Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drop the Needle: EXPLOSIONS! #18

TITLE: The GAP Project
GENRE: Sci-Fi Suspense

Ginny Carrera discovers she’s genetically engineered, and she’s been sold to the highest bidder. In this scene, Toby another GAP, has gone after the man who sold her. She knows the senator is blowing the compound and wants to get there and get Toby out before it blows.

She was only a block away when the ground buckled and a wall of propulsion threw her back. Lying on the sidewalk, her brain scrambled. Waves of energy forced debris past where she huddled, and the sky – darkening from the encroaching storm before – took on a gray cast. Clouds of ash, particle, and cinder formed above the space where the warehouse used to be. The heat was a fever that took over everything in the surrounding area, melting trees, plants, parking meters, benches. The acrid smell burned her sinuses.

After another small explosion, the area grew still. She tried to sit but pain, fire-hot and unrelenting, pushed her back. Sounds began to invade, but they were distant as if she were underwater. Voices, screams and chatter, sirens, all signs that something horrific had gone down. Tiny slivers covered her, glistening in the remaining light. Glass. And blood. How long before her system healed? There was no tingling yet. No stretching of the skin. Perhaps, this time the damage was too extensive.

Her cheeks felt wet. She looked up expecting to see rain, but the clouds were still holding onto their moisture, reluctant to share. It was coming from her. Swiping her face with her hand, it came away wet. She was crying.

A man knelt beside her. His lips moved but the sound was so muted she had no idea what he said. She tried to read his lips; but he suddenly pulled back, staring at her, stunned.


  1. This was very gripping! The description of everything melting was excellent. I'm going to have to read it again to see if I can find anything needing improvement....

    Okay, I know we've got a very limited excerpt here, but I'd love to hear more of her internal reactions and thoughts to what's happening. (This is a pet critique of mine because it's something I'm struggling with.)

    Also, possibly, possibly the "why is my face wet?...surprised to find I'm crying" might be a cliche. I think I've seen it somewhere else, and I think I've written it before.

    I'm nitpicking here because this was so strong, and it leaves off on a great little cliffhanger - if that isn't a chapter break it totally could be, because I would definitely turn the page!

  2. I like this premise!

    I think that, overall, this passage could stand some tightening. Explosions are fast, so using too many words will slow down that sense of urgency.

    Some errors:

    Lying on the sidewalk, her brain scrambled.

    This is a modifier error. In the above sentence, "Lying on the sidewalk" modifies "her brain". I'm pretty sure her brain isn't lying on the sidewalk. :) The sentence needs to be rewritten as such:

    Lying on the sidewalk, SHE (blah blah blah).

    Another of the same type of error:

    Swiping her face with her hand, it came away wet.

    In the above sentence, "Swiping her face with her hand" modifies "IT". And IT is not doing the swiping; SHE is. So rewrite it as such:

    Swiping her face with her hand, SHE (blah blah blah).

    I really like the idea that her genetic engineering makes her somehow able to withstand the explosion. Basically, you need to clean up your grammatical and punctuation errors and tighten things up a bit, and this will be great!

  3. Hey,

    I like this idea a lot. I would agree with the tightening issues though, and by that I mean I think it needs to be broken up somehow.Not that you can't have some long paragraphs, but it seems like a tiny piece of even internal dialog might help add something.

    Also, and maybe it's just me, but I didn't understand that she survived the explosion because she is one of these GAP people. Maybe I would understand that more though if I read more than this one scene. Good luck!

  4. There are several awkward disconnects in the text. For example, "wall of propulsion" doesn't really give me a sense of magnitude or effect. It's technically correct but perhaps too neutral of a combination to immerse me into the waking dream.

    Those are easily fixed details though, as the premise is strong, and more exploration through writing, coupled with a solid round of critiques, will elevate the strength of the narrator's voice to match the story she's telling.

    "The acrid [scent] burned her sinuses." This is great sensory feedback. I think the story would take a huge leap upward if these trivia were also utilized to contrast her humanity against her drastically inhuman qualities. To give an example of what I mean: "The acrid scent contained traces of chlorine, methane, burned cotton, and metal fibers. It smelled like vaporized hate and tears."

  5. "Sounds began to invade," personally, I would try to find some way to eliminate "began" if possible.

    I was a little confused at the last paragraph, but that dazed feeling may have been due to the character's being dazed.

    That being said, this caught and held my attention right off the bat. I enjoyed the imagery, I enjoyed the character and how she felt. Overall, it intrigued me, and I would keep reading to see what happened next, and to know what the explosion was and why she was able to survive.

    Good luck with it. :-)

  6. This is a great idea, and there is a lot to love here. I want to know more about this GAP project and these people.

    However, there are some language and prose issues here. Overall, it borders on purple prose, and I'm a big fan of the simile and metaphor, so that's saying something. As for specifics:

    I'm pretty sure you can't have a wall of propulsion. That's like holding gravity or tasting pressure. (though tasting pressure's kinda an interesting thought...)

    "Lying on the sidewalk, her brain scrambled."

    Is there some scifi element we don't know about that can make her brain actually scramble? Because the way this is worded, you're saying that it's happening as she's laying there, not that it's a metaphor for how she's feeling.

    "Past where she huddled."

    You can't pass a where. You can pass a thing or a place or a person. Not a where.

    "darkening from the encroaching storm before"

    The word "before" doesn't belong here. It's encroaching or it was encroaching but it's not encroaching before.

    Starting the second paragraph with the hugely anticlimactic "after another explosion." Leave it out or show it. Throwing it in there like an afterthought weakens the whole atmosphere.

    Good luck and have fun with this. I'd love to see it out there someday!

  7. Was I the only one who liked the wall of propulsion? I got a great visual of an invisible wall of power and the force acting like a tidal wave pushing and overpowering her and likely the objects around her. Those three words summed up a big picture in my head.

    I would remove the before after the encroaching storm and I wasn't sure about trees melting. That just felt odd.

    There may have been some technical issues but overall I was left with a great picture.

  8. I also liked the wall of propulsion. Whether or not it's technically correct the idea that the explosion is hitting her like a wall works well.

    I loved the idea that her body heals itself. That's a cool power that's not overused. That alone makes me want to read the whole thing!

    I liked that she was so surprised by her tears that she thought it was rain, as long as this is consistent to her character. She seems super hardcore, the type of person who hasn't cried in a long time, so it would be surprising. I would make it clear earlier in the story that she never cries, so that this makes sense. Maybe she's not even sure she has the ability to cry anymore?

    I'm also concerned with why she's crying. She's running to save someone. Is she crying because she assumes he's dead? If so, I think you should come right out and say that. I'm not sure what her relationship is with the person, but she is risking her life to save him, so I think he would be one of the first things she thinks about.

  9. To be clear, my objection to the wall of propulsion isn't the visual of a wall of force, I think that's awesome. But that's not what propulsion is.

    Propulsion is the MEANS of creating force. Like the engine in a car. Wall of propulsion is like saying wall of engines or something like that. The force maker, not the force itself.

    In commercial fiction, knock yourself out, I suppose. But in scifi you CANNOT make such a basic physics error. Never mind whether it's hard or soft scifi, chock-full of scientific language or just skimming past the ideas, whatever you DO put in there has to be right.

  10. Some people are being picky on their ideas of precise grammar, so ignore them. However, I agree that wall of "propulsion" makes no sense. Perhaps wall of "force."

    Her brain being scrambled doesn't really tell us much. Was she disoriented in terms of direction? Did she lose sense of time? Was she experiencing vertigo? Try to be as detailed as your great line about the acrid smell burning her sinuses.

    Way to fake us out with the moisture being tears. I was expecting blood.