Wednesday, October 29, 2008

13 Drop The Needle TENSION

TITLE: Panic

Diane's mother tried to kill her and she has decided to go and visit her in prison with her foster father, her boyfriend, and her mother's lawyer.

Diane, Mr. Daryl and Shawn followed Ms. Tisdale down a bleak hallway. They stopped to put all their belongings in a locker.
“Empty your pockets,” A guard demanded before padding them down when they reached the visitor’s room.
Guards sat inside cages with guns. Drab colorless walls surrounded Diane and seemed to close in. One guard pointed to a table. Diane wound her way through the maze of tables of other families visiting mothers, sisters, and girlfriends. There wasn’t any glass separating the prisoners. On TV, visitors were always led to a room with the bulletproof glass and they communicated through a telephone.
Could her mother just reach out and touch her?
“You don’t have to do this, Diane.” Mr. Daryl touched her shoulder.
Shawn had grabbed hold of her hand on her other side and squeezed it.
What if her mother tried to hurt her again? Before Diane had time to explore that thought, her mother stood in front of her.
Panic snaked through Diane. She gulped down the last of her fear and stared at her mother. Shock, surprise, and something else Diane couldn’t tell, crossed her mom’s face.
She looks old.
The orange jumpsuit made her mother looked washed out and tired. Sunken and drawn, her mother’s face was a shadow of what it was two years before. She must have lost a good thirty pounds from her already slim frame. She looked…defeated, broken.
“Diane… baby…you came –”


  1. The writing is a little choppy in some parts which disturbed the flow of the scene, but I could definitely sense Diane's fear of seeing her mother again. Good, but I don't know how much further I'd read.

  2. Just a note: In the third sentence, it should be "patting" not "padding."

    I liked the tension. I also liked how the first thing Diane noticed was that her mom looked old, and also that her only frame of reference for visiting prisoners is TV. Very realistic.

  3. I liked this a lot! Just the premise alone creates tension. I think I'd like to see more of an emotional lead-in, like how Diane interprets what she sees, how it adds to her panic and apprehension. Does she have a visceral reaction? Dry mouth, sweaty hands, quivering knees... Does she grip her boyfriend's hand so hard that he says "ouch"? IMO, it needs more.

  4. I agree with Karen here - you have a good set up with the tension, but I'd like to see more of an emotional lead in since the anticipation of such life events is usually pretty harrowing and sometimes worse than the event itself.

  5. I do like it, but I think Diane's POV could be stronger throughout. It doesn't yet feel like we're seeing/feeling things through her perspective.

  6. I think the lead up to meeting her mother could be stronger and more tense, as someone else said. That's where all the mixed up emotions should come through, but here it was more about the look of the prison.

    I think you could flesh out the lead up and really make the scene thick with tension.

  7. The tension is good here. I know the whole manuscript, so I may be biased.
    I wish the writer would finish her revisions, though...

  8. I quite like this and I loved the dialogue at the end. I would read on.

  9. This is such an emotional scene, I'd love to see more into Diane's head.

  10. I'll admit I wasn't feeling tension because of all the description of the prison on their way in. A scene like this has huge potential, and I find myself wanting to read more simply because I want to know why her mother tried to kill her in the first place, and also why she wants to see her mother!

  11. Thanks ya'll. When I do revise (soon, Luc, soon.) All your feedback will be very helpful.

  12. I think maybe the guard "patted" Diane and the others down (unless he applied protective gear to them -- one can't be too careful in a prison, after all).

    Like some of the others, I think the real tension here might have occurred just before this scene -- when Diane contemplates visiting her mother. This was heavy on the description of the prison, which was good, but not as prone to tension as a more "inside-the-head" look at Diane.

    I'm really curious about the story, though. The lead-in had me hooked. :-)