Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drop the Needle: Anger #12

TITLE: The Sirens of Falkeld
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Pain so sharp, its like a fist. My breath is gone. I’m choking. Drowning in her. In loss. Then it rushes back. Each breath is fire. Scratching and burning. And the cold inside me hardens to ice. “It was nobody’s fault, Brayan,” I say.

“Nobody’s fault?” He repeats.

“It was an accident.” I force my breaths to come slow. A pressure is building behind each one.

“An accident?” He is an echo.

I nod.

“HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT?” His eyes are wild.

“It was nobody’s fault,” I raise my hand, taking a step towards him. He has to stop. He can’t say those words. I have to make him stop.

“IT WAS YOUR FAULT,” he screams.

No. The words twist. Digging into me. I stagger. Her face. Her voice. I can’t breathe.

“You didn’t follow. You wouldn’t let me go after her. We could have been there. We could have stopped her. BUT YOU WOULDN’T LET ME!” He punches the air with the gun. Emphasizing words. Waving it from side to side.

“I didn’t—”

“YOU WOULDN’T LET ME,” spittle flies from his mouth. He clenches his jaw. His neck taught. Face red. A strangled sob escapes him. He grabs at his scalp and drops to his knees.

“Look, I’m a bird.” She lifts her chin, cawing. She flaps her arms, running down the beach with the wind, scattering a flock of puffins. They squawk, nipping at her heels and flying away. “I’m a Bonnie bird! I’m a Bonnie bird!” She calls after them, running around a bend in the beach and out of sight.

The pictures and words won’t stop. The memories haunt me. Its hell. She is a bird. She is flying away. She disappears. She never returns.

A blue dress on the beach. No brown-eyed girl in sight.

“AND WHAT ABOUT YOU?” A beast—my pain—rages inside me. Frothing and furious. “You were her brother. You let her go off alone. You shouldn’t have listened to me,” my laugh is crazed. “ You should have stopped her.”

His arms drop to his sides. Dazed.

I’m glad.

“If its anyone’s fault, its yours,” I say with hate. The rocks and sea and night are red. It is all I see. Red and rage. Everywhere.

A sound rips from his chest. Like a wounded beast. Inhuman. He charges.

Releasing a scream of my own, I swing a fist. Searching for an arm. A leg. A piece of face. I don't care what. I'm not fast enough. My hand slices air. Brayan slams into me. Its like hitting concrete. Breath hurls from my lungs. I can't breathe. I fall backwards, hitting the ground.


  1. from pilgrimsoul

    Lots of vivid imagery that echoes the strong emotions portrayed!

  2. I like this, but let me dissect it a bit. You show great detail. But then you tell at the same time and it halts the scene, emotion, tension, story.

    Pain so sharp, its like a fist. My breath is gone. I’m choking. Drowning in her...(great show)

    In loss...(this is telling)

    You show great detail, then you tell, which stops the reader. The reader will know what just happened, so they'll know to what your MC is reacting to. Therefore, you don't need to tell them as they already know.

    Remove the "telling" parts and this will be strong.

    As for the flashbacks in italics... if you've been doing this the whole story, then the reader will be used to this style. But if this is the first time you're doing an insider flashback within a scene, it's not going to work. If the reader saw the scene play out right before this scene, then they don't need to see it again. They'll have the visuals in their heads already.

    All in all, though, I like this a lot. Good tension building and I love how the MC is trying to deflect it. Makes the guy really angry. It would be good to see her anger at herself a little, but I'm sure that'll come eventually, especially if she's suppressing it now.

  3. This does have great detail, but I thought maybe a bit too much. Maybe it was just the word choices:

    "Spittle flies from his mouth" seems unnecessary

    "He grabs at his scalp" -- would someone think that or just head or hair?

    Other wording like that... And I thought it was a bit melodramatic with all the phrase repeating. Maybe this is how it's don't throughout, however?

    Good luck with your project.

  4. I like this a lot. There were a few grammar things--a comma after a line of dialogue and before an action beat. That should be a period. "Taught" should be "taut."

    But as far as showing anger, I thought you did an excellent job. The fact that they both got angry really increased the tension in the scene.

    I had problems with "I’m choking. Drowning in her. In loss" but not for the reason Lia mentioned. I was pulled from the story wondering which it was he was drowning in--her or the loss. I didn't see them as the same at that point. And I don't think they're the same now, either.

    I didn't think it was melodramatic. If someone is missing, I think emotion should be high. And if they're trying to deflect blame and accuse each other, I think it fits.

  5. The description of the girl like a bird is very evocative! They grieve her loss and I can surely sense the anger between these two.

    Not a fan of caps, though. The emphasis should be evident in word choice, or maybe an italicized word here and there.

    Not crazy about screaming dialogue either. As I commented on someone else's passage, I reserve screaming for falling off a cliff or riding roller coasters.

    Small fixes:

    In some places it's not clear who's speaking.

    ..."its like a fist." (Should be it's)

    “It was nobody’s fault,” (Period, not comma)

    Digging into me (Dig might sound better)

    “YOU WOULDN’T LET ME,” spittle flies from his mouth. (...ME." Spittle...)

    You shouldn’t have listened to me,” my laugh is crazed. (" My laugh...)

    His arms drop to his sides. Dazed.
    (Arms can't be dazed.)

    If its anyone’s fault (it's)

    "I say with hate" is telling. Better: "My hate turns the rocks and sea and night red.

    I suggest starting a new paragraph with "Brayan slams into me." But if the MC is the one who gets slammed, it can't feel like he's hitting concrete. It has to feel like concrete is hitting him.

  6. Unfortunately, this didn't do anything for me. Both characters are saying the same thing over and over.

    You did it.
    No you did it.
    No you did it.

    And all those short sentences do the same things with their feelings. They say the same thing over and over.

    Could you add a bit of depth to this? Both characters, it seems, cared about the one who died, and both seem to bear some guilt. Maybe they could voice some of that guilt internally, even while they're blaming the other? Or they might realize after blaming the other that they are responsible, too, or that neither of them are. It just needs to be something more, I think, than 'You did it."