Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tiny Drop the Needle #2

TITLE: the magic withheld
GENRE: urban fantasy

Justus reluctantly hired Sable as a favor to friends. He just realized she is the powerful sorceress he saw a week before.

She nodded, glancing at the silent Justus. "I suppose so," she said slowly. She lifted her arm to adjust the silver charms and they jangled and chimed. The movement caught his full attention as she adjusted the charms and metal links of half a dozen bands encircling her arm and wrist.

The turquoise color of her blouse against the silver bands, the musical chimes as the bracelets moved up her arm and the figure of a young woman helping an old man to stand; it was all a part of the dark night and combined with the remembered sounds of the muggers. The chair thumped to the floor when he stood abruptly and two pairs of startled eyes jerked to him.

Hoarsely he said, "You were at the concert."

"The concert? Last week you mean. I didn't go, I was outside." she stopped and stared at him. "You," she breathed, staring at him. "It was you there."

"Huh, strange that you show up here a couple days later." His voice trailed off as her face turned hard, and her mouth firmed into a line of anger. Justus looked at her puzzled. "What?"

"You. Didn't. Do. Anything." Her voice was fire-hot, low and furious. "You just left. And that old man; you just left him there."

Justus stood for a moment staring at her astonished and then felt a burst of anger. He flicked a finger at the scratch on his cheek. "How do you think I got this? Playing shadow-puppets?"


  1. First off, let me say I'm a fan of the name "Justus," spelled that way--I have a 4 yo son, named Justus. But too much "usting" (adjusted, adjust + the name) distracted me.

    Nice conflict, tension and dialogue. You might want to ax some of the adverbs.

    In the fourth paragraph there's a lot of "staring" going on. And then some more staring a little later. Watch word echos.

    Justus looked at her, puzzled. (I added a comma) You have a sentence pattern going here: staring at her astonished . . . see what I mean?

    Tighten up your writing a bit and you'll have a gripping scene!

  2. I agree with Michelle, for the most part, but I'd just like to add one more thing in the first paragraph,

    "...the silver charms and they jangled and chimed." This is a run-on, so I'd add a comma after charms. Maybe you could even say how the movement and the sound caught his attention instead and ax that last part about the jangling and chiming. Just a suggestion, of course. :)

    This excerpt definitely has me interested in their relationship. Although it's not really my genre, I'd probably read on to explore it further. Good work!

  3. I love the tension between the two characters. You have made me curious!

    I agree with the comments posted so far, and would like to add another. I think you are over-using dialogue tags. Aside from the last one, every line of dialogue has either an adverb (slowly, hoarsely) or description that's meant to explain how the words are being spoken.

    I recommend removing some of the description - trust your dialogue, and trust your readers to understand how your characters are saying it.

    For example, if you moved the description of her lips thinning in anger so it immediately precedes, "You. Didn't. Do. Anything." you could eliminate the description of her voice, as the anger/disgust/fury in her tone comes through in her words.

    "You were at the concert," doesn't need the description either as you've just had him recall a mugging with her somehow involved. As a reader I wouldn't assume he uttered those words happily, excitedly, or anything other than in a somewhat shocked tone.

    I really like how you've written the tension between the characters, but I think if you tighten up your writing it will become an even more powerful story.

  4. Everyone's already given you lots of good tips. Kill the adverbs. Trust your reader.

    Something else to watch for - put things in the order in which they happen.

    The chair thumped to the floor when he stood abruptly.

    Turn the sentence around. He stood abruptly and the chair thumped to the floor. Although, you might want to change 'stood abruptly' to a stronger verb.

    'When' is another sign of passive writing.

    The story itself is interesting, and there's enough here to catch my interest so that I want to read on.