Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #33

TITLE: The Elder
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

She'd passed the last two hours light as air, a little on the giddy side, with a rush of excitement thrumming in her ears. Who knew outmaneuvering her grandfather would feel this good? Emma's cheeks ached from smiling too much. If there was such a thing.

"Geez, Em. We're not going to the candy shop. People die where we're going." Vi's face lit with amusement despite her words.

"Oh, psha. Let me taste victory. At least for a minute before you ruin its flavor. I've waited too long and worked too hard for this not to enjoy it." Plus, who knew when she'd get another chance to accompany the Reapers on a hunt?

"I know you have, baby girl, but we're not heading for a picnic. Last thing I want is for you to get hurt." Even as she warned her, Vi helped Emma don the tight-fitting but strangely comfortable Reaper battledress in preparation for the night.

"I know. Trust me. I hear it enough, but unlike you, I live in a cage. A gilded one, but still a cage."

"So, late bloomer, you're just now getting to your teenage rebellion at the ripe old age of twenty-two? Daniel means well, you know."

Yes, she knew. Her grandfather had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and that wasn't an exaggeration. It's why she hadn't pushed the matter of her career too hard with him.

"You're lucky no medics were available to staff the air transport tonight."


  1. I'm kinda confused here. The "lighter than air" line wasn't specific enough for a starter, because it took me a beat or two to decide it wasn't literally true.
    You never identify the other voice, and since I wanted it to be someone Emma was conspiring with the put one over on her grandfather, I was confused (it is the gandpa, right?)
    So, I don't know who's talking, and I don't know what the Reapers do. You do have a strong sense of voice, but it's not enought to drag me forward.
    Not hooked. Sorry.

  2. I liked it but I was a little bit confused, to. At first I thought they were faries...and maybe they are. But then I thought maybe they were helicopter paramedics or something.

    Could be potentially hooked, but intead was confused.

  3. Oops. Confused, too.

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  5. We're all stuck with 250 words...but afterwards, you should put tags especially in a paranormal world (disorientation). It would flow so much better, and the she saids would be invisible, anyway (so say the books on writing).

    You have two goings in the first piece of dialogue. Try something like, 'We're going to where people die, not a candy shop.' Usually two of anything is an opportunity to tighten or rewrite a sentence.

    Later you use a second analogy 'picnic.' I think the sentence would work better without "but we're not heading to a picnic." Try it.
    'Weight of the world' is too cliche, try his actual title?!

    With tags I'd continue to read.

  6. I have a feeling this is a great story, but 250 words isn't enough for us to get a feel for it yet. There's a lot of facts (Reaper hunt, Daniel means well, Grandfather's stress, living in a cage, no medics for the transport, her career, etc.)but they don't tie together in this sample. Since most readers will read the first few paragraphs before buying a book, you may want to pick a few details that are central to the conflict and elaborate on those. This sounds like an interesting story if was clearer from the start. Good luck!

  7. Hm. I'm not hooked. The dialogue seems really forced. It looks like a good start, though. Keep writing.

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  9. Paranormals and fantasies are often hard for me to judge in these 250 word snippets, because there will always be world-building elements that keep me from getting into the story right away. Not knowing what the Reapers are, I had trouble knowing how to interpret the girls. Are they off to do good? Bad? Who are they battling? What do the medics and air transport have to do with the girls? The writing is sound, but I think I'd probably need more than 250 to get hooked. Best of luck!

  10. Wow! This was just awesome. I want to read more. I really loved your first sentence. I wish I cold write like that.

  11. I was stopped almost immediately by her feeling excitement in her ears.

    But I read on, and I got the impression her Grandfather was the Grim Reaper and she wanted to follow in his footsteps, and somehow, she tricked him into allowing her to go along.

    Then I read the last sentence about medics and air transport and went huh? Now I'm thinking the Reapers are probably the name of some military or quasi military group headed by her grandfather. But I don't know. And that's the problem here, I think. I can guess what the story might be about, but I don't know. And I should.

  12. So although I found this to be a drop confusing (again that 1 page limit is a possible problem), I think this story sounds like it has potential. However, based on what you do write, it seems like you could have done a little bit better job tightening it up and clarifying some elements.

    On another note, 22 is sort of an unusual age for the protag. Is this supposed to be YA? Because it's kind of old for YA and a little young for adult. This type of book has seemed to do well in YA lately and unfortunately NY publishers aren't totally comfortable with main charachters over 18.

    In any case, I think this has potential and with some rearranging and tightening, I think you could have a really strong first page. Get rid of the cliches, the extra not a candy shop, not a picnic, etc. as someone noted above.

  13. I've actually made a few changes already based on feedback in the comments. For example, I hadn't noticed the double "going" until pointed out here so I've tweaked that as well as some other phrases.

    This is actually an adult paranormal romance, specifically scifi romance (scifi elements are more of a backdrop). The age issue hasn't been brought up before by my beta readers, but given your experience with this, I'll work on tweaking the age. It involves changing a timeline that's important later in the story.

    I've changed "weight of the world" to show specifically why he bears such responsibility.

    Information regarding the Reapers is the tricky issue for me. When I put it in the front, I get feedback saying "don't." When I layer it in, I get feedback saying "who are they?" This seems to be a subjective issue. I'm looking at adding a tad more for clarification on this first page.

    Thank you, Secret Agent and commentors, for your awesome feedback. This has really helped a lot in whipping this into even better shape!

  14. It's a hard balance between how much information to put on your first page so people can follow what's going on, and how much is too much. I'm struggling with that in my ms, and mine is at least set in this world.

    For what it's worth, I thought everything after the paragraph about the Reaper battledress was too much. You're introducing a lot of new information and it's hard to make sense of what we've been told when new stuff keeps getting added. It sounds like they're about to go on the hunt, so I'd like you to show us that instead of telling us the other information.

    Good luck, it sounds like an interesting story.