Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drop the Needle: Anger #7

TITLE: Hunted
GENRE: Epic Fantasy

As a result of an injury, Jim was cut from his NBA team midseason. He wants to position himself to get picked up by another organization and thinks his brother can help him. 

"I just wanted to talk to you for a sec," Jim said.

"Talk away." His brother picked up another plate, piled it with a variety of stuffed pastries, a handful of baby carrots, and a couple cauliflower clumps, then spooned dip into the center.

"Maybe someplace a little more private." Jim edged toward the patio.

"If this is about the golf tournament, my hands are tied."

As his brother added more food to his plate, Jim turned his back on the crowd and lowered his voice another notch. "Somebody in your office must have made a mistake. I confirmed with the steering committee months ago."

"Months ago you were the perfect fit for a celebrity golf tournament." His brother popped a stuffed mushroom into his mouth.

"I'll find another team."

"How many players get picked up mid-season?"

"Iverson did, and Terry."

"Ancient history." Eddie bit into a cracker slathered with cheese.

Jim set his plate of uneaten hors d'oeuvres on the table. "If I'm scheduled to play in your tournament, people will know my knee is okay and—"

"But it's not."

"It will be." It had to be. Jim needed basketball. Whatever it took to get back in the game, he’d do it—hire a personal trainer, work out twenty-four/seven, anything.

Eddie swiped a napkin over his mouth. "I hope your knee will heal, little brother, I really do. But the committee can't wait. They want a star they can promote now. You know, somebody who's actually playing."

Jim took a strangle-hold on his paper cup. How could Eddie of all people talk about him not playing? This was the guy who had failed every attempt to make it to the pros, and now he wanted to pass judgment on Jim? If he didn't need his help . . .

But the truth was, Eddie was his only ticket into the tournament. "You could use your influence to convince them—"

His brother held up a hand. "Only high-profile celebs bring in the kind of donations we need."

"All I'm looking for is some positive publicity." Jim crumpled his empty cup.

"Have you thought about doing something else? Maybe coaching?"

"I'm a player, Eddie, a basketball player." Jim slammed his wadded cup into the trash. Maybe event managers could switch jobs to advertising or PR, but basketball players—the gym-rat kind like he was—stuck with the game they lived for.

"Lighten up, little brother, I'm just trying to help."

"Great, then you can get me into the tournament."

"No chance."

"Yeah, okay. Thanks for all that help." Jim headed for the door before his sarcasm turned to something uglier.


  1. from pilgrimsoul

    When I saw Epic Fantasy I was expecting a different tone and I guess a different setting. While the confounding of my expectations was intriguing, I had a hard time identifying with the anger experienced. I also felt the lack of context/introduction and was so grateful that Authoress let me add mine! #3 if you are interested

  2. I felt like this needed to be tightened and then a bit more rage would fit in better. All the asides about the buffet (now I'm hungry) could be cut back and then Jim might be able to show more emotion. Maybe grit his teeth, have some more internal dialog (ex: How could Eddie of all people talk about him not playing? He had been the one to sink ten three-pointers in one game. He'd made twenty completions post-season. Jim had passed him in all the records and now he wanted to pass judgment? -- sorry, I don't know much basketball wording, but maybe you get my picture here??)

    Anyway, good luck with your project.

  3. Overall I liked the ‘slow burn’ kind of vibe here. Jim’s building anger is reflected nicely in the slow destruction of the paper cup.

    A little more sense of what Eddie’s deeper motivations are could spark things up a bit. Perhaps a reference to Eddie’s tone of voice or manner in which he looks or doesn’t look at Jim during the conversation. Something remembered from a similar incident when they were kids when Eddie is deliberately trying to put Jim down.

  4. Not a whole lot of visible anger here, but very realistic dialogue. I assume Jim's trying to maintain control, but a few interior thoughts might up the tension.

    I get easily sidetracked by visuals. Pastries followed by carrots and dip stopped me. Maybe load up plate with veggies first then add the pastries. Or add the veggies as an afterthought.

    You do a great job of interspersing the noshing action in with the dialogue.

    I like the follow-through with the cup, but the strangle-hold would have crumpled it right there. Maybe "Jim emptied his paper cup in one gulp." Then crumple, then toss.

    Do you need an "are" here? ...but basketball players—the gym-rat kind like he was—ARE stuck with the game they lived for.

  5. I thought this was great. Eddie's lack of compassion, his focus on the buffet rather than giving his full attention to something so important to Jim, and his glib comments to his 'little brother' all set the groundwork for Jim's anger. I thought the physical details you sprinkled in were effective and not over-the-top.

    I didn't get how the genre related to the story, but I enjoyed the scene anyway!

  6. Thank you so much for the constructive criticism and the encouragement. Much appreciated!

    I realize the genre description above and the scene itself don't seem to go together. I should have put in the set up that this scene takes place before Jim falls into a parallel world. I'm sorry for throwing you all off.

  7. I thought this was done well and that it works. A few nits--

    Parg 13 - HE needed basketball. He wouldn't think of himself as Jim.

    Parg 15 - This was the guy who had failed every attempt to make it to the pros, PERIOD Now he wants to pass judgment on ME? If I didn't need his help . . . Make these last two sentences his direct thoughts and put them in italics, then you don't have to worry about the he's and him's.

    Parg 16 - Cut - But the truth was, Eddie was his only ticket into the tournament. This is made evident in the previous sentence in the last parg.

    Parg 20 - the gym-rat kind like HIM

  8. This largely works, though as another commentator has mentioned before, the genre seems jarring. Granted my view of Epic Fantasy is pretty limited in scope - but the tone doesn't fit the genre at all.

    Secondly, this needs parring down. You should go through and critically evaluate each and every sentence to figure out what is needed and what isn't. There isn't anything wrong with any of these sentences per say (except for the food descriptions, which I'll get to below), but the pace is too slow, and while there were flashes of anger, it could be more concentrated and effective

    Lastly, I agree with the commentators about the food descriptions. Realistically, given Jim's anger, would he notice every single item on his brother's plate, and how it is being consumed?

    Your writing is solid, it just needs editing. Best of luck with this :)