TITLE: Unbearable Losses
GENRE: Murder Mystery
December 25, 1993
The killer was close as Liliana bolted into the darkness. It was snowing, making her footing unstable, and she was carrying her daughter, who was small but still a burden. She could hear the man shouting, and once a gunshot rang out. “Help us be safe,” she murmured as she ran. “God help us be safe.”
She was alone now, without the protection of the others. Those people lay on the desert floor, looking sightlessly up at the snow which fell onto their faces. Except for some extraordinary luck, she and her daughter might also have been one of the dead. But luck could swing back to pin them sharply against a wall, with the killer’s gun at their heads. She pushed forward, slipping, falling, hitting her foot on a rock and piercing her hand. She pushed herself up and kept running.
She needed rest, but where? The desert was full of cacti and Mesquite bush, but nothing provided shelter. Finally, she crouched behind a bush. Her daughter whimpered.
Lilliana hugged the child close, trying to use her own body heat to warm her. “We cannot stop,” she said, reaching for a square of chocolate saved from their noon meal. The snow drifted down making the desert plants rise out of the darkness like ghosts. Still she waited. When she could hear no more sounds, she stood cautiously and moved. I won’t be defeated, she thought. She had not come all this way to die.
This is good. Nice tension with high stakes. Not only is she protecting her life but her daughter's as well.ReplyDelete
I also like the tension and that you start right in the middle of the action. I like that you have snow in the desert. That was an interesting touch. But seems to me there is quite a bit of telling.ReplyDelete
You tell us it is snowing, making her footing unstable. It is easy to show this by turning the sentence around a little.
Her footing slipped on the thin layer of snow.
The killer was close tells us something. Show. Lilliana bolted into the darkness, the feel of the killer's unseen eyes sending shivers up her back.
This pulls me in. The little prayer of desparation is effective.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure about "But luck could swing back to pin them sharply against a wall." What about luck could turn?
like your writing style.
You build tension well. I think if you wrote it in present tense it would be more intense. However I think it is good.ReplyDelete
There's lots of tension and suspense here, but as someone said, it is all told, which distances the reader. Perhaps rephrase all those sentences with 'was' in them, to make them active instead of passive. For instance - The killer closed in as Liliana bolted into the darkness. Instead of telling us what your MC is doing, let the MC actually do it herself.ReplyDelete
I like the idea of writing it in first person and agree that you need to show more. Good opening though. Good luck!ReplyDelete
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Small suggestion: Start with "Liliana bolted into the darkness" as your first line. Add in "The killer was close" after "...still a burden."ReplyDelete
I would like to know more why I should care about Liliana. Why is this guy after her? Just because she has a daughter doesn't make her good, and just because he's killed a bunch of people doesn't make him bad. Don't hold back details about who they are in relation to each other and the scene.
This is an exciting moment to start on, but Liliana seems far too calm and composed for the situation at hand. She's analytic rather than panicked.ReplyDelete
On a side note, "murmuring" is not what I'd be doing if I were being chased by a killer. I'd be shrieking this, or perhaps whispering it hysterically.
I agree with the others, too much telling. It slows the action and holds the reader at a distance. Whatever POV or tense you choose for the story can work and work well, but you need to show us more and tell less. It's the difference between watching something exciting happen and a "you had to be there" story after the fact. Just a quick example:ReplyDelete
She was alone now, without the protection of the others. (Without the others is shown in "she was alone. This is redundant.) Those people (those people is a very distancing phrase, not what you say about a group you were a part of and relied on for protection. If the first sentence was just "she was alone now." then you can use "the others" to start the second sentence in a way that is inclusive, not distancing.) lay on the desert floor, looking sightlessly up at the snow which fell onto their faces. Except for some extraordinary luck, she and her daughter might also have been one of the dead. (As I like to say to my crit partners about a sentence like this last one: Well, duh.) ;)
I bet there's a very exciting story here. Just make sure you're letting the reader FEEL that excitement.