Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Drop the Needle: Action Scenes (Round 2) #2

TITLE: The Sorter's Mistake
GENRE: YA Techno-Fantasy

Twelve-year-old Jenna realizes halfway through her police escort to her new school that the men in the SUV with her are not real police officers. To escape her abduction, she channels her newly-discovered electromagnetic powers to throw one abductor out of the car. Two more remain in the front seats.

Jenna whipped her head around in time to see Officer Makrov and both backseat doors rolling down the road behind them.

“Damn it!” Officer Thompson yelled. “Accelerate!”

He grabbed at Jenna, who scrambled over to the now-missing side door and reached up for the ski rack. Officer Makrov hobbled after the SUV, waving his weapon and shouting something Jenna could not make out. She pulled herself on top of the roof of the car and hung on, watching the road zoom underneath her. Ahead of her lone street lamps lit up a final patch of road before plunging into darkness beyond.

The SUV zoomed towards the spotlight just as a boy materialized in the center of the bright light. The SUV swerved, jerking Jenna’s small body back and forth. She recognized the boy. He was the boy from the Beanery with the wide, toothy smile. He ran towards the swerving on-coming vehicle and dropped to his knees. Jenna thought she saw a flash of red crackle around him. The behemoth black car headed straight for him and they collided. As if the SUV had hit a boulder, its front end smashed in and the back end flipped up, over itself. Jenna screamed as she realized she was about to be crushed. She released the energy she had left, pushing the tons of pressure off of her but still hanging on. The SUV flipped completely over itself and landed, on the other side of the boy, on its wheels, stopped.


  1. I really like this. Most of my confusion stems from the fact we don't have any other background, I think. It's dark on their way to school? All I could possibly suggest is to shorten some of the sentences in the final paragraph to up the pace and speed until the crash. The final simile about the boy being a boulder isn't really needed. It's informative, but sort of clunky for the action.

    Overall, this was great!

  2. I liked this as well. I found it hard to picture how fast they were going. Officer Makrov is thrown out of the car in the first section. She sees him and the doors on the road behind them. She scrambles over to grab onto the ski rack and Officer Makrov is still close enough for her to see him hobbling after the SUV? You may want to cut the part about Officer Makrov hobbling after the SUV. I think it slows things down and isn't something we may need to know. I love the whole super-power type books, so this is one I'd probably read.

  3. Hmm... whenever you have an action scene with a bunch of characters in it, there's going to be confusion over who's where doing what to whom and when. I think you need to simplify this and maybe remove one of the characters. This is wordy and slow, and you want your action to be fast-paced.

    Tighten this to eliminate unnecessary words. You don't need a play-by-play list of actions. Do we need to see Makrov hobbling after the SUV? He shouts, she can't hear what he says, so why include that part?

    I'm also confused by the spotlight. I don't know what it is or where it came from. Who's driving the SUV? The boy runs toward them, she "thought" she saw a flash of red. So often the SUV you describe comes off sounding like a different vehicle than the one she's riding in, which is why you need to simplify. You refer to it as the SUV, then the on-coming vehicle, then the behemoth black car... It's too much.

    I like what the scene conveys, I just don't think the execution is on target yet. Rework it and cut back on the unnecessary words to quicken the pace. Good luck! :)

  4. I agree with @Karen's comments on the SUV - switching up to say "the behemouth black car" makes it sound like a different vehicle, but it's the same SUV, right? For all that's going on, I think consistency is better in this case to keep track of everything.

    I think a sweep through to remove nonessential words will also liven the pace. For example, you can say "she whipped around" rather than "she whipped her head around." Also, taking out "completely" from the last line, or reworking to show how it flipped, how it landed, etc.

    I would also suggest looking for repeating words like "zoom" and when the second instance of "the boy" (the description sentence of where she recognizes him works without it).

    Good luck with your writing!

  5. The scene feels like its happening too quickly. I mean, sure there's a lot going on and not a lot of time in which these events will occur. But one of the nice things about fiction is that it allows you to control the speed. Even if something takes place in a matter of seconds, you don't have to write it like it that.

    The action's good and I want to know more about these characters and the two kids' powers. But, I think the long paragraphs and all the characters jumbled up what was going on.

    I'd suggest trying out this scene utilizing short sentences and paragraphs. Take your time to describe what's happening rather than rushing it. And even if it takes more words than you're using now, you might end up with something that feels shorter. But will hopefully have the benefit of not confusing the reader.

  6. great scene! witch mountain feel, but she's more like magneto's daughter!

    just drop the stopped.

  7. One way of quickening the pace and tightening the tension is keeping the sentences short. Just an observation...

  8. Jenna whipping her head around took me out of the story.Around from where? Whipped seems better suited to cream and whips, not heads.
    Suggest starting with something like From the passenger side of the car, Officer Thompson yelled, "Accelerate." Don't think there's time for damn it and makes too many exclamation points already.

    Oh, I thought Jenna was driving. If not, who is accelerating? Confusing.

    What kind of weapon was Officer Makrov waving?

    Wait a minute, the car is accelerating and she's hanging off the roof? WHat is she hanging on to?

    WHo's in the SUV?

    All this is going on, she's just about falling off a racing car and she ID's a boy?

    flipped completely over Delete itself; just the car flipped over

    Lots of good action here, but needs some clarification and different verbs in some spots.

  9. This is excellent! I would much rather prefer it in present tense but aside from that I found it to hit the spot. You description of the action in detail was precise and I could picture exactly what the SUV was doing. Perhaps you could describe more of Jenna's actions as the SUV goes over. Clinging to the roof rack and what not. Top quality writing.

  10. I love anything paranormal, so this grabbed me from the start. However, having just written a paranormal book myself, I've researched psychic powers and am wondering if Jenna is supposed to have telekinetic powers as opposed to electromagnetic. Electromagnetic (ELF) wave control tends to be more of a telepathic thing. I don't know much of the back story, maybe she's a psychokinetic emphasis on magnetic control? Just a heads up. Take it or leave it.

  11. Thank you all so much for taking the time to comment on my excerpt. I appreciate it very much. I can see, as I've learned through writing workshops, that when patterns emerge in feedback, it's usually spot on. I can see the repeat comments and that will help me when I re-draft.

    L.M.: Thank you! It is dark out because her "police escort" to her new school happens at night. The world of this novel is a little quirkier than our own.

    Susan: Merci! Good call on the extra Officer Makrov detail.

    Karen: Thank you! Lots of good suggestions here. There is another officer driving the car.

    Steph: Thank you for your comments! I see some repeat suggestions so I will be taking those to heart.

    Yttar: Merci beaucoup! I understand your comments.

    Tara: Thank you so much for the encouragement! A writer needs a little bit of that always :)

    Marie: Thank you! Great comment. I see that as a uniform suggestion for this type of sequence.

    YA: Thanks for the comment! I think some of your questions could be answered if you re-read the lead in and the excerpt. I will think about the other questions and see if they are handled out of the context of this excerpt.

    Alex: Once again, merci beaucoup! I am so happy you enjoyed this excerpt. Thank you for your comment. It did take time to get the car's actions down precisely as they happened in my head and I'm glad you could visualize it. I will definitely think about adding detail to Jenna as the car flips.

    Zolosolo: Thank you, thank you! Very glad this grabbed you! The funny thing is, I know this book sounds paranormal but it's actually a technology-based book. No paranormal presence here! Just good old fashioned, or I should say, good futuristic-fashioned, mad science ;) I will continue my research though and make sure I describe her powers as accurately as possible.

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  13. One way of quickening the pace and tightening the tension is keeping the sentences short. Just an observation...