Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drop the Needle: EXPLOSIONS! #13

TITLE: Fractured Skies
GENRE: YA/NA Science Fiction

Jenna and her team are trying to make a quick escape through an air battlefield without getting caught in the crossfire.

To my right, a cluster of dark wisps disappeared through the center of a large, OA carrier ship. A red beam of light shot through its hull, stretching outward until fire exploded from inside. Jack cursed as I dropped the jet into a nose-dive and vertigo rushed through me. I banked a hard left, and we were back in sky.

Jack gripped the edge of his seat, sitting back as far as he could. “Ahead!”

A red beam split through the largest of the COE command vessels.

Exploded.

Fire erupted from the windows, smoke billowing. A dark object spun our way--

One of the airship’s rotors had dislodged from the wing. I thrust the lever as far as it would go, heart pounding. We careened through a pillar of flame. Metal chunks crashed against the front window and wings. Warnings beeped on the console, and the jet wavered, nearly impossible to control as flames crackled around us.

We plummeted into a smokey haze and the sky merged with the trees. Frantic, I searched out the lever. The ground raced toward me, red lines of the jet wavering.

Up! We needed to go up!

The jet lurched, crashing through the upper layer of branches, and then we were back in the air. I guided us under an OA helicopter, soaring past mechs.

Free sky. Bright with dawn’s light, clear of smoke and debris. The helicopters, dozens of them with red dragonfly symbols, flocked against the clouds. I gasped for breath, dizzy, but the worst was over. Behind us, smoke and fire marred the dark, western sky. Lightning crackled in the distance, mixed with flashes from the battle’s explosions.

11 comments:

  1. I feel a bit silly now-- thought the lead in was supposed to be the first 50 words before the explosion. Realized differently after reading through some of the other entries.

    So, for quick clarification:

    Jenna and her team are trying to make a quick escape through an air battlefield without getting caught in the crossfire when a third faction makes its debut.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I feel a bit disoriented because I don't know what an OA carriers is or a COE command vessel is. I'm not sure who I should be rooting for. Also, when you say "Exploded," I'm confused about what happened. I thought the COE was shooting the light beam, but were they the ones who got hit? It's difficult (as I've found on a few of these) to be dropped into the middle of an action sequence).

    That being said, I really liked the 5th paragraph. I felt the tension in it and was rooting for them to make it clear. Fromt there out it was very well written. I know that's not good for a critique session, but I enjoyed that little bit. The only thing I would change is cutting the m-dash at the end of the 4th paragraph. It's a complete thought and so is the next sentence. A period would work just as fine.

    Good luck with the ms!

    ReplyDelete
  3. "The helicopters, dozens of them with red dragonfly symbols, flocked against the clouds." -- this is a beautiful image and would also be a perfect place for a surprising metaphor to carry us away.

    I'd presume the motives and stakes have been set up before this moment, but it would be nice if the 50 word introduction had been present to fill us in on the bigger points.

    There's some surprisingly beautiful prose here and I'm seeing a future Cormac McCarthy or Patricia McKillip hidden in these cadences.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think to the scifi initiated, and someone who has read this far into the book, none of the terminology is confusing. I wasn't confused at all until I hit "airship". That's usually a steampunk word, evoking blimps and things, so I got a bit stuck there, wondering if I had envisioned this whole thing wrong.

    I'm all-in with choppy, incomplete sentences in an action sequence. Works for me.

    "Exploded."

    That one didn't. It wasn't enough, I think. I think there are too many things in play to make something that important quite so ambiguous.

    These points may be nitpicky, but:

    "A red beam of light shot through its hull, stretching outward until fire exploded from inside."

    What exploded? The red beam or the ship?

    "the sky merged with the trees"

    I first pictured those things actually merging. Hey, this is spec-fic, I'm ready for anything. A more specific visual like "blurring" might work better. It's not a game-ender, though.

    "red lines of the jet wavering"

    I actually don't know what this is referring to. Her jet? One of the others?

    You GO with this one. I'd love to see it in print someday!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Exciting! I found myself just letting the chaos of it all carry me away, rather than trying to figure out where everything is and what it's doing (being what I usually do).

    The only nitpick I really had while reading was "red beam" was repeated a lot early on. It's not so much that the repetition bothered me (though it probably did a little), but I feel like if the narrator has any kind of military training, she'd call the "red beam" what it is. Like a laser, a particle beam, a TX-47 air-to-air photon cannon?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow, this is dizzying. It's fun to be in the pilot's seat with this character. The dark wisps confused me right away--can they be described better? What are they? Also, did the red beam of light shoot out of the hull like weapon? Or is the hull being shot? I'm not sure "Exploded" on a line by itself works. It needs to be more distinctive somehow. I do like how you are trying to have us feel the fractured crazy experience of flying through this airfight. "Searched out the lever" struck me as odd phrasing but maybe that is some kind of dialect. I didn't understand "red lines of the jet wavering." The helicopters with the dragonfly symbols are a great visual. Very fun scene!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Like the strong fighter MC! Intense action and good description! I sepecially liked: "The helicopters, dozens of them with red dragonfly symbols, flocked against the clouds."

    A little confusion though with which way things are shooting:

    The first sentence had two "throughs," which don't indicate a direction. Could you say: "To my right, a cluster of dark wisps disappeared INTO the center of a large, OA carrier ship. A red beam of light shot FROM its hull, stretching outward until fire exploded from inside." I don't really get the "from inside" part though. A light came out but the explosion was inside?

    Did this explosion not cause any shock wave to the jet? Is that why she nosedived?

    "Jack cursed as I dropped the jet into a nose-dive and vertigo rushed through me." (She pulled up right after that so the vertigo passed quickly. Could say: "Jack cursed as I dropped the jet into a nose-dive, sending me into temporary vertigo.")

    "A red beam split through the largest of the COE command vessels." (Again, I don't know which direction the beam is going. Who's shooting whom?)

    Delete "Exploded." The following sentences describe it.

    "I thrust the lever..." (What kind of lever?)

    First you say a dark object, then "metal chunks." Mention that the dark object misses them and then say MORE metal chunks.

    "The ground raced toward me, red lines of the jet wavering." (What does red lines of the jet wavering mean? She's inside the jet, right?)

    "...crashing through the upper layer of branches..." made me think down toward the ground, when this is actually where she gets control, so maybe "skimming the upper layers"?



    ReplyDelete
  8. This is done nicely. The only issue is who's shooting at who, and if we had read the rest, that might be obvious. Just a few other things.

    parg 1 - delete the comma after large. I don't know if the carrier is shooting at someone or being shot at. Turn the 'Jack cursed' line around. I dropped the jet into a nose dive and Jack cursed. I'd cut the vertigo reference because we don't see how the vertigo affects her, so it doesn't really matter.

    Parg 3 - Again, who is shooting who? And I'd cut 'exploded.' We see it in what follows.

    Parg 6 - what lever? Otherwise a very nice parg.

    Parg 7 - Again, what lever, although if you name it in parg 6, you can just say 'lever' here. And what are the red lines?

    2nd last parg - maybe change branches to trees or the canopy, otherwise, I'm asking, What branches?

    Last parg - very nice, and I agree with Michael Wulf. A simile or metaphor would work nicely after 'flocked against the clouds.'

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's intense but I was thrown by the categorization of YA/NA. Since NA came about as a need for material beyond the YA, I'm not sure a book can meet both criteria.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks, everyone, for the comments. I've just gone back and applied them in my recent edit of the manuscript. I appreciate it. :-)

    As for the NA/Ya category, it's because the character is technically 19, but her voice is still almost more in the YA category. So I'm looking into which one it better fits. :-)

    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete