Monday, May 27, 2019

Drop the Needle: ANGER #4

TITLE: Kingdom of the Keys: The Initiation
GENRE: MG Fantasy

Lead-in: The morning after learning that the book left by his elderly friend is a portal to an invisible realm, twelve-year-old Adam visits his neighbor and confronts him, struggling with underlying feelings of abandonment by a father he's never known.

“You knew but didn’t tell me?” Adam huffed. “How could you do that?”

Mr. King didn’t respond, but the circles under his eyes spoke of his exhaustion and his eyes told of a great sadness. Adam ignored them.

“Why would you leave and not tell me how it works?” He stomped to the kitchen table and fanned the book’s pages. “Must be nice someone cared enough about you to give you a heads-up, so you never wrote in it.”

The accusation shot out like an invisible blow. Mr. King flinched but remained silent.

“Fine! Don’t talk.” Adam slammed the book shut. “Just sit there, drink your coffee, and let your stupid orchids keep you company!” He marched to the door.   

“Adam . . . ” The weak plea traveled across the room. “I did not know how to explain the book to you. It was willed to me when I was just a boy.” 

Adam turned but only enough to see that his neighbor was still speaking to his cup. 

“Would you have believed me had I said something?”

Adam’s jaw clenched. He probably wouldn’t have believed the book was a portal. He would have thought the old man had gone senile. But that didn’t matter. Mr. King had stirred up feelings so painful, it was just easier to be angry.

“I don’t know if I would’ve believed you,” Adam snarled and grabbed the doorknob. “But we’ll never know because you didn’t care enough to stick around and try.”


  1. This was really interesting. Your prose is fluid and lucid, and the story feels engaging even in this short excerpt. My only small suggestions are as follows-

    1. You don't need this line- "The accusation shot out like an invisible blow. " The fact that Mr. King flinches tells me that he's been affected by the accusation. In fact, Mr. King's reaction reads much stronger if you don't preface it with this line.

    2. "The weak plea traveled across the room." This is another line that doesn't feel right. It's passive rather than active voice, and just doesn't sit well with the dialogue. Maybe try something like- "Adam..." Mr. king began, "I did not know-"

    Again, I enjoyed this excerpt. :)

    1. Thank you. I think your comments are spot-on!

  2. Interesting. I like the contrast of Adam's anger and Mr. King's sadness. The only question I have is whether someone his age (since it's MG, I assume he's younger) would be self-aware enough to understand all the reasons for his own anger. Sometimes it's hard for kids to articulate their feelings, even in their own thoughts. But that's only my impression from this little sample, so knowing the wider story might change that. Good luck!

    1. Great insight. Thank you. I agree. More subtly is needed.

      I will rework or delete the line: "Mr. King had stirred up feelings so painful, it was just easier to be angry."

      A more appropriate (and, most likely, the only necessary) "insight" is given at the close of the scene:

      He had no need of Mr. King’s help. He didn’t need help from anyone. It wasn’t like this was the first time someone had left him to figure things out on his own. After all, that’s exactly what his father had done.

      Thank you for your valuable input.

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