Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drop the Needle: EXPLOSIONS! #19

TITLE: Denali in Hiding
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

Denali must use her telekinesis to stop or deflect a pipe bomb.

I sensed it first, the bomb, or rather, a sack full of materials. It was outside, hurtling toward the window. I sensed the shards of glass in the window split and crackle and scatter. Pieces pierced my arms. The blood splattered and spilled. The pain was pleasantly distracting. I tried to think about the parts in the bomb. I tried to separate them and defuse it. But I wasn’t fast enough.

It exploded, pieces longing to be free, shrapnel from the pipe bursting forth. It was so powerful, I had trouble stopping it, but just like when I practiced, it was like I was able to slow time, I was able to feel the pieces. But it was weird, because it felt like there was an additional tug on them. It felt like when I practiced with Declan. It was as though the pieces had plans of their own, independent of me, independent of gravity. In the slow motion I realized what was happening. Tom was controlling the fragments. And he was making them miss almost everyone. The bits of glass from the window splayed everywhere. But the larger pieces from the bomb were controlled. They missed people, or glided along forearms and thighs. Minor injuries.

Except for one piece: a sharp nail. I felt the extra power behind it. But I was able to overcome Tom’s force. I was able to stop it from slicing into Dr. Larsson’s neck.

14 comments:

  1. Ooh, I'm fascinated how Tom is saving everyone, except he's putting extra force behind a nail toward Dr. Larrson's neck!

    Lots of "it" in the second paragraph.

    It's fascinating how she's using her telekinesis to investigate the inner workings of the bomb, and I'd love to see even more of that, of what it looks like on the inside. Wires? Little gadgety things? The explosives?

    Anyway, the concept here is intriguing, and the tension at the end with Tom really grabbed me.

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  2. The tension here is great, I totally want to know more about what's happening and about Tom. One question, is she in the room where the glass is breaking or elsewhere? If elsewhere it's fine, and I'm sure I'd know the answer if I wasn't just dropped into the scene. :) But if she's there I wouldn't say she 'sensed' the glass break and the pieces cut her. She's feeling it for real. ;)

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  3. Very cool!!

    My biggest concern with this excerpt is a tendency toward choppy writing.

    Let's take the first paragraph as an example:

    I sensed it first, the bomb, or rather, a sack full of materials. It was outside, hurtling toward the window. I sensed the shards of glass in the window split and crackle and scatter. Pieces pierced my arms. The blood splattered and spilled. The pain was pleasantly distracting. I tried to think about the parts in the bomb. I tried to separate them and defuse it. But I wasn’t fast enough.

    All the sentences in the above paragraph are in normal word order, which is subject/predicate. This makes for a choppy, repetitive-sounding read. FOUR of the sentences begin with "I". One begins with "But I", which is the same thing.

    Try something like this:

    I sensed the bomb--or, rather, a sack full of materials--first. It was outside, hurtling toward the window. Splitting and crackling, shards of glass from the window scattered, piercing my arms. Blood splattered and spilled, the pain pleasantly distracting. I tried to think about the parts in the bomb, tried to separate them and defuse it.

    I wasn’t fast enough.

    This:

    Except for one piece: a sharp nail. I felt the extra power behind it. But I was able to overcome Tom’s force. I was able to stop it from slicing into Dr. Larsson’s neck.


    ...is GREAT!

    But I would rewrite it a tiny bit to avoid using "I was able" twice. Maybe the last sentence should just be:

    "I stopped it from slicing into Dr. Larsson's neck."

    This sounds like it could be an exciting read!

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  4. This is a good excerpt. I love the action and the imagery. There were a few points I think could be improved.

    That the pain was 'pleasantly distracting' just didn't seem appropriate to me. Doesn't she need to focus, if she's trying to think about the parts in the bomb, rather than the pain in her arms? If that was sarcasm, it didn't translate to me.

    I didn't like the 'pieces longing to be free' in the first line of the second paragraph. I don't know how or why the MC knows what inanimate objects long for, but it seemed odd. If that were cut from the sentence, it would work fine. The rest of the paragraph puts it much better... I think I just took issue with that particular phrasing.

    Anyway; good action. Don't know if my points will be useful or not.

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  5. What an intriguing idea!

    But I felt weirdly disconnected from the events. This is where showing, rather than telling, will come in handy. I want to feel the shards of glass piercing her arms. What does that feel like? (How is pain pleasantly distracting?)

    How would she diffuse it? I want to see her attempt, rather than be told she tried and failed. Same for the end, where Tom is trying to kill (?) Dr. Larsson and Denali saves him/her. Show us the way she's using her powers, rather than telling us that she is.

    I like the dissection of the bomb, and even the slow-motion breakdown, but I really want to feel it. :)

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  6. "It exploded, pieces longing to be free," -- this is fascinating and I think the narrator could expand it into some really enlightening metaphors that both characterize the POV char, theme the story, and give insights into the human condition. Great stuff.

    This is a very interesting premise. Assuming the withdrawn, almost forensic feel is intentional, it's a very intriguing power that Denali has, and feels outside of time and like s/he retreats to some inner landscape to use this.

    I would hope to see that play out as a disadvantage at some point--can't connect with loved ones and friends, loses humanity the more this gift is used, and so on.

    I'm certainly, as is probably obvious, enamored with the concept and would hope to see it explored fully in the larger work.

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  7. I'm definitly intrigued by the concept, I like how she's using the telekinetic power. I had a bit of a hard time continuing to read because some of the sentences felt a bit wordy, like she's telling us quite a bit. I'd like to see it with just a bit more showing, but I wouldn't want you to lose the sense of slowed down time as she's picking through the parts and sensing them.

    Good luck with it, the powers sound interesting. :-)

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  8. I love the concept and how she could sense each individual piece that she focused on.

    I too, had a little issue with the pleasantly distracting line. At first I thought it meant she was happy not to think about all the other little individual things. Like she didn't want her power. I think I was pulled in the wrong direction because of that sentence.

    The final paragraph, how does she feel about the attempt on the Dr.'s life? Could the line be "thank God I was able to stop it from slicing..." or something that has some more feeling? This is a very detached person.

    What does she feel about Tom's treachery? I assume this bomb was supposed to look like the Dr. was just an accidental victim when really he was the only target. I want to feel a little more about it.

    I love the slow time lines. I can easily picture everything and everyone becoming slow mo and the protagonist really becoming focused.

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  9. Really interesting premise. I would put "But I wasn't fast enough" on its own line. Somewhere in the second para I got lost. Too many "it felt like..." muddied the flow for me. Wondering what Tom's role in all this is. Love how this selection ends. Would love to read on. Good job!

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  10. This could SO ROCK. I love the idea, and the way you're coming at it is great.

    The actual prose? Not so much. There are moments of brilliance, when you personify the bomb, but otherwise everything is reported in a rather lackluster bullett point approach.

    She's practically in this bomb's mind. How cool is that?? But I don't feel that at all. Little things like:

    "I sensed it first, the bomb, or rather, a sack full of materials."

    "sensed" could be fine, but you could pull it in closer to her, show us what it feels like to her. Deconstructing the unremarkable construction of the bomb here is just frustrating. There's a bomb! Run everyone! It's made of a sack full of materials...

    "I sensed the shards of glass in the window split and crackle and scatter."

    By this point we know she can sense these things, so just skip all the distancing language and give us the action! Show this, don't report it.

    "I tried to think about the parts in the bomb. I tried to separate them and defuse it."

    That's HUGE here. You're just glossing over it, though, with no particular emphasis or emotion.

    All the stuff about other people doing this and that is straight-out reporting. I feel like I'm reading the newspaper.

    I want this to be so awesome because the idea is fantastic. Get us inside her head, SHOW us this stuff. You can't possibly get closer to the explosion than being joined with it in your mind. Do this right and when things start blowing up we're practically going to flinch.

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  11. Love the concept here. And the way she can feel the bomb. Just a few comments: I think you should cut "shards" because that is what the glass will splinter into. It isn't shards yet. Just say "I felt the glass in the window split and crackle..." I had a hard time seeing the blood both splatter and spill. Maybe pick one...splattered seems to make more sense. Pieces "longing to be free" didn't work for me. It is too much anthropomorphizing of an object. It can't long, although it could be pushed by the pressure or something. Very intriguing that this guy Tom is controlling the pieces--I love that. And it makes me curious about why he is after Dr. Larsson. Good luck with this story!

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  12. Cool. Tighten the prose so that it matches the tension.
    I sensed it first, the bomb, or rather, a sack full of materials. It was outside, hurtling toward the window. (I sensed)(this is repeated) the shards of glass in the window split and crackle and scatter. Pieces pierced my arms. (The) blood splattered and spilled. The pain was pleasantly distracting. I tried to separate the bomb parts in my thoughts and defuse it. But I wasn’t fast enough.

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  13. This is one of my favorites. Nice work. I especially like the concept and how Tom seems to have it in for Dr. Larsson. This makes me want to read more and understand the characters and their motivations. One thing that threw me was: "The pain was pleasantly distracting. I tried to think about the parts in the bomb." Why would pain be pleasantly distracting? What is the character being distracted from? I also don't get a sense for how many people are in this room or area (perhaps a classroom?) where the bomb is going off. Is this established before or after this excerpt? If so, this may be a moot point. Good luck with this.

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