Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Defying Instinct
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Killing her would be so easy. The tiny, wrinkled human with her fragile bones, vulnerable spine, and constantly flapping mouth. I could silence her in an instant. Shutting her up would be a pleasure. As if that sagging flesh could keep me from her vital organs. As if her puny frame could withstand the weight of my wrath.

“I understand your frustration, ma’am,” my half-breed demon soul grimaced, but the controlled, customer service smile never left my lips. “There’s just nothing I can do for you right now.”

Oh, I could think of a few things I could do for her right now. Smash the cash register over her frail head. Stab her throat with my pencil so her snotty words would cease. Strategically staple her face. That would definitely shut her up.

“That’s not good enough, missy. I was promised my books would arrive on Tuesday. Today is Tuesday,” she tapped her watch with a crooked finger. “I’m too old to be waiting around for incompetent, young…”

“Ma’am,” I snapped, imagining the demon in me peppering my interruption. “We aren’t responsible for the punctuality of deliveries. We informed you of this when you placed your order. If you would like to leave your name and phone number, I’ll have the owner call you when he’s available.”

The old woman made clucking sounds inside her wrinkled mouth, narrowed her crinkly eyes, then finally shrugged her hunched shoulders.  “Fine,” the old, human woman spat.


  1. You had me from the first sentence. I love the voice, and I would definitely keep reading.

  2. Overall, I liked this. Nice contrast between what the demon wants and what the outer person has to do. (Anybody who's ever worked in customer service recognizes the feelings!)

    A couple of things you might want to tweak:

    "my half-breed demon soul grimaced" is a little confusing. This is what the narrator says, right? You might say "I said, smothering the instincts of my half-demon soul" or something like that for clarity.

    I do not know what "imagining the demon in me peppering my interruption" means. No clue.

    I think you can leave out "human" in the last sentence. You've already drawn the distinction between your narrator and humans, so it feel repetitive here.

    I'd definitely turn the page. Good work and good luck.

  3. Agree with the other commentors but personally (this is just me) I found your MCs immediate violence off putting. He hates humans - ok. But your audience is human. Does he also hate old people?
    I'm unable to connect w/ him bc I don't like him.
    And what does 'the demon in me peppering my interruption' mean?
    But I do have to laugh at the thought that a demon is also a customer service agent. Of course!!

  4. I personally found all the tags a bit distracting. You modified each speech tag.

    "Today is tuesday." She tapped...

    Proper punctuation.

    Is this a girl or a guy? She says "Missy" So I assume it is a girl...but I can't be certain, someone else said they don't like 'him'. Not knowing the sex of your MC might be an issue.

  5. I agree with much of the above but all in all I liked the piece.

    I did think your MC was a male though. Might want to fix that.

    Try to cut some of your adjectives. That last sentence annoyed me with its wrinkled, crinkly, and hunched. And why do you mention old again? We get it. You can do better. Just tighten this pay attention to your word choices.

    I would continue reading!

  6. I liked your MC, and his voice, but there's nothing here that indicates where the story is going. For instance, why is your MC doing a job he clearly hates? Is it that he needs a paycheck, or might it be the perfect way to find victims whose entrails he can eat? Give us some signs of the plot.

    I'd read a few pages more, but I'd want a bit more than snark.

  7. Demon stories always interest me so this story caught my eye but unfortunately I wasn't hooked (although I do think that I could be hooked if the story was tweaked a bit). The things which turned me off of the story were:

    1) The first paragraph felt a bit repetitive to me. I felt like you said that killing her would be easy 6 times in a row. Maybe you could cut a sentence or two?

    2) Your MC was really mean in this passage and didn't have any redeeming qualities (for me). Be careful of this since the reader needs to connect with and be rooting for the MC in some way - even if the MC is a bad guy. This was really my biggest issue and the reason why I would stop reading.

    I did enjoy the style of your writing though and wish you the best of luck :)

  8. I really love the idea of a demon working in customer service. I would have liked, though, if the MC continued with the "customer service smile" through the passage, rather than snapping at the customer at the end. I liked the contrast in the beginning of the internal monologue and the external behavior.

    I would definitely keep reading.

  9. Thank you to everyone for your insightful comments! Some problems, an author just can't see in her own writing. I only wish you all could read the NEXT 250 words. :)

    Just to clarify, the MC is female.

    Again, THANKS!

  10. I love the voice, but agree that you have too many 'I'm gonna kill her' sentences. One clear, vivid sentence should convey the narrator's barely-averted homicidal wishes.

    And the customer-service smile cannot break, no matter how sassy the customer or how furious the narrator. It's much funnier that way, and shows some of the narrator's inner resolve. Besides, those of us who have been CS drones know that unfailing politeness is the only way to make the morons go away...

    I don't have a problem reading from an unsympathetic character's POV, but it would help to know why she's trapped in the life of a delivery driver.

  11. Totally hooked. You don't have to part demon to want to kill your customers when you work with the public. I had to read through twice to see if there was something else I could post other than good job and do you need someone to beta this for you? I do think you might get more from the first paragraph if you eliminate a few sentences - maybe stop at "silence her in an instant." And perhaps have the MC imagine killing the lady with work-specific items to better place where he/she works. Asphyxiate her with the red "Easy" button, for example (just an example - my guess was bookstore for the place of work).

  12. tarak: I would love love LOVE a beta reader, and know you would be a great one since your comments on everyone's entries are fantastic. Look me up on facebook (Jayme Abbott) or something if you're still interested. :)

  13. I like the juxtaposition of the violent, ancient being voice and the mundane situation. I felt, though, that was all there was to the scene. Our narrator interacting with a caricature of a bad customer to let the reader know she’s a half-demon. It’s an interesting set-up, but no sense of conflict yet.