Monday, February 3, 2014

First impressions - Killer Stilettos

 Today we have the first from Shelley Arkon's working manuscript, KILLER STILETTOS, Book 2, a YA/ Crossover Paranormal. You can find Shelley at Secondhand Shoes, as well as a few other places. My comments will be in purple and if you're interested in Dianne's critique of this page, head on over to In High Spirits – Oh! And please do add your thoughts. We love comments :)

After Gram poofed out of my hospital room,(I would've liked to have read what came before this scene, then maybe some of this would make more sense and or read differently...) a bunch of ghosts showed up.(if this was the beginning, this would be a surprise, but maybe not if Gram has already told our narrator about ghosts) They filed in one by one quickly. Before I could think a thought or say anything, my entire room had filled up with them. Men, women, and children. All dressed in hospital gowns. Some were maimed. Some appeared perfectly fine. There were so many, the ones around my bed squished up against it. They were wall to wall. Too many to count.
I lifted my good hand (this must be why she/he's in the hospital) and waved, scanning as many faces as I could. “Hey, there.” What else could I say? Ghosts had a way of finding those with the gift. (what gift? Be specific. Or was this explained in book 1?) But I certainly wasn’t expecting this many. Not now. I was still recovering from surgery. Not to mention, being confined to a cast. It wasn’t like I could be of help to anyone. Plus, battling Oshun, the demon-slut, a few moments ago left me drained. She almost sucked the life right out of me. I might cut this as it indicates the battle literally took place a few moments ago and there's no way he/she would've gotten to a hospital, had surgery, and be in recovery with a cast in a few moments. Hours maybe.
A young blonde woman towering right in front over me cleared her throat. She glanced over her shoulder for a thirty seconds.
“Go on,” one of the others said to the woman, “ask her.
The woman turned to face me and said, “We need your help.” Dimples appeared at the corners of mouth when she smiled. Flecks of gold danced in her blue eyes. She mMust have been around my age. Nineteen, perhaps.
“I figured that.” A ferocious itch began in my casted leg, and I reached for it. But my wounded shoulder made it impossible for me to get to it. My back slammed back into the pile of pillows behind me, waffling air around me.

“Most of us have been here for years.” The woman brought her folded hands to the center of her chest in a please-have-mercy-on-us way. “We can’t seem to find our way out of this place.” A crease formed in her smooth-looking forehead. “Your Gram told us you could help us find the doorway to the light.”

My first impression is that I feel like my critique would've been more helpful if I'd read what came before. I feel like there's a lot I've missed or don't know that might make a difference in how I critique. That said this is still an interesting set up, with ghosts appealing to our narrator for help reaching the light and our narrator in possession of a gift. What sort of gift remains to be seen...

How about you dear reader, any thoughts on Shelley's submission? Any helpful suggestions?


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  2. Shelly! We adore her and her fur-peeps.
    I imagine there would be a lot of ghosts at a hospital. Was the battle with the demon there in the hospital or before?

  3. Marcy has some great suggestions. One other thing: there are places that could be tightened just by eliminating some wordage like "Before I could think (a thought) or say anything..."

    Best of luck with this, Shelly!

  4. it's nice that it begins with a very visual scene! Visual is the way to go

    Who's the goofy pup in the new headbanner, Marcy?

  5. It sounds like this one picks up right where the first leaves off—but I haven't read that one yet!

    But I agree that Marcy has some great suggestions.

  6. Marcy: thank you. You answered the question I had for myself about the beginning.

    Hugs and chocolate!

  7. Ooh. This has got me asking all kinds of questions--the good kinds you want readers asking. One suggestion: sequence it. After Gram poofed... I'd rather read, "Gram poofed out of the room" or a statement that communicates the emptiness and relief/stress of suddenly being alone.

    Also, rather than a bunch of ghosts showing up, they file in one by one, right? I'd say chop the "bunch" and just show us this constant stream of arriving spirits--like an uncorked bottle spilling into the room.

    Rather than "before I could think to say..." (again a sequence word--before,) why not give us something like souls crowded in and overlapping each other, even blurring together, or an urge the protagonist has to pull in his/her elbows in tighter to fit them in the only remaining free space in the room.

  8. I love Shelly and her famous fur peeps! This start has me intrigued - I love anything with ghosts.


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