Wednesday, October 29, 2008

22 Drop The Needle TENSION

Title: Promise of a Stranger
Genre: Commercial/Literary
Set up: After barely surviving near-lethal mixture of cocaine and alcohol, Heather faces an intervention.

"My ring is gone. Where the hell is my ring?"

She barely looked up from the chart. "If they checked you in with any jewelry, Ms. Tyler, it's either with your family or in the hospital safe."

"It's Mrs. Tyler," I snapped, but my quaking voice diminished my fury.

Pursing her lips, the nurse offered a sympathetic glance to my brother before she locked the brakes on the wheelchair and approached me. Not wanting to suffer the indignity, I struggled upright, convinced myself I could walk down the hall, even though I knew I couldn't even make it to the bathroom without help.

When fatigue stripped me of independence, I slumped forward into a puddle of self-pity.
"Josh, I want to go home."

"Shut up, Heather. You don't have the right to feel sorry for yourself. You better be happy to be here. It's a miracle you aren't dead. Now get your a** in this chair so we can get this over with.”

I recoiled at Josh’s sudden command over my situation. Clenching my jaw and choking down tears, I scooted to the edge of the bed. The nurse draped a robe over my shoulders before helping me to my feet. I managed the two steps to the wheelchair, and then collapsed in the seat with leg muscles quivering like noodles in a pot of boiling water.

My stomach knotted. Josh wouldn't answer any questions about our destination while he pushed me into the hallway and down the corridor.


  1. I really like the description of Heather moving herself into the wheelchair; very vivid. The tension isn't exactly, well, "tense", but I could tell Josh was none too happy with Heather. Tension or not, I like your writing and would keep reading :)

  2. The tension was very subtle here. It was more on an emotional/psychological level. I felt it mostly between Heather and Josh, and Heather and her situation.

  3. I loved this. I deffinitly want to know where she's going. Rehab? Or whaere?

    Good tension.

  4. definite tension - I second what fairchild said about it being sub-palpable and emotional/psychological. I get the sense of Heather being imprisoned in many different ways - her addiction, the wheelchair, the setting, Josh. I did wonder if she would have more health/physical symptoms though if she were in withdrawal or actively using or coming down, perhaps she'd be a little less logical.

  5. I was a bit lost at first as to the setup - I thought she was in the wheelchair until I reread it.

    The tension here is multi-layered, as commented on, and I thought it was a great job of conveying all the different layers in such a subtle way. Very good writing, IMO.

  6. Good writing, and compelling. I didn't feel the tension, which doesn't mean it wasn't there.

  7. I really like this, especially the characters' voices. Interesting set up, too, that it's a brother there instead of a husband or child.

    One technical point--in hospitals, nurses usually never let visitors roll wheelchairs with patients in them, not even on release day. It's a liability issue.

  8. I liked this, the tension was subtle, but there.

    Nice job.

  9. Great work. :)

    I feel sorry for Heather, especially with her weak wet noodle legs, but not surprised about the way she's treated here. I can kinda understand her brother's brusqueness... somewhat.

  10. Thanks Lori!

    It's little details like what you offered that make these crit sessions so awesome. What's funny is everyone in my family is in the medical profession except me, but I NEVER would have thought about the thing with Josh not being allowed to push the wheelchair.

    Thanks to everyone who commented! I appreciate the feedback.

  11. This is wonderful writing. I'd definitely read more to find out how this story goes. As for tension, it's not an in-your-face-threat sort of tension, but there's quite a bit to be picked up here. In fact, Heather fairly oozes it. So does Josh. Nice work!

  12. I could feel Heather's indignity. I'm not sure I felt tension. Josh's response is perhaps a bit wordy; maybe shorter, crisper sentences would give it more emotional punch (because clearly Heather recoils from it, so we should recoil, too).

    There are some believable things going on in this scene (not the least of which is the nurse's pursed lips -- lol), and I think I just wanted it to be a little crisper.

  13. This was very well-written. Good work. Not sure it fits into the "tense" category, but definitely dramatic. My only comment is that I thought your m/c was already in the wheelchair. However, that is probably easily shown had I been privy to the scenes prior to those you posted. Keep at it, you've done well.