Tuesday, December 15, 2009

19 Drop the Needle

TITLE: Sticks and Stones
GENRE: Mystery

Kai Hemming and Randi Green meet when Kai's broken coffee mug punctures the tire on her mini cooper. He puts on a spare and offers to lead her to Goodyear where he will buy her a new tire.

...He reminded me of a golden retriever. I just hoped he didn’t bite.

Kai gestured in his rear view mirror. My mini cooper inched up in back of his vehicle. The jeep peeled off from the traffic light and into traffic, laying a patch of rubber on the concrete.
Kai zoomed through the amber light at the corner of Dolefield and Painters Mills Roads leaving me behind.


Kai disappeared around the bend past the Owings Mills Metro station. The light finally turned green. I sped up. The mud flecked Jeep waited on the shoulder near Red Run Boulevard. The Jeep lurched into traffic as I approached. He veered right onto Lyons Mills Road. My wheels screeched into the turn.

“Why didn’t he take the direct route down McDonough Lane?” Perhaps the tire place was further north on Liberty Road.

Kai turned right onto Mays Chapel Road. Puddles of heat rose off the blacktop. We zigzagged past yellow grass, scrub pines and boulders. The 1900 acre Soldiers Delight Park would be a perfect place to dump a body. Rush hour traffic wouldn’t be cutting through the park for hours. My hand shook as I flipped on the radio, searching for something soothing.

Hey little girl is your daddy home. Did he go away and leave you all alone. I got a bad desire. I’m on fire. Tell me now baby is he good to you? Can he do to you the things that I do? I can take you higher. I’m on fire.


  1. I like this scene, but I'd like to get a little more into the head of the mc. Maybe a few more details about what she's feeling, something more descriptive from her point of view.

    I almost feel like the reader is removed from the character a bit, and with first person the reader should feel like they are the character. Some of it is in the wording - It doesn't sound natural for her to keep referring to him by his name, especially as she's basically thinking this to herself. And there are some small words that seem out of place for a person's voice (granted, I don't know this character well, yet - but someone who listens to the music playing at the end doesn't strike me as a person who generally uses the word, 'perhaps'.

  2. Hee. How did he see her in his rear view mirror, if she's in a little mini? :)

    Might want to alternate the beginnings of your paragraphs - seems to be a lot that start with "Kai".

    The setup here is great, and definitely I'm feeling the vulnerability of the pov character.

  3. The writing is clear and clean, but I have a few issues with this selection.

    The first paragraph threw me. I'm not certain a piece of ceramic from a coffee mug would puncture a tire. You might want to check on that. If they were very bald and thin, maybe.

    Secondly, the most glaring issue is all of the street names. It's almost like a MapQuest printout. Does the reader really need to know all those streets? I think that might be a turnoff for a lot of readers.

  4. I somewhat get the creepy feeling here. But I'm not 100% into it - not sure why.

    Kai gestured in his rear view mirror.

    LOL this reads like he flipped her the bird.

    Is there any particular reason she knows the park is 1900 acres? I love that she thinks it's a good body dumping ground.

    You have a lot of street and landmark names here that I pretty much skimmed over. If they are necessary to a later plot point, okay, but otherwise maybe keeping things a little more vague would be better. When I read tons of proper names like that it slows me down and makes me wonder if I need to remember them. For example, "Kai disappeared around the bend past the Owings Mills Metro station." could be "Kai disappeared around the next bend." Would help speed up the text and increase urgency as well.

    Nice job!

  5. I really like the first line. But I'm puzzled by how we get from there to Randi thinking about body-dumping, or (if she really thinks he might mean to do her in) she's turning on the radio instead of turning around and calling the cops.

  6. Not sure I get a sense of peril just because he's going a different route. Need something more, like her remembering some comment he made earlier that she now reconsiders, or her remembering she saw a glint of metal in his back seat, could it be a gun? She has the spare, so if she feels he's up to no good, why NOT turn around? Hate to see her go against her instincts just to get a new tire, which I agree--it's questionable if a coffee mug could puncture a tire. Also some critters are right. The names of the streets are very distracting and most likely unnecessary.

  7. Pace and tension 5 out of 10 stars. Major caveat with plot. I don't feel the danger. She is separate from this man in her own car. This doesn't allow the reader to stay interested because then it's hard to relate to her.

  8. Annoyance? Yes. Frustration? Yes. Danger? No.

    I'm just not feeling it. If she had any doubts about the safety of following him, she'd just not follow. She's in her own car, after all, and doesn't HAVE to follow him.

    Some good stuff here, but not danger. =D

  9. I agree with Joan. If she feels any danger or uncomfort, all she has to do is stop following him. She's safe in her own car.

    But what if she didn't have a spare? What if she had to get in his car and let him take her to the tire store to get a new one. That would change things because she no longer has any control.

    I did wonder why her thoughts suddenly turned to body dumping. Up to that point, I didn't see her as being concerned for her safety at all. If she is, make that clearer. Let her have a thought or two about it.

    As is, I'm not feeling any tension, danger, or suspense.

  10. I don't really feel any tension or danger here. She's in her own car. If she's so worried, why doesn't she just forget the tyre and drive away? If you want to heighten the sense of danger, put her in his car.

    Also, this read like a street directory. To someone who lives in your town, it might be interesting to trace the route in their head, but my eyes started glazing over with all the names. Finally, remember to capitalise proper nouns (i.e. Mini Cooper).

    I hope these comments don't come across as too harsh. With some adjustments, this could be a good tense part of your story.

  11. There were too many Huh? moments in this for me to buy the tension in this piece.

    First of all I was sceptical that a cup could puncture a tyre in the first place, then I struggled with the excessively detailed route she was taking (and ended up skimming it), and finally, was caught unawares by her sudden unexplained fear for her life.