Wednesday, May 6, 2009

27 Drop the Needle

TITLE: Seven Gates
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Changing-woman has begun to teach Sechra (the MC of the book though not the focus of this passage) to free her mind from her body and enter the minds of animals. She has taught her art willingly but said nothing about her life. Sechra is asking what happens to Changing-woman’s physical self while her mind is in another creature.

“So while you are—inside—you don’t need warmth? Or food or water?”

“How could I? When there’s no one inside my body, it needs nothing.”

“Do you grow older?”

“Only when I’m here, so be glad I took time with you.” Her voice was light as ever. Sechra wondered what was underneath it—fear of dying, or only the wish to be and to know other creatures.. She rested her eyes on Changing-woman’s soft hands, her clear eyes; let Sechra slip away, and…

“Stop!” Fury tightened her throat and churned in her stomach. Then her mind shook free of Changing-woman’s and she was Sechra once again, dizzy with the sudden return into her own mind and body, staring at her teacher’s hardened jaw and cold eyes.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“I am sorry. I wondered—I didn’t understand—I didn’t really even mean to go in, I--”

“Didn’t you?” Changing-woman took a deep breath, unclenched her hands. “But don’t you ever do that again.” Her voice rose, thinned. “And why would you want to? Why trap yourself in being human?”

“Do you hate being human?”

Changing-woman's voice came high and thin. “How could I not? Shut in myself like an animal in a trap, day after day after day, with the fear and the wanting and the shame and—I wanted to die, until I found the way out, the way to be free. I thought you knew enough to want to be free.”


  1. This is good. I think the idea is creative, the way you describe it. (I've seen entering animals before, but you have a distinct voice.)

    My only constructive comment is near the end. The sentence "Her voice rose, thinned" sounded too similar to "voice came high and tin" so I'd play around with that, see if you can't find a different way Changing-woman would react to what just happened in such a manner as Sechra would notice.

    But yeah, cool. I'd read more.

  2. Yes, very well done. You've described a complex process clearly and concisely. Kudos!

    My only complaint is the number of dashes and dots. Maybe it's my own issue, but whenever I see so many elipses and dashes, I feel the need to brush up on my Morse code. It's what makes reading Dan Brown's books impossible for me. Most of the ones here are unnecessary.

    Otherwise, nicely done.

  3. I completely agree with theflightytemptress.

    Two very small suggestions -
    1)Perhaps letting the declaration "Stop!" stand on its own and starting a new para with the decsription of what's happening to Penelope would make clearer who is talking and who is reacting physically.
    2)The "But" after Changing-woman says "Didn't you?" tripped me up a little. I think it flows more naturally w/o it.

  4. Echo TKA. Very nice scene and I'm interested in where this goes. My only comments are:
    "only the wish to be and to know other creatures" sentence doesn't work for me personally. I'm not sure why there would be something underneath a light voice. It just doesn't mesh. And if you can explain it better, than I would only have "to be" OR "to know" but not both. It bogs down.
    I'd make I am sorry into I'm sorry for a more natural speech pattern.

  5. I was confused as to who was saying "Stop," so this didn't work for me. Perhaps you're purposefully making that first part of the paragraph ambiguous, to show one mind entering the other, but I had to read it over a few times to get it.

    Mark in the Seattle area

  6. I like your story. It kept me interested and left me wanting more.

    I agree with the comments above.

    One recommend change -Her voice was light as ever.-

    I had to think about what that means, instead of flowing along with the story.

    Thanks for submitting.

  7. I really liked this, but found all the dashes a little distracting. I also do this sometimes. I'll watch mine in the future to.

    The writing was interesting though.

  8. I like it a lot - really well imagined.

    I don't think you need 'her voice thinned' - not sure how that works anyway - and then in the next par describe her voice as thin.
    I'd prefer for the teacher to have a proper name - Changing-woman is a bit forced.

  9. I was unclear on who had said "Stop!" It sounded like Sechra was furious with Changing-Woman. I had to read it a few times to realise that Sechra was feeling Changing-Woman's emotions at Sechra's intrusion.

    Maybe something like:
    "Stop!" Changing-Woman cried.
    Sechra felt fury tighten her throat and churn in her stomach. Then her mind shook free of Changing-Woman's and she could feel her own emotions again.

    That would clarify it, I feel.

    I like the rest of it though.

  10. I found this interesting but I was confused at times. I would add a couple of tags to clarify who's speaking. One other comment, a small nit: "I am sorry." to me didn't sound natural - "I'm sorry." works. Small.

    I'm really curious why this woman hates being human so much. I'd keep reading.