Saturday, May 28, 2011

Made of Awesome Contest Entry - Opening Round

Per Shelley Watters guidelines for her Made of Awesome Contest (LINK), below are the first 250 words of my manuscript.  Good luck to everyone invovled!

Title: Undead Chaos
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 82,771 words

Every so often a single event changes your life forever.  For some it’s the appearance of a lost love.  For others, it’s discovering your inner passion. 

For me, it was killing a woman’s husband. 
“I’m looking for Marcus Shifter,” the lady on the phone said.  There was a muffled banging noise in the background.
“That’s me,” I said, pausing the movie I was watching.

“My name is Carly Banks and I was told you were the magician to call for unusual problems.”
“We call ourselves Skilled, Ms. Banks,” I corrected, grabbing a notepad off my coffee table and jotting her name down.

“Whatever.  All that matters is whether or not you can help me.  I need an experienced fixer who doesn’t ask questions.  You aren’t a government magic-guy, are you?”

I pinched the bridge of my nose.  Technically I am a licensed Combat Warlock for the Delwinn Council, but I do a lot of freelance work.  Odd jobs are my specialty.” 

“How odd?” 

I’d heard that many times.  “People have different definitions of the word, Ms. Banks.  What’s yours?”

“My husband died a month ago and now he’s on my lawn with a shotgun.” 

“That works,” I said.  “Give me the details.”

“Anthony, the cheating bastard, had a heart attack the day I kicked him out.  Three nights ago he showed up on my lawn. He was gone the next morning, so I figured it was a just a bad dream.  Then he returned last night and chased my boyfriend off the property.  Tonight he’s armed.”


  1. I think you do a good job of walking the fine line between giving too much detail so the reader is overwhelmed and not setting it up enough. Starting with dialogue can be hazardous, especially via phone, so definitely points for boldness. I had major talking head syndrome in my first WIP and I think that maybe if you added just a little more action in between the lines it would clear that up. It's so challenging because I always see what is going on but I don't always show the reader :) But I like the character already and I am compelled to read on to learn more about his job so it's a good first page.

  2. classic private eye, meets classic hitman, meets classic odd job's man, meets classic magician fantasy. i am hooked. i love his dry, laid back reaction to her description of "odd"
    i don't even think you need that last paragraph to hook the reader. the line "that works," he said," give me the details is a great cliffhanger. and that would put you under the 250 mark...can't wait to read more.

  3. This sounds like an awesome story! I ditto what douglas said above.

    I'll be honest and say I was so caught up in the story that nothing jumped out at me as wrong. Your dialogue flowed naturally and I just wanted to keep reading.

  4. Without knowing anything about your world, the only thing I would question is if Carly Banks would be so calm on the phone. If this stuff happens all the time to people she knows, then maybe. If it's out of the ordinary, she might cut to the chase a little more quickly.

    I did like it, though, so great job!

  5. At first it looks too much like:

    "..." I said
    "..." she said
    "..." I said

    I'd take the line:
    “That’s me,” I said, pausing the movie I was watching.
    And make it:
    I paused the movie I was watching. "That's me."

    Other than that, I'd love to keep reading! I love how calm the MC is about this woman's dead husband showing up. Really sets the tone for oddities being normal in the MC's life.

  6. I really like the line: For me, it was killing a woman’s husband.

    You've got a strong start. I think you could take out some of the dialog tags, but otherwise I'm hooked. I'd definitely keep reading.

  7. Hi Joshua!
    I think it's exciting, funny, and very well written. I love the underlying ideas. I'm a huge Horror fan and would read on in a second!
    Good luck!

  8. This is a totally cool introduction to an urban fantasy. I love the idea of the wizard-type (I'm guessing) for hire.
    I'm also guessing the 'muffled banging noise in the background' is the undead husband causing trouble: maybe your character should note how calm-sounding the caller is - has she already called the police and been told they can't help? I don't know enough of the world or the backstory to offer a suggestion, it just seems that she is oddly calm for someone with an armed madman banging on her door.
    I loved this entry!

  9. I love the concept but wasn't sure which one was the MC. Is the story about the wizard for hire(which I love by the way) or Ms. Banks with the dead ex husband? I agree that you go back and forth with the dialogue but I also think it wasn't bad, I thought it flowed. I am intrigued by this story good luck with the contest!

  10. really great intro to the story. I would read on! You set up the situation wonderfully.

  11. I'm not really fond of the first three lines. They seem out of place. For the most part I love the dialogue, but confusion entered for me with the lady husband. He's dead? How does a ghost hold a shot gun and run people off? Seems like a pretty powerful ghost. Most of the ones I've met are pretty harmless in the human realm, but this is fantasy. Good job.

  12. Compelling! Definitely attention-getting first few lines! And there's a hint of humor, too. I like it!

    The only suggestions for improvement I can offer are tied to the last few sentences. I had to read them twice to understand them.

    “My husband died a month ago and now he’s on my lawn with a shotgun.”

    “Anthony, the cheating bastard, had a heart attack the day I kicked him out. Three nights ago he showed up on my lawn. He was gone the next morning, so I figured it was a just a bad dream. Then he returned last night and chased my boyfriend off the property. Tonight he’s armed.”

    I wasn't sure right away if he'd really died at all. The heart attack was mentioned but it wasn't totally clear that this killed him, since then he appears in her life again. The re-read cleared it up.

    Thanks for sharing! Good luck!

  13. Fantastic opening -- this is definitely something I would read. I'm having trouble thinking of anything else to say. At most, perhaps lose the last "I said," but really great. Nice job.

  14. I loved this.

    Plain and simple. You had me intrigued. You had me entertained. And you had me laughing - especially at:

    “My husband died a month ago and now he’s on my lawn with a shotgun.”

    “That works,” I said. “Give me the details.”

    The only thing I contemplated (and it was small): her husband's the cheating bastard and died only a month ago - yet, now he's back and chasing her boyfriend away just a few weeks later? She doesn't take long to move on, for sure!

    Fab opening and any of the questions I may have had, will undoubtedly be answered the more I read...and speaking of which, I'd definitely read more!

    Good job!

  15. so this is really interesting. i liked your first lines until i realized they almost had nothing to do with the following scene. i'd also suggestion you really flesh out your writing around the dialogue, it seemed bare to me and distanced from your mc.

    but really interesting all the same.

  16. I'm hooked!

    I think you could slow the dialogue with a little more action so it's not just a talking-heads scene, but the dialogue was witty and fun and really set up the story in a way that makes the reader want to keep going. Your MC's voice is strong and that alone would be enough to make me keep reading.

  17. Okay, this is NOT what I would normally even glance at, yet I'm salivating for more! You've totally won me over in 250 words! I love it!

    The only thing I'd think about changing are the 2nd and 3rd lines. I love the first one, and unlike other commenters, I love the 'killing a woman's husband' one. I mean, the title is 'Undead Chaos' so obviously the guy isn't dead, even though he 'died'. But the second and third sentences don't quite fit. There's so much wit in the rest, they seem somehow generic to me. I get what they're conveying, but I think you could word them differently and it would fit the rest of the story (which is so delectable) much better.

  18. Love it! There are echoes of Dresden, but right now I'll buy any UF that doesn't involve a lady in a leather corset on the cover.

    Write more! Call me when this hits the shelves.

  19. Just wanted to say thank you for your comments/advice and apologies for not getting to as many of you as I had hoped. Best of luck to each of you!