Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #21

TITLE: The Bleeding Heart
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Juan Paul Rodriguez. I can still clearly picture his brown almond-shaped eyes, the ones fixated on me and filled with hatred and longing. I remember the stink of his venomous breath as it hit my face, and the way his blue tear tattoo underneath his left eye crinkled when his lips pulled over his teeth to smirk at me. I’ll never forget the feel of warm saliva running down my cheek that dripped from his open mouth. The menacing smile is the last thing I remember before he viciously slit my throat.

Before that night, I was just your average hormonal pre-teen. Now, I’m a monster—a dangerous one—not one that will break into your house to steal prized possessions or shoot you dead on the street, but dangerous none-the-less. You’d never know this by solely looking at me though, what with my fair skin, beautiful long wavy brown hair and large green eyes. I look like any normal seventeen year-old until you catch a glimpse of my neck. This is where I’m different. A large pink scar is visible precisely two inches below my ears, and runs right across the front of my throat. Without my make-up on, one may get a glimpse of a few tiny scars on my cheeks, but those I’m very good at hiding. I have many disguises, and my face is just the one thing I cover.

The clothes I wear hide many other fine pink and white lines that crisscross my body.


  1. This is strong stuff, and powerful imagery. But I'm confused. Did she die and become a monster, or did she survive and that's why she feels the need to wear makeup on her neck? (Do monsters wear makeup?) Also, I imagine she is a cutter, which also interests me. Clearly she has some issues, and hopefully one of those is how she'll get back at Juan Paul Rodriguez. I think some of the imagery in the first paragraph could be more particular. Some of the more familiar language (like filled with hatred, venomous breath, etc) might be more originally said. (Also, nonetheless is one word.) And anyone slicing someone's throat is vicious, so I don't know if you need to use that word either, for instance. But I am interested. Also, I don't know if you even need to mention in the first paragraph that he slit your throat. The next paragraph says it, doesn't it? Also, why is the main character necessarily a dangerous monster? Aren't all monsters dangerous? She doesn't sound that dangerous to me.
    Interesting start. Good luck!

  2. This is a nice start. Don't worry that people are wondering what the heck she is now.

    Good! I'd keep reading to find out.

    We're obviously dealing with something out of the ordinary in this girl, and you don't have to lay that all out instantly.

    Watch the "voice." This is first person, and you don't want the vocabulary ("solely," "glimpse") outrunning the age group by too much.

    On the other hand, I don't know how many years she's looked seventeen, do I?

  3. I am intrigued and the mood you set in the first paragraph with your description literally made me cringe (in a good way) because Rodriguez sounds so evil and disgusting! Great job! I do feel a little disconnect between the first paragraph and the second. They are both very good, but I would like more in between. You don't want to give away much, but a little bit would only hook me more. Good luck!

  4. I like your description especially the discription of Juan Paul. I can imagine him in my mind. I don't think she sounds much like a monster and after your beginning the readers will forgive the fact she is a monster in her quest for revenge.

  5. This has a horror feel to it which could be really cool. I wonder about the Contemporary label, since the imagery lead me in a fantasy or paranormal direction, but I can also step back and view this as very powerful descriptions of an attack in a contemporary setting.

    While the imagery is strong, the descriptions to me border on melodramatic. The descriptions feel a little too intense for opening narrative when we aren't in scene with the characters. There are a lot of powerful word choices used, but having it all in a recap form (not showing through scene) is what I think lends to the melodrama. We don't see his hatred and longing, we are told about it. I'm not super strict about "show don't tell" but I think the balance feels a bit off in this opening.

    I would suggest working against cliches to set your work apart from what's been seen before. "Almond-shaped eyes" is a common description, why not push for something more? The "average hormonal pre-teen" sounds like an adult looking in on an experience rather than a teen a year or two beyond that experience. I think adults describe teens as hormonal more than a teen would describe themselves that way. For me, this stuck out as a cliche that isn't doing your opening any favors, when clearly there is a cool premise here with a lot of potential. Same with "my fair skin, beautiful long wavy brown hair..." feels like it's been done. I think with a little pushing, you could show something really different here. I hope this helps! Rooting for you :)

  6. Wow. There's a lot of scary stuff in that first paragraph. I agree that it doesn't matter that the monster stuff is unclear. I'm sure it'll be clear from the book jacket and flap copy whether you are talking about an actual monster or just that her life has been so destroyed that she's become monster-like. I guess my only question is whether the book needs to start off with the terrifying description of Juan Paul. Is what's important who she's become or is he what is important (i.e. it'll be important for the story that we know just how terrifying and disgusting he is.)

    Good luck! Sounds like a great story brewing.

  7. Intriguing set-up with innocent-looking girl who has survived throat-slitting and become a monster!

    I’d put Juan Paul Rodriguez in a stand-alone paragraph. The put “I can still remember his almond-shaped eyes…” and delete the other “remember” “never forget” etc. It would spotlight his evilness to make more of a list. Something like: “I still remember his almond-shaped eyes fixating on me with hatred and longing. His venomous breath. The way the tear tattoo beneath his left eye crinkled when he drew his lips back to smirk. The warm saliva that dripped from his sneer, sliding down my cheek. (end here)

    If saliva is going to drip on her we need to know that the MC is below (on the floor?) and Juan is above her. Not sure where to suggest.

    I’m not feeling the “monster” bit. Monsters don’t break into your house to steal. They break into your house to torture and murder you. “…but dangerous none-the-less” is a let-down. I was waiting for “but one who might (do something unusual and painful to you.)

    The “Before that night” paragraph could be tightened. Four adjectives describing hair is overkill. Other suggestions: “…until you glimpse my neck.” Delete “This is where I’m different.” “A pink scar runs across the front of my throat, almost from ear to ear.” “I’m very good at usng make-up to hide the few tiny scars on my cheeks.” “My clothes hide…”

    I didn’t get “I have many disguises, and my face is just the one thing I cover.”

  8. While you start with a gripping (and horrifying!) scene, I quickly became rather confused reading this. Is the MC a literal "monster," or is this just how she views herself? While we don't need everything spelled out this early on, I'd clarify this point at least, so your reader isn't left guessing so early on.

    Also, careful about descriptions in the second paragraph like "average hormonal pre-teen," "fair skin, beautiful long wavy brown hair and large green eyes," etc. Over-description feels very writery, particularly when your narrator is first person. I don't believe the character when she talks about herself this way.

  9. Thank you to everyone few who took the time to comment on my first 250 words. I truly appreciate the time it took and will work on continuing to revise my story. I wish everyone the best of luck in your writerly persuits.