Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #48

TITLE: Peace Warriors
GENRE: Commercial Women's Fiction, Paranormal

A blast of frigid cold swept over her leaving shivers of apprehension traveling through her body. Dove had a strange feeling, as though someone watched them as they walked down the steep stairs that led to the castle. She stopped to look around. She didn't see anyone, so she continued down the stairs, looking for the gentleman who would show them the castle and the many hiking trails that snaked through the forest.

"What's his name again? I always forget. I have a mental block against him," Dove said. Dove never had difficulty remembering names, but for some reason, her brain wanted to forget him.

"Albert Klein. You need to remember. We'll be spending a lot of time with him the next few days," Ali said, trying to figure out why Dove was out of sorts.

"Excuse me Fräulein. I don't want to appear forward, but would you be Ms. Dove Gray?"

Dove turned around and stared up at the most gorgeous man she had ever seen. Surfer blond hair fell into fabulous blue eyes that pierced right through her. Adonis didn't look this good.

"Yes, I am," Dove said licking her lips. She hated meeting new people; growing up sheltered had made her shy, especially with tall, gorgeous men. A searing heat replaced the gentle breeze, taking her breath away. He made her knees weak and her pulse quicken. No one had ever made her feel like this before. She couldn't decide if the feeling was good or bad.


  1. I'm not hooked. Take this for what it is, because I don't generally read women's fiction (although I read a lot of paranormal), but that first line would make me stop and put it down. It's very wordy and the whole thing is a lot of telling, rather than showing. "Shivers of apprehension" turned me off.

    Instead, I would try something like this:
    The ice-cold evening air swept across Dove's bare shoulders. Her body shivered...

    IF you'd even want to start that way. It does set a tone for the story, but is it the tone you want to set?

    The main issue here is telling. Don't tell me he is the most beautiful man she's ever seen. Show me. Don't tell me she's nervous around new people. Show me.

    Licking her lips at this guy is the opposite reaction I would expect from an introvert in this situation, hot guy or not.

    I like her name! Very unique and seems to fit with this story. The "mental block" interested me, but it seems to be nothing. I thought it was something supernatural, but it seems like her brain just doesn't want to remember this guy. The dialog isn't bad but I can't tell what time period we are in. It feels modern, yet the setting seems medieval.

    Not a bad start, but not enough to make me keep reading.

  2. I think that some of the sentences could use tightening, they don't read very naturally, as L.J. said "shivers of apprehension traveled" doesn't quite work, nor does "eyes that pierced right through her." Also, the narrative seems to be following Dove and her thoughts, so the part where you mention Ali "trying to figure out why Dove was out of sorts" switches the narrative and it doesn't seem like this is written from an omnipresent perspective. Also, with the end of the last paragraph, I think you can find more unique phrasing for her feelings towards him, the "weak in the knees" "pulse quicken" thing is so common you could definitely find a way to spice it up more.

    I'm also not hooked yet, but I like some of the ideas you've set up here.

  3. Two things that might help are using less adjectives and starting the story in a different place. I agree with the above comments about telling versus showing, and think you won't need the excess adjectives if you do more showing. I like the introduction of the man, but it felt a little cliche, like it wouldn't stand out from all the other paranormal books out there. Can you start the story elsewhere to hook the reader, and then introduce the stranger?

  4. I would agree with the cliché comments - tall gorgeous stranger... And, I think you bshould be more indirect in your descriptions.

  5. I found this confusing. You've got a castle, got a german word, and then "surfer waves"? What? Now I have no idea when or where this is. Is this another world? Another century? Both? I do get a lot of telling here, too.

  6. I thought there were some technical issues with this that prevented me from being hooked. For a start, I'm wondering why you don't use Dove's name in the first sentence. Instead, we get two repetitions of 'her'. Then, in the second sentence, we learn that she's Dove, but you start saying 'they', so I'm wondering who the other people are. I'm assuming she's with a group but a few sentences later it seems like there's only her and Ali. My mental picture changed from a girl on her own, to a group, to two girls, all within a few sentences.

    As others have said, you have a POV shift when we learn what Ali is thinking. If the story is from Dove's POV, she can't know for sure what Ali is thinking.

    I had some confusion about what time this was set in (by the end of the piece I'm thinking modern) but I didn't actually mind the blending of old and new.

    Licking her lips is good showing, but it can mean nervousness or lust. Can you pick an action eg. swallowing, that doesn't confuse people?

    I feel like I've picked this apart a lot. I think there's potential here, but I also think there's so much paranormal out there that yours will need to be very polished to break through. Of course, I could be wrong about this but that's my gut feeling.

  7. I like her name and the image of Dove and Ali approaching the castle. However, the first line is long-winded. An opening line that isn't bogged down by adjectives and prepositional phrases is usually your safest bet. I'd personally start with:

    As she and Ali descended the castle steps, Dove could not help but feel as though someone was watching them.

    or even:

    Dove had a strange feeling. It was as though someone was watching them as they walked down the steep stairs that led to the castle.

    Of course, for the sake of building the setting, mention that it's cold later in the paragraph. You could even say while she was looking around, she shivered against the cold.

    The reactions in the last paragraph are rather cliche as others have mentioned, but that can easily be fixed.

    I'm not entirely hooked yet, but it's getting there!

  8. The sentence structure seems quite mechanical- as though you're following a formula. Also, I know that it's hard to change the names of characters once they've been established... but the name 'Dove Grey' seemed like an alias instead of a real name.

  9. I would suggest changing her last name to something that doesn't seem quite as 'descriptive'.

  10. Guy is too gorgeous, and his gorgeousness is too emphasized. A few too many adjectives. Nothing here to intrigue me.

  11. The uncertainty of where and when of the setting already came up, but assuming a modern Germanic country, you're going to either want to get to know someone who spent time in one, or just explain that your character is completely fluent in English from dealing with tourists. In fairness, a lot of Germans who deal with tourists speak English better than American high school graduates. They're not always stiff and formal, although some are. What you're doing is mixing German and English, which is fine, but it didn't sound right.

  12. I'm really sorry, I'm not hooked. I don't want to repeat what others have said so I'll just add that so far this reads totally as a straightforward romance with no hint of paranormal. Of course, I'm only reading the first 250 words so that may be an unfair criticism. Also, this is women's fiction but I read Dove and Ali as teens. If they are older, maybe in the first paragraph instead of
    'as they walked down the steep stairs' you could have:
    'as the two women walked down the steep stairs'
    which would also eliminate the confusion another poster had about how many people there were.

  13. Like LJ Boldyrev, I thought that first sentence wasn't helping you at all. You have the cold wind blowing over her, causing shivers of apprehension. If she's shivering from apprenhension, then the cold has nothing to do with it. And I wondered why you didn't call her by name right away. It doesn't give me confidence in what's to come.

    I do think you have the elements you need here. You've given us the setting, the mc and her sidekick, a bit of eerieness with the guy who's name she can't remember and the hint that there may be someone watching her, but the writing could be tightened and cleaned up. There are lots of tips already mentioned.

    And the name didn't work for me. It sounds too much like a color.

  14. "Surfer blond" was the only description that took me out of the setting. I'm picturing a mideival setting with the castle so surfers didn't sound right. If this is a modern setting make it clearer. Her attraction to the blond is a little abrupt and hard for me to buy as believable. The title and the opening do make me curious abt the story though...I'd keep reading to find out.

  15. I like the setting - Castles, Forests, (Germany) all seem very interesting. Unfortunately, there was too much that took me out of the story.

    For example, I felt taken out of the story when "Dove had a strange feeling, as though someone watched them as they walked down the steep stairs that led to the castle. She stopped to look around. She didn't see anyone, so she continued down the stairs."

    This is an instance of a character in denial. When I read this I thought "okay, so someone's definitely watching her." If she feels like someone is watching her, why doesn't she say anything to Ali? And when she "Stopped to look around" what does that mean? It stands to reason that a hidden stalker would wish to remain unseen, so why does she go from ill-at-east to feeling fine just because she "looked around" and didn't see anything?

    Also, Dove just spends a good amount of time and mental power describing Albert, but then she's trying to decide if she feels good or bad about meeting him. She claims she doesn't like meeting people. If Dove is as anxious and shy as she says, I want to see behavior to back that up.

  16. I would like to thank everyone for their comments. You have helped me much more than you know. I've taken all the critiques and have rewritten. I have to say that it reads much better than before. Again a big thank you to all.