Wednesday, October 29, 2008

14 Drop The Needle TENSION

TITLE: Trapped By Destiny
GENRE: YA fantasy
Lead in: The protagonist is taken prisoner after she helped her beloved escape.

I woke much later, sore. My eyes were blindfolded, but I could guess from the faint light that it was daytime. The ground was hard beneath me, and I struggled to sit up, my arms tightly bound. I must be a prisoner of the enemy, I decided.

"Good afternoon, girrrl," said a smooth yet startling voice.

I did not speak, not wanting to give away the panic and fear inside me.

Footsteps approached, growing louder by the moment. I stiffened. These villains... what will they do to me?

"Speak up, ye idiot." The same voice spoke, sounding rougher this time. Two strong arms shoved me and nailed me to the ground.

"Who are you?" I howled in anger as pain pierced through my back. "Why are you doing this to me?"

"You'll find out soon enough." His words were followed by the sound of cruel laughter.

I bit my lips, trying to calm down. "I am the Dark Emperor's sister. How dare you treat me like this?"

My comment earned me more sharp kicks in the stomach. "His Majesty ain't carin' who ye are. Neither does I."

"Leave me alone." I tightened my fists, ready to fight back if he hurt me again.

"You killed my pals. You ain't gettin' away with it." But I could hear his footstepts fading away. I sighed heavily and fell back to sleep.


  1. I can tell things are starting to move forward with this scene, but I'm not entirely hooked nor swept up by the tension. If I had developed an interest in the character by this point in the book, I might keep going.

  2. A scary situation, and filled with tension. I'd like to hear more about how exactly the protag is feeling (heart pounding, can't get a good breath, etc), rather than just being told she has fear and panic insider her.

    The dialogue also sounds a little stilted at times, with overused phrases like "How dare you treat me like this." The villain sounds interesting though, and I like that she killed his friends--feisty!

  3. I enjoyed this, thought it was tense, and think it just needs some tightening to evolve beyond draft mode. Nice work!

  4. I really liked this until the mc sighed heavily and fell asleep at the end. I was feeling carried along with the tension until then.

  5. I think the tension is good. Some minor cleanups - the thought italics eliminate the need for "I decided" which I think takes away from the tension. Also, I couldn't quite tell, since she's a victim of kidnapping, if they had actually nailed her arms to the ground or if they'd pushed her hard and held her. I'm sure it's the latter but the word choice is a little confusing.
    I also was a bit surprised she fell so quickly to sleep after that. Was she drugged?

  6. Not yet working for me quite yet. There's a disconnect between the narrator and the physical things happening to her. Ex: she Tells us that there's a pain in her back, but we're not Shown how it feels. Also, when she first wakes, she's calm and logical. Most folks, when waking up blind(folded) and in a strange place tend to panic at least for a moment or two.

  7. The fact that the man goes away and she falls back to sleep diffuses the tension in the moment, for me. Her internal thoughts seemed too calm.

    "Oh, God! I've been taken prisoner!" instead of "I must be a prisoner of the enemy" ...or something more urgent and panicked.

    It's almost there, but not quite for me.

  8. The language is a bit stilted. It's enough to state that she's a prisoner. IMO, "of the enemy" seems superfluous.
    The tension was okay, until she fell asleep promptly at the end!?

  9. I liked this one but the prisoner was way too calm. I don't think she'd be able to sleep if her life was in danger especially when she was kicked.

    With a few little changes it could be great though.

  10. Definite potential for tension here, even terror. The protag's internal dialogue feels stiff, a bit unbelievable (would she really say "these villians" to herself?), and I wonder if it's necessary at all. Also, would her captor really have cruel laughter at that point? It's a bit cliched, I think. This guy is potentially very scary, but I think you'll have to do that more subtly, with less overt "bad guy talk," if you know what I mean.

    I wonder, too, how she would fall asleep so quickly after that scary confrontation?

    She sounds plucky, though, and a plucky heroine is always a good thing! I love YA fantasy -- this story is just the kind of thing I like to curl up with in bed at night.

  11. I like the POV character here -- she's spunky. However, I agree with the others about the scene needing just a bit more tweaking to really bring out the panic and anger that bubbles just beneath the surface as written. If villains behave villainously, we don't need to be told they're villains. I wasn't so taken aback that the villain laughed when he did -- some villains are just that way -- but I found the sentence a bit clunky. What about "Cruel laughter followed his words" or something like that instead? Just a thought.

    I also was a bit confused that she balled up her fists and prepared to defend herself. Were her hands not tied? If her hands were tied, balling up her fists would do her little good. If her hands weren't tied (What self-respecting villain doesn't tie a prisoner's hands?), couldn't she just pull off the blindfold?

    Ditto the comments about falling asleep. :-)