Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Drop the Needle: Death #29

TITLE: Children of the Powder Keg War
GENRE: Science Fiction

(A group of inner-city teenagers. Rashid can literally sense emotions. His girlfriend, Latisha, has gone missing.)

As the night wore on, they patrolled the neighborhoods tirelessly. Rashid and Luke kept their eyes peeled toward their surroundings, and every time a female figure appeared spikes of hope ricocheted in the atmosphere sending tremors through Rashid's being until, eventually, they died.

They came to an intersection they'd been at three times before already. Rashid sensed Luke's restless urgency wane into dismay.

"Any vibes?" Luke asked.

Rashid shook his head. They'd made a left turn at the intersection before and a right turn, but they never went straight ahead.

"Let's go out to Jericho Hills," Rashid said.

Luke's gaze shot to Rashid. His blue eyes filled with as much confusion and dread as Rashid felt wafting from him. "Jericho? Why?" he asked.

"That's where her dad lives."

"What? Hold up. First, how the hell do you know that? Second, you think her dad might've--"

Rashid's cell phone rang and he yanked it out of his pocket to answer. "Hello? Hello?"

In the silence that followed, dizzying tidal waves of anguish and horror flooded Rashid, drowning out any sense of time or place.

"Rashid..." Nina cried; her voice was a mere whisper amidst the crashes of grief hitting Rashid. "Rashid, they found her body."

That was all Nina could say before she broke down over the phone.

Rashid dropped his cell phone. Luke grabbed his shoulder and shook
him. He was shouting something, but Rashid couldn't hear it. He
couldn't even feel the panic and frenzy of his friend. He couldn't
feel anything. He went completely numb.


  1. This is an odd selection for me. You have a lot of pre-death stuff and then suddenly there is a phone call and we find out someone is dead. Now, I know this is hard to make realistic in only 250 words, but I would have liked to see (feel) more emotions.

  2. I really liked it - hooked, intense, interesting - up until the last paragraph. Shock is one of the hardest things to write, because it happens so quickly and can be so strong, but that last sentence was a bit cliche. Not enough to annoy me, but maybe less is more? Random suggestion: stop after after 'something' in the last paragraph. Or... the terms anic and frenzy are unnecessary, we can imagine what the feelings would be, I think maybe just the detail that he suddenly couldn't feel others emotions would be enough.
    I still really really liked it though. You did a fantastic job!

  3. Firstly, I have to tell you that I would pick up the book on title alone. 'Children of the Powder Keg War' is a great title. When you get to the final stages of publishing, fight for it if anyone tries to get you to change it!

    As for the excerpt...

    How to you pronounce Rashid's name? That's pure curiosity. I'm assuming Rash-EED.

    I would have liked to know the name of the streets that make up the intersection simply because they've been there three times. Also, wouldn't it be two? When they arrived the first time, they turned right (or left) and the second left (or right) and this arrival would be the third. Right? I'm awful at math so maybe I've just misread something.

    And I'd say 'but they had never gone straight ahead' or 'they'd never gone straight' I'm not sure that it's any more 'correct' but it would sound better. (To me, anyway)

    I'd like to know more about how Rashid can 'feel' Nina's emotions over the phone. Feeling the emotions of someone in his presence makes total sense to me. But over the phone seems strange. Now if this is explained elsewhere in the ms ignore that comment.

    Overall I liked it and I'd read on. I really want to know what happened to Latisha.

  4. I like this. Especially that first paragraph sets the scene for the dread Rashid is trying to control.

    The most major problem, I think, is that I can't figure out if they found his girlfriend's body at her dad's house or someplace else. If it was someplace else, I don't think there's much point mentioning her dad (unless it's a clue--that he was involved).

  5. This is a good scene. We know both characters are looking for someone. We can also feel the expectation.

    I'd like to know the reason for the turn around the corner, but never going straight. I'd also like more of a visual. Where are they exactly? What does the area look like? You also tend to lead the reader by the hand when the words "confusion" "dread" "Dismay",
    or "dizzying tidal waves of anguish and horror flooded..."
    Show....don't tell....

    I liked the scene and would continue to read more.

    Good luck!

  6. I agree with Bethany Elizabeth - on this whole, this is pretty good, but the last paragraph doesn't feel quite right. Shock is really hard to pull off in the POV character, because people in shock don't describe things very well (if at all).

    Good luck with this. And I love the title, too. (Actually, it was the thing that made me stop to read the rest of the excerpt.)

  7. So much that I liked in here, but something was setting my back ajar. I finally decided that it was the wording of parts that grated for me, IMO. "dizzying tidal waves of anguish and horror flooded..." "amidst the crashes of grief hitting..." The metaphor isn't working for me. I would have rather been in his head, in his body, in his words rather than a narrator with a different stylized voice.

    The writing is so sweet, so lovely, so simple and I loved it. Can we not feel his grief in the same simplicity and directness? That's what I wanted to feel, to read.

    I also have a niggling feeling that I might need to be watching my own work for this type of problem.

    Again, simply my opinion. If it helps great, if it doesn't toss it away without a thought okay?

  8. Thank you all very much for your critiques! This has been very helpful. :) I'll definitely ease up on spelling out the emotions in the scene and work on polishing that final paragraph.

    @A.Grey: I guess I suck at math! lol. You're right it should be twice. (P.S. It's, indeed, pronounced Rash-EED)

    @Lyla: Yeppers. Dad's a clue.