Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drop the Needle #19

TITLE: Silver
GENRE: Science Fiction

Alinda is the head of the Peacekeep force, but she has just been forced out of her position by the city's corrupt governing body.

She stood there beside Oddo, gripping the crate she had filled with her belongings while she scanned her emptied office. He put a hand on her shoulder. “Maybe you’ll get back here. Once you’ve cleared up this mess with the Venerables. You could rescind the position and take this job back.”

“I could…” It was theoretically possible. And highly, highly unlikely. “I’d better hurry if I want to say goodbye to all the Cadets.” She glanced at the timepiece on her logbook. “Don’t you have to teach a class?”

“Garin’s going to cover for me,” he said. “I’m taking the rest of the day off.”

“Thank you.”

His hand tightened on her shoulder. “I could hardly leave you alone to all this.”

Turning her back on the office took tremendous effort, but once it was done Alinda walked briskly down the station hallway, Oddo at her side. All the Cadets were waiting for her just inside the entrance.

She knew a quick farewell would be easier. “Well,” she said. Her voice came out hoarse. “Keep up the good work. Don’t get lazy while I’m gone.”

Gerica stepped forward, her mouth drawn in a tight, determined line. She handed something to Alinda. “Just our little way of saying thanks. For reminding us what our job really is.”

Alinda looked down at the smooth little circle of stone, then flipped it over. It was a carving of the ancient symbol for three. The emblem of the Third, of justice and fair judgment.

“Thank you,” she said, wrapping her hand tightly around the stone. She couldn’t say anything more.


  1. I enjoyed this piece, the pacing is quick and the tense nature of the scene resonates. I thought the writing was very clean and polished. The only sentence that made me pauses was: "You could rescind the position and take this job back."

    This struck me as a little confusing. I wasn't clear on what he meant by "rescind the position." Did she accept another job to replace the one she lost? This confusion could be due to the fact it was taken out of context, but I wanted to point it out just in case.

  2. This is really polished, and I could keep up, even with being dropped into the middle of things. The symbolism of the gift is lost on me, yet I still feel its importance, which is really really cool! I think you could maybe get some more emotional impact for the scene, like how she couldn't say anything more at the end--what does she WANT to say? What's going through her mind? My nitpicky thing is that there are some extra words--the "there" in the first sentence, "a class" in the second, and "She knew" in "She knew a quick farewell..." But these are small things, really, and overall I enjoyed the scene. I had to read it a second time to actually find things to critique. :)

  3. Very nice scene. The present apparently means a lot to her. Something you might want to fix, though… she’s gripping the crate and walking down the hall carrying it. So how is it she’s able to accept the present?

  4. I enjoyed this too, even out of context it made sense, relatively speaking. :) Especially since we don't know why she was relieved of her position, but that's not what this scene is about necessarily.

    I like the sense of fellowship among the cadets. And it was easy to notice their affection for her.

    Just a few nitpicky things. The first paragraph, i think you should start a new one at "He put a hand on her shoulder." Because the first sentence follows another line of thought: her scanning her office.

    I sensed the cadets' affection for Alinda, but I would have liked more emotion from her since we're in her POV. She thanks Oddo for taking the rest of the day off, but it would help to know how she feels about that. Grateful, yes, but why? Is she lonely, sad, angry, relieved about having to leave her job? It's just a bit 1-dimensional in this short segment.

    That's really it. I thought it was very good. I'd read more. :)

  5. The first half worked better than the second for me. Once I got to "All the Cadets were waiting..." I could have written every beat of the rest of the excerpt, because it always plays this way in the movies and in so many books.

    You have it in your power to surprise us here, even if it does end with a the gift of the stone. You have other ways to reach the same endpoint, I think. Maybe she's afraid of her emotions, so she snaps at them, "Get back to class," and then has to backtrack when they present the gift. Or only one Cadet is present, watching for her to alert the others to come out and surprise her, and she wheels away because she doesn't want such a scene, and either Oddo forces her back or the Cadet runs after her. Or any of a dozen other ways of reaching this moment in a more circuitous fashion that will help us learn more about your MC in the process.

  6. It's easy to see that the gift the cadets give her matters and has import. You've done a nice job of making it take center stage. The overall piece could be stronger with a bit of showing, though.

    She scans the office, but you don't tell us what she sees, so there's no point in her scanning it. Perhaps show the empty office and give her a memory, or show what she feels now, knowing she'll never go back there. Either make more of it, or cut it.

    Turning her back on the office took tremendous effort. Instead of telling us, show it. SHow us how much this means to her, how hard it is to walk away. Does she feel sick to her stomach? Does it sadden her? What is she thinking and feeling?

    All of the cadets were waiting for her inside the foyer. Again, show it. Let us see them there. Are they eager to see her? Sad to see her go? What goes through her head when she sees them?

    You might also tell us what the ancient symbol for three is. (And you may have at an earlier point in the story.) But if you haven't, perhaps describe it here.

    And she couldn't say anything more. Again, perhaps show this. Let us see the emotions going through her. Does she tremble? Does she feel tears starting to form? Or is she strong and determined not to show any emotion?