Monday, January 14, 2013

Bouncer Post #1

Genre: YA light sci-fi
Word Count: 93,000


Seventeen-year-old Talon is one of the New York Assassins’ Guild’s most talented journeymen – and she knows it. She has no doubt that eventually she’ll make guildmaster, where she’ll be able to do the most good for her plague-worn city, helping to clean up crime. The first step is to pass her trials and be promoted to the guild’s elite, though for Talon it’s mostly a formality.

But the trials reveal a different – and darker – side to the guild, and Talon finds herself questioning just what it is the assassins do. When she’s tasked with eliminating a rogue assassin who’s returned to the city and killed some of her guildmates, she learns a secret about her guild that shatters her understanding of right and wrong. Now she has to choose which side she’s on: the guild she loves and calls home, or the rogue who wants to destroy it. The consequence of making the wrong choice is death... but the price for making the right choice might be even higher.

First 250:

The gravel of the rooftop pressed uncomfortably into my belly as I lay at the building’s edge. Waiting. Over the last month I’d established that Monday mornings the target would come here, to this back-alley doorway, out of sight from the public eye. He was careful, never arriving at the same hour, always taking a different route. But not careful enough. I knew he would come. And today I had brought my rifle. Today was the day he would die.

I’d already seen a couple of his girls go in, their faces freshly bruised from the weekend’s work. It was like that every week, over and over, and still the man sent them out. What did he care, as long as they brought him his share of their earnings Monday morning? I could see the look on his face: cold, impassive. And the desperate, broken look on theirs. It infuriated me. This wasn’t just a job. I wanted him dead.

I peered over the edge at the wooden door, its faded coat of green paint starting to peel. It had been nearly fifty years since the plague had devastated the city. For decades whole neighborhoods had been left to rule themselves, forgotten by the decimated police force. This was one of them. Graffiti painted the walls, litter was caught in the corners. The cops rarely made it out this far. It was an appropriate place for a rat like this.

My finger rested lightly beside the trigger.


  1. I really liked both your query and 250. You chose a good place to begin - action but not overwhelming and just the right amount of backstory and description and still managed to give an idea of the mc's nature. Good cadence & sentence structure variation.

    I have just a couple tiny suggestions. In your query, it was not clear to me whether the rogue was a love interest. If not, what does the rogue have to offer that would make Talon choose his/her side? This is important since you are setting up a choice: security w/ a moral downfall vs. ??? I almost didn't want to hear that the consequence for the wrong choice was death - the ethical issues are more interesting.

    "...just what it is the assassins do." I would think she knows WHAT they do, kill - perhaps reword to indicate why, or what they do in addition.

    I'm not sure how a guild can be "home."

    Confusing line: Over the last month I’d established that Monday mornings the target would come here...

    "This wasn't just a job." line - it only made sense to me because I knew Talon is an assassin from the query. Without, I would have been at sea.

    "...rat like this." "this" not clear what it refers to - needs a more specific word, preferably one that indicates her feelings.

    I'll be surprised if you don't get requests!

  2. Nice! I'd read this. Female assassins are a weakness of mine, and I love the name 'journeymen', great job. Also, the bigger idea that seems to be about ridding the world of bad guys-or is she?- is one that would spark my interest.

    One thing, "I peered over the edge so that I could see the wooden door. It's faded coat of green paint was starting to peel." would be easier for me to read. But that is MINOR pickiness and not even necessarily right, only my opinion. :) But again, female assassin picking off guys like the one you describe, it's a win.

    I'm #12

  3. Very cool. You set the tone nicely with just the right amount of both query and opening. I like how you start right in the middle of action--I wanted to keep reading! :) I also like how you set the stage (in your query) for a moral dilemma. This sounds like a page-turner and, as a reader, I'm already eager for her confrontation with the "rogue". Your query suggests there will be a nice character arc for your MC as well. Great job and good luck!!! (I'm #2)

  4. I love this concept and your writing and would definitely read on. I did think, though, that the second paragraph of your query was vague - the first paragraph sets up the intrigue nicely, and I was frustrated that we don't really learn anything in the second. I've always heard that it's best to be specific in your query to set up whatever's fresh and exciting about your story (outside a shadowy secret that "shatters the line between right and wrong," which could apply to so many different stories).

    I LOVED your first page, though! It really amps up the tension and keeps your MC sympathetic (which, as she's a trained killer, is no easy task) while setting up your world.

    Best of luck from entry #7! :)

  5. Thank you for everyone's comments so far! I'm so pleased to receive such positive feedback.

    Re: the second paragraph of the query, which was commented on a few times, there's a spoilery plot twist halfway in that I didn't want to give away. But it strongly influences her decision-making and the stakes, so it was a bit of a struggle figuring out how to set up the query! I agree that as it's currently worded it remains a little vague.

  6. I wanted to love this! I really like the idea of assassins, and your query is very well written. You do a great job of laying out the stakes and setting up the choice Talon must make. But I have to say I agree with Anna about being more specific in paragraph two. Although I like the assassins bit, Talon's dilemma strongly reminds me of a lot of other books out there (especially Legend). I don't think you need to give away your spoiler, just show us something else that might set this book apart.

    Good Luck!

  7. Hello, fellow-assassin writer. Love the concept of this. Intrigued am I. I agree with some of the comments about your query second paragraph--the line about questioning what assassins do was confusing to me, maybe questioning the morality of what they do. It reminds me kind of "Wanted" with Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy--where they are assassins who get names from a loom and conspiracy ensues.

    In the first paragraph of your query, you use a variation of "most" twice. You might want to change the second one to "merely"?

    In the second paragraph of your 250, I was confused about whether she was watching the girls right now or had earlier and if she was seeing "him" right now or if she was imagining his cold, impassive face. My opinion--I think he should come out as she's watching and she should be watching him through her scope--get to the action right away. Leave the backstory for a couple of paragraphs. Maybe he comes out, she gets him in her sights, and another girl shows up. Then go to the peeling door or something.

    If you need a beta reader, look me up. #6

  8. Hello! I really enjoyed your query, although I found the last line to be a little off-putting. Especially since you set it up so that she's questioning her previous ideas of right and wrong. But I understand that the line is there to raise the stakes.

    I really loved these lines in your 250--"This wasn’t just a job. I wanted him dead."--awesome!!

    Great entry!

  9. Just in case you haven't been counting...

    You're IN!!!

    There are so many things about this entry to love. Your query is fantastic. Frankly, it's in the best shape of any I've read. I love that the price for the right decision might be higher than death. What could be higher than death??? I WANT TO KNOW. GIVE ME PAGES.

    Also, your first 250 words are Won.Der.Ful. Great hard-bitten voice. No apologies. This is who she is. Black and white. Right and wrong. I sooo look forward to her getting her world knocked askew. And yet, I totally sympathize with her wanting to kill the abusive pimp. In 250 words, I know who she is, what motivates her, what her world is like, and it's all happening in the middle of action. I am riveted. Terrific work.

    If I would change anything (which is a pretty big if), I'd look at trimming the ends of your paragraphs a little. For example, in the first paragraph, you don't need to say "Today is the day he would die." We get that with the sentence about the rifle. In fact, it's more powerful if you end the paragraph on the word rifle. 'Rifle' is specific. 'Die' is kind of vague and overused enough to lose most of its umph. In the second paragraph, consider deleting the last three sentences. Let us connect the dots on our own. You totally have us there with the "desperate, broken look on theirs." At this point, WE want to kill him. By telling us your character's reaction, you weaken the impact of what you're showing us. In the third paragraph, consider deleting the last sentence. Again, you don't need to tell us how your character feels. We already feel it with her. And I think saying "The cops rarely make it out this far." and then following that immediately with "My finger rested lightly beside the trigger." says everything you need it to say and more.

    Anyway, that's all just whatever, because you're in! You're in! You're totally in! :-DDD

    1. Wow! Thank you so much! I was hopeful for kind words but never expected such praise, I'm totally blushing. And so excited to make it through! Woohoo! Thank you! :D

    2. Of course! I'm excited to see which agents pick you. *shoots own agent a significant look* Good luck in the agent round and in all future writing pursuits!

  10. Thanks as well to everyone who commented on my entry! I really appreciate the feedback, and some great points were raised.

    Good luck to everyone, in this contest if you made it through, or in your query quest if you didn't!

  11. I really liked this. I thought the rat comment was great but I suppose it is personal choice. My interest was piqued. Thanks for sharing.