Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Drop the Needle: Death #13

TITLE: The White Phoenix
GENRE: Dark Fantasy

Silas has been stabbed and is reassuring Cassandra.

Cassandra said in a fragile voice, "Dear gods...I don't know what I'll do without you."

Silas grinned. "Easy...
You'll find someone who loves you...
maybe not as
much as me...
but loves you nonetheless...
have children...
and you'll
name one of them after me...
maybe two of them."

She smiled, and the tears kept falling.

"There..." he uttered softly. It all felt dreamlike. The pain drilling through his abdomen was perhaps the only thing keeping him grounded to reality. "That's all... I ever wanted to see."

She pressed her face into the side of his. He felt her wet lashes, her warm breaths, as they brushed against his cheek. "I love you, Silas," she whispered. "I love you so much."

have to go," he murmured. "You have to...
For me, Cassandra...
please live."

Moments passed, her eyes gazing deep into his. She then seized fistfuls of his hair in her trembling hands and pulled his lips to hers. He squeezed shut his eyes. Hot tears ran down his cheeks.

He was truly dying inside.

She broke their kiss, breathing heavily. "You can't do that." She drew her bottom lip between her teeth. "You can't ask me to leave you here to die, and then ask me to live."

He held either side of her face. "I, Cassandra." His mouth covered hers in a heated kiss. He held her tight, and he held her close. He wished he never had to let go of her.

If only death were not so lonely.


  1. I kinda thought there were too many elipses, which pushed the piece closer to melodrama, IMO. I think some simple beats (He took a shuddering breath, e.g.) and fragmented speech would establish he's weak without having to use elipses.

    Other than that I thought it was very good up until she tells him she loves him...and then I felt you might've belabored the point a bit towards the end.

    Also, their dialogue felt...somehow impersonal. I don't get a sense of what brought this about, or why she's watching him die instead of going for help, or why she thinks she can't live without him, or why he's being so noble in his last minutes, or whether they felt romance actually had a future.

    The setup is ripe with emotion, and I think personalizing their last words to each other with details and more character idiosyncrasies would really help.

  2. Thank you for your input, fairchild. :) I was hoping I would be able to post this before anyone critiqued, but I'm sorry I didn't make it in time.

    The bot thought I had a lot more words than I actually did, so I had to cut a good chunk of the lead-in. I'd still like to clarify (and I hope this is okay) by posting the original lead-in I had:

    The palace is collapsing around them. Wounded, Silas doesn’t want to slow Cassandra down in her escape. However, she’s feared by all because of her magic and doesn’t want to lose the only person who loves her.

    I hope that makes more sense. Sorry!

  3. Ah! That makes a difference. As I said, the setup is an emotional one, and in that context I think it's more tragic than melodramatic.

    You might also have had her mention in dialogue that no one loves her but him, which elaborates on her first line. Plus, there could be some sensory details as to the (noisy) destruction going on around them, which could add to the line about keeping Silas grounded in reality.

    But, I understand the difficulty of choosing the right 250 words. Some stuff's bound to get lost in the edit.

    Good luck with your manuscript. :)

  4. I really liked this, it was realistic and well-written. The only problem was Silas telling her to live. And phrasing it that way. I mean, I can get why he would, and it's emotion, I suppose, but it's the sort of thing that makes me roll my eyes. To the unjaded reader who's never read a death scene before, it could work.
    I really liked the kiss, too. It drew me out of my eyeroll and pulled me back into the story in a powerful way.
    All in all, based on this scene, I would definitely read the book. :)

  5. This is very well written. I feel like I know these characters, and I especially like that we stay inside the dying character, instead of switching to the living one. Love the last line.
    Very strong emotions here. A little too strong for my taste. It does tend a bit too much toward melodrama. But then, Melodrama does sell very well.
    Besides. this is probably coming at the end of the book, right? It feels like the end of a book, or a movie. Even a jaded reader like me can usually forgive a little melodramatic kissing scene at the end. If I have enjoyed the book up to now, this would certainly be a satisfying ending.

  6. Very romantic. There were two parts that sort of slowed me down though. When she kisses him it feels like she's going to leave like he asked, not stay--like it's her goodbye kiss. You also say he held her tightly but if he's dying, I wonder if he would have the strength to do so.