Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drop the Needle: EXPLOSIONS! #17


Cassie and Luka, a member of an alien species known as megobari, have just ejected from the megobarian ship Pilgrimage, crash landing on an uninhabitable moon. The Pilgrimage is being attacked by a rival alien species, the vrag. Luka's entire family is on board.

Then I saw it: the megobarian ship, racing across the sky like a white comet, trailing fire and debris.

It wasn't alone. A massive shadow dwarfed the Pilgrimage like something out of a nightmare.

The Pilgrimage couldn't possibly get away. It descended low into the atmosphere, growing larger and circling back towards us.

The vrag ship didn't change course. They knew the megobari had nowhere to go.

"No, no, no," Luka whispered. "What are you doing?"

"They're headed straight for it." I couldn't breathe. "Oh, my God, they're doing it on purpose. They’re going to ram the vrag ship."

He sprang forward, as if he could reach out and physically stop it with his bare hands. "No. Don't you dare. Don't you dare!"

The vrag ship opened fire.

Bursts of fire lit the sky like daylight, shrapnel dripping from hunks of molten metal. The little white ship shattered into pieces.

The vrag ship hovered momentarily, making sure its quarry was dead. Then it disappeared again into the black.

The shockwave rippled over us a few seconds later, blowing chunks of rock against my helmet and knocking on my back.

The broken pieces of the Pilgrimage seemed to hover in the sky, falling too slowly into the weak gravity well of Aran.

"Escape pods," I whispered. "Do you see any?"

Luka acted like he hadn't heard me. But then his hand reached up, activating his comm. Listened.

I waited, shaking, as burning debris fell over Luka's head like a halo of hell.


  1. Even not knowing Luka very well, I really sympathized with him & feel invested in whether or not any of his family survives.

    The main character doesn't give me many glimpses into her personality in this scene, though, and I'd love more of her thoughts - especially right after the Megobarian ship explodes.

    The short paragraphs distracted me. Just as long paragraphs can put people to sleep, many short ones in a row can feel choppy.

    The last line, with the "halo of hell" - I really liked the paradox of that.

  2. Favorite line: Halo of Hell

    The flow wasn't quite right here. I get the panic but you need to vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs.


  3. I like the imagery we get from the scene, but the super short paragraphs made it hard for me to follow. I would definitely suggest merging a few paragraphs and varying sentence structure a bit for clarity.

    There's a strong sense of hopelessness coming from the scene, and you're descriptors are great. I would be curious to see how this reads once the flow has been changed a bit.

    Good luck with it. :-)

  4. "racing across the sky like a white comet" -- brought Chronicles of Riddick instantly to mind

    I think as a reader I really needed to know why Luka ejected but his family could not--hopefully the surrounding scene takes care of that.

    "shrapnel dripping from hunks of molten metal." -- watch these word choices; shrapnel is actually fragments of metal, and commonly associated with flying bits of metal, so it is muddled when combined with molten and dripping.

    This might seem like a nitpicky detail to point out, but given the quality of the writing, this is the very sort of thing that, in my opinion, will elevate the writing to the next plateau. We want surprising juxtapositions but not contradicting ones.

    "Escape pods," I whispered. "Do you see any?" -- loved
    "halo of hell" -- loved

    I would certainly read on, without pause.

  5. Awe.Some. So many great images, so much intensity! I don't even know these guys and I'm devastated at the end of 250 words. This rocks.

    My one real criticism, and anyone who knows my writing will die laughing at this--is that there are too many short paragraphs. I'm a huge fan of the short paragraph, but they were ALL short paragraphs here to the point of being distracting.

    Other than that, where's the rest and when do we get to read it?

  6. There's some great description here, though I agree with the previous commenters about the short paragraphs. On a sentence-to-sentence basis, I think that you could use a little more variation, too. A lot of consecutive sentences here start with "The," so maybe you could change that up a bit. I also found that the repetition of "fire" in these two sentences dulled the impact of the word: "The vrag ship opened fire. Bursts of fire lit the sky like daylight..."

    Overall this seems really promising--best of luck with it!

  7. I think you use dialogue really well in this scene to get across emotion without telling. it's natural, and I feel instant sympathy for Luka, and I share the main character's tension. This is largely a good scene.

    I think on the whole, you use short paragraphs to good effect, keeping the pace quick and the mood tense.

    I think I would have liked a little more sensation, particularly when the shockwave hits them -- at this point, you are telling where you should be showing, I think. Do they try to take cover? Does it hurt to be hit by the rocks?

    But all in all, very good. I'm impressed by how easily I followed this, considering its obviously from further in, and this is a proper sci-fi.

    Loved 'halo of hell', by the way.

  8. I'm no expert on sci-fi, but this is nice. I like the urgency of it, and the high emotions work well for the situation.

    The only nitpick I have is probably just me, but it's difficult for me to visualize the larger ship as a shadow, when the sky is already dark. How did the two on the moon even see it in that case?

    I would like to see more reactions to the debris as it descends on them. It seems a little matter-of-fact as is, but perhaps you cut some to fit it into the word limit.

  9. This is a very intense scene that pulled me in and made me care about the characters. Great job!

    There were only a few places where you lost me and I wasn't sure which ship you were talking about. "They're headed straight for it," could use some context. Who is headed for what? You explain it right away, but in that instant, it pulls me out of the action and makes me wonder who shes talking about.

    I agree that the short paragraphs made it feel choppy and I had problems with the "dripping chunks of shrapnel" as well.

    I think you accomplished that hardest thing, and that's getting us to invest emotionally in the characters.

    Good luck with this. I can't wait to read the rest of it.

  10. Hiya! Great scene.

    First off, I don't like how short each paragraph is. It makes the flow of the scene very stilted and hard to follow.

    Next, I think more detail could be placed here and there. For example, when your main character realizes what the megobari ship is planning, we see no internal thought about it. I really want to get a sense of who these characters are, of their internal thoughts. It's first person, so of course we only get to see the outer reaction of Luka, but maybe he does something that will let us understand how devastated he is. Same for Cassie. I want to know what this explosion is costing her.

    Other than that, I like this scene a lot. It is clear what is happening, even if we don't feel the incredible aftermath of it, their desperation.