Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drop the Needle #11

GENRE: YA Science Fiction

To avoid an arranged marriage based on genetics and required participation in an experiment to explain why humanity’s birthrate came to a sudden, screeching halt, 16-year-old Cadi escapes and is forced to rely on family she barely knows to evade recapture.

“I can’t take your car,” I whisper as I stare at him. “You love it. Dad said it’s your prized possession.”

“Possessions don’t mean anything compared to family,” Grandpa says firmly. “Just think of it as 16 years of missed birthdays and Christmas’s. It’s yours now.”

He nods at Jack and I feel tears sting the corner of my eyes. “Teach her to drive it,” he orders. “Safely,” he cautions. “I’d teach Cadi myself, but we don’t have time. So it’s up to you.”

“Yes sir,” Jack says solemnly.

“It’s old enough that it’s not registered, so it should be discreet,” Grandpa continues, but I can barely hear him. I just stare at this person I hardly know, that I’d never even thought of before yesterday, but who has clearly thought of me for years. I imagine him on holidays with my parents; considering the fact that I was missed, without knowing I was even thought of.

Still unable to speak, instead I close the distance between myself and my grandfather and throw my arms around him. He hugs me back tightly. He smells like wood and some kind of spice. I bury my face in his soft, worn shirt.

“Thank you,” I finally choke out as tears streak down my cheeks.

“Hey now,” Grandpa replies, patting my back. “None of that. You’re my granddaughter, I’d help you build a bridge to the moon if you wanted one. Don’t thank me. I should have broken you out years ago.”


  1. This is just beautiful. I love the narrator's realization of her grandfather's love for her.

    A few thoughts - you might want to simplify your dialogue tags. Most of the time your best bet is just "says" rather than words like "orders" or "cautions." They end up just being distracting.

    Also, I had to read the sentence starting with "I imagine him on holidays" several times before I could get the meaning. You might want to re-work it, maybe divide it into more than one sentence.

    Good luck!

  2. I agree, this is a great moment, telling a lot about eh characters. I like that the grandfather feels guilty for his inaction, though at the same time, if he would build her a bridge to the moon if she wanted one, why didn't he take action earlier? It kind of makes me think that comment might be insincere. Not sure.

  3. This is a good scene showing Cadi learning what people would do for family. Some nit-picky things, though:

    Each paragraph should be for ONE person to indicate who is talking. So when Grandpa is nodding at Jack, Cadi’s tears shouldn’t come into play (it confused me as to who was speaking at first).

    Your tags could use some work. “Said” (or “says” in your case) works better than “orders” or “cautions.” Even better, just use action tags. So in that same paragraph where Grandpa nods, he could lift a finger and wag it (or maybe he pokes Jack in the chest), instead of putting “he cautions” (which is speculative on the narrator’s part anyway).

    Linsdsay, above, does make a good point about Grandpa's sincerity. Why DID he wait so long? Wouldn't Cadi wonder about that? Something to consider...

  4. I really like the premise for this. It could make a really interesting book.

    I would just read through and look for any way to tighten up your writing. The less words you can use, while still getting your point across, the better. In the "teach her to drive it" speech you can take out both dialogue tags completely and still make sense.

    You can also take out words like so, just, and even. They seem to add emphasis, but often tighter writing makes the stronger point.

  5. Solid scene. In particular I'd second Heather's comments. This is also the first entry I've read today that uses the sense of smell, and one of the few that uses touch. That's a real strength to draw on.

    You might watch out for adverbs (I have a bit of a problem here too, so maybe I'm hyper-alert for them). They are shortcuts that replace specific description with general feelings. Firmly, finally, solemnly. Describe the action rather than summarize.

  6. I thought the writing was pretty smooth I this and makes me want to read more about this character, her world, and how hopefully she'll overcome it.

    And the grandpa made me smile. I like his character too.

  7. This works well content wise, I think, but you could clean up the writing.

    Parg 1 - cut 'as I stare at him.' since it's assumed she's looking at the person she's speaking to.

    Parg 2 - cut 'firmly."

    Parg 3 cut "I feel" Again, it is assumed. Cut 'he orders' and 'he cautions.' The dialogue itself says how he says it. Change 'Cadi' to 'her.'

    Parg 4 - cut 'solemnly.'

    Parg 5 - I'd keep the 'just' and 'even' because it lends itself to characterization, although normally, you don't need them.

    Parg 6 - Still unable to speak, instead I close the distance between myself and my grandfather and throw my arms around him. Perhaps - Unable to speak, I close the distance between us and throw my arms around him.