Thursday, January 12, 2012

Drop the Needle #5

TITLE: Stillwater
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Last year, Lee Dalton lost her best friend, Brenna, sort of like how you might lose a pair of keys, if you'd dropped your keys off a bridge. Except Lee keeps seeing her, so she's nuts, right? Or haunted. Like that's better.


I wandered down to the beginnings of our fields and let Bing sniff around off the leash before turning around, figuring I may as well head back home, which is when I almost ran smack into someone standing right behind me. Beside me, Bing hesitated, his tail dropping and his ears flickering. My heart dropped with a sickening freefall into my stomach and started swimming around there, because the girl in front of me, grinning like a maniac, was my best friend in the whole frickin’ world.

Brenna.

I thought, man, I’ve lost it.

She didn’t seem to notice the way I was staring, too busy looking around, curious, tucking a sleek black curl behind one ear.

“Oh, good,” she said. “I finally got it right.” When she finally looked at me, her smile was nearly predatory. “Hello, lovely.”

You aren’t real, I wanted to say, but she sure looked real. Sounded real. You’re dead. That seemed kind of rude. Something caught in my throat and stopped any words from escaping. All I could do was make a weird, strangling sound. Bing whined softly.

She wasn’t wearing the dress her parents had put in the coffin. I thought that was weird, but then she always had preferred jeans.

She was studying me. “You cut your hair.”

I felt faint. “Well, you know. Summer.” That familiar voice made my skin crawl. I reached out, felt Bing’s smooth head under my fingers. He was just as tense as I was, and I wondered, if Bing could see Brenna, did that mean I wasn’t nuts after all?

Wasn’t the alternative worse?

6 comments:

skywriter said...

I would delete the heart "swimming around in her stomach." It focuses too much attention on what her heart is doing -- I had to really think about what a heart looks like swimming :) -- freefall is enough. Like this: "My heart dropped with a sickening freefall into my stomach because the girl standing in front of me..."

Also, the last line, IMHO, is not necessary, or would work better as a statement: "But the alternative was worse." Too many questions seems to make you less invisible to the reader, almost like openly interacting vs. the mc musing.

Overall the writing is excellent. I get a definite sense of creepy dread, and your mc is very sympathetic.

KimberlyFDR said...

I just have minor tweaks to suggest.

"Beside me, Bing hesitated, his tail dropping and his ears flickering."

Rephrase to "Bing hesitated beside me, his..." Having behind and beside almost next to each other makes it feel rough.

“Oh, good,” she said. “I finally got it right.” When she finally looked at me, her smile was nearly predatory. “Hello, lovely.”

Delete the second finally. Repetition of words like this made me pause.

I like the concept of this and I adore your summary phrasing "sort of like how you might lose a pair of keys, if you'd dropped your keys off a bridge."

Noelle Pierce said...

I loved this, from the summary to the last line. One thing I would suggest is to look at all the telling words (which is more difficult in first person), like "thought" "felt" etc. and see if you can rearrange the sentence to take them out. After all, we don't walk around narrating our own lives. We just think the thoughts, or feel the sensations. For example, "I thought, man, I've lost it" can just become "Man, I've lost it." "I thought that was weird" could just become "Weird, but then she...".

Otherwise, what a great MC and situation. I would want to read on.

Kirsten said...

Wow, what fun!
I love Lee's reactions to Brenna, from a teenager's knee-jerk response to not be rude, even in a crisis, and noticing clothing (so very adolescent girl) to reaching out to her dog for reassurance.
Kudos!

writerlass said...

I love how you wrote the summary with the same voice. "beginnings of our fields," sounded a little awkward to me, and I think it might be better to have a little more description there to set the scene - although you may have already described the fields by this point, I guess. I also agree with a previous commenter that you should try to avoid the "I felt" and "I thought" construct (which is something I also tend to use a lot) and instead just go ahead and describe what she is feeling, as you did with "My heart dropped with a sickening freefall..."

Yttar said...

My only suggestion is to go over your first paragraph because it is full of tense switches. It started in past tense, switched to present, went back to past, switched again, until finally settling on past tense for everything else.

Otherwise, I thought it was good.