Wednesday, May 6, 2009

41 Drop the Needle

TITLE: A Book of 3 Wishes : Lost & Found
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Cassie Thompson finds herself in an ancient genie in the bottle tale, trying to keep her ordered world from succumbing to the mischievous Djinn (Jinny) she released from a box found in her attic. In this scene Cassie is leaving a music club from the back way, and Jinny thinks she is leaving without telling her.

Jinny flew into the alley looking like a wildcat on the prowl, feral fear showing plainly on her furious face.

“Leaving without me Cassandra?” she clipped out, her eyes glowering dangerously.

“NNNo,” I stammered, not sure how to react. Was Sam’s presence enough to deter a tantrum?
She straightened up and began to walk toward us slowly, her movements sinuous and lithe. I could tell she was holding back, trying to appear normal. She passed under a bare bulb and I could see the same contemptuous expression, but most distracting was the smoke rising off of her; her whole body a warm breath in the cool night air. The smoke circled and twisted, coming dangerously close to the tornado of the other night.

No one said anything until she had almost reached us, which was thankfully in the murky shadows. Her smoking aura filtered to an indistinct haziness that could be blamed more readily on the poor light. Unfortunately although the lighting helped with my comfort level on the smoke, I was also unable to see if her expression was still wild or had retained some of her humanity.

Sam broke the silence.

“Glad you found us, we were going to wait for you by the front door.”

I don’t know how he was able to seem so calm. His soft voice somehow making Jinny’s appearance seem like a natural progression of the evening rather than a stalker searching for their prey.


  1. I liked this. I understood what was going on. Loved the mention of the bare bulb and how you used that in the scene.

    But, some of the sentences were wordy. And I'm not sure what'clipped out' means. I actually think you could just use the actual dialogue there- we already know she's mad, know she's dangerous.

    Good dialogue doesn't need a lot of description. Go straight to "NNNo"- it fits well.

    The next paragraph needs tightening. Example:
    "She passed under a bare bulb. I could still see the contempt, and even worse was the smoke now rising off her..."

    the next paragraph has some "huh" moments- "she had almost reached us, which was thankfully in the murky shadows." I know what you mean but that is not grammatically correct. us- which was? I would stop at us and start a new sentence.

    "Thankfully, we stood in murky shadows so her smoking aura..."

  2. I loved the line "her whole body a warm breath in the cool night air." Great imagery. So easy to picture.
    I agree that some of the lines are a bit wordy.
    I wasn't sure why they were relieved that no one spoke until she was in the murky shadows. I think I'd rather have someone mad at me from a distance but I may be missing something since it's the middle of the scene.

  3. I agree with the above comments. There's a bit of tightening needed and they have outlined those well for you.

    I think the idea behind the scene is good and that it might work within context. There's some really excellent phrasing and it really brings the characters and their personalities to life.

    I would try and bring the menace of Jinny out even more. Her emotion seems to be the result of her environment and the smoke more than an emotion. Maybe her smoking is a very very bad sign that was pointed out earlier in the work? Bring it out.

    Also, that bit of alliteration at the beginning? Kinda distracting. It makes her action seem funny or amusing rather than 'feral' which is a bit cliche, so watch that.

  4. Nice scene. I agree that feral fear sort of threw me off, but more b/c I'm not sure how much those words go together. I don't think there would be any fear on Jinny's face.
    ditto on the "clipped out" comment above.
    The sentence beginning "She passed" is too long, but the description in there is very good. I would suggesting just breaking it into manageable chunks. The "warm breath" imagery is great.
    I would drop the "unfortunately" and maybe change "retained" to "regained" some of her humanity.
    In the last sentence, if you change "making" to "made" you'd have a complete sentence and I think I'd like it better.

  5. I love the sound of this story and enjoyed this. Maybe tighten the last sentence in the fourth paragraph a little.>> Although the lighting helped with my comfort level on the smoke, I couldn’t see if her expression had mellowed.

    The last paragraph could be tightened too :>> I don’t know how he remained calm. His soft voice made Jinny’s appearance seem normal rather than a stalker searching for prey.

    Great story though. I would read a book like this one.

  6. I think the writing could be a little tighter, and the first sentence "feral fear...furious face" didn't work for me. A couple of missing commas, I think you have a typo in the last sentence, making to made?

    Overall I liked this, premise and style, and would keep reading.

  7. I liked the smoky body imagery. Minor nit: in the last sentence I think it would be more effective to substitute the word 'their' with 'her'.

  8. I was lost in the physicality. Part of it was the set up with two characters, which was really three? Then the initial "she" got me off track. Cassie versus Cassandra etc. This really was a hard assignment to get set up!

    As to the stalking, sinuous, lithe jinny--I liked and her opening lines once I figured them out.

    Lost again with the expression defined, then (once more)under the bare bulb? Then back to poor light, haziness, smoky appearance, then back again to unable to "see if her expression was still wild or ...."

    I was floating, uncertain, although I caught the distinct hint of fear and concern.

    I would like to read more and hope we'll see additional sections in other contests.

  9. I like the idea of using a genie/jinn in your story. It's different from most other stories in this genre.

    The POV character seems distant from the scene, however. She's describing how the jinn looks, but we don't get a sense of what she's feeling about having an angry jinn coming after her. I'd be plenty scared, maybe even move closer to the guy.

    Check your punctuation rules. I found places needing commas throughout.

    Good work. Keep it up.