Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drop the Needle: EXPLOSIONS! #24

TITLE: Angel in the City
GENRE: NA Urban Fantasy

Twenty-two-year-old Jamie Price is a Knight-in-Training covering all of Manhattan for Sigrun, a honest to god, or maybe gods, Valkyrie from Asgard. In a constant battle against the darkness, their latest venture has led them to the sewers in hopes of rescuing a little girl who has been dragged down there by the ghouls who have nested below New York.


“Crap!” My optimism fell and sunk quickly, disappearing into the mire that surrounded me. Turning around, which may I say is freakin' hard when you are standing thigh deep in sludge, I drew my specially-designed, automatic crossbow with exploding bolts, and opened fire at the dark silhouette that had just rounded the corner.

The bolt exploded on impact and as the flash of light dissipated, the body fell with a muted splash only to be replaced by ten times the number of dark forms, their eyes and teeth glinting in the remnants of light left from the blast. I fired a few more rounds, felling the ones who had recently appeared, and taking out a wide expanse of the nearly ancient brick wall that lined the sewer.

Using the light and smoke as a screen, I turned around and began running, fairly sure there weren’t enough bolts in the chamber, or possibly even the city, to incapacitate all of them.

The noise grew louder and louder as more of the creatures gave chase, alerted by both the sound and the scent of their fallen comrades. Of course, I highly doubted any of them were dead. A few explosions, flashes of light and a ton of mortar and brick were barely enough to subdue a ghoul, much less kill it. Nonetheless, it was in my best interest to get the hell out of there as fast as I could.

Luckily, I didn’t have far to travel.


12 comments:

  1. I was just reading your query and first 250 over at query kombat! Small world? :)

    I liked the somewhat snarky lines in your first 250 and like that you maintain them here as well.

    I think this overall is great, but could use just a little cleaning up:

    -"fell and sunk quickly"...don't need both fell and sunk

    -"exploded on impact" is cliche, could probably say something fresher.

    -I don't think there should be a comma after "exploding bolts" in the first para

    -This isn't "wrong" but I would put a comma after "flashes of light" in the second to last para. (I have an unhealthy love for serial commas).

    Sounds like a great story with a fun voice. Good luck! :)

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  2. Love the tone of the first paragraph. Awesome.

    After that you lose me slightly on the "stage direction"--I do it a lot, so I'm an expert on this one. :)

    "I fired a few more rounds, felling the ones who had recently appeared, and taking out a wide expanse of the nearly ancient brick wall that lined the sewer."

    There's a more exciting way to put this. You're explaining details we either don't need to know or are pretty obvious or just longwinded for an action scene. "the ones who had recently appeared" is a great example. A less specific word or phrase would work fine, and could even work in your voice. "felled a couple more of the bastards" or something like that. "A wide expanse of the nearly ancient brick wall that lined..." Show the sewer earlier, not mid-action. "blew a hole in the wall" sort of thing would work better. Make it a better phrase to fit your voice, "spraying moldy bricks down the tunnel" or something.

    I read "fairly sure" and "highly doubted" and can't help but think those don't fit here, that they dampen the excitement and adrenaline-rush of the action.

    "Using the light and smoke as a screen, I turned around and began running, fairly sure there weren’t enough bolts in the chamber, or possibly even the city, to incapacitate all of them."

    To up the pace, you could put the running first and then mention the light & smoke. The last bit of that sentence is awesome but it gets lost behind "fairly sure". Be definite during action, even if it's wrong or ridiculous. Most of us wouldn't be analytical or wishy-washy when we're being chased through a sewer by things trying to kill us. :)

    Honestly, these are nitpicks that I think could tighten it up but I love this scene.

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  3. I like this! What an exciting scene.

    Some nitpicks: How old does something need to be to get counted as ancient? Why is the wall just nearly ancient? ;)

    I say it teasingly, but in all seriousness, go ahead and just declare stuff. The wall is either ancient or it isn't. There aren't enough bolts in the chamber. (No need for "I was fairly certain.")

    Also, watch out for the word "fell" and its variants.

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  4. "their eyes and teeth glinting in the remnants of light left from the blast" - great detail; I'd love to have some more sensory input like this; perfect details to ground the scene in my mind and make it real(ish).

    Most specifically, what does it smell like down there? Of course, that could have all been introduced before this little excerpt, I understand.

    @Jodi Meadows: Your Critiqueness! Go read her comments, not mine :)

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  5. The beginning caught my interest and I really enjoyed the description and her voice regarding the sludge, but the " I drew my specially-designed, automatic crossbow with exploding bolts" felt almost like too much. I don't know if it's been shown before in the story, but reading it out of the blue kind of made me feel like she was being overly proud of it. Could be a personal preference, though.

    For the second paragraph, I'd chop that first sentence into at least two sentences. It drags out a bit, slows down the action, and I think it could be a lot punchier.

    I think you can cut "who had recently appeared" and slightly rephrase it to have a snappier read.

    "I turned around and began running..." I think you could simply say "I turned and ran," and get the point across. Then end that sentence there, cut "fairly sure" and start with "There weren't enough..."

    Overall, I was interested in the character and her cheekiness, I liked the description of the area and the creatures, and the scene kept my interest. I think if you cut some unnecessary words (while still leaving behind those that boost her voice), and divide a few sentence, it could read really strong. Good luck with it. :-)

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  6. A little tightening up would make this scene really pop.

    1) "Specially-designed" - do we really need this detail right here in the middle of an action sequence?

    2) You use "exploding bolts" and "bolt exploded" in back-to-back sentences.

    3) "Ten times the number of dark forms" - Since we're only talking about one form, why not just "replaced with ten more dark forms."

    4) "Turned around and began running" - You've already told us it's "freakin' hard" to turn in thigh-deep sludge, how much harder would it be to run?

    This sounds like quite the adventurous world and I wish you the best of luck with it!

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  7. How do you "turn around and begin running" when you have made a point earlier of describing yourself thigh deep in sludge and it was difficult to even turn around?

    I lost the visual at this point, which was a shame because it was playing out so beautifully in my mind. When you turn to escape (don't use the word run) make me feel the squelching, oozing sludge sucking at my flesh.

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  8. First off, let me just say I get a nice sense of who the character is. Their detailed description of the crossbow leads me to believe they appreciate a good weapon, and their calmness in the situation makes me think this isn't the first time they've had to deal with this type of thing.

    Now, onto the critique. Rather than telling us that it is hard to turn around in thigh-deep sludge, how about show us that it's nearly impossible? Maybe instead we see that Jamie is having trouble moving. For example, maybe a line that goes something like "The thigh-deep sludge gripped my legs like hands determined to keep me in place." (Okay, kind of a bad line, but you get the idea, right?)

    Next thing. "...flash of light dissipated..." I dunno about everyone else, but when I read the word "dissipate," I think of something gradually fading. I don't really think light can gradually fade in this case. Perhaps it flashes out of existence instead, leading to the next line "...remnants of light left from the blast." The flash of light could show them for a split second, making the situation seem that much more dire, making us fear even more if Jamie will get out of there alive.

    Next, the third paragraph made me wonder what suddenly happened to the sludge making Jamie unable to move swiftly. Jamie just starts running. Wouldn't it be hard?

    This is more nit-picky, but you need another comma after "flashes of light" in the last paragraph. When listing things of three or more, you need a comma after every subject.

    And lastly, the sentence that begins with "Nonetheless" just reads a bit odd. They aren't dead...why would Jamie need to point out it's in his best interest to get out of there? That's kind of stating the obvious.

    Other than that, great scene.

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  9. I agree with the comments from sbibb and Danielle LaPaglia. Also, for the character to say "Crap" and have something fall and sink in the sewer brought unpleasant images to mind. But keep writing, we need more New Adult fiction.

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  10. Hey there - really interesting premise. There are couple of sticky sentences here though.

    "I drew my specially-designed, automatic crossbow with exploding bolts, and opened fire at the dark silhouette that had just rounded the corner." Drop the adjectives for the crossbow, and you'll be able to get to the action quicker. Maybe you can work in a fuller description of the weapon earlier in the story?

    "The bolt exploded on impact and as the flash of light dissipated, the body fell with a muted splash only to be replaced by ten times the number of dark forms, their eyes and teeth glinting in the remnants of light left from the blast." Try cutting this into two sentences to make it a little shorter and less confusing. With so many actions taking place in one sentence, it's hard for the reader to keep track of what's happening.

    I liked your last paragraph. Makes me want to read more!

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  11. The logic inconsistencies have been covered by other reviewers, which should be easy revisions in your next rewrite. Beyond that- you’ve described a great premise and have already shown a Josh Whedonesque sense of humor.

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