Wednesday, February 25, 2009

11 Drop the Needle: Chapter Endings


Gwen was nearly dead when and angel of death offered her a second chance at life. If Gwen acts as grim reaper and claims a couple souls, life will be hers. But then she learns that one of the souls she must claim is childhood crush James. James sees her (at her own funeral no less) and follows her as she tries to run away. He catches up to her in the street, but before she has a chance to answer his questions...

I saw the collision in my mind first, wincing as the violent image crashed into my consciousness. But the bus wasn't meant for me, it was meant for James. The bus with screaming brakes that would fail to stop, the bus that brought James' accidental death.

My eyes widened as this new knowledge overpowered my mind.

Then I heard the screeching breaks, and I quickly twisted my head to the right. I felt so helpless as I spotted the massive wall of bus that sped dangerously to where we stood. It was unstoppable, it was unavoidable. And it would kill James, my James, instantly.

James heard the noise as well, and I saw his mouth fall open in horror as realization flashed across his eyes. We had been standing in the street, oblivious to the world, and now the world was going to claim his life.

Time seemed to slow, every one of my quickened heartbeats seemed like a lifetime, and everything was suddenly so clear.

Lost in a moment of rash irresponsibility, I did the first thing I could think of.

Placing my palms squarely against James' chest, carefully avoiding skin contact, I pushed, and knocked him to the sidewalk. He was safe, and out of the way of the oncoming bus.

I looked up just in time to see the wall of bus collide with my face.


  1. Ok I actually like this story line but am a little confused and am sure others will be too.

    Your set up; is she dead or not? First you say she was nearly dead but then James sees her at her "own" funeral lost me.

    The "wall of bus" description is good, could be described differently but you don't need to repeat it again and again.

    "Placing my palms squarely against James' chest, carefully avoiding skin contact, I pushed, and knocked him to the sidewalk."
    Why couldn't she touch his skin? I missed that one.

    Good last line, maybe tweak the wording, but good lead to next chapter.

    I did like this and would want to read more, just clear the confusion.

  2. I agree with the 'wall of the bus' it is repeated often. Also, I was confused as to whether she was in her grim reaper role or not.
    I do think the story is interesting. I would read more.

  3. Interesting story, and I'd like to read more. I like the struggle that you develop here. I would definately like to read on to find out what happens.

    I'm not sure you'd be able to see something colliding with your face--wouldn't your eyes be closed? and if they were open you'd see the bus as it was about to hit you, but not the actual collision.

  4. Nice building of tension throughout and good combination of thought and action to portray the MC and her emotions. I liked her right away. The prose was clear and not overwrought, but to nitpick.… Getting rid of some of the "I heard" and "I saw" (s) throughout will speed things up.

    I felt so helpless as I spotted the massive wall of bus that sped dangerously to where we stood.

    "I felt", "I spotted" and "that sped" come across as too passive.

    I would read on.

  5. The story is compelling, but I think the writing is getting in the way.

    The point here seems to be that instead of coming through on the deal with whatever saved her from death (so is she dead or not -- the funeral is confusing), she's doing the opposite of what she agreed to do. If you keep that in mind as you rewrite to tighten, I think it will help.

    A good exercise would be to take out every unnecessary word and see what you have, especially words like "then" and repeated ideas.

    Watch your tense: "would fail to stop" vs "brought James' death" in the same sentence.

    I agree that seeing the bus "collide with my face" doesn't work. That criticism holds for many of the sentences. You just need to rewrite and tighten and think about what you're trying to say -- and then just say it once.

  6. I like the whole premise of the story. I am interested in her plight and would read into the next chapter.

    However, I was somewhat confused with her present state of being...maybe it is explained in other parts of the book but it left me wondering.

    Keep writing!

  7. I was hooked on the blurb. I agree with eveyone else so I'll save time and say "ditto".

    I would want to read more though.

    Good luck with it.

  8. I agree with the others. I find the story--the choice Gwen faces--compelling, and the MC sympathetic. But the writing does seem cluttered, repetitive. (It's so much easier to see this in other people's writing; I always miss it in my own...) We're told 3 times that the bus will kill James; the brakes scream and then screech...
    I actually didn't find the last line jarring. I've had dreams where I sometimes saw myself from the outside, and I assumed that Gwen's unusual state gives her this ability.

  9. I agree with the above comments as well. I thought the story is an interesting one, though.

  10. The premise is an interesting one: a rebellious grim reaper. I'm curious as to why harvesting a couple of souls (please don't forget the "of") would win her a reprieve, but I understand that isn't information that would be given in this little snippet.

    Tighter writing would be good, as has been mentioned.

    The "carefully avoiding skin contact" threw me off. Not because you didn't explain why - I'm sure that came earlier - but because there's no way I believe it. She has no time to be careful. Besides, who turns up bare-chested at a funeral? So it's unnecessary, unbelievable information.

    The theme of sacrificial love is always a good one and this chapter ending would make me want to continue.

  11. I was very intrigued by your blurb and must agree that I found the situation very confusing. I'm sure that part of this would be eliminated if I could read it all :o) I think the idea that she thinks the bus is meant for her, makes the reader think she isn't dead after all. Maybe she just hasn't acclimated to being dead yet and is having a humanistic response. As for some of the other comments about the bus repetition and the James' chest-I think they are accurate. The last line doesn't work for me if she's dead and can't be killed. I wanted to know the rules of your fantasy so I could better understand the consequences of her bold action. I was thinking more on the lines of punishment for breaking the rules. In my head I see the bus passing through her, scaring the stuffing out of James (and really giving them fodder for conversation in the future) and then some kind of menacing consequence coming face to face with her after the bus passes through. Sorry this is sooo vague-I just don't have enough of your back story to likely make it very helpful.
    Keep writing because I would love to read some more.

  12. Cool premise! I agree with everyone: the writing needs to be cleaned up.

    In defense of "carefully avoiding skin contact," I know what the author meant. Traditionally, if Death touches you, he takes your soul. So if Gwen doesn't want to kill James, then she can't touch his skin.

  13. LOVE, love, love the premise.

    And the snippet read cleanly to me. You had me cringing there at the end... you hit on one of my worst nightmares.... :[

  14. I liked it. It leaves you wanting to read more because you want to know if she's a spirit who has to collect the souls or is she really alive and collecting them....when the bus hits her, does it go through her? I would definitely want to read more...great job!

  15. Hah! I liked it, I'd read on. Good luck,


  16. Very interesting premise. Sometimes the sentences feel a bit overloaded, slowing down the tension you've built, but I would read on.

    One line struck me as a bit overwritten, though: and now the world was going to claim his life.