Wednesday, October 29, 2008

35 Drop The Needle TENSION

TITLE: The True Heir
GENRE: Epic Fantasy

Lead in: Darion, an exiled prince turned mercenary, has returned to his home land to fight the invaders from Camara.

With a desperate heave, Darion flung up his shield and crouched in the saddle. The impact slammed his shield into his shoulder.

The deflected lance flashed by. Its point pierced the neck of Darion's mount. The animal staggered sideways, screaming in a high, nerve-wrenching pitch.

Darion cleared his right foot from the stirrup. As he tried to roll away from the falling animal, his other foot got tangled in the stirrup. He struggled to breathe, lost all sense of direction. He managed to kick himself free, avoiding the thrashing legs of the dying horse.

Dazed, he looked up. A Camaran officer on a black stallion dropped his broken lance and drew a sword. Darion scrambled backwards, fighting down panic. The weight of his armor and shield made him feel hopelessly sluggish. His enemy closed the distance with infuriating patience.

Then Darion bumped into his dead horse. He cursed. Trapped. I'm going to die here, on my home soil. The Camaran's stallion reared.

Everything around Darion slowed. Sound dampened to a buzz, the periphery of his vision blurred as the central image sharpened. The black beast rose gracefully, looming over him. Bits of mud floated away from its pawing front hooves. The man's sword, raised high, caught the sun in a lazy gleam. A waft of crushed grass and earth wet with blood tickled his nose. All that happened in a heartbeat. An exalted laugh escaped Darion's lips. The finality felt liberating, and with it came the absence of fear.


  1. The last paragraph was by far the best; his confused, broken realization of what's happening fit the situation perfectly. The prior paragraphs were choppy and incomplete, detracting from the immediate action. I didn't realize until I read the beginning twice that Darion was in a fight at all. Honestly, I would probably flip a few pages ahead to see whether or not Darion lived before I decided whether to read on or not.

  2. Ewk. This is just me, but I was more concerned about the horse than Darian. Poor thing. Evil men using horses in their stupid wars...

    *coughs* But pushing my emotions aside, this is awesome, especially the last part.

  3. I think this could be shortened, and that would bring the tension out even more, but other than that . . . GREAT!

  4. Definitely tense. Some things could make it stronger - instead of telling us that his periphery vision blurred, could you show it - he sees a hulking shape but can't make out what it is, stuff like that - he rubs his eyes, etc.
    Love the last line.

  5. I like the lead up to his precarious situation. Somehow, though, I felt the tension died when Darion was something of a release of fear...fear = tension, IMO, so it was a release of tension.

    Otherwise, it was really good!

  6. I liked it. Especially the end. I'd have to agree that the first seemed a little choppy, but I'd read on.

  7. I agree that the last paragraph was the best part and would make me read on, but I had to read back at the start a few times.

    I love the last part though.

  8. I'm with the others: The last graf here definitely is your strongest, although I agree with fairchild about the laugh damping some of the threat. On the other hand, people often laugh when they're tense, and Darion's laugh at that moment said a lot about him. ("Exalted" seemed a bit stilted, though.)

    You might want to count the number of times you used "his" in the first graf. (For some reason those three "his" close together really stood out.)

    Others' comments about the length of the scene, length of sentences and "showing" instead of "telling" what Darion saw are worthwhile suggestions, too. Overall, though, nice. :-)

  9. You have a lot of sensory imaging going on here, which I, particularly enjoy in a good read. Although I really detest the killing of the horse! Wish it wasn't necessary.

    I think if you had left off the last two or three sentences the tension would have remained in place for me a bit longer.

  10. Lots of tension. I too was concerned over the horse's safety as well.

    I've missed Darion.

  11. Exalted laugh? I'm not sure exalted is the word you want there. But it's late, so maybe I just need to check my dictionary.

    The scene is good here, I'm betting it's stellar in text.

    The description of the battle isn't bad, but not as descriptive as you could get. That's going to depend on your style. Some people get very poetic with battle, others like nitty-gritty details (red spleen and bloody ears flying). Without seeing the rest of the book I don't know if this balances well with the rest, but, if you describe smells and textures earlier, don't forget them here. War is smelly.

  12. *disclaimer: no real animals were hurt in the process of writing this scene!*

    Thanks for all the comments. Yes, the start is a bit choppy (also because the first paragraph is in essence a partial paragraph). I was really curious if the last paragraph would work.

  13. Ooh, I liked this very much. Great tension in leading up to the scene, good sentence pacing, and strong POV throughout. The opening part had some passive phrases you might want to tighten, but other than that, I’d definitely read on.

  14. Opening a bit choppy. The last paragraph was good, but I felt it needed to be broken up a bit. One large paragraph made it harder to read - seemed to fluid for the fast-paced feeling you want to convey.

    But I'm tired, so maybe it's just my sleepy eyes having a hard time with the block of text.

    Great job! Love the description.

  15. I know I'm way late on this (I never did get through all the subs as planned), but it caught my eye this morning and I just want to say...

    I want to read more!

    I felt the panic in the last paragraph; I really want to know what happens. (Really!)

  16. Thanks a lot! These comments really help!