Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drop the Needle: EXPLOSIONS! #20


Space pirates escaping with contraband on board are being fired on by a warship from the planet below.

“Hang on, we’re going to crash,” Tobias said bracing himself and cutting power.

Mac grabbed the sides of the seat as the horizon loomed in front of them. She shut her eyes waiting for the crash. A careening whine made her open her eyes again.

“Incoming,” Zav shouted as the Demiatrix shuttle gained on them. A blast of gunfire shot past them.

“If they hit us, we’re goners,” Donel put in. Mac stared at him. Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

A large expanse of sand loomed ahead of them. To the right, Mac spotted a small grove of trees, or what looked like trees. “There, to the right,” she indicated. “Make for the grove, at least we won’t be out in the open.” Tobias turned the shuttle and flew toward the trees.

Unfortunately the Demiatrix shuttle fired on them at the same time and they began to careen out of control directly toward the trees at full speed.

Tobias was no longer in the pilot's seat and she heard a sickening sound of metal being twisted in ways it wasn’t supposed to be twisted in. She smelled something burning and felt the front of the shuttle collapse like a day-old pastry as it smacked against a tree. Intense brief pain caused Mac to scream before everything went black.


  1. I think you could be more specific. What kind of intense brief pain? Where? Where is the gunfire hitting the ship?

    Also, watch how many times you describe the horizon and use the word "loom".

    And something that is careening out of control can't, I don't think, be going directly in any one direction. It seems confusing and contridictory.

  2. SPACE PIRATES! *Goody*

    Okay, now that I have that out of the way . . .

    Because I'm a geek AND a nerd, I wonder how Tobias can simultaneously brace himself and cut power. Also, I want to SEE Tobias do these things. Lock his elbows? Plant his feet on the floorboard? Tangling his arms into the forgotten seat restraints? SHOW ME.

    In fact, that could be my entire entry. SHOW ME.

    Show me how Mac is riding rough in that seat, her knuckles white and her eyes pinched closed until that careening whine forced them open again.

    Show me the color, the shape, the sound of the gunfire that shot past them.

    Show me how they turned, how they were thrown in their seats, how the impact of the blast 'careened' them.

    Now I'm beating the horse. Poor thing. I think its dead.

    One more thought, "To the right" doesn't need to be said twice. Tighten that up.

    Oh, and watch lots of Firefly. ;)

    Love your concept. Just show me more. I want to SEE it.


  3. Spaaaaace pirates!! Yes!

    I need to echo MommyMagic about the showing, though. I felt very distanced from this event, even though it had the potential to be truly exciting.

    Also, watch out for distancing phrases like "she heard" and "she saw." We're in Mac's POV; so if something is being heard or seen, of course Mac is the one observing it. Don't keep the reader at arm's length; let us in.

    I'd trim some of those needless dialogue tags, too. (Example: "'Hang on, we're going to crash!' Tobias braced himself (on what?) and cut the power (to the shuttle? Why?)."

  4. This looks like it could be really fun, but it needs more action and not so much telling. Even in the first sentence Tobias says his line, but he only "said" it. If a ship were crashing or going down, wouldn't he be in panic mode? Maybe something like:

    "Hang on, we're going to crash." Tobias braced himself, jamming his feet to the floor and locking his knees for the impact as he cut the power.

    I think it has potential, but needs more action somehow. Overall it's a great idea though. Space pirates are exciting!!!! Good luck.

  5. "Space pirates escaping with contraband" -- hooked! Tee hee.

    "careening whine" -- careen means to lean or fall to the side, so I can't really connect that with a sound unless the narrator gives me a metaphor to do the work.

    "felt the front of the shuttle collapse like a day-old pastry" -- ooh, these are fun juxtaposed together! But there's something missing because I can't connect them on my own; I need the narrator to give me a clue. Like a day-old pastry after it comes out of the microwave? A day-old pastry that Aunt Sue didn't see before settling on the sofa?

    Fun premise. Can't go wrong with space pirates. It's a perfect solution: just add ninjas :)

  6. Wow, Tobias seems completely calm when I read that line. If that's what you were going for, I wouldn't change it, because I kind of like the image of a guy casually working on a ship about to crash. If that's not what you were going for, you might show him panicking a bit before he speaks.

    "Mac grabbed the sides of the seat as the horizon loomed in front of them. She shut her eyes waiting for the crash. A careening whine made her open her eyes again." I like the first sentence, but afterwards, each of the sentences have the same structure and sound. Try shortening or lengthening a couple of the sentence, or rewording it a bit for smoother reading.

    gained on them/shot past them. I'd cut the second "them" to avoid repetition. Same with "loomed ahead of them."

    "Unfortunately the Demiatrix shuttle fired on them at the same time and they began to careen out of control directly toward the trees at full speed."

    Personally I'd cut 'unfortunately' and 'began,' and try to reword it so the actions are taking place at the same time we're reading it.

    The last sentence feels similar to the previous one, and also feels like I'm being told what's happening, rather than seeing it. Maybe something like: "Mac screamed at a bout of intense, brief pain, then everything went black."

    I think the scene definitely has potential, and if you can raise the character's personal stakes as they struggle to safely land, it could read very quickly. Good luck with it. :-)

  7. I agree with the above, this need more showing and less telling.

    And also "Yay, Space Pirates!'

  8. Space Pirates!!!! I love space pirates!!

    However, these space pirates aren't very space piratey. Unless that involves falling out of the sky so often that it's become no big deal. Look at some of the examples:

    "Horizon loomed" when we're talking about a falling spaceship stopped me. The horizon is a specific view that I wouldn't think you could see until you were well into the atmosphere.

    "She shut her eyes waiting for the crash. A careening whine made her open her eyes again."

    There's no emotion, no atmosphere, no tension here. It's just...there. We're falling from the sky! Surely there's SOME excitement, right? You're not even showing what she's doing in that second sentence, you're showing what the whine is doing to her. Is the whine your character?

    "A large expanse of sand loomed ahead of them."

    Lots of things around here are "looming".

    "she indicated. “Make for the grove, at least we won’t be out in the open.” Tobias turned"

    Look at your verbs here. "indicated." "turned." Those are drawing-room-tea verbs. Not space-pirates-falling-from-the-sky verbs.

    "Unfortunately the..."

    Yes. That's unfortunate. Cucumber sandwich?

    "Intense brief pain caused Mac to scream"

    "Intense brief" is blah and odd. And again you're not telling us what Mac's doing. Now it's what the pain's doing. These are passive constructions. Your character should be the active one here, not the pain or the whine or the whatever.

    Give me an exciting pirate spaceship crash and I'm all in!

  9. Space pirates, awesome! Makes me think of Firefly. Chases are always exciting and there's a lot of great stuff happening here, but I think you could ratchet up the tension and excitement with a few more details.

    I wanted to see a little more of the characters so I could get a better sense of who they were. Since we're in Mac's POV, I think we should be in Mac's head a bit more. How does she feel about what's going on? We should see more of her fear and worry. We see a little of it, but I think we need a lot more.

    I'd like to get a better sense of where the ship is going down. Is this earth or another planet? Since you mention sand, are we in the middle of a desert?

    "The trees" is repeated too many times. Could you substitute a mass of greenery or or something else?

    When the blast of fire shoots past them, does it have any affect on the ship? Is there a jolt or does the ship lurch to the side?

    When Mac feels pain, I'd like to get a sense of what part of her body the pain is coming from.

    Good luck!

  10. I agree with much of the above, except the part about watching lots of "Firefly." You can develop your own universe.

    Instead of the line about the day-old pastry, try using something out of their universe. Perhaps crumpled like the ration bars they had to eat. Or crumpled like the carton of tobacco leaf they were smuggling.