Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Drop the Needle: HIGH EMOTION #1

TITLE: Like a Frothing Rabid Dog is Adorable
GENRE: YA horror

Two agents are questioning Ayako about the dead body she found in her train's lounge car.

I said, rather unintelligently, I might add, "Something happened to the body?"

Agent Micheals got in real close to me, his eyes squinting at mine. "Unless of course you're lying about where you found the body. To cover up your involvement."

"My what?"

"Miss"--the older agent looked to the younger one who whispered something to him --"Futsurado," he said, sounding rather impatient and exasperated all at the same time. "According to your statement, you found the body in the"--he referred back to his notes--"lounge car."

I nodded. How many times did we need to go over this?

"When forensics went to the lounge car, they did not find any body."

Maybe you got the wrong car. It was hard not to want to yell at the agent but I didn't think yelling would bring him any closer to my favor. Not that he could really get much further away. I kept my mouth shut anyway.

"Tell me, Miss"--another pause--"Futsurado, where is that body? If one even exists."

I looked to the younger agent, if only to not have the weight of the older agent's full stare on me, but he wasn't offering any help now.

"If we can't produce a body, Miss, then we're going to have to press charges for prank calls. So let me ask you one more time. Where is the body?"

"Look, I don't know where the body is." So much for not yelling. "Last I checked, it was sprawled out over one of the couches in the lounge car. If it's not there now, maybe one of your people moved it."

Ooh, he was not looking too pleased with me, but I wasn't in the mood to care anymore.

"If you can't find your body, that's not my fault. It's yours."


  1. First off, I love your title! If I saw it in the book store, I would buy your book on the title alone.

    As to the page, I didn't feel a whole lot of tension in it, yet it's supposed to be a high-tension scene. Raise the stakes. Make us sense that if she doesn't convince the cops, the results could be disastrous.

  2. I do want to point out that you use the word "body" about 8 times in this page. It gets a little repetitive, so you might want to mix it up.

    I do agree with Lanette that this needs more tension. Being a snarky teen is fine, but if she called about seeing a dead body, I think she'd be a little more freaked out to hear it had gone missing. There's a time for the pithy lines to the police, but I don't think this is one of them. More realistically, I could see her trying to convince the police, not tell them it isn't her problem that they can't find it.

  3. I'm glad you participated. It's always interesting to read other's work--and I learn something every time I do.

    I just have a few questions for you. If this is high tension, are you aware that your pro (if it's your pro) seems more relaxed than tense, almost bratty? And that this has largely to do with word choice and sentence length.

    "I said, rather unintelligently, I might add" sounds conversational and like she's bored with their follow-up. If she is anxious about being questioned, the reader does not feel the tension. You have a wonderful opportunity in 1st person, to tell us what she is thinking which can b something totally different than what comes out of her mouth. If she is worried but doesn't want to let it show, you have the perfect POV to convey that. If the character doesn't care, it's not likely the reader will either. But this could with a few changes become a layered scene. She acts cool on the surface but is treading water underneath, that sort of thing.

    Pace quickens with short sentences and few qualifiers. If you want this to a fast-paced scene, you can easily tighten your prose in spots.

    Hope this was helpful. Good luck.

  4. I agree with the above comments (especially the first one about your title!) One thing that pulled me out of the story was the line Maybe you got the wrong car. At first I thought she was saying it, and the lack of quotation marks was a typo.

  5. I agree that there is little tenion here. The MC sounds mostly annoyed, like she really could care less about that body. If that's what you're going for then this is fine, but if you are shooting for high emotion, then I think we need a different kind of reaction from her.

    Is she shocked to learn the body is gone? Does she wonder where it went or how it might have disappeared? Does she question what she saw? Think that maybe he wasn't really dead? Does she wonder who might have taken the body, and why?

    And I know exclamation points are frowned on these days, but I do think you could use one after - Look, I don't know where the body is! - because she's supposed to be yelling, and the exclamation point signifies that.

  6. I agree with what the others have said about the lack of tension. I feel we're missing out on the reason why she's being as cavalier as she is, in which case you should have supplied us with that in the lead-in. If that isn't the case, she should be scared out of her mind that the body is no longer there. She'll be too preoccupied thinking of how to explain her situation to be making snarky comebacks.

    Otherwise, the writing was solid. Also, love the title!

  7. Gee - I really love the title and the way the cops stumble over her unusual name. But I have to agree, I don't feel a lot of emotion other than snarkiness coming from her at their disbelief.

    I would be scared out of my mind to discover a dead body! And I wish you had posted that part of the story here, so I could see her response to it - unless, of course, there isn't one, or if she put it there. Bwa-ha-ha-ha.

  8. I agree with the above posters re: the great title and the lack of tension. I also felt the writing was clunky in places.

    "...I didn't think yelling would bring him any closer to my favor. Not that he could really get much further away. I kept my mouth shut anyway."

    Maybe something like, "Yelling wouldn't do me any favors so I kept my mouth shut" would be more streamlined.

  9. This is very well-done and I want to read more, but there's just one thing that stops me short. Ayako is Japanese, right? I've lived in Japan and I work for a Japanese company, and I've never heard the last name 'Futsurado' before. I did a Google search in both English and Japanese, and nothing came up. Do you know what kanji it's written with?

  10. The character is named after a Japanese exchange student from when I was in high school. It's possible I misremembered how to spell her name.

  11. Gotcha! I can't think of how to write it in kanji, but it's entirely possible that it's a less common reading that I haven't heard of. It wouldn't be the first time!

  12. I felt like this could've been stronger. An exclamation mark before "So much for not yelling." Some intimation of the MC's fear (if any). Maybe more action: the MC taking a step back for fear the agents will grab her? Maybe she looks towards the lounge car as if she could see what was inside it? Stuff like that.

    And I agree with the comment on clunky writing. There were a number of places I felt could be streamlined, and it kinda worked against the piece for me.