Wednesday, October 29, 2008

24 Drop The Needle TENSION

TITLE: Shirracco
GENRE: Dark fantasy

One of the opening scenes of the story. Shirracco, a wolf demon (basically a large, demonic wolf) has attacked a village suffering from the Black Plague. However, a dragon- dubbed Red by the villagers, due to the color of his scales- has arrived to try to save them...

Red tilted his head, orange eyes like seeds of muted hellfire. His wings creaked as he opened them languorously- but their muscles were tense.

“I ask you again,” he said, his voice calm and slow, though belied by the swishing of his tail. “Leave. They’ve done nothing to you.”

Shirracco’s ears twitched back and forth uneasily, and his eyes flared like the ends of two cigarettes. His claws dug into the ground a little more.

No one breathed. All that stood between them and Shirracco- the wolf demon with his Faustian promise of salvation from their suffering, only at the price of their lives- was a dragon, long thought the source of the Plague, and now their only savior. Two important questions remained.
Shirracco’s mouth twitched- his expression was of an asylum inmate who could either sit and stare at the wall for hours, or suddenly leap at his captors in a foaming fury. Would he turn tail and run in the face of such an opponent, or find Red’s words so infuriating that he’d attack? Hard to fight off, even for a dragon. By Red's wary expression, he was having trouble predicting the wolf, too.

Then the other important question.

After enduring years of malignant rumors, scandalizing remarks and insults, would Red stand in front of them and fight Shirracco off…or abandon them, as they would have done in his place?
Shirracco’s fur started to bristle as his lip lifted in a snarl- muscles twitching to bite or run.


  1. The third 'graf -- about the twitchy ears and cigarette eyes -- is really sharp and captures the tension. The longer sentences that follow seem to settle it a little.


  2. Hmm...the tension dissipates pretty quickly after the third para, for me.

    It starts going on about things that happened before now instead of dealing with the here and now, and it gets into sizing up the characters instead of getting to the action and tension of the moment.

    I didn't really get the quesion posed of whether Red would help...why would he have come at all if he wasn't going to help? He has already challenged Shirracco and made his demand.

  3. I would tighten this up just a touch. I would read on though. I want to know what happens.

  4. It's interesting, but I found myself distracted by the ongoing colorful descriptions. They are very good descriptions, but I think the number of them interfere a bit with the action.

  5. Perhaps the question about whether Red would fight Shirracco should come before Red asks the wolf-demon to leave. If the dragon didn't intend to fight, then why did he get between the wolf and his prey in the first place?

    I like what you're trying to do here, and your descriptions are quite colorful and creative. However, they defuse what otherwise could be a very tense scene, IMHO. Could they either be shortened or moved? Just a thought.

  6. Um...this is going to sound stupid, but I'm new here, so...this is the author of this piece, wanting to know if we are allowed to fix these at all?

  7. Ditto that the language needs some tightening up.

    Also, I have t ask what a wolf-demon would know about human conventions such as Faust and the Savior? Unless she was human at some point, I don't get these references.

  8. I agree with all of you...I will work on these areas of my writing.
    Thank you!
    Kelly Weber

  9. I like how you describe the two combatants, especially the tail flicking. Just like kitties!

    For me, going to omni POV drastically dropped the tension in the scene. The reader is thrust far away from both characters and is looking at them from on high.

    Maybe stick closer to one of the two in POV to increase the tension. Then after the fight is over, the villagers (?) can tell the victor what they were thinking?

  10. Hmmm.... I'm not particularly feeling tense here.

    Part of my problem is there is a lot of telling here.

  11. I enjoyed this, but have a comment--the asylum inmate comparison threw me, as if this is set in the past (and I could be wrong here, there really isn't a whole lot of indication in this bit about the time period), then this wouldn't work. Asylums are too recent. Kinda nit-picky, but that's the kind of stuff that totally draws me out of the story.