TITLE: Growing Up Mortenson (WIP)
GENRE: Commercial Fiction-LGBT
Jimmy and Jacoby Mortenson are paramedics with Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. In this scene, they coming upon an accident scene on their day off and respond. With the help of bystanders, their boss, and another nurse, they take care of the scene, which quickly turns dangerous.
I smelled smoke and realized, a bit belatedly, that the car was on fire. “Jacoby! We need to get these people out of here now!”
“You and you! Get over here!” he shouted. Two bystanders hurried over and knelt on the sidewalk. “Hold her head and don’t let go. You’re her neck brace!”
The terrified strangers nodded, as we got the driver out. We moved her as far as we could from the burning vehicle.
“I’m a paramedic!” I looked up and I waved my boss over.
“This car is on fire, and we need to assess—the others in the vehicle there,” I said, panting a bit. Damn asthma. Together, we ran for a blue car wrapped around the stoplight. “Let’s see what we’ve got.”
“You and you!” I helped get the driver out. “Over here now! Hold her head still and don’t let her move it. You are her neck brace!”
Neither protested as I gave them stern instructions, moving the driver to the sidewalk; I heard sirens in the distance. Just as I started my assessment, my boss saved our lives.
“Get down!” he shouted. I dived partially under the car and felt the ground shake. When it seemed safe, I looked up, realizing that the yellow car had exploded.
I stood on shaking legs and spotted Jacoby waving at me; he was okay. “Are the victims okay?”
Our volunteers gave thumbs up and I relaxed. “Okay, ambulance--is here, guys. Get--ready to--transport.”
Hard to drop in the middle of a scene, but this works! You could use a bit more description of actions ('as we got the driver out' could really be expanded)ReplyDelete
One thing you might want to do too is, instead of showing the narrator repeating the verbal neckbrace instructions is just have the narrator say he told the second pair the same thing.
Also, not to pre-tell an action. By showing us his boss yelling 'get down' and having him realize right after that his boss saved his life you'll increase the tension and keep your pacing clean/linear.
It's also not clear who says "I'm a paramedic", you probably need a dialog tag.
I do like how calm you keep him during all the surrounding frenzy.
"I smelled smoke and realized, a bit belatedly, that the car was on fire."ReplyDelete
-- For me, I found the phrasing a bit humorous. I'm not sure if you intended that or not, and I like the voice, but I thought I'd point it out. Possible reasons are the "bit belatedly" comment, and the starting the scene here. So it might not sound that way in the full scene.
I might consider seeing if you can shorten his first statement. If he's in a rush, he might not take the time to say all the proper grammar. For example: "Jacoby! We need these people out now!”
May or may not work, but something to think about.
Minor point, I don't think you need the exclamation point after 'neck brace' because we already have a sense of urgency.
Why does he say "I'm a paramedic" to his boss? Unless he's speaking to the driver he pulled out?
He mentions the neck brace twice, which made me double check that I hadn't skipped over/reread something. I think you could say it once, then rephrase it somehow or skip it altogether.
"Just as I started my assessment, my boss saved our lives." Personally I'd cut this, since we can see it immeadietly in the next paragraph. Granted, I'm not as fond of being told what's going to happen if it's going to be evident anyway, so that might just be a stylistic thing.
"I dived partially under the car and felt the ground shake. When it seemed safe, I looked up, realizing that the yellow car had exploded." I think you could cut 'partially' and 'I looked up, realizing that.' Without the last section, the readers can be drawn in closer to the seen, not looking through the character lens.
"he was okay. Are the victims okay?" Might change one of the 'okays' to "all right" to avoid the repetition.
I will say the scene kept my interest, had a good amount of action, and had enough descriptors to give me an idea of what was going on in the area. I enjoyed it. I do think there are some word choices and grammar things you could edit to make it stronger, but overall, good job. :-)
Could be a good scene, but I wanted more immediacy. Are the passengers moaning? Bleeding? Do the paramedics have to struggle to get them out? More description of the actual explosion. A few thoughts:ReplyDelete
“You and you! Get over here!” he shouted. (Identify speaker as Jacoby.)
"Two bystanders hurried over and knelt on the sidewalk." (Maybe a previous section described how the car landed, but this seemed an odd thing to do without saying something like "next to the driver's side of the car.")
"The terrified strangers nodded, as we got the driver out." (Are they nodding the whole time? More description of their effort.)
“I’m a paramedic!” (Who's he talking to? Nobody seems worried about it.)
"I looked up and I waved my boss over." (There's no mention of the boss arriving.)
You had almost identical bits with passers-by being the neck brace for the drivers."
"I gave them stern instructions." (Show, don't tell.)
"Just as I started my assessment, my boss saved our lives." (Show, don't tell.)
If volunteers are the neck brace how can they give a thumbs up?
I think there was a cut and paste issue here, which was confusing. That aside, I love the idea, and one more LGBT book out there is always a bonus.ReplyDelete
However, there is a lot of just flat out telling in here, including skipping over major events in this action scene with just a mention. Some examples:
"The terrified strangers nodded, as we got the driver out. We moved her as far as we could from the burning vehicle."
#1, I doubt they nodded the entire time the guys got the driver out.
#2, They're pulling a survivor from a burning car in the middle of an action scene. That's HUGE. That's what we're supposed to be part of right now but it's just been tossed in like an afterthought.
"I stood on shaking legs and spotted Jacoby waving at me; he was okay."
Never use more words than you need in an action sequence. Especially don't include info we can figure out on our own. Use action clues to tell us he's okay, don't just say "he was okay." For most, the fact that he was asking about the victims and the narrator doesn't tell us anything is wrong with him implies that he's fine.
"Just as I started my assessment, my boss saved our lives."
At the risk of sounding dramatic, that's practically an unforgivable sin right there. That piece of information is Really Important. Yet:
You've told something you need to show. You've told something you DO show. And you've told it before you showed it.
That's not just a spoiler, that's the guy sitting beside you in the movie theater crunching his popcorn really loud while he tells you everything that's about to happen.
I bet you don't want to be that guy. ;)
The other commenters have already said just about everything I wanted to say. So, I will second all of the comments above, and just add that I think you could use more description in the immediate aftermath of the explosion. What does Jimmy feel, hear, and smell while he's lying on the ground? What's the first thought that goes through his head? Is there a moment when he can't see Jacoby and fears for his brother? You can really increase the drama in a scene like this by slowing time and adding detail.ReplyDelete
I agree with most of Leah's comments, there are a lot of opportunities set up here that more showing of the action can replace narrative. The good part is now you have a framework to add that in rather than starting over.ReplyDelete
The first line: "I smelled smoke and realized, a bit belatedly, that the car was on fire." I think you can expand on this to put your reader right in the scene. Describe the smoke, is it billowing, or is it a small cloud? Does it burn the character's nostrils or cause him to choke? Little physical reactions like that will help show the scene. You could describe the fire, whether it's little flames licking the sides of the car, or full-on raging heat. Just that one line can be dissected to show so much, and then you've put the reader right there, you won't need to repeat how the flames look later, you can focus on the characters and their reactions. Later, when the character realizes the yellow car exploded, you could describe the sound, or show it unfolding. Youtube videos of exploding stuff can be really helpful for getting those details down!
Good luck with this :)
I think you lose a lot here because you tell us everything.ReplyDelete
Twice we're told someone is going to be a person's neck brace, but it would be more compelling if we saw someone actually doing that.
You give us a car on fire but no flames, a car wrapped around a stoplight, but no twisted metal, sirens with no sound. The ground shakes, and then you tell us the yellow car exploded. What if you showed the explosion, instead? Think about what you'd see if it was on a movie screen, and write that.
The action immediately drew me in, but there are some lines that could be stronger.ReplyDelete
"The terrified strangers nodded, as we got the driver out." Could you expand on getting the driver out, maybe draw out the tension? Describe it instead of summarizing it?
"“I’m a paramedic!” I looked up and I waved my boss over." - Who is his boss? He isn't described in this scene, and it seems like he's telling his boss he's a paramedic, which the boss should obviously know.
"“You and you!” I helped get the driver out." Since this is a repetitive action (as he's just helped another driver out) can you describe it differently?
"Just as I started my assessment, my boss saved our lives." Cut this, as it spoils the surprise of what's about to happen.
"Neither protested as I gave them stern instructions, moving the driver to the sidewalk;" I think you could cut this down to "Neither protested." You don't have to re-state that the MC is giving them instructions; we already read his dialogue. And if the MC is asking them to hold her head still, why are they moving her to the sidewalk?
I love the immediacy of this whole scene -it feels like it's happening now, in present tense, even though it's in past. I would like a few more details though, especially in the explosion and the interactions with the victims. Maybe describe injuries, facial expressions, that sort of thing. That would just add so much to this scene.
Other commenters caught what I was thinking, so I'd just add that I wondered if we could get a little more build-up about the asthma (which I think is a great touch). Instead of saying "panting a bit" can you describe the beginning of an asthma attack? Since the character is breathing through his mouth, it might also be cool to describe the taste of the scene.ReplyDelete
The scene is good. I can visualize it from your description. What I didn't get right away was who was talking to who. Having to decipher a bit of what's being said to who stopped the action and this scene didn't read as rapidly as it should for it being a moment of danger. The action does go fast, but there's just a bit of information lacking when people are talking/shouting orders. Who's talking? Who are they talking to? Maybe switch it around so that who' being spoken to is set up in the detail before the words are spoken, like:ReplyDelete
“You and you!” I helped get the driver out. “Over here now! Hold her head still and don’t let her move it. You are her neck brace!”
"You and You" who? You can describe that your charachter looks over at the curb, sees two people. "You and You! Over here now!"
this way we can SEE who he' talking to before he talks.
Whew! I was excited! So good job!ReplyDelete
One thing--for Pete's sake please don't tell me "my boss saved our lives" before it's happened! That kills the suspense! It's like telling the punchline before you even tell the joke! Tell us he saved your lives AFTER he does it.
A little nit: erase the comma between "nodded" and "as we got the driver out." It's not correct. = )
I think you could benefit a little from some spiced-up diction. Your pacing feels good, and your syntax works, but new diction would make this pop. Instead of bystanders "hurrying" over, try something more descriptive. Are they stumbling in their panic? Are they scurrying like underlings? Are they dashing? What kind of hurrying is happening here? Similarly, don't tell me they're terrified. Tell me they're wide-eyed, or biting their lips, or trembling or something. (I like wide-eyed the best here, since it also implies curiosity and openness through the terror) Instead of "Look"ing up and waving the boss over, can he glance up or do some other kind of looking? "We moved her as far as we could"--is there a better word than "moved"? "I helped get the driver out" doesn't pop nearly as much as dragging the driver out, or slashing his seat-belt and easing him out as his head flops against your chest, or something. Something a little more descriptive. My point is, I guess, everything sounds a little dry.
Hope that helps. I know sometimes diction-suggestions can be offensive and annoying, so I hope I didn't annoy you. = )