Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #26

GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

A no-kill order was unprecedented in Hell.

Eres’ cold eyes cut through the crowd of eager demons as she gave the details for the bounty.

“No killing,” she repeated. She was explicit. She wasn’t explicit about why.

The menace in her voice quelled the disgruntled murmurs from the low-level demons who’d come to hear about the bounty. Tam wondered who this girl was, and why they wanted her alive—why they wanted her at all. What had she gotten herself into for Hell to set a high price on her head?

But before he could speculate about the girl’s sordid business, an alarm began wailing. The sound echoed of the golden chamber walls creating turmoil in the crowd.

Tam swore, drawing the hood of his cloak over his face. Bodies in the room reacted like a single organism swelling in apprehension. This was a mistake. He didn’t like to involve himself with Hell anymore. But the money had been good. Too good to ignore. He could retire for a century—longer if he was smart about it.

Tam was caught in a current of demon bodies, pressing against him, choking him with their sulfurous stench, shuffling him toward the exit.

He memorized the bounty as he slipped into a dark corridor, making his way to the surface. They wanted a girl. A teenager. Blonde. She had one brown eye and one hazel eye.

It was thin. Even with the no-kill order, with such so much gold on the line people were going to get hurt.


  1. I'm intrigued! I want to know who the narrator is, and who the girl is. I caught one error - "the sound echoed of(f) the golden chamber walls" - and I'd put a comma after "walls." Good job!

  2. I do love a good demon story. I want to know why the no-kill order.
    Nitpicking...At first I thought Eres would be the POV until Tam came along. I usually like to know whose head I'm in at the beginning.And the last sentence "with such so much gold" sounds awkward to me.

    Good luck.

  3. Love this premise. The writing could be stronger by eliminating "was" from several sentences and tightening/combining some sentences.

    I agree that we need some grounding that Tam is the MC and not Eres.

    Maybe something like: Tam shivered as Eres’ cold eyes cut through the crowd of eager demons. She delivered the details of the bounty -- except why the girl shouldn't be harmed.

  4. I also got caught up in the POV Eres vs. Tam. I thought this would be Eres' POV until the part with Tam.

    I like the opener and this: Eres’ cold eyes cut through the crowd of eager demons - "eager demons" is super creepy to me.

  5. Almost hooked.

    If your story's MC is Tam and Eres isn't mentioned again often I would cut her name out of the start until we meet her again, as it creates confusion for your reader.

    This sentence 'But the money had been good' needs to change, as it reads the money of the bounty has already changed yet it only just started. I'd think had been can become was for it to read better.

    I'm also interested what Tam is if everyone else in Hell is a demon.

  6. Agree about the POV thing. Especially since if this is all Tam's story, I'm hooked on that alone. I love YA stories with male leads. Is Tam human? Wait, no. How could he retire for a century if he was human? Ah! Want more.

    The concept is very cool, and I like the title as well.

    Good luck! :)

  7. I like it. A lot. I feel the writing can be a little stronger in some spots. But overall, I loved the feel for the piece, I like knowing what the plot is, also the intrigue of just who Tam was. I agree with the others about the pov issue, but otherwise, I'd read on. :)

  8. I like the idea of Hell's bounty hunters set after an uncertain target. I imagine mistaken identity galore, and other adventures. The name Tam makes me think of Tam Lin, just the connotation for myself.

    My name being Tamara, I go by Tam a lot, so for me it might take a bit to automatically associate the name with a male sex. But, I'd read on:)

  9. Loved your first line- it hooked me.

    Then POV issues cropped up.

    I got confused about Eres being the girl that was the bounty because Tam "wonders who this girl was"- this girl referring back to Eres- that last female proper noun mentioned.

    When Tam says "he memorized the bounty" what are you referring to? A picture? A description?

    Mostly, I felt like it was hard work to read and track.

  10. Very cool opening! I'm concerned that with this being YA and you didn't open with the teen protag that this is probably a prologue. Not all prologues are a no-no, but you need to be careful with them and use one only if it serves an important plot purpose. If it's not a prologue, you'll need to move this scene to a different place and start with the MC.

    "What had she gotten herself into for Hell to set a high price on her head?"- Awkward sentence construction.

    Tighten up your verbs by eliminating as many was's as possible.

    Overall, I'm intrigued and would read more.

  11. I agree with what's been said. The POV needs cleared up sooner and the way he talks about the money at first makes it sound like he's already been paid, but I caught at the end he hadn't.

    I'm curious about what's going to happen, but I'm also hoping that the book is told from this girls perspective since everyone's going to be trying to kill her. If it is, I would prefer to start with her.

  12. I like this and would like to read more about Tam and the bounty. Agree w/the others re: POV w/Eres/Tam and a few minor things (besides of/off)- when you say: He memorized the bounty - was there just a verbal description or a photo/poster kind of thing?
    The whole demon thing is cool and I'd want to read more.

  13. I love all the no-kill bounty stuff! This is gonna be great, I can tell.
    I agree that the POV switching made this a bit hard to follow. I had to back up and reread stuff, so be careful about switching POV mid-scene. Also, one more typo on your very last line. "...with such so much gold...".
    The short punchy sentences are clearly just your writing style, and I like it! Combing sentences isn't going to make your writing stronger, IMO, it's just a different style of writing. But you do need to be careful about overstating or being downright repetitive. For example, no need to tell us she was explicit, when you just showed her being explicit.

    For some reason, Tam seems freaking sexy, and I can't quite put my finger on why. ;) I can tell you have a great voice and this is gonna be a fun read! This demon stuff must be hot right now! Good luck. ;)

  14. Very intresting. Hell and angels and bloodfruit. Can't wait to find out about that. I would like to see where the story goes. I would read more.

  15. Not hooked at first, but hooked later when Tam goes on search. Definitely a compelling character.

    I tried to think of why the first line, which is pretty unique, didn't hook me and I think it's because it's not clear whose perspective it's from.

    "She was explicit. She wasn’t explicit about why" seems unnecessary since the sentences don't add anything to scene, other than if you are implying some mystery, in which case you should try to do it some other way.

    Would have been interesting to get a teensy bit of physical description of Eres and Tam. At first I thought Tam was a girl. And I take it he's not a demon? So is he human?

  16. Not hooked. But the demons are a big turn-off for me.

  17. This is a really good opening. I agree that the POV needs to be established, and also that we want to know if Tam is one of the demons or if he's something else. And the line "it was thin" left me confused as to what it meant. But otherwise, very compelling. Good luck!
    Dana (#41)

  18. I agree with the need to anchor the POV with Tam from the start. The fact that he refers to the "sulphorous stench" coming from the demons makes me think he is not one of them. (great description btw). So, I want to know more about him, what brings him here and I think that could all be accomplished before Eres even begins to speak. It promises an interesting story. Oh and the "it was thin" reference to start the last para was a bit confusing. I think you mean a gold bounty - like a bar of gold - but it is unclear.

  19. I need a stronger grounding for Tam. You give a lot away in those first paragraphs about Eres, but Tam is the story focus, so I felt like we were wasting time deciphering someone else and then we leave Hell with Tam and I'm already wondering about Eres, so I'm irritated that we're leaving Hell. :)

    Figure out who's got this story and make us want to stick with Tam (if it is Tam) so that it doesn't feel like such a bait and switch.

  20. JC, much of the story is told from the girl's perspective with a few chapters from Tam the bounty hunter. This is a prologue that only goes on for another couple of sentences before we get to the girl.

    I'm glad everyone brought up the POV issues. Eres wasn't even in this scene until recent drafts. I wanted to include her because she's the main villain, but I'll focus more on Tam. Thanks so much for the feedback. :)

  21. Just to clarify... You can include Eres in your prologue, just show her through Tam's eyes so it stays in one POV. ;) Didn't want you to think everyone was suggesting that you abandon that idea completely.