Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Drop the Needle: Action Scenes (Round 2) #8

TITLE: Catcher's Keeper
GENRE: Adult commercial fiction

Nearly 25 years after it was written, Alden Gallagher’s teenage memoir is stolen and published by his own brother. When an obsessed fan interprets the book as his personal terrorist-mission, Alden and his brother must thwart a deadly attack on a beloved rock-music icon.

MD’s eyes narrow on the limo as it comes to a stop. I’m not sure how much time we have. No more than a minute I bet. What should I do? A diversion: I wave my arms and whoop like an animal. But MD’s face is set in evil. Alden’s right hook lands with a flat thump against MD’s temple. MD shoves him away, his Ace-bandaged hand slapping Alden’s chest with surprising force. As he tries to take aim, Alden wrestles him from behind and the gun flashes in their entangled arms. My pulse is racing. I turn back to the limo. Lennon and Yoko are out now, sauntering toward the entrance. They nod to Larry the doorman, who flutters a frantic hand in warning – but it’s lost on them. Lennon drapes an arm around his wife’s hips, and they share a few words in an ironic pocket of privacy. They smile at each other. Not a care. My heart is beating out of my ears. Across the street, Alden is scrambling off the ground. MD towers over him, his arms outstretched, gun steady. He cocks it and crouches for better aim.

“Mr. Lennon!” he calls.

“Get down!” I scream, “Gun!” I run toward them with my hands in the air, waving the damn book around. Their backs are to me, but Lennon turns his gaze. I see his signature round glasses, the straight line of his nose. His expression is curious, a little perturbed. No, I want to yell –


  1. What a different concept! I cringe to think what would happen if the world was ever exposed to my teen memoir, lol. I just have a few comments on your entry, hopefully something in here is useful!
    1. I'm a little confused about who the narrator is. From the lead-in I thought it was Alden, but he's mentioned in the third person, so that threw me. Just a snippet problem though--had I read the whole ms I'm sure I'd know!
    2. I'm confused how Alden cold-cocks MD in the temple and doesn't subdue him. Also, was Alden standing there all along? Did he just get there and it was a bit of a wild swing? I could use a little more detail.
    3. "As he tries to take aim" is a confusing way to start the sentence, because I don't know which "he" you mean.
    4. I wish there was more description of what the other people around them were doing. Is there a crowd? Does anyone notice the fight?
    5. You say that the doorman's frantic wave "is lost on" Lennon and Yoko, but I don't understand how. Aren't they feet from him? Isn't he yelling at them?
    6. The narrator seems very passive, he/she just kind of watches Lennon and Yoko while her heart races, but takes no steps whatsoever to do anything. You probably have a reason why that you couldn't fit here, but if not, you might want to consider some reason why he/she doesn't take any action.
    7. "MD towers over him, his arms outstretched, gun steady." was a little confusing for me. Outstreched where? Toward Lennon or toward Alden? How far away did MD get from Alden that Alden is letting this happen? How did he get away from Alden?
    8. Finally, at the end of the scene, she screams. Why did she wait until then? And the very last sentence it says "No, I want to yell..." Why doesn't she?

    Again, great job and cool concept!

  2. Hmm.. yes, definitely interesting concept. This is commercial fiction, and not fantasy or science fiction, right? Then the guesswork is taken out of the question of whether the MC stops the deadly attack? Not to be sidetracked into genre, but I thought if you had an alternative reality it couldn't be commercial fiction?

    Now to the snippet- lots of action, and definitely a set up with high stakes. "MD's face is set in evil" - What does that look like? To describe something as evil is too easy - it's important to really describe the expression.

    The MC's pulse is racing but he identifies the doorman as Larry, which kind of stops the tension. Is it important to know the doorman's name? What's an 'ironic pocket of privacy'? Ironic to the MC because he knows of what's going to happen? Or is John Lennon acting ironically?

    The last paragraph is the best. It has a lot of tension and it leaves me curious.

    Good luck with it!

  3. I find the lead in, a very clever idea.

    After the diversion, I'm not sure what MD's face is set in evil means. Does he look towards the waving arms? Does he ignore it? I think maybe you are trying to convey MD as being fixated on the limo?

    I agree to leave out Larry's name as you don't want to draw attention to him and away from the stars. Better to just say doorman and leave him as a background figure.

    Is the moment of privacy ironic because they will soon have all the privacy they want if they're dead? You may want to leave out the word "ironic" for more clarity.

    The last paragraph is good. Tension & action.

    Just a question on the time frame. This must be pre-1980 if Lennon is still alive, so does that mean the diary was written around 1955? Just curious if you were mentioning the Beatles at all, and I can see it as a challenge trying to keep it era correct. Quite a lot of research on your part (unless you're as old as me. :) Good for you. The plot is intriguing.

  4. I think the action, tension, and wording all hold this together well.
    There are a few things that give me pause. Alden and MD's fight. I am a very visual person and I can not get a read on their positioning and interaction with each other. Alden punches MD in the temple then gets shoved. Then re-appears behind him.

    Then Alden is on the ground scrambling up MD towers over him but then crouches. If he crouches and Alden is scrambling up to me they could easily re-engage. I feel their are missing details that can be added to strengthen this passage and the actual struggle. If we see every detail it can resonate more.

    You're wording pace and tension where excellent!

  5. Neat concept. Love the John Lennon stuff.

    BUt who is MD? To me MD means medical doctor, so that's confusing.

    Nearly impossible to tell what someone else is looking at, so that part about narrowing on the limo doesn't feel right.

    How does the narrator, who isn't clearly ID'd know he slapped A's chest with surprising force? Maybe go for a sound and slapping can't be much force; punching, maybe?

    As he takes aim (not tries to)

    Show A wrestling; where does he grab? what does he do exactly?

    Sounds? Smells? Crowd noises?

    Is Lennon deaf and blind here? A crowd, a fight, and neither notices? You've got to set it up so it's believable.

    Does Lennon turn his gaze? I think he turns his head and looks at me through his round glasses.

    What stops him/her from yelling? Need a better picture of the narrator.

    Great idea, though! Keep revising...

  6. I was confused about the era and the reference to MD? - is this an alternate reality to Mark David Chapman shooting JOhn Lennon in 1980? (is he MD?)Or is this a previous event that is thwarted and the idea is that you can't escape fate? There seems to be a lot going on but it is diffuse and not focused. Are there other hangers on? My understanding is there were always fans and gawkers hanging outside the Dakota - so how is it that this commotion does not raise any warning bells or confusion setting everyone there on alert? I don't think the "pocket of privacy" works since they just emerged from the cocoon of a limo and on their way behing gated fences) to the cocoon of their apartment. They have nothing BUT privacy.I like the idea but need to know if this is a supernatural type thing a la Stephen King's recent Kennedy assassination novel or something else.