopped me. Plant a few seeds of why he wants to kill the dude, but with more mystery. Perhaps just create a compelling image of the boy he beats. We understand that kids are innocents and don't need to be told that. Make it specific to THAT boy, why he cares.

    And stick with it! Writing is hard!

  7. While the descriptions are nice and concrete, I think they take away the pacing of the story.
    If this is a chase where one is the hunter, the other the prey, I think a faster--shorter sentence-- type pacing would be more effective. I don't think the hunter would stop to take in the sunset.
    I do like the premise that the MC was hired to whack a no good druggie loser, let's us know that he/she has motivations for the hunt, and allows me to relate to the MC.

    I'm not quite sure if the MC is male, female, age, etc... however, and may be nice to work that in.

    Some of the word choices threw me, such as: miniature mountain and bucolic.

    I'd probably keep reading a little longer due to the paranomral aspect.

  8. I like the idea of the story starting with the hunt, but I think I need to like the main character more. Right now, when she's talking about killing both this guy and his friends, it's hard to like her. I also agree that some more immediacy, short sentences, things like that would liven it up. Less backstory. You could work that in later when she's going in for the kill.

  9. "Malefactor" throws me - and the entire third paragraph feels too much like the writer informing me - but I'd read the next page.

  10. I thought this needed more work. What is a miniature mountain - something half the size of Everest, or a hill? Why is this druggie in the mountains? Doesn't seem a place to find one. The MC doesn't want him to make a break for it, but what is he already doing? It seems he is running away-making a break for it. And I don't buy the justification for killing him. He's a thief, a druggie and a child beater. His wife, and your MC, are murderers. I'm not on their sides. But, if I 'saw' the stealing and beating, witnessed it first hand, that would make me more sympathetic.

    The main problem here, I think, is that almost nothing is happening. The first three sentences are story, and everything else is your MC explaining things. If you're going to start with the hunt, show us the hunt. If you want us to know who your druggie is, start with him beating his kid. Nine times out of ten - if you're explaining things, you've left your story behind.

  11. I think this has promise as a story, but I wasn't buying in just yet. There were a few terms, malefactor for one, that just threw me off. It felt too writerly, if that makes sense. I also agree about the miniture mountains and a druggie being out in the woods. But those are easily fixed issues.

    But I like the idea of a vampire for revenge for hire, just maybe let us see a bit more of the protag in the start.

  12. Not quite hooked. I liked that you start with the MC hunting the 'prey'. I was taken out of the story by the landscape description - like others I didn't feel like the MC would look at it admiringly while hoping not to lose the prey. Perhaps if the landscape was hindering the MC in some way, then I'd get it if they focused their attention on that during the hunt.

    I didn't understand that your MC was a vampire (saw comments from others stating this). This isn't a problem unless i'm supposed to know it by this point :)

    Thank you for sharing and best of luck.

  13. I felt a bit confused. The word “prey” threw me off because it normally refers to animals. Then, when we found out it was human, I didn’t know why the predator was after it. Is the predator a vampire/other supernatural creature or some sort of vigilante, who wants to improve the lives of the prey’s son and wife? Why has he waited four days to make the kill?

    We need to know more about the predator, less about the prey.

    The second to last paragraph seemed out of place. It's these beautiful descriptions that seemingly have nothing to do with what's going on earlier in the scene. It takes away from the tension.

    I don’t think I’d continue to read.

  14. "Miniature mountainside" makes me think excatly that - **MINIATURE**. As in, model. Miniature. Inches high. Try using "gravel hillside" or "foothills" or something else that indicates a small mountain. Berm? Just ... not "miniature" unless you're actually talking - well, miniature! :)

  15. I think less is more, in this case. If this guy's a junkie, show us he's a junkie with description: face, clothes, marks on his skin - all telltale signs of a drug addict. Before this junkie gets killed, your MC can say: "That's for your wife and son." That way, we know he's avenging them. The other details told within in the narrative won't be necessary after that.

  16. Powerful start. Miniature mountain stopped me dead, though because I was trying to picture what a miniature mountain would look like.

    Is the MC male, female, human, supernatural? I'd like more details about the MC and less about the pretty woods, although I love the "I would be saving two lives by stealing one" line.

    Not sure where the "romance" part of your genre comes in, but you can't get a sense of genre from 250 words!