Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drop the Needle #18

TITLE: Alien Desires
GENRE: Paranormal romance

Calix is an alien (on a mission) who comes from a planet without love or closeness. Annie’s fallen for him, but doesn’t think he’ll ever understand what love is. In this scene, Annie has re-injured her ankle and Calix has rushed her home to her brother, Mac.

If Calix could make Annie’s pain his own, he would.

Mac came in with a blue item, placed a glass of water on the bedside table and handed her a small container. “Here ya go.”

She took the pills and sat up. When he slipped her sock off, she cried out.

“What are you doing to her?” Calix demanded.

“It’s okay,” she said. “He’s putting ice on it.”

“That will make it better?”

She nodded.

“Dang, Annie,” Mac said. “It’s really swollen. Shouldn’t you go to the doctor?”

“With this storm coming? No way. Just wrap it.”

He wrapped the blue item around her ankle. “You got something I can tie around this?”

“T-shirt. Middle drawer.” She opened the container and poured out a pill. “I have to take this with food.”

“I can get it.” Calix knew just what to bring her, too. He grabbed the keys Mac had placed on the counter and rushed outside. After searching through several bags, he found the box he was looking for. He returned to her bedroom, holding a donut.

Tears formed in her eyes and she bit her bottom lip. “You’re giving up one of your donuts for me?”

“I’ll leave you two alone.” Mac closed the door behind him.

Calix was confused. Did she or did she not like the donut? “If you do not like this, I can get you something else.”

“No, don’t. I love it. Thank you.”


  1. I like that Calix is clueless and Annie is obviously touched by the donut. Without knowing the context of the story, would the brother really leave his sister alone with an alien when she's in an injured state like that?

  2. I thought this was really sweet :)

    Was a little confused at the alien presence as well (do they know he's an alien?), but I think that's probably just a problem with it being an excerpt.

  3. I suspect that there is "donut backstory," so to speak, that will clue us in on why Annie's reacted to Calix's action this way. . . Most of all, I'm interested to know if this should be read as a touching scene, a slightly comic scene, a revelatory scene -- or somehow all of the above?

    The challenge, I think, is developing an emotional tone in spite of the fact that Calix's limited 3rd POV seems to require a certain degree of emotional detachment, based on your context information. And yet, when the passage begins with our being told that he could make her pain his own, I wonder if that's because of some essential biological sympathy for another sentient creature, or if it's supposed to be read as an early sign of a loving bond.

    I think the intensity of Calix's observations will have to communicate his feelings and his preoccupations -- and perhaps they can also be a chance to explore from the refreshing perspective of ignorance normal human relationships?

    Interesting. I'd like to see the tone clarified somehow, to better reflect how this scene is a game-changing moment.

  4. I really like the premise here. The clashing of alien and human culture is always a fun theme. Calix's race sounds a lot like Vulcans, though. Make sure you write something that sets them apart as something new.

    In this scene Calix seems very anxious about Annie for someone who doesn't understand love or closeness. If he's transitioning and learning how to feel those things great, but if it's still pretty early on in the story I would tone it down a bit. They also seem overly concerned for a hurt ankle. I think the drama pushes things forward, but it might be good to make the injury more serious.

    I also felt like Mac leaving the room was awkward. I would at least add some preface for it, like glancing back and forth between the two of them, or a silent order from Annie.

  5. I thought this has potential and I think I got what you're trying to do. I'm guessing Calix is slowly taking on human emotions.

    This opens with Calix feeling Annie's pain, immediately after you tell us he has never experienced love or closeness, so that was a bit off-putting, but perhaps we've reached a point in the story where he's developing human emotions?

    Mac comes in with a small container and Annie takes the pills, but Annie wasn't offered any pills, nor were we told Mack had a container. He came in with a blue thing in his hand, which could be anything. Perhaps describe it better so the reader knows what it is without Calix stating it. We find out later it is neither container nor pills, so where did they come from?

    At the - Did she, or did she not, want the donut - moment, perhaps show a bit of emotion in Calix, so he's a bit more than confused (if he's developing human emotions.) If he isn't, then show him as colder an unemotional from the start.

  6. One of the fun things about the gift theme is that many of these excerpts make me think, 'Aww--that's so sweet!', and this is definitely one of them. :)

    I'm assuming that all three characters have been together long enough at this point in the story that Mac is quite aware of the budding relationship between Calix and his sister, and wants to be supportive of them, and that whether or not Annie and Mac know exactly what Calix is, he's already a good friend whom they trust, even if his behavior is odd at times! So I didn't have an issue with Mac leaving the room.

    And I can easily imagine that Calix has previously discovered he has a passion for donuts--of course they're one of the best things about being on Earth, right?;)--so it would make perfect sense that it's a big deal for him to offer her one.

    It also seemed pretty clear to me that this is one of the turning points where he's beginning to understand human emotions.

    Since it tripped me up just a little bit, I might suggest that you start with a speech tag when Calix says "I can get it," (because the conversation has been between Mac and Annie until that point), and then say 'He knew just what to bring her, too.'

    And although the style here is pretty 'bare bones', this could be the kind of story where that works fine. (You don't say this is YA, but to me this seems to have more of a YA voice.) Overall, this scene has a simple, honest charm that's appealing.