Monday, March 1, 2021

Are You Hooked? #1

TITLE: Undaunted
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Parked at the curb, I stay seated behind the wheel, my fingers tapping, heart thumping. This is the last chance I’ll have to see the family I’m responsible for before leaving them for good.

I’m sure my replacement will do a good job, just not as good as me. She doesn’t know Daisy’s favorite nursery rhymes, and that she can’t fall asleep without Mister Snuffles, and that bubblegum bubbles make her laugh so hard she gets the hiccups. My replacement won’t know that every time Violet falls off the wagon Daisy falls with her.

I swing open the car door, creating a breeze that lifts a cluster of dry leaves and scatters them like confetti. My boots crunch through trash tossed across the cracked asphalt and I pull my scarf tighter around my neck to ward off the autumn chill. I wonder if it’s this cold in Scotland, where I’ll soon be living with my cousin. My bags are packed, I’ve told my friends and co-workers goodbye, but I can’t leave without checking in on my most capricious case. I won’t miss my job at DCFS, but I will miss the little family I’ve come to love like my own. Violet has come far in her sobriety, and I hope my absence won’t give her reason to backslide. Change is hard on addicts who need consistency in their lives.

    It’s eerily quiet on the street in front of the building where Violet and Daisy live.


  1. The writing here is great and this line got me in the gut: "... every time Violet falls off the wagon Daisy falls with her." This feels very much like the start of something big. Great job creating this atmosphere and voice. One nit: I assume DCFS stands for something around child & family services, but it's worth spelling it out the first time so the reader isn't wondering. I'd read on!

  2. I'm interested. I'm torn about wanting to know more about this family or her new life in Scotland (that's not a bad thing).

  3. Lovely! The hush of anticipation resonates throughout. The eerie silence at the end made me wonder if it's day or night, but I'm sure a reader will find out soon enough.

    I agree with JKO about spelling out the first use of DCFS. I think your tremendous, gut-wrenching line about Violet falling off the wagon needs a comma between wagon and Daisy, but that's me nitpicking.

    I also question if a car door opening can cause enough of a gust to make the leaves scatter, although I like your description. That line pulled me out of the story.

    I'd read on.

  4. I can only imagine the depth this manuscript will take. Kudos. You have some lovely lines.
    I can't help but wonder if one of them might make a stronger first line. Like maybe the Change is hard on addicts who need consistency in their lives. Parking the car... That way when we get to that heartstopper line about the wagon, it quickly makes sense. That line is brilliant. Best of luck on your query journey.

  5. This is nicely done. Good descriptions and it really sets the mood. Some people might not like that nothing much is happening, but I get a good feel for the character by hearing her concerns about the family.

    I have a couple of suggestions, both just little things.

    1) I like the line "I wonder if it's this cold in Scotland" because it gives a sense of her future plans in a natural way, but I'd drop the rest of that sentence. "Where I’ll soon be living with my cousin" feels like forcing in backstory we don't need yet. You might add something like "guess I'll find out soon enough" instead. It's a more subtle hint and feels more like a natural thought.

    2) Could you move the last sentence to the beginning? I think "It’s eerily quiet on the street in front of the building where Violet and Daisy live" would make a terrific first line.

    Thanks for sharing your work. Great job and best of luck!

  6. Totally hooked. Great job. You sucked me in with her leaving her family... why is she? And who is her new replacement. And clearly Violet and Daisy might fall off the wagon, so what else does this imply. And why Scotland. The flow is perfect, you queue it all up very well, teasing with just enough information to keep the reader intrigued. The last line "eerily" is foreboding, love it. Love the fall chill as well. My only ask, please spell out DCFS. :)

  7. The opening sentence is decent descriptive writing, but I didn't find it particular grabbing as an opening line. I'm quite intrigued by the whole setup in terms of the story elements, but I think the hook isn't quite there yet in terms of how it's being presented. I guess maybe I feel like the emotion of the situation is being pushed on the reader rather than unfolding naturally.

  8. I think you have a very solid spark of talent -- the specific details are right on the money.

    Strangely, I think you may have one of the only entries here where I feel the content is instantly immersive, but the prose itself could use a little more polish. The opening paragraph has a certain clumsiness, and there are a few places where the beat falters. Technically, no, I probably wouldn't read on -- but only because I feel like this reads as a rough draft that only needs one more editorial pass.

    Once you've *done* that editorial pass, then I'd be very interested to see the first few pages.

  9. I'm intrigued- you've got nice description that isn't too heavy but places me squarely in the scene. You've got tension brewing as the MC seems torn. My only suggestion would be to include a little more action or something happening besides just the MC thinking in these opening words- or at least I hope that will be happening soon. It felt like a lot of telling instead of pulling the readers in with showing.

  10. Thanks, everyone, for your valuable feedback. You've really helped me strengthen the opening lines of my manuscript and I'm very grateful. :) This is a first draft of a project I started a few years ago before taking a sabbatical from writing. Now that 2020 is finally over, I'm feeling hopeful and am slowly climbing back onto my writing horse.

    In case anyone is wondering what this story is, it's about a social worker who kidnaps a neglected child to save her life.

    Thanks again for all your help!

  11. Everything about this is good and pulls me in with the exception of the first paragraph, which sounds more like an introduction.

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