Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Drop the Needle: HIGH EMOTION #18

TITLE: Blackberry Summer

Shelby has recently met her cousins for the first time, and Carrie is having adjustment problems. The girls have borrowed some of Shelby's clothes.

Shelby stared in disbelief at what encircled Carrie's left ankle. "Take it off," she said evenly, her hand held out toward her cousin.

Carrie's eyes went wide and her cat smile grew. "Take what off?"

Shelby's blood boiled. "I said you could borrow my clothes, but I never said anything about my jewelry. That's my ankle chain you're wearing, and I want it back - now."

Carrie's laugh was wicked. "This old thing? You're mistaken. I got it for Christmas . . ."

"No you . . ." Sarah didn't finish her sentence.

Carrie jumped up from the swing. "Shut your face, Sarah." Her head snapped toward Jessie. "And if you don't want to wake up in the morning as bald as Papaw, you'll keep your trap shut, too." Then she turned back to Shelby. "The twins forget things sometimes. But I swear, this is my ankle bracelet."

The twins were crying softly, and Shelby knew where the truth lay. That was her bracelet. A shirt was one thing, but this was going too far. "I say it's mine, and I want it back." She held out her hand.

"I can't believe you're going to stand right here and call me a liar to my face." Carrie looked like she was squaring off for a fight. Shelby hoped not. She knew Carrie would whip her good. But she wasn't going to back down, even if it meant getting beat up.

"I'm not only calling you a liar, I'm also calling you a thief. Now you either take off that bracelet, or I'm going to take it off for you."


  1. There's definite tension here. I feel like Shelby is trying to keep her anger in check while still determined to stand her ground. The dialogue is realistic for the situation and for YA girls. I'd like a little more emotion in body language - but then maybe it's coming :)
    Nice job.

  2. This is very good. Your tension is perfect. I had a little trouble following at spots but I think that is just because it's an excerpt.

    Your pacing is good. Dialogue believable. You make it very clear without outright saying so that Carrie is aware of what she is doing, that she is trying to just bully Shelby, not that she expects Shelby to actually believe her, just to back down, which I think is extremely well-done. Makes me wonder about the character arc here, is Shelby someone who has faced down bullies in the past? Makes me curious about her because she is going to stand up to her cousin.

    There is enough setting in here that it's not talking heads, though it wouldn't hurt to seed a little more, unless it changes the pacing too much.

    It's not melodramatic, it is just the right amount of dramatic. In fact, I would say, based on your writing skill from this passage, that this is a book that I would read.

    The only negative thing I have is this:

    The twins were crying softly, and Shelby knew where the truth lay. That was her bracelet. A shirt was one thing, but this was going too far. "I say it's mine, and I want it back." She held out her hand.

    I would say that the third sentence in that paragraph is not needed and it would read more smoothly without it. It seems like you are feeling for a reason to give the reader for why Shelby is making a stand, but we don't need to be told that, you can show it through in the story.

    All in all, I very much liked it!

  3. I enjoyed reading this. I agree that the tension level is pretty near perfect with the situation. I don't think you need to change much. The only thing that threw me was when Sarah spoke up, since she wasn't mentioned before (at least not in this excerpt.) Unless you've placed her in the scene earlier, I think a different tag, like 'Sarah interrupted,' would be less jarring.

    Great scene. I want to read more to discover the outcome of this confrontation.

  4. Nice job, good dialog. My only stumble was on, "Shelby knew where the truth lay." Could say, "Shelby knew the truth." May just be my trepidation at using lay/lie/etc.

  5. I liked this a lot. It was very clear, easy to understand. I felt my stomach clenching for
    Shelby, her frustration and anger. I loved that she didn't back down, that even though she couldn't win a fight, she was going to stand her ground. I love a gutsy heroine.

  6. I liked this. The emotion is there, and it progresses with the scene. There's also tension and conflict. Will they fight or will Carrie cave in and return the bracelet? We know Shelby's not backing down.

    The only thing that stood out to me was the sentence with the twins crying. I think it's the 'were crying' - Maybe say the twins cried softly? And you might spend a bit more time there to show them breaking into tears as Carrie yells at them. The transition there is kind of abrupt.

  7. Thank you, everyone, for your kind and generous comments.