Saturday, 23 June 2012

Critique contest Entry no. 4.

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Genre: YA Magical Realism
First Page:

Chapter One

Men are wolves. They are hairy, snarling, creatures of the dark, with teeth that snap and hold. They’ll drain you lifeless before they release.
You disagree? That’s because most hide their slinking predator behind bright eyes and easy smiles, hands in pockets, and let me get that for you. But my eyes see the truth. My eyes pull the truth from their jaws. My eyes split their handsome skins to reveal the animal beneath.
Men are wolves and I hunt them. Watch and learn.
Tonight’s wolf is skittish.
I caught his eye this afternoon, whispered promises in his ear and had him cornered before he’d finished chewing his donut. But that was hours ago. My charms have worn off and he’s beginning to realize he’s come to the middle of nowhere, surrounded by black forest, with a woman he doesn’t know.
His instincts kick in his gut.
It doesn’t help that I’m sitting in his beige-leather passenger seat, legs crossed at the ankles, back rigid for what I’m about to do -- what he’s about to do to me. I haven’t looked at him yet. He is still thinking clearly.
He clears his throat. “Uh, so what did you say your name was, again?”
“Monique.” It’s Carly, actually. But the wolf doesn’t need to know that.
“Monique…” He tastes my name, tempting the wolf inside to out. He’s feeling weak, uncertain. He wants to feel strong. I will make him feel strong. For a time.
I suppress a shudder. “And you’re Evan? Evan Gregory?”
He nods, his eyes flipping to the rearview mirror. “Yes.”
“You’re the Founder and Managing Director of IT Solutions –- Virginia’s newest and most successful technological corporate?”
His lips curl away from his teeth. “Yes, that’s ri- wait, how did you know-?”
I turn then, meet his gaze with mine and it all happens very quickly.
His jaw drops. His eyes widen. His pupils dilate and the wolf arrives; Teeth close, tongue traces the bottom lip, muscles bunch.
My hackles rise.
“Monique,” he growls and lunges across the console between us, his hands already tearing at my clothes. He is faster than I expected -- not as soft as I imagined -- and frightening in his focus. His eyes remain clamped on mine as forces himself over me, leaves bruises on my thighs, my arms, my stomach in his hurry to take me.
I curl into a ball, but do not close my eyes. Let them see what a monster he is. Let them remember what hides in all of them. Let them be sure know what kind of heart beats in all their chests.
But in his frustration, he tears my skirt from hem to waist. A blade of fear slices through my stomach and I open my mouth to scream the safe word-
Light bathes the car. We are transported from darkest night, to brightest day. But his maddened eyes don’t break. They shine with the hunger for me.


  1. Not sure on that first line. I’m struggling to work out what it is that’s bothering me – perhaps I just feel it needs more mystery or character or conflict, or maybe it’s because it could almost be comical, like the start of a chick-lit novel.

    I like the voice in the next paragraph a lot though, and I’m intrigued by the line about being skittish. You then start building an interesting character, and there’s great action in the instincts line.

    One thing I had trouble imagining is his teeth closing, then his tongue tracing his lip. He’d have to have opened his mouth again, so maybe it’d just be stronger to change the order.

    Since this is magical realism I have no idea whether her hackles are rising figuratively or literally – same with the wolf traits. I loved the intrigue as it went along, but I did grow to expect some sort of clarification by the end and instead I still don’t know whether they’re human or not, or what’s really going on. We don’t need all the details yet though, of course – the suspense and mystery is good!

    I would take out ‘the’ from the last sentence.
    Overall I’m really intrigued; I love the sense of character you give; and I’m very curious to know where it’s going.

    Great job!

  2. I loved the concept - and there are hints of some interesting things (hopefully) to come. Who is watching, where do the lights come from? I'm hoping you'll be clarifying fairly quickly.

    I liked your voice too - so have just picked out a few areas that stood out for tweaking.

    It felt like there should be a gap afer "watch and learn". Like the first part was her commentary or introduction to the story.

    The sentence: 'His instincts kick in his gut.' Felt wrong somehow. I understand it, but perhaps because instincts usually just kick in, so it was a bit jarring.

    'for what I’m about to do -- what he’s about to do to me.' I think you could lose this - it's a bit redundant. Just stop the sentence with 'back rigid'.

    The bit after he tastes her name - is he tempting the wolf out, or is she?

    When her hackles rise I wonder, is she the wolf or is he? Perhaps they both are. I would expect her to protect herself or attack him after raised hackles, but she curls into a ball.

    I think 'he' needs to 'force himself over her'.

    Also I wonder if he could bruise her, rather than leave bruises.

    Overall though, a good concept and an intriguing beginning. I would definitely read more.

  3. You have a great voice. I really loved reading this!

    The motivations, I had some trouble with. Is he a werewolf? I don't think so. So here is my problem:

    I don't think ANYONE would go to raping a woman so easily or carelessly. It's too fast and abrupt. If he's a normal man, then I don't think this works very well. Maybe hint at it, or have Carly entice or hint at him. MAKE his motivation more clear.

    “Monique.” It’s Carly, actually. But the wolf doesn’t need to know that.

    I don't think you need that third sentence. I LOVEEEEE it without it. It's amazing, and the third sentence is super implied, so it kills all the awesomeness. It's redundant.

  4. I think this is awesome. Really. I'd love to read more. Sure, I don't 100% get the whole monster thing (why does he turn into a monster and try to attack her? He doesn't seem like a werewolf, but he also doesn't seem like a normal guy about to rape a girl randomly. There's something more going on.) but it's enough to keep me reading. I'm curious, so I don't think its a bad thing. This is only 500 words. I just hope in the rest of this chapter (?) you'll go deeper into it.

    My one complaint though is his name. Did you realize that "Evan Gregory" is a literary agent? If this is a novel I'd change that, I'm sure that at least some other agents will know him and it will throw them off. And I really hope you don't query him! lol Just a heads up. Over all I think this is fabulous!

  5. The only thing not covered above that I noticed is the odd exposition of Carly confirming Evan's name and occupation. She got him all the way to the woods without learning his name? Could the bit about his job be narrated, instead of dialogue, and let his name slip in conversation, even though he hadn't given it to her, tipping him off? Or maybe he gave a false name as well, and she calls him by his real one?

    Perhaps you could take a moment for his observable reaction - does he assume she's after his money and take that as a sign to move in, or does he suspect that she could be dangerous and targeting him?

  6. “Yes, that’s ri- wait, how did you know-?”
    This is all I have...I'm ashamed of myself. But if you're going to have dialogue interrupted, then you don't need punctuation on the end. No question mark, no period, just the long dash/em dash.

    This intrigued me from the start - a werewolf hunter / law enforcement-type person, Carly, has lured a wolf away and almost let's the situation go to far before calling her friends/co-workers in to help her finish the job.
    Whether I'm wrong or not doesn't matter. What matters is you've written something with great voice, great word usage, and I'd definitely finish reading.
    I do wish I could be more helpful, though.

  7. This reads very nicely. Although the switch from the normal IT head question to a wolf-man to-be-rapist is kind of jarring. But then again, I don't know the premise. Also, lose the first line. It doesn't match the rest of the narrative.

  8. Men are wolves. They are hairy, snarling, creatures of the dark, with teeth that snap and hold. They’ll drain you lifeless before they release.

    First impression: I'm thinking of the older women who go after the young men. Or, a woman who feels she is stronger than all men and above them. I'm not sure about the beginning here; I think I'd find another way to start, that comes on less in-your-face.

    He tastes my name, tempting the wolf inside to out.

    To come out? Over all I like this line.

    His eyes remain clamped on mine as forces himself over me, leaves bruises on my thighs, my arms, my stomach in his hurry to take me.

    I'm not sold on the use of "clamped" here; it gives me a weird mental picture. The description is otherwise pretty solid, though.

    Over all, interesting start. Again, not sold on the very beginning, but I think you can fix that. I'm curious about your female lead: how can she see "inside" the men? Is it instinct, is she just boasting to look good? Or does she have some awesome magic power? I think in the beginning, that needs to be made more clear. As it is right now, I think it's a lot of braggadocio and not much else.

    But I do like the plot idea and I think you're a strong writer. Good luck!