Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drop the Needle: Anger #15

TITLE: Kitsune
GENRE: Science Fiction

Cho is a galactic spy and Natsuke showed up at her hotel, compromising her assignment. She kicked him out. He got pissed. She needs his help, so she's on his planet, confronting him about it.

"You know, it was rather cruel of you not to tell me sooner that someone was following me."

Natsuke didn't say anything.

"Seriously, if you had just told me sooner, I might not be in this situation." I might've been able to salvage my assignment. Found some place new, started over.

He put his hands on my shoulders. Their warmth seeped through my thin silk robe. He tried to turn me around to face him, but I shrugged his hands away.

"What are you talking about?" he asked.

"Don't even give me that crap."

"No, Cho, I'm serious. I only meant it as a joke."

I turned around then. "It didn't exactly sound like a joke."

"God, no, well . . ." He slid his hand through his long, unbound hair. "What I mean is that I meant it as a joke."

Right. Sure you did. I glared at him.

"Okay, so I know it didn't really come out as a joke, but, well, things got out of hand. And then I got really mad, and . . ."

"You wanted to get back at me by saying someone was following me."

"Yes?" He seemed almost embarrassed by the admission.

"But someone really was following me."

Natsuke just stared at me, his face blank, like he was hiding his emotions. I knew then that he was telling the truth.

"Actually two someones were following me."

His eyes widened even more. "I am so sorry. If I had known, believe me, I would've told you right away."

At least that made me feel a little better. But, wait-- "If you didn't know anyone was following me, how did you know where to find me?"

Natsuke looked away from me, shifted his stance slightly. Not enough that someone who didn't know him would've noticed, but I had spent nearly two years as his sort-of-girlfriend, sort-of-bodyguard to be good at reading him. Whatever his reason was, he did not want to be having this conversation. Eventually, his eyes took on this soft, almost dreamy-romantic look as he said, "I just need to look up at the stars and I always know where you are."


  1. I was tracking the scene until I got to this point:

    "What are you talking about?" he asked.

    "Don't even give me that crap."

    "No, Cho, I'm serious. I only meant it as a joke."

    I don't know why she reacts to his question the way she does and I don't know what "it" refers to which he meant as a joke. Maybe all this would be clear from the previous scenes.

    Anyway, because I was confused it was hard for me to enter into the anger. I didn't know if she was justified for her feelings or not.

    But then it gets worse when they discuss her being followed, or rather him telling her or not telling her soon enough that she was being followed. I was confused by this, not knowing why she was mad. He apparently did tell her, but earlier she said if she'd known she could have done things differently.

    All this diluted their anger for me. Sorry.

  2. I got too distracted by the joke business that the anger didn't come through.

    I never got what the joke was. First I thought the comment "What are you talking about" was the joke. Then I thought saying someone was following her was the joke. Then you say "it" didn't come out as a joke and he got mad and got back at her by saying someone was following her, so saying someone was following her wasn't the joke either.

    I'm sure the back story would make everything clearer, but the joke discussion goes on too long.

    That she's studied him for two years in order to be good at reading him is intriguing. He was a "project" at first and maybe she falls for him? Makes me want to read more to find out what happens between them.

    Delete "from me": Natsuke looked away from me

  3. Thank you for your comments. They are definitely helpful.

  4. I also don't feel there's much anger in this scene -- this strikes me more as the beginning of a reconciliation that comes after an angry confrontation.

    After reading it a couple of times, I think I understood the reference to the joke -- it was certainly confusing at first -- but of course that's a risk with plucking a scene out like this and not knowing what came before!

    A couple of other things: the transition from the spoken dialogue to the character's thoughts in the third paragraph seems awkward, and I also can't help wondering if those statements about the character's situation wouldn't be obvious if one had been reading the book --from the description of the setup, it doesn't seem like something the character would be thinking at this point, or at least not in those terms.

    And the sentence in the last paragraph that begins 'Not enough' is ungrammatical -- it almost looks as if you're missing some words; I'd suggest taking a good look at the underlying structure of the sentence.

  5. From the lead in I'm getting Cho is a spy and when Natsuke shows up at her hotel, he blows her cover, she gets mad and kicks him out, and he goes away mad. Then because she needs his help (even though he just blew her cover which doesn't make him seem that great at what he does) she goes looking for him.

    FRom the excerpt, my thought is that for some reason, he told her someone was following her, when in fact, no one was (as far as he knew) but in reality, two people were following her (and I'm thinking he was one of them)But I don't get why he would do that. I don't get if it's the joke, or how it could be a joke, or why she'd want help from someone like that.

    I'm also wondering what she needs help with if he has, in fact, cost her her assignment.

    I do think her anger comes through, as well as his sincerity. Whatever he did, I don't feel it was done with malice. It feels like they both have feelings for each other but aren't willing to admit it. Other than that, I'd have to have see more of this.

  6. I like the voice and tone of the writing. I would suggest watching for repetition so the story can really shine. "Sooner" is used twice one line after the other; the second instance can be rephrased. Then, "might not be" and "might've". That seems nitpicky, but too many repeated words, and narrative the explains dialogue can weigh down the pacing.

    Something that really helps me is to read a passage out loud, especially with a lot of dialogue. Sometimes the character can answer a question without the other person having asked anything, or a character doesn't have to directly ask; the reader can still follow. So the "what are you talking about?" etc, some of that could be pared down to essentials. Maybe their body language shows more of their interaction. I think the key is to make sure you're giving the reader new information to work with. They can read between lines, so the dialogue should flow.

    Good luck! Galactic spies sound pretty much awesome.