Thursday, March 3, 2011

Drop the Needle: REVELATION #23

GENRE: Thriller

A homicide detective returns home to find his mentally ill wife has disposed of her medication.

My first thought was that she overdosed. The medicine cabinet was open, the mirrored front facing the wall, pill bottles on the floor as confetti. I stepped on a child-proof cap, and felt like I'd run over a dog.

"Abby, what happened in here?"

"I'm done. I'm tired of shuttling myself to doctors, and taking pills for something that's in my head. I don't want us to live like this." I heard behind me.

I whipped around on her. "You're not done, Abby, okay?" My voice rose in ways I didn't like. I wasn't ordering someone to get on the ground. So many things were tearing through my mind. I argued with myself over how much longer it'd be before my whole family knew everything about Abby. Cop Jack said forever, Brother Jack said not long.

I was still thinking of calling poison control when she said, "I knew you'd be angry." If only they made Abby-proof caps.

"Why would I be angry with you, Abs?" I pushed her hair out of her face with the heel of my hand. "I would never be angry with you."

"You've gotten angry with me lots."

I heard the timer on the microwave go off downstairs. "What was that for?"

She didn't look at me. "That was when you were supposed to get home."

When I shut the medicine cabinet, I noticed the hinges were stubborn as if rusted, and then I noticed the mirror. It was a spider web of cracks.


  1. I’m a little confused because his first thought is that she overdosed but the first thing he says indicates he thinks she’s alive and around. If my first thought was my sister overdosed I think the first words out of my mouth would be “No, no, please, God” and then when I heard her behind me, I would be so angry and grateful all at the same time.

    I also don’t understand the correlation between stepping on the child proof cap and running over a dog. Does he feel like he killed the pill bottle?

    I like that the sister had a timer on the microwave, hoping to get whatever she wanted to get done before he got home and timing herself to make sure. Shows a certain level of thought on her part that adds depth beyond her almost childlike words. She may seem simple, but she’s obviously got a complex mind. I like that.

  2. I really like the line "You've gotten angry with me lots." It's both adult and child-like and that duality tells us a lot about Abby. It's kinda chilling. Nice.

  3. Hey, I know this story! :D (or at least the query attached to it lol)

    I like this scene a lot. There's so much tension here, and you can sense how uncertain the MC is and how he's trying to placate her. I especially like the timer.

  4. I really liked this. I personally liked the line about stepping on a child proof cap and feeling like running over a dog. Also the lines "My voice rose in ways I didn't like. I wasn't ordering someone to get on the ground." really gave me a sense of character.

    The only thing that kind of threw me is the beginning when he thinks that she might have overdosed but all he says is "Abby, what happened in here?" I would think it would be more frantic, calling her name, trying to find her and then ask what happened when he realizes that she's alive and conscious. I also really liked the line "if only they made Abby-proof caps" but I'm not sure it flows smoothly where it is.

    Good job. This really intrigued me and drew me into the story.

  5. I was also confused about the line re: stepping on the cap and running over a dog. Is he feeling sick because he thinks his wife od'ed? Realizing we've been dropped into the middle of things and we don't know how he feels about his wife, it still seems like he'd be more less upset with running over a dog than the alternative.
    I do get a sense of shame here from the MC, but want to know what else is tearing through his mind. Guilt? Relief (that she didn't OD, not having to hide, perhaps)?

    I think the second half is very strong. With details like the microwave timer, the MC wishing for Abby-proof caps. I also liked the voice of Abby, much as CourtneyC did, the switch from adult "I don't want us to live like this," to the child-like "You've gotten angry with me lots." So sad.

  6. I was also confused by the beginning. When does he realize she didn't take the pills? Although the Abby proof caps is a nice line, I was confused at first thinking maybe he didn't want her to take the medication either. The line about using the heel of his hand to move her hair was hard to picture as well.

    Other than those small things jumping out, it flowed nicely.

  7. I thought you had a lot of nice little tidbits here. The running over a dog line, the Abby proof caps (although I agree it's in the wrong place.)the microwave timer. I got a very good sense of who Abby was in this short piece, and I found her more interesting/complicated than the MC.

    It's the bits in between them that need work, I think. If he thinks his wife just overdosed, we need a bigger reaction from him, and then we need to see the relief (or the 'Oh, dang it) when he realizes she didn't OD. Especially if that is the reveal.

    The bit about his family finding out about her could be built up a bit more. What does he think will happen if they find out?

    And in the end, I'm not sure what the reveal is. Is it that she is still alive? Is it that she is is giving up her meds? Is it, now everyone is going to know?

  8. I thought the beginning was a little weak with the repeating "was" sentence structures. The third sentence though was really great, nice sense of voice, and it drew me in. The dialogue was also good and I liked the bit about the microwave timer.

  9. Your writing is good but there are a couple things that are confusing. For example, when her refers to himself as "Brother" you are making people think Abby is his sister. Had these people read the stuff before this, they'd already know she's his wife but it would still be odd for him to think of himself this way unless he were wondering what his own sister/brother would think (rather than his whole family).

    I also think you need to clarify the "I would never be angry with you" comment. If he means he would never be angry at her for dumping her pills, he should say that. To say he'd never be angry at his wife isn't realistic.

    Last comment: you need to clarify what he thinks happened here. If he thinks she has overdosed and is thinking of calling poison control, why is he so calm? Why is he looking around rather than trying to call 911 or make her throw up or make her tell him what she did? If he knows immediately that she didn't take them, he shouldn't be thinking about the overdose or poison control.

  10. The scene is awesome, I like what's happening. What I bring up are personal reactions, take what resonates with you.
    "the mirrored front facing the wall" was disorienting for me. Loved "felt like I'd run over a dog". I also loved the characterization with "I wasn't ordering someone..." I knew right away he was a cop and how he felt abt acting like one at home. But the "Brother Jack" made me forget that he was the husband and literally think he was her brother--but that might not be a problem in the context of the whole novel. I think you could elaborate a TAD on the Abby-proof caps metaphor, just cause the brevity forced me to stop and think what he meant. Last is I think there could be an internal reaction to her explanation of the timer.
    I liked the visuals of closing the door, the hinges and the glass and the conflict just speaks for itself, I think you've come up with a GREAT tension/problem.

  11. Excellent sentence to start us off with. However, it’s contradicted by him asking her what happened. Since she’s actually standing near him, I think it might be better if it read “My first thought was that she tried to overdose.”

    pill bottles on the floor as confetti.
    I'd change the "as" to "like." And are the pill bottles like confetti or the pills? Pill bottles as confetti doesn’t really work, but the actual pills most certainly do. If the pills are all over the floor, this can also help reinforce my first comment up there about inserting “tried” into the sentence.

    Though I think I get what you're going for with your last sentence in the first paragraph, it's still kind of odd to me.

    "I'm done. I'm tired of shuttling myself to doctors, and taking pills for something that's in my head. I don't want us to live like this." I heard behind me.
    First, remove the comma between “doctors” and “and.” I’d also move the “I heard behind me” after her statement of “I’m done.” That way we know right away where she is.

    So many things were tearing through my mind.
    tearing --> tore

    The “Cop Jack” and “Brother Jack” threw me off. I think that paragraph can be toyed with and made better. I assumed he was Jack, but if this is his wife, then the brother thing doesn’t make sense to me.

    When it comes to Abby-proof caps, I think this should either be removed because by this time it’s pretty clear she hasn’t ODed or moved up higher – maybe replacing the “run over a dog” line.

    The microwave timer and “You’ve gotten angry with me lots” are nice little touches to this scene.

    Overall, good job. With a few tweaks it will be even better! =D

  12. Yeah I was confused as to whether she was his wife or sister, but that's just a lack of context here. I think he has a great inner voice and your dialogue is spot on and VERY revealing and evocative. Their conversation gives her a very fragile and almost child-like feel, I like the little touches about how she wouldn't look at him, and reading between the lines we can just see for herself that she knows she's done something wrong and can't face him...very nice, subtle touches.

    I do agree that the ran over a dog line doesn't quite work, and maybe just fiddle around with the pacing of the first few lines a little.

  13. I liked a lot of the details such as the microwave timer and got a wonderful sense of the dynamic between these two.

    However, I couldn't stop thinking 'where are the pills?' Just because she is talking to him doesn't mean she didn't take the pills. Depending on what she is on and when she took them (for instance she knows about when he arrives hence the timer, so a cry for help would be to take them a minute or so before he arrives knowing he would get there in time to save her), the crisis of overdosing could still occur.

    It took me out of the scene to realize that he isn't trying to find out if and when she took the pills or if she says she didn't where the pills are to verify that she isn't lying.

    He'd need to know what she took and how much before calling poison control. So having him trying to get this info while Abby is trying to focus on why she doesn't want to keep taking pills (or does she mean that she doesn't want to keep living?) is definitely intense and intriguing. Maybe this all comes in the next bit though :)

    Thank you for sharing and I enjoyed your writing style!


  14. I liked this excerpt, and the fact we could be dropped in the action with little explanation and still understand what was going on.

    The part I would most like clarified is when Jack asks Abby what happened in here. He has described the scene without her in it, and I thought he must have been asking rhetorically, but then she responds. Some indication that Abby is present would be useful.

  15. I really liked this excerpt - and I'm not usually one for Thrillers, but this one I enjoyed!

    I loved Jack's voice - and you had great attention to detail, painting the surroundings nicely.

    Knowing this was a "drop the needle excerpt" from your book, I'm sure some of the backstory has already been filled in (or at least I'm hoping) - so I'm not too concerned on him thinking she overdosed, as many of the other comments are (maybe she's done something like this before?).

    Anyhow - strong writing here...I'd definitely read on. Good luck!