Jan 1, 2012

Post #1

In contemporary London, 25 years old paranormal consultant Robyn Wise joins forces with the ancient spirit living inside her, to fight the Dark Cloud, a malevolent entity determined to absord Fairyland's power. If Robyn fails, all good magic will disappear from Earth and our world will be turned into a hopeless desert.


“Do you think he will come, Miss Wise?”
“Of course he will, Mr Wilson, no worries.” I say, trying to hide my concern with little success; dissimulation has never been my best feature,after all. That's probably why my client doesn't seem at all reassured; he keeps twisting his fat fingers while his piggy eyes dart around the place.

He’s nervous and I'm terrified, which is perfectly normal when you consider that I'm here, at night, in the middle of nowhere ... with a werewolf. A very nasty werewolf.

To make things even worse, there's not a single cloud in the sky, it's oneof those clear winter nights that show up in London once or twice a year.

My usual luck. Of course there's a full moon tonight, so a few drops ofrain wouldn't hurt, in case things go wrong. But they won't, let's be optimistic for once shall we? After all, Mr Wilson is a werewolf determined to be cured, that's why we are here in the middle of nowhere,waiting for a shaman to perform a healing spell on him. Let's just hope he's punctual, please, I've never counted  on English punctuality so much in my entire life. That's probably because my entire life depends on English punctuality, in this particular case: to work, the spell has to beperformed before the moon rises and my client transforms into a blood-thirsty monster. Thirsty for my blood, of course. In this particular case.


Rachel Morgan said...

Hmm, don't know if any of this is useful, but for the logline I would do the following:

- remove the s from "25 yearS old" and write "twenty-five-year-old" (though that is a lot of hyphens...)
- remove the comma between her and to
- is "absord" a word I don't know? Or is it meant to be "absorb"?

Good luck with the WiP!

louisaklein said...

Damn me! I have rewritten from scratch the longline and, being in a hurry, got this. Any suggestions about the first 250 words?

A. K. Fotinos-Hoyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A. K. Fotinos-Hoyer said...

Thank you for sharing your work :) I was admittedly a bit confused by your logline (how does the destruction of Fairyland's power translate to the transformation of Earth into a hopeless desert?) but I think the overall story idea sounds interesting and reminiscent of the Dresden Files. The first 250 words were also fun and definitely full of voice, but (imo) are a bit too telling. Can you mabye show the narrator's fear and the werewolf's intention to be cured rather than telling these things? I also felt like you were talking to the reader a bit (let's be optimistic... Let's just hope...) which pulled me out of the story, but this could just be an issue of personal taste.
Best of luck with this piece :)

Melodie Wright said...

You have a lot of semicolons in your second paragraph - perhaps change to periods. Also, using 'dissimulation' instead of a simpler word or showing her dishonesty is a strong tell.

The last part of your final paragraph has a few run-ons and unnecessary words:
"Let's just hope he's punctual, please," (why the please? who is she asking for this favor?) etc. could read - My life depends on English punctuality because if the moon rises before the shaman arrives, I'm this werewolf's next meal.
Good luck!

Kerry said...

The voice is good, engaging- it drew me in.

You could take out everything from "I say" to "probably why" in the second paragraph.

To increase the suspense you could also remove any mention of the werewolf in paragraph 3- keep the secret a little longer.

The fourth sentence in the last paragraph is a little awkward.

Mark Andreas said...

In your logline, I think "absord" is supposed to be "absorb."

I'm curious if you could put more in your logline about the spirit living inside main character. that sounds like the the most interesting part to me. is it kind of a pact with a demon? What are the motivations of this spirit and what will happen to main character if she doesn't team up with it? then maybe you could shorten and streamline the rest.

as for the first 250 words, the main problem I had was that there was a lot of telling in the main character's thoughts, rather than showing what is happening in the moment--more descriptions of the characters and the emotions of the main character to get me hooked into the story, then a little later you can fill in more of the backstory. those are my thoughts, good luck!

John Williams said...



Start with the character. Your logline is filled with possibility and you've got a voice there, it just needs some tidying up.

250 words:

Yours are missing spaces, has spelling mistakes and could use better punctuation (excessive semi-colons), that's going to result in your work being consistantly passed over. Edit, Edit, Edit. But, there is voice there (there be gold here!), it just needs to be polished to a shine. You've also got an interesting and compelling conflict, even if it could be shown more and told less.

"Robyn Wise and Mr Wilson are alone, at night, on a full moon. Mr Wilson wants to get cured of his lycanthrope while Robyn just wants to avoid getting eaten, though the paycheck for this cure wouldn't hurt her bank balance. Robyn's never prayed to the Gods of British Punctuality before and if she'd thought the shaman might be late she'd have never taken the job. There was nothing for it, she didn't have enough time left to run for it. Hopefully the chap shows up before the client starts thinking of her as a biscuit."

I think you get more leeway with some of the repetition with a first person POV, as it adds to the narrator's voice, but you should probably limit that especially for this kind of a submission.

louisaklein said...

Hey, that was very helpful! My only problem: I get the missing spaces ( don't know what happened here, just checked and the submission for Authoress was fine) but I am worried for the spelling mistakes, since I got that bit proofread by a professional so, unless you are talking about the awful 'absord' thingy, please tell me where these mistakes are, so that I can go and make him pay! (nothing violent intended, just will ask for my money back):))))

Chemist Ken said...

Too many semicolons and not enough periods. Also, too much of this is backstory. I happen to like backstory myself, but try to push it as far back in the story as you can instead of dumping it on us all at once.

I like the voice, but don't get too carried away with the cutesy lines, especially at this point in the story where she's supposed to be terrified. It doesn't match the emotions you're trying to set up.

John Williams said...

I sort of assumed that if you find a spelling mistake in the logline that there would probably be others in the manuscript. (Sorry for the presumption.) However, after copying your words in to a Word doc and running spell check, "absord" => "absorb" is the only spelling mistake I actually saw. The rest are either typographical & punctuation problems. The earlier comment "spelling mistakes" that I made should read "spelling mistake". (Sadly, no way to edit.)

Dana @ http://reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com says that sentence syntax and word choice demonstrates an authors command of language, while punctuation demonstrates an authors finesse. If the biggest complaint you get is "bad punctuation", that can be fixed by a good copy editor. Some authors get published despite having a poor command of the English language. (Not that you should hope to be one, I'm just saying-- it happens.) Voice and content will always trump finesse, but if you can do it with finesse, you'll rise even faster to that top 1% of authors who get signed.

Also, don't use anything I wrote in your story. What I wrote is all tell, a distillation of the conflict you presented to say "I get it." If it helps you focus your story, by all means use what you learned from my distillation. But please, for the love of all that is holy, don't actually use the words I wrote. I already see problems with my grammar, to wit: I would (after a night's sleep) have re-written that first line from my earlier comment:

"Robyn Wise and Mr Wilson are alone, on the night of a full moon."

I think "on a full moon" is bad grammar. (Even if it does make sense.)

tarak said...

For me, the only thing missing from the logline was a sense of the personal stakes for the MC. She wants to save the world, yes, but you can give us a glimpse of her character if we know what will or won't happen to Robyn if she fails.

First 250 - your description of the client's nervousness is nice, but I agree with others that there's some telling here. We know he's not reassured by his reaction. Try leaving out the phrase about him not being reassured and see how it works. Similarly, you probably don't need to tell us he's a werewolf. Give us hints, how he stands, how he smells, trust the reader to figure it out. The MC comments that he's dangerous, but we don't get any sense of that from his description, so I'm not sure what to make of him.

The last paragraph to me came off as nervous internal rambling, which I liked quite a bit. I'm not sure that's what you were going for, but thought I'd throw it out there.

Thank you for sharing your work!

Bron said...

I'm a bit worried about the fact that you paid a 'professional' to proof this because there are quite a few errors. I've read that agents will forgive the odd typo but several on the first page doesn't bode well for the rest of the manuscript. Here's what I picked up:

'25 years old' should be '25-year-old' or 'twenty-five-year-old'.

There shouldn't be a full stop after 'no worries', as the sentence continues once Robyn finishes speaking. You should have a comma there instead.

I think you should have a full stop or a semi-colon after 'sky' in the third paragraph and 'cured' and 'punctuality' in the fourth.

'Blood-thirsty' should be 'bloodthirsty'.

Apart from the errors, you have a lot of long, run-on sentences that I think you'd be better off splitting up into two, which I think is also the reason you're getting criticised for using too many semi-colons.

There's also some telling eg. that he's a werewolf, that they're in the middle of nowhere waiting for a shaman to show up to cure him. I think this excerpt would be more effective if you showed more and told less.

Finally, I'm not getting a sense of place. You say 'in the middle of nowhere' but I have no idea if they're out in the middle of a field or where. Some quick description to set the scene would be useful.

There's some good lines in here (I like the bit about counting on English punctuality) but at this point I don't think agents will look past the errors and problems with this to the good story beneath. Good luck with revising.

louisaklein said...

Bloodthirsty was an indent, the line was finished! I am rewriting this almost from scratch anyway, so it is not a big deal. Also, changing big chunks of the plot which wasn't flowing as it should have been. As for the description of the setting: there was another version of this beginning which started with a description, but then I took part to the Secret Agent contest and was told off my the agent, who told me that I should have put more action in the first 250 words.

John Williams said...

Since "Action we didn't care about" was the number one reason why submissions were rejected for the Baker's Dozen (2011) http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2011/12/bakers-dozen-reasons-for-rejection.html, I'd be cautious of anyone who suggested "put more action in the first 250 words."

Did they use those words? Is it possible they actually meant "conflict?"

Action and conflict aren't the same. You have conflict in your first 250 words, but you could polish it better. You don't have action, but frankly I don't see a problem with that. If you present a conflict AND give us a reason to care, action (or violence) is completely unnecessary. (If you show action, or violence AND give us a reason to care, that works too.)

Turbo said...

As others have said, I'm not as sure about the personal stakes for the MC in the logline.

In the first 250, my read was of a narrator who is several steps above average in terms of vocabulary -- in most of the selection we see, she's using more complex words and phrasings than I expect to see from an average Urban Fantasy protagonist. If that's intentional, it's a feature to highlight and be sure to be consistent on -- if they're going to break pattern and talk more informally, it should be for a consistent set of reasons.

Good luck!

louisaklein said...

Dear John,
I know what hat horses said, and I mostly agree with her. still, the agent I ha to deal with thought differently. You can read my original beginning and her response here: http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2011_07_01_archive.html

louisaklein said...

Damn autocorrect! What I meant is that I agree with Authoress, but the agent thought differently!

John Williams said...

Since I didn't know the title of your story, so I had to be creative to find it among the list of posts that the archive pulled up. So that anyone else can go look at your original submission (and the comments): http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2011/07/july-secret-agent-46.html is the link to your previous opening.

The thing I see you do in both the original and this one is you mention the weather, but you don't draw a connection between the weather (lack of clouds in the second draft) and the full moon. (You don't do this in either draft.)

From reading both, I gather that the reason the storm is important is because if the full moon was hidden the danger would be less (in the presence of a werewolf). The specifics of this I can't begin to guess, because I have no idea how werewolf mythology works in your world, but the association wasn't clear until I read the original draft. (I didn't grasp the importance of clouds in the second draft, just as others didn't grasp their importance in the first.)

Being nutty, I'll give a go at an example of what I'd do…

Please God, let Albert be his usual, punctually English self, I think as I scan the cloudless sky, the full moon not yet risen to glare hatefully at me. When I’d signed my most recent client, I’d never thought to worry about Albert being late, and well, I still wasn’t certain I needed to worry. We still had another five minutes for the shaman to arrive so that we could cure a reluctant werewolf—but, with my kind of luck...

“Do you think he will come, Miss Wise?”

“Of course he will, Mr. Wilson, no worries.” I say, suppressing the tremor in my voice. Mr. Wilson doesn’t respond, twisting his fat fingers, his piggy eyes reflecting the moonlight as they dart around the place. Let’s be optimistic, I think, nervously willing Mr. Wilson to remain calm.

The neighborhood we are in is perfect for this kind of work, at least that’s what Albert said when he picked the place. This is my first time curing a werewolf. The healing spell, he’d explained, would need an enclosed space such as the nearby abandoned building and we’d need the shade of the buildings to block the moonlight, at least until Albert was ready. It would have been better if there had been clouds; against a forecast of claws and teeth, I'd take rain any day.

Two minutes. Did some thug in this rough neighborhood delay him? Did he decide not to come? Should I have updated my will?

I tried to take a lot of the different pieces in the two drafts to form a composite.

I wanted to find a way to say luck again in the fourth paragraph (about the clouds), but it was repetative so I couldn't. I have to trust that the reader will draw the connection.

I wanted to draw on the piggy reference to make an allusion to the wolf. (i.e., Three little pigs & the wolf.) It seemed very appropriate, but after reading my attempts, I decided that I liked it better for Mr. Wilson to seem like bacon at the beginning (prey instead of predator).

I didn't tell the reader who Wilson was. For all the reader knows, Wilson might be the nervous sidekick. I leave Robyn's nervousness and her preoccupation with becoming werewolf chow to hint at it though.

You could unveil the working relationship between Wise and Wilson slowly, or dramatically when/if Albert arrives. Lots of choices there.

Putting Wise and Wilson close together, makes me realize they have three letters in common (and the first two letters are identical). Change Wilson's last name to reduce the (albiet minimal) chances of your readers getting confused.

You probably already know this: If Albert shows up at all, there needs to be some kind of complication to curing the werewolf, or you'll kill your momentum.

Good luck.

John Williams said...

The first sentence in my last post has an extra word (One of these two words should be removed: "since" or "so".)

Probably could remove everything from "and well" to the end of the sentence (in the second sentence).

The reference to Wilson's eyes reflecting the light should have been corrected to suggest a non-moonlight... my first draft I'd written indicated that the moon was already up, then upon re-reading your work I realized it wasn't and edited. It appears I didn't catch the continuity error I'd introduced.


There are some other problems. Ah well, that's how it goes with writing.

I hope my post gives you some ideas at least.

(And Yay! My blogger avatar finally works.)