Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drop the Needle: EXPLOSIONS! #6

TITLE: Suns Set Breach
GENRE: Suspense

Until now, the absolute worst moment of my life was the night that ended both my marriage to Colt Banning and my partnership at Wallace, Aikens, Shaw and Pernod. But today I’ve encountered a gorilla goon with an ankle pistol, a strange white van parked outside my home and now, well, now someone’s broken into my car. This officially qualifies as my worst ever moment.

The car key weighs heavily in my hand. “Why not, probably just my imagination on overload,” I whisper. I press down on the unlock button. There’s a click.

An instant later, a massive, thundering explosion rocks the garage. I crouch down, my hands fly up to cover my face and head. The garage fills with smoke, glass shards, tire scraps and itsy bits of Fit. My eyes burn. Tears cut through the dust coating my face as windshields crack and craze around me. Despite the heat, I break out in a cold sweat. I count until things stop falling – twelve seconds that seem like twelve hours. My hands drop to my side, twitching. I didn’t know my heart could beat this fast. I rise slowly to my full height of five foot four and it feels like too much.


Sharp flakes of blue car snow down upon me. The air is full of the scent of scorched fabric and burning fibers. My keys shake so loudly the jingling sounds like church bells. Or maybe that’s just the ringing in my ears.

“Got to get out of here,” I tell myself, instincts kicking in. I walk as fast as I can while trying not to attract attention. Maybe no one will notice the metallic powder and dirt covering every inch of me. I can’t stop coughing up big gobs of car crud.

Damn. I think I ingested an automobile.


  1. I like the descriptive passages and the setting as well as the great voice you have here.

    I'm just not quite sure I get the sequence of actions of the protagonist

    You show the instinctual reaction of ducking and covering your head. Yet you have them watching - because if they're not watching how do they know the windshields crack and craze? Do you need to, perhaps, describe the sound rather than give the visual?

    I'm also confused at the reaction of standing up straight before moving, It just seems more reasonable that they'd be cautious and crouch and check things were safe before standing all the way up.

    The reaction of "Got to get out of here!" is spot on as are all the internals. It's just the physical 'choreography' that threw me out.

  2. Your voice is casual, self-depreciating and easy to read. I appreciated your details. Since I assume that this is within the context of a MS, I wonder about the statement about the worst day ever. It seems to set the reader up for 'what's going to happen now?' If that's your intent, then, kudos! You did it. If you wanted to catch your reader off-guard, then the hints (like second guessing before hitting the button on the keyfob) need to be struck so that we can share in the WTF moment. Make sense? I hope so.


  3. I like the voice! Couple of really good bits: "I count until things stop falling – twelve seconds that seem like twelve hours." "I rise slowly to my full height of five foot four and it feels like too much."

    This sounds sorta like the first chapter, which may be why you didn't give a pre-story set-up, but if so there's some minor confusion.

    The goon encounter was before seeing the van at home, so was the goon encouter at home, too? Thought at first the explosion was in her garage, but I take it it's a parking garage. So probably need to refer to her being at work. (But then she lost her job, so what work would it be??)

    I guess she was standing far enough away not to get blown up, but if she were that far away, how did she know her car was broken into?

    Could add "instinctively" to "I crouch down..." What are "itsy bits of Fit"?

    "Sharp flakes of blue car" made me think metal fragments, and that didn't jibe with "snow down."

    "My keys shake so loudly.." She didn't drop them when she covered her face? Maybe say she had them in a death grip, or something.

    Love the last line, but maybe too soon after such a frightening event. (I'd be a basket case.)

    Nice job!

  4. Your descriptions are great! I get the feeling that this character is sort of "resigned" to her fate, if you will. She's just too calm in the face of her car exploding...and that makes me think this has happened before. Perhaps a bit too often. I don't know if you meant her comments to be comical, but I certainly got a chuckle out of them =)

  5. That is amazing. Amazing. IF I nitpick I'd say "crouch" is a pretty tame verb for just that moment. But, seriously, that's it.

    LOVE the voice, the character. LOVE!

  6. These comments are all incredibly helpful!

    This scene comes from the first chapter of the book - there's two pages with a touch more set-up, explaining why she's on her way to the parking garage. She initially walks to her car and peers in the window, cluing her into the fact there was a break in.

    Suns has a somewhat dark sense of humor and yes, her comments are meant to be comical.

    Itsy bits of Fit references her car (or what's left of the Honda Fit). The van was the first sign of problem, the goon with the gun the second sign of problem and the thing that sent her to her car.

    And Leah, thanks, you made my night!

  7. This may be totally me, but I don't know if she needs to whisper that line of dialogue outloud. I think it could just as easily be internal narrative, but still broken out the way it is for pacing/readability.

    I was a little stuck on whether it was HER car blowing up, because she clicks unlock and then an explosion rocks the garage. For me, the next line that she crouches then covers her face seemed like the explosion was further away than right in front of her with her own car. I think a few wording changes will clear this up. The physical reactions are great, maybe you only need to cut a few lines that show more distance (referring to the garage rather than her car or what's right in front of her). I hope it makes sense what I'm saying, just a few words in that early explosion description feel distanced rather than right in front of her.

  8. I thought the description of the explosion worked. It felt like an explosion.

    But I also got the sense she was right by the car when it exploded, which would blow her back, and not give her the opportunity to crouch down and avoid the blast.

    And I'd cut 'of five foot four.' Yeah, it gets her height in, but it's forced, and nobody thinks like that. Saying somewhere else that she's short would work just as well, or if you really need feet and inches, get it in somewhere else.

  9. Eh. I don't know what's striking me wrong. Can't tell if it's the silly ending, her nonchalantness to just witnessing a car exploding (and ingeting it) or the description of it happening. If shards of car bits are "raining down" on her, there should be some pain. It's on fire and cars aren't made of cotten. There's glass, plastics, metals. ANd they don't take all day to rain down. They fall hard adn fast. This scene is slow to me and I understand it feels slow to her. But it doesn't quite translate that. You need to make her awareness of it slow, but the actual action of it faster. Because, when a car blows up, it goes fast, big and loud!. Her reactions to it might feel long and drawn out, and that's to be expected. But there needs to be a distinct difference between what's going on in her head and what's really going on.

  10. The first paragraph leaves me thinking this is someone with a bit of serious, kind of hard-boiled attitude. Maybe-- it's not my usual genre so I may be completely off in what I'm thinking. However, the "This officially qualifies as my worst ever moment." sounds like something a younger person, maybe a teen, would say.

    I do like the description of the gorilla goon.

    I'm curious, when he/she hits the car key and the garage explodes, I'm wondering whether she anticated this, and perhaps should crouch down earlier, or if she should have some sort of panicked reaction, and we might see an emotion or two pop in as she's crouching.

    The last line did get me to laugh, and I like the character's voice-- though she does seem a bit distant from her emotions. Maybe a bit sarcastic/frustrated. I'd like to see a couple more moments of what she thinks about all this going on-- especially since it seems someone planned to kill her.

    Good luck with it. :-)

  11. I LOVE this. What really gets me goin is the pace!

    I guess I do need ONE more detail so I know that someone's broken into her car. I'm ASSUMING that she's standing at a distance, and she sees her car, and it looks tampered with. Then she presses the unlock button, and her car explodes. If that's true, how does she know someone's broken into her car?

    The explosion itself is gorgeous. I want to be able to write like that. I enjoyed the blending of personal observations (eyes burning, cold sweat) and external observations (glass shards, etc). I LOVE the ending.

    So yeah, just that one detail, and it would work perfectly for me!