Thursday, May 3, 2012

Drop the Needle: Action Scenes #15

GENRE: YA sci-fi

Laura has gone underground in a desperate attempt to find the girl responsible for the disappearance of her half-brother. To gain the answers she seeks, she must fight one of the mutants who live below the surface.

I glanced down. At the flurry of activity down below, hands reaching into pockets and purses, tossing bills at Dora’s feet. She licked her lips and used one of her deformed hands to sweep the cash into a pile, eyes darting this way and that as if to make sure no one cheated her out of her due. I felt the tail tighten around me and struggled to pull in some air.

“I know that many of you…perhaps all…dreamed of something like this. Yes? A pretty young fighter against my hideous, deformed Kling…why, it’s Beauty and the Beast all over, a show for the ages! Only in this show…” A laugh, high and trilling. “Beauty may not survive.”

The tail suddenly twitched to the right. I gasped as I saw the high ceiling racing towards me. At this velocity, any contact would crush me like an eggshell. I flinched just as he stopped, a mere inch from the vaulted cement. Before I could catch my breath, the tail whipped downward, again at the same nausea-inducing speed, before stopping an inch from Kling’s mouth. From his bared, serrated teeth. Looking at them more closely, I saw that he had more in common with a crocodile than a shark—he even had the same overlong set of jaws that looked like they could turn bone and flesh into mincemeat.

“Be gentle to her, Kling. At least…for now.”

I wasn’t sure if Kling had “gentle” in his vocabulary.


  1. I really liked this except I think the first two sentences could be clearer. As they are I had to reread them and it pulled me out of the moment.
    Might I suggest- I glanced down at the flurry of activity below. Hands reached into pockets and purses. Tossed bills at Dora's feet.- Not at all perfect but you get what I mean.
    Also one other nit - Before I could catch my breath... I stopped an inch from Kling's mouth.
    I think the rhythm of those 2 sentences might make the next about his teeth feel better.
    As I said though really liked this especially the voice in the last line of the peice

  2. Sorry
    Anonymous is Michelle

  3. This is definitely interesting, but the sentence fragments tripped me up. I've got to assume that the period at the end of 'I glanced down.' is a typo, otherwise, all it is is deliberately confusing. Also, I understand what you're going for with 'From his bared, serrated teeth.' but the grammar *really* feels like you're starting a new (real) sentence. Perhaps use an em-dash instead? 'from Kling's mouth - from his bared, serrated teeth.'

  4. I'm a fan of incomplete sentences, but that second sentence made be re-read several times.

    I also felt disconnected from the action since the mc describes the ceiling racing toward her, rather than the acceleration/force upward as the tail tries to smash her.

    But Kling sounds like one deliciously scary creature!

  5. Seconding Michelle and Hepseba on the first two sentences.

    The idea of her being picked up by the tail is ... interesting. But I got to wonder at the feasibility of it. And neither image of crocodile or shark fit snuggly enough with the tail, which brings to mind an octopus or a snake.
    The other thing that bothers me is the speed she's being tossed. If it's fast enough that any contact (even a slight one) would crush her, then she's either very fragile (too much so to be fighting), or it's very fast. And if it's so fast, then a sudden stop would be so jarring that she'd not be given the ability to flinch. I'd almost expect whiplash.

    I love the last line though. I don't think "gentle" is in Kling's vocabulary either. ^_^

  6. I agree with the above comments on the punctuation. I can't comment on the tail, since I don't know what it looks like. But the action in the scene is good. And you managed to avoid dialog tags -- like "he said" -- and it works.

  7. I'm a little frustrated b/c I love the concept and idea potential but had a hard time following this scene. The sentence fragments lent to that, and maybe also the dropped in aspect which can't be helped here. I am SO curious about these characters you've imagined, Dora, Kling, your MC. I'd be willing to read further.

  8. Agree w/the others re: combining the 1st sentence w/the 2nd. A few times I was taken out of the story to reread because I felt it was jarring. Am confused as to who Dora is. Is Dora the person Laura is looking for? A little more clarification would have helped me get into the action.

  9. Hi author,
    I think your lead-in line lets you down, because it gave no context to the scene in progress, ie, that the narrator was caught by a monster with a tentacle-like tail that could whisk people around as easily as we could shake our arms. so I had to re-read the first few paras to understand that. (I assumed the MC was part of the crowd watching Dora, a performer at first.)

    And I'm still unclear whether Dora teasing Kling by dangling the MC over its mouth (with her tail), or whether Kling was flinging her around with his tail?

    However, it was a wonderful scene! Truly horrible antagonists, great tension. I wonder how your MC will escape.

  10. I know this is probably because this is in the middle of a scene, but I really had no context of whose tail it was or where it came from. it just seemed like a disembodied tail. Also, it didn't seem to be acting like a tail... more like a tentacle.

    I love the threat in this scene - being dashed against the ceiling. A different kind of action, and very frightening. I can really picture it.

    Really good stuff, well done. :)

  11. I think fragmented sentences can work well in action, but it felt off in the first few lines, as others pointed out. Some tweaking there will help.

    I also wondered at the ...'s in the dialogue. Are all of them necessary? Since I don't know the character talking, is this character meant to talk slow with long pauses? Wondering if it's appropriate for an action scene.

    The description in the last paragraph is paced well set a thrilling tone. I liked the combo croc - shark description, too.