Friday, November 30, 2012

(33) YA Paranormal Thriller: Suspended State

TITLE: Suspended State
GENRE: YA Paranormal thriller

When a hospital employee preys on unconscious patients, a seventeen year-old girl’s soul becomes trapped inside his body. Now Lauren must find a way out before she disappears like his other victims. Or worse…becomes a permanent part of him.

It isn’t the cold that makes me shiver. It’s the wolves. I can’t see them behind the wall of pines, but I hear them. The cries are haunting and desperate – one long wail after another.

I scoot closer to Wes, nuzzling against his warm body. “Why are they so close to a ski resort?”

He lifts his shoulders and drops them, shrugging like it’s no big deal. “The mountain is their territory, but they never bother anyone.”

“If you say so.” I look away and pretend like it doesn’t faze me. I love animals. Really. But I don’t want to be anyone’s dinner.

Wes isn’t fooled. He looks at me with softness in his green eyes and squeezes my hand. “They’ll leave us alone, Lauren. I promise.”

I gaze over the valley as the chairlift carries us higher up the mountain. Thousands of pine trees, some covered in snow, some not, all scattered against a backdrop of sparkly white as the sun starts to drop below the horizon. The valley is so peaceful from this height that it almost makes me forget I was freaking out before until Wes asks, “Have you ever seen an avalanche?”

“Seriously? You want to bring that up?”

“I’m just trying to make you forget about the wolves.” His mouth twists into a crooked grin. I try not to stare too long, but his teeth are perfect and his lips look soft. Just another reminder why I’ve had a crush on Wes since I was a freshman.


  1. I like all the vivid descriptions. You really did a nice job with the setting, creating an air of foreboding that matches what the pitch promises is to come. I also liked how you jump right into the story. I thought you picked a nice place to end the excerpt as well. Seriously? Guys can be so clueless sometimes. Forget the wolves that want to eat you, let's talk about an avalanche on a skiing trip. *Doh!* Anyway, the pitch makes this sound like it's going to be an awesome read! Good luck!

  2. Really great opening! There's so much good set up here and beautiful writing that it pulls me directly into the story. And after reading the pitch, I'm already on edge wondering what happens next. Great job!

  3. Very intriguing concept, and I like how you start with the howling wolves. I would mention the chairlift earlier, when Lauren scoots closer to Wes. I couldn't get a feel for what was going on until you mentioned it later.

  4. I like this first page a lot, it's a nice set-up (I'm guessing before she has a skiing accident)- the first paragraph is great, eerie and atmospheric, and then you have the joking between the MC and Wes which is nice and shows their relationship.

    I think you could clarify and tighten in a few places, though. I agree with Shannon that you should say 'I scoot closer to Wes on the chairlift', so we know where she is straight away - otherwise I was picturing her in the woods. I'd also mention that it's still daylight earlier on the page, because I imagined it being nighttime, just because it begins with the scary image of the wolves howling and the trees. You also don't need to say 'He lifts his shoulders and drops them', everyone knows what a shrug looks like, just say he shrugged.

    The only part I wasn't so keen on was the end - 'his teeth are perfect and his lips look soft. Just another reminder why I’ve had a crush on Wes since I was a freshman.' which seems a touch cheesy to me, perhaps find another way to describe him.

    Overall I'd certainly read on. Good luck!

  5. I agree with the other critiques. Could use a bit of tightening but the premise is great --- can't wait to read more.

    One way to make the last paragraph a little less cheesey might be:

    His mouth twists into a crooked grin, made perfect by those lips I've dreamed of since I was a freshman.

    Anyhoo...wish I could read a few more pages right now!

  6. I really enjoyed this. The atmosphere and scene are beautifully set and I love the dynamic between Wes and Lauren.  I agree with some of the other comments--mentioning the chairlift earlier would be nice and the description of a shrug could be cut. I'd definitely keep reading if I could! Great premise and solid writing!

  7. What an eerie premise that’s matched by a keen sense of setting and mood in your opening paragraph.

    But what follows can be much tighter. Every words matters, and I think you’re immediately losing the undercurrent of danger by having Lauren snuggle—she’s clearly in no imminent danger. That’s why the avalanche crack didn’t work for me either. I also don’t understand why it’s important that she states she likes animals. Why is it relevant? The point is she doesn’t want to be wolf food, and that wouldn’t change if she despised all things animal.

    You don’t need to explain the mechanics of Wes’s shrug. The reader can figure that out. And, similarly, I felt that a lot of Lauren’s descriptions of Wes didn’t feel integrated. The “softness in his green eyes” threw me – why would Lauren note the greenness at that moment, and the puppy dog eye thing here feels clichĂ©. So does the crush since freshman year. Yes, you need to be feeding the reader information about what’s happened outside of this initial moment, but that flow of information has to feel natural to the moment, too. For me, it doesn’t here.

    I think your world building is stronger than your character interaction, but if you work on a smoother integration, I think you’ll have a much more compelling opening.

  8. Love this! So haunting.

    One little thing--I thought the sentence that starts "The valley is so peaceful from this height" is too long and a little hard to follow. Maybe have "The valley is so peaceful from this height" as one sentence and start the next sentence with "It almost ..."

    And it might just be me, but when I read about Wes' mouth twisting into a crooked grin, I wondered if Wes is going to turn out to be a werewolf :)

    Overall, great job!!

  9. As someone who's been skewered by giving too many descriptions of characters, DON'T DO IT. (Unless it's super relative to what's going on in that exact moment.) Leave out the green eyes, and someone suggested a way to tweak the last sentence in a comment above - I liked that.

    If she nuzzles, she's thinking about making out. If she just scoots closer, she's nervous. You know what you want to get across.

    Love the voice.

  10. The logline didn't do much for me, too vague, but I really love your voice and immediatly hooked by opening.

  11. Your logline is an instant sell for me. I love the idea of mixed up bodies/souls/minds.

    Great first page too. You had me laughing at her reaction to his avalanche comment.

    The last paragraph left me a little flat, though. This MIGHT JUST BE ME but in the first page or two I want to know what's unique and compelling about the main character, and her crushing on a guy's teeth and lips just feels shallow to me.

    I'd still keep reading though. Most definitely.

  12. dominic.dinere@judiciary.state.nj.usDecember 3, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    I love anything that has to do with the paranormal.. but its really nice when you see such great writing and enticingly thrilling storylines. I really think your going to do wonderful. Best of luck to you and I can't wait to see it on the shelves!!