Monday, September 9, 2013

First Impressions - The Soul Hunter

Hi all! Today we have our last first impression of the month. THE SOUL HUNTER is a paranormal romantic tragedy set in hell (ooh, I'm interested already!) written by Jody Moller. You can find Jody at her blog, Facebook, or on twitter @JodyMoller. My comments will be in purple and find Dianne Salerni's thoughts about this first page here


She moved among them as though she were one of them – she liked to pretend. She moved at a leisurely pace, as if she were out for a Sunday stroll. (I tend to notice duplicate words if they show up close together like this - maybe reword by combining the two sentences this way: She moved at a leisurely pace, as if she were out for a Sunday stroll, pretending to be one of them. ) Though she seemed to be meandering aimlessly she was, in fact, paying a great deal of attention to the people around her, listening intently to their every whim and desire. 
She was tall, almost six foot, and slender, but not skinny, the toned muscles that covered every inch of her body ensured that. Her blonde hair, so fair it bordered on white, was less than an inch in length, set into an impossible array of spikes. Above her perfectly chiseled cheek bones sat a pair of violet, almond-shaped eyes. Although we definitely want to know what she looks like, I wonder if there's a better place for this description.
If those around her had been able to see her (like here, for example. This seems a more natural place to insert that description - imo) they would have noted that she was stunning to behold. But they couldn’t see her, for they were human and she was not.
Her name was Zepherina, though she preferred to go simply by Zeph, and she was a Soul Hunter.
Zeph had caught sight of her proposed (proposed by?) target only a few hours earlier and she’d already decided he was a perfect candidate – his desperation visible to all, not just those who possessed her unusual talents.
            She’d been canvassing one of her favourite spots, just outside St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney. She was in Sydney because that was her assigned hunting zone, the limits of her district sat just outside the CBD so all in all she was responsible for an area of just over twenty square kilometres. She owned that area, it was hers, no other hunters were allowed to enter. But that also meant, of course, that she was unable to leave. (Ah, interesting. So she has power but she's also confined to a particular area, By whom? I'd like to know...) The borders of her zone were impenetrable, even if she was following a target the moment they crossed the border they were out of reach. I would guess that would mean other soul hunters can't get into her area, yes?
            The reason she chose the church was also simple, the people coming and going from the religious edifice before her were the most desperate in society. They went to pray, to hold onto some slim hope that their greatest desires would be delivered to them. But if there was one thing she knew, it was that the God they were praying to would not answer their prayers. 

This is an intriguing first page. There are a few mechanical issues - duplicate words, punctuation (I noticed a few spots where a semi-colon might be more appropriate) and a lot of passive 'to be' verbs. I think if some of those were made active that would make a huge difference in the way this first page reads. In my opinion it's pretty near impossible to get rid of all passive verbs but most times we can change at least half. Aside from that the rest is quite interesting and leaves me with lots of questions I'd be turning the page to find the answer to. Like, where did Zeph come from? Why is she confined to this one area? And more importantly, who confined her and why? Or are there others like her and they've each been given a bit of territory? I'm curious and I would want to read on to find out what happens.

Now, do you have any suggestions for Jody? Anything that might make this first page better? Interested in having your first page critiqued by two authors (that would be me, of course! And Dianne Salerni)? If so we'd love to see what you've got and we currently have three slots open for October. Meanwhile, come back on Friday and I'll let you know what I thought of Elyssium. Have a lovely week :)


  1. Blending in that paragraph of description would make it stronger. Show her looks through her actions a little bit, but definitely break it up.

  2. what a hellish setting :P

  3. I like the set up a lot. It's good to have rules like that limiting the character. I wonder, though, if in this opening scene we shouldn't see her go after someone and then lose them when they exit her area first. That would show the rule and how it works rather than being told. Just brainstorming here.

  4. I do like the idea behind the story, sounds fascinating.

  5. This sounds like a really cool story, but there's a lot of info given. Maybe a touch more action or character to pull the reader in first?

  6. Interesting premise. I'd like to see more.

  7. New reader to your blog here, followed over from Dianne's blog.

    Interesting story, but it is a common problem for writers just starting out to use comma splices and overuse passive verbs. It took a while to root those out of my writing, but doing so has improved it tremendously.

  8. I think this has so much potential and I absolutely want to read more. I was thinking it might be a better start with the canvassing paragraph. There seems to be a lot of backstory and telling happening, which I believe easily can be weaved into the action and events in the plot. Those are my first thoughts...impressions, if you will.

  9. I'm anti semi-colon, so I'd leave those out.

    It's a nice first page. Replacing 'them' with something more specific might build up the hook to be something stronger.

  10. Thank you all so much for your comments. The reason the first few paragraphs don't seem to fit all that well with the remainder is that they were originally part of the prologue (with a slightly more omniscent voice) and when I cut the prologue I couldn't bear to completely delete all I'd written. I guess deep down I knew it didn't work and now I will have the strength to be a bit more forceful with my next round of edits. As for the semi-colons, would you believe I had them in there but heard they were discouraged so I went on a frenzy and removed them all. Thanks again.

  11. I really like L.G. Smith's idea - in general, the more active the opening, the better! I love the set-up, though :)


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