Wednesday, October 29, 2008

29 Drop The Needle TENSION

Title: Ghosts in the Shadows
Genre: Contemporary Western

Haunted by a history of violence, Brit Moonchaser just wants to be left alone to finish sixty days of parole and make peace with his heritage, but when his former cellmate demands help with a mysterious search in the desert and then kidnaps a lady rancher with whom Brit shares a contentious history, he finds himself in the middle of a quagmire from which there will be no easy exit. Here, injured and trapped between Dixon (the cellmate) and the authorities who want to find him before he has a chance to live up to his reputation, Brit feels the noose tighten.

"You don't need my help, Dix." Brit held one corner of the paper between his thumb and forefinger and passed it back to Dixon. Staring at the indecipherable mess in the grotto's half-light wouldn't make anything clearer. "You need a psychic."
Barring divine intervention or a stroke of pure, dumb luck, whatever Dixon sought seemed destined to remain hidden. Brit had bigger concerns.
The search parties were closing in. Someone would spot them soon. Helicopters scanned from above, and although Brit hadn't seen any sign of men on the ground, he was certain the sheriff had professionals tracking them by now. In this part of the mountains cover was scarce. Sticking close to the towering rocks in single file minimized the risk the group would be seen from the air, but they couldn't hide the hoof prints of four horses forever.
Water was even harder to find. Brit had come up dry twice at spots where liquid should have trickled from the ground. The people had canteens. The animals didn't.
He turned away from the other man and stared into the desert. "We can't push the horses in this heat."
Dixon grabbed Brit's injured arm and yanked him back around. His voice was a harsh whisper. "Screw the horses. We're running out of time."
Brit gritted his teeth until the urge to shriek passed. "There's a hundred thousand acres out there, and all those damn rocks look alike. We lose the horses, and none of us make it out alive."


  1. This is fabulous writing. I don't even read Westerns, but I'd want to read this one. I really, really like the style.

  2. Great stuff! It isn't outright something's-happening-now tension, but it is a tense, precarious situation under circumstances that are classically western. I would love to read on.

  3. Good job - lots of tension between the men, with the idea of the search party, with the fear about the horses and the water and what they need to survive.

  4. I would read on to find out if they get any water. This made me quite thirsty. Good job.

  5. I felt multiple layers of tension in this. The tension of dying of thirst, or losing their mounts. The tension of being caught by the authorities, and the tension of whatever Dixon wants.

    I'm just a bit confused, though, about why the authorities are searching for him if he's on parole. Maybe he's broken his deal and we just don't know it yet.

    Overall, a nice job of creating lots of tension.

  6. Woo, a part of this I haven't read before. :) Good tension here. I hope they find water soon!

  7. <3

    Until just now I had forgotten how much I love westerns. I love the helicopter detail, but I'm wondering about tracking dogs. Wouldn't they bring those in?

    I want to know when this book hits the shelves. :o)

  8. Good job. The relationship between Brit & Dixon, Brit's struggle to stay out of trouble, the closing in search party - all tension.

  9. The dialogue supports the tension, but I don’t feel the narrative parts do. It just seems to drag with Telling details, rather than Showing us these things.

  10. Great scene. I think you could make it even more vivid by using a few of the five senses. The taste of dust, the smell of the sweaty horses, the feel of the rocky terrain. Also, I love the character's names. Good job.

  11. AUGH! I knew that was going to happen. People are forever tasting dust, smelling sweaty horses and feeling rocks in this story -- except right here. I hate it when that happens! (Thanks for pointing that out, though, Niki. :-) )

    Lori, I belabored the whole search-party issue through another character's POV in a previous chapter. The two expository grafs here are a quick trip through Brit's head about the same subject. I'm trying not to be redundant.

    Thank all of you for your comments! :-)