Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drop the Needle: EXPLOSIONS! #25

TITLE: Darkdust
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

Adelaide has been kidnapped and is trapped on a broken spaceship. She's hiding inside the shuttle bay when she finds an explosive device ready to detonate. Just as the countdown finishes, she leaps off a catwalk to the main floor. Boom.

Pain knifes up my hip, my elbow, my shoulder.

The world above me is on fire, and everything is dead silent except for the shrill ringing that seems to come from within me.

I'm on my back, head throbbing as a ball of flame expands and disintegrates the ramp I was just on. If I hadn't jumped, I'd be a pile of charred bones.

Hot air dries my eyes and sears my lungs. I gasp for breath, cough, and gasp again. I can't get enough air.

Air.

Fire burns oxygen.

I roll onto my hands and knees, dizzy with every motion, and scan the walls for the bay door and freedom. Protocol on any ship is to seal the room, remove the atmosphere, and let the fire smother. The rest of the ship's life support won't be affected.

If I don't escape, I'll smother, too.

The LEDs bleed into warning-red and the bay door begins to slide closed. Coughing, I struggle to my feet and stumble as quickly as I can.

The ringing in my head is distracting, and everything is blurry. My vision tunnels and I can't be sure if I'm putting my feet on the ground or flying somehow.

Every breath tastes like smoke, and heat dries the back of my throat. I'll never again be able to breathe right.

As the door thuds closed, I slip out. Just in time.

12 comments:

  1. Nice classic explosion, lots of fun to read. :)

    As critique, though, you're telling us things we either don't need to know or you've already shown us. Slowing the pace like that in an explosion scene is a Bad Thing.

    An example: "Protocol on any ship is to Protocol on any ship is to seal the room, remove the atmosphere, and let the fire smother. The rest of the ship's life support won't be affected.
    The rest of the ship's life support won't be affected."

    A lot of that is pretty basic stuff when it comes to spaceships. "Protocol" is a word that is not exciting or dangerous. Lose it. Just:

    They're going to seal the room, vent (this is a more active verb than "remove") the atmosphere, and let the fire smother.

    That tells us everything we'll need to know from that bit and it keeps it nice and exciting.

    Another: "heat dries the back of my throat. I'll never again be able to breathe right."

    You already said that first phrase, above. The second makes me go 'huh? why not?' It's a pretty definitive statement. If she's worrying about that, state it differently, because as is, it sounds like a medical diagnosis.

    Watch some of your sentence structure too.

    "The world above me is on fire, and everything is dead silent except for the shrill ringing that seems to come from within me."

    I found that confusing. Do you mean there's a ringing in her ears blocking out any other sound? Because a raging fire isn't silent at all. The second bit makes me wonder if she's emitting some sort of sound from her body for some reason.

    Also:

    "As the door thuds closed, I slip out. Just in time."

    The way you put that, the door closes and then she slips out. "as" wasn't enough to reverse the impression that the sequence of events wasn't exactly as you laid them out. That could also be a really exciting moment. Show the door scraping her leg or something as she dives past it just in time.

    It sounds like an exciting book. Spaceships! Good luck!

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  2. I really like the first two sentences. Pain and ringing. I've felt that ringing sensation before after a huge explosion, and it really does feel like it's something internal. Nicely done.

    The rest of the section seems to slow down a bit after that. I feel like it loses the urgency. Yes, she's safe from the immediate danger, but if she doesn't get out she'll burn.

    I would tighten the paragraph where she realizes this, and spend less time reflecting on her discomfort so the distance between her realization and her escape is shortened. Keep the pace up here, and then this scene will be much better.

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  3. I like the first part too. I was intrigued by this. Why is she on an abandoned spaceship? Is she a fugitive? I agree that the intensity needs to be stronger. Use short, choppy sentences to convey this.
    -kathleea

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  4. I guess I'm odd man out here, because I wanted a little more between realization and escape! More tension, will she make it or not?! I felt I had little time to really get worried before she was already out and safe. Maybe even if you could just draw out the last few lines a bit more.
    Otherwise I thought this was great. Great descriptions, I felt like I could really feel the scene.

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  5. I liked this and don't really have any complaints. I feel it would be inauthentic to do so: were this explosion in a published book, I wouldn't question your skill as a writer for it. I'm content.

    I love how you explore all the senses -- Adelaide is tasting and feeling the effects of the explosion, not just seeing it -- and from the lead up, I guess she hears it to. I especially liked this line:

    'Every breath tastes like smoke, and heat dries the back of my throat. I'll never again be able to breathe right.'

    Two sentences covers physical sensation and emotional foreboding. Very happy with that.

    I also like the short paragraphs and short sentences. From the structure, I get a sense of immediacy and disorientation. Everything is happening now, no distance. Great for an explosion scene.

    I also like the 'shrill ringing' that comes from inside her.

    So... well done.

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  6. "Hot air dries my eyes and sears my lungs. I gasp for breath, cough, and gasp again. I can't get enough air." - perfect, aptly chosen, sensory details

    "As the door thuds closed, I slip out. Just in time." - my torturous muse was disappointed here.

    I wanted things to get even worse for Adelaide before they got better. I wanted a caught shoelace, a fallen machine. I wanted Adelaide to not make it, but instead barely manage to wedge a wrench in the airlock big enough to get a fresh gasp of air before it breaks off. (Easy to say when I'm not the one writing it!)

    I'd happily read more simply for the great atmosphere and gritty feel of the narrative.

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  7. Let me just start with fantastic first line. The use of the verb "knifes" is a great way of showing us what it feels like.

    This is a great show of an explosion, but I don't feel like I'm truly there with her. I would like more sound, more feeling. I feel her desperation, but I don't feel the world around her.

    One short portion that left me scratching my head is your use of "remove the atmosphere." Is that correct? Would you remove atmosphere in a room? Or would you just seal it off and cut its life support, which is how I think you should explain what protocol is. But one problem with that is, would she be thinking about protocol as she's trying to run for her life? Or would she just have in the back of her mind the knowledge that the room will soon shut off from the rest of the spaceship and that she needs to get out before it does?

    Lastly, I would like more of a desperate feeling as she flees the room. I feel like she escapes too easily. Wouldn't the spaceship be bucking or spinning wildly with an explosion rocking through it? Can she hear anything? That last line of her slipping through just in time just doesn't clinch it for me. I don't feel her relief. The escape doesn't have to be longer, but I want more feeling.

    Other than that, great scene. Well done. The lines are relatively short and crisp, which would probably be how someone in a life-or-death situation would be thinking.

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  8. The internal ringing hooked me. My throat and eyes dried out with the character's. The bleeding LEDs added to the horror.

    I was all in until the last line. The door thuds shut before she escapes. In my mind, she's stuck. But you let her "slip out" -- an implied grace that doesn't ring true, even if, seconds before, she couldn't feel her feet on the ground.

    That one line pulled me out to the extent that I turned contrary and started to question everything.

    The other commenters have covered that territory.

    Overall, this explosion scene worked for me. I'm intrigued, and would like to read more!

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  9. I like this and want to know who has kidnapped her and who has sabotaged the ship!

    I felt like I was in the scene with the lovely descriptions you've used to let me feel what she's feeling and see what she's seeing. Even down to the bleeding light (I love that, btw)

    The only issues I have with this snippet are toward the end. You shut off her escape route and then allowed her to get out. The sequence is wrong for her exit, but a very easy fix. The other was her wondering if she were flying across the room. She was in excruciating pain from her jump only moments before, so I can't believe her legs are already healed. She needs to struggle more to make it believable, in my opinion. That will heighten the emotional response even more for me.

    Good job. I enjoyed reading this.

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  10. Maybe try: "except for the shrill ringing that's coming from within me." The last part seemed a bit wordy and tripped me up reading it

    Is there someway to rephrase "the ramp I was just on?" At the moment it works to give me an idea what's going on, but it feels clunky.

    I might cut "and freedom" after "the bay door" and see if you can show the idea she's looking for escape through what she sees.

    "and stumble as quickly as I can." Maybe simply say where she's stumbling to?

    "I'll never again be able to breathe right." -- Does she know this for a fact, or is this what she feels? It felt a bit over dramatic. But that might not be the case depending on how the earlier portion of the story read.

    The scene gave me a pretty good idea what is going on and how the main character is interacting with everything, and has a strong sense of action. Good luck with it. :-)

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  11. It's a neat scene and a cool premise. It needs tightening as the pace gets slowed.

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