Wednesday, October 29, 2008

18 Drop The Needle TENSION

TITLE: Sahmara's Sunset

GENRE: Fantasy

Escaped slave, Sahmara, and the ragtag soldiers she's banded with to get home, find themselves under attack.

Grabbing for the small knife in her belt, Sahmara readied herself as she had seen those around her do. Unfortunately, the only thing Sahmara had ever done with a knife was cut her meat at the dinner table. These men were not on a plate and there was no fork to hold them down. Two men came at her with short swords in hand. A line of fire erupted on her shoulder where one blade connected. She dodged backwards as much as she dared, but there were men everywhere and all of them fought for their lives. There was nowhere to run, and no one would be coming to her rescue.

Determined not to become breakfast for the crows, Sahmara made a mad stab at the closet man. The blade bounced off his mailed shirt, gaining her nothing but skinned knuckles. He laughed, a cruel rumble that reverberated in her ears. Again she lashed out with her knife, but someone smashed into her from behind, knocking the blade from her hand. She stumbled and fell.

A strong hand grabbed her shirt. “Stay down would ya? You’ll be much more fun alive.”

The man with the sword placed its point against her chest. “You listen to Poul now, we might even let ya go when were finished.” He grinned, revealing blackened teeth.

“Might let you go.” The man behind her snickered. “Might let you go to the gods, more like.”

Sahmara screamed.


  1. I like the writing voice; it's entertaining and the deatils are nice, like the part about the men not being on a plate and no fork to hold them down.

    In the fourth sentence, I wasn't sure whether the blade you're talking about is a knife blade or a shoulder blade ;)

  2. I felt a whole bunch of tension in this and it didn't seem forced to me at all. I really enjoyed it and want to read more.

  3. There is lots of tension in the scene, but I'd be more drawn in if we saw more of Sahmara's emotional response to this.

  4. I also liked the knife and fork reference. Really caught my interest. And yes, this was pretty tense.

    When I read your typo "closet man," which I realized you meant closest man, it made me giggle because I suddenly pictured a man shaped like a closet with a door knob sticking out of his stomach.

  5. *smacks forehead and curses typos*

  6. Doesn't yet work for me, I'm afraid. I don't feel like we're really seeing this through Sahmara POV (more like the author telling us what to see). Also, the long sentences drug out the pacing too much, IMHO.

    Typo: closet man

    Also, how could the men put a sword to her chest, if she'd fallen forward (meaning she's lying on the ground face-first)?

  7. I loved this. Great tension. Great volice. And funny too.

  8. I liked the voice here but, felt the tension could be ratcheted up a little.

    I liked the frenzied nature of men being everywhere and Sahmara having nowhere to go, but I didn't feel like I got enough from Sahmara.

  9. This is a very intense scene and I think you could work to bring that intensity out a bit more.

    "She dodged backwards as much as she dared, but there were men everywhere and all of them fought for their lives. There was nowhere to run, and no one would be coming to her rescue."

    You're telling us here. We could get much deepr in Sahmara's POV if you told us what she saw and felt.

  10. It was easy to slip right into the action here. I think maybe the use of humor lessened the tension for me a bit (lunch for crows, etc.). I LOVE humor in stories, but it doesn't do much when you want a scene to be tense (humor actually diffuses tension).

    You did a good job of making Sahmara sound clueless in a battle situation, and one wonders how she will survive this encounter.

  11. OK, gang, I'm going to disagree respectfully with those of you who said humor lessened the tension here. I've seen at least two other pieces from this writer, and everything she writes is high on the snark factor. That's her voice, and it works exceptionally well for her. In a longer excerpt, I think you'd be sucked right in and the humor wouldn't stand out as inappropriate at all. (See what mischief 250 words can wreak?) :-)

    Now the snicker elicited by "the closet man," that's another thing entirely. ;-) (Initially I thought I'd misperceived the scene and there actually was some guy hiding in a closet waiting to spring at precisely The Moment of Doom. Don't ask me to explain how these things sneak into my head....)

  12. I'm never going to hear the end of the closet man, am I? *curses typos yet again*