Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drop the Needle: Anger #8

TITLE: The Brightest Star
GENRE: YA Horror

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre has always been overshadowed by her best friend Jordan. She never cared, because secretly she leads a double life as a zombie hunter, and dreams of saving the world. One day, Jordan reveals his plans to become a zombie-slaying vigilante. Deirdre is shocked, and then furious.

“You want to be the hero,” Deirdre said. Somehow, the pencil was in her hand again. It spun round and round in crazy sporadic circles, before skittering to the floor.

“I want you to help me.” Jordan captured her hand, the same hand that lost the pencil. “You’re smart, Dree. You’re the smartest person I know.”

“You should tell that to the school board,” she said stiffly. “They named Melvin Borget dux last year.”

“You’re not just book smart. You’re smart smart.”

“Thanks, buddy.”

He had her hand to his mouth, murmuring words into her fingers. “There’s this fire in you, Dree. You like to pretend it’s not there. Most times you’re quiet, sitting back listening, watching, while everyone else takes the centre stage. No one sees your hunger.”

She tried to tug away. “I’m not hungry.”

“You killed that zombie yesterday. With just one blow. Not anyone could do that.”

“No,” Deirdre said. What she really meant to say was: no, you idiot. Of course not anyone can do that. The real answer sat right in front of him.

But Jordan was lost in his own world. Waking dreams of grandeur danced in his eyes, softening the usual acid green to a soft eucalyptus-leaf colour.

“Join me, Dree. It will be amazing, life transforming.”

She couldn’t take it anymore. Yanking her hands from his grasp, she shoved her chair back, lunging to her feet.

“Let me tell you what isn’t amazing and life transforming. Being your side kick. There. I said it.” Her breath came too fast, the words hurtled out. “In this awesome scenario where you’re the bad-ass superhero, where am I? Kicking butt beside you? Wait, no. I’m Robin while you’re in the Batman suit. I’m Pepper Potts to your Tony Stark, Hermione to your Harry. You’re my best friend. Jordan. But I can’t do this.”

“I’m not asking you to be my sidekick!” Jordan lunged to his feet as well. “I don’t know where you got that from.”

“Oh, please. I’ve always been your sidekick. Ever since we became friends. I just never used to mind as much.”


  1. Poor Dree! I love this scene and like how the tension builds, although if this is her moment to realize her dreams and break out of the mold that she's built, I'd like to see more steam, more build up of tension. I don't get what's so important about the pencil. Seems like a lot of detail/attention goes to that where we could see/feel something else that's going on in/around Dree. Very well written, and love the premise!

  2. from pilgrimsoul

    Catches the teenage tone so well!

  3. The detail interrupts the conversation--the pencil moving, Jordan taking her hand--that sort of stuff. I'd like to stay in the dialogue more.

    The scene feels less angry and more like a proposal of friendship tinted with romance--specifically the hand to his mouth part. It feels like this scene comes at the end of the anger, the cooling-off point. Is that the case?

    I like this internal dialogue because it's almost at odds of what's going on with Dree's words--"What she really meant to say was: no, you idiot. Of course not anyone can do that." Although, I'm not sure what this means--"The real answer sat right in front of him."

    Ah, and now it doesn't feel like it's cooling down. This is where the real anger is! :) --"She couldn’t take it anymore. Yanking her hands from his grasp, she shoved her chair back, lunging to her feet."

    You use "lunge" twice here...maybe a different word?

    I like how Jordan is so...placidly demeaning.

  4. Love the interplay between these two! I liked this.

    I thought the pencil was a good way to describe her upset. But somehow I wanted "the same hand that lost the pencil" to be "the same hand that couldn't hold on to the pencil." Your story, though.

    "captured her hand" is the kind of phrase I associate with bodice-ripper romances. But maybe I'mm off on that, since I don't read them.

    The hand to lips seems to imply more than best friends. If this has happened before, I'd think they'd be beyond best friends. If it hasn't, wouldn't Dree have more of a reaction?

    What is "dux"?

    Maybe interior dialogue after “Thanks, buddy” to show sarcasm, like you do after “No,” Deirdre said.

    Small comments:

    "Her breath came too fast, the words hurtled out" is run-on. // You’re my best friend, (COMMA) Jordan.

    Suggest another word instead of repeating "lunged."

  5. This is great. I thought you did a fine job showing us Jordan's world is truly Jordan-centric when he says, "Join me, Dree." Since he knows Dree is already a zombie hunter, if he saw her as his equal, he'd ask to join her. Well done.

    I was thrown by the "Not anyone could do that" line. Missing word perhaps? (Not 'just' anyone could do that?) Also, you may want to rephrase to avoid the use of 'softening' and 'soft' in the sentence about Jordan's eyes.

    Good for Dree standing up to Jordan.

  6. This is great! Well written and a nice back and forth. Good Luck!

  7. I liked this and thought it worked on a lot of levels. Dree's anger at Jordan is really unwarranted because he isn't really trying to keep her in the lesser position. She's there because she allows herself to be, and she just doesn't see it.

    On the other hand, Jordan does see himself in the superior position, even if he isn't thinking that way, because he asks Dree to join him, instead of asking to join her, as Peggy pointed out. But it doesn't feel deliberate. It seems a case of a person who's always been in that position acting the way he'd normally act. He'd have to have been in a subservient position himself at some time to even imagine how Dree might be feeling. He certainly seems sensitive enough to consider her feelings if he was aware of them.

    SO it's more than two people yelling and screaming at each other, and it's also a nice lead in to these two coming to terms and falling in love.

  8. I really liked "captured her hand" because the word matches the tone of what I would expect from a zombie slaying novel. Plus there's all that tension of being second class sidekick and a dominating capture says so much.

    (Side note to commenter MM Chandler, let's do us all a solid and retire the term "bodice ripper." Especially if one is not versed in modern romance novels.)

    The voice in this piece is great with some awesome word choices. The only part that struck me as not working is the "round and round" since "crazy sporadic circles" is enough to convey the image.

    This is a nitpick, but you could do more with "she said stiffly" by showing her spine go rigid or her hands were busy but froze, something that shows it.

    I'm interested to know about a world where someone could be a secret zombie slayer; is it like Buffy when most of Sunnydale has no idea there are vampires lurking since the house is being kept clean by the slayer? Good luck with this!

  9. Author of Entry #8May 2, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    Thanks for all the comments, everyone. I really appreciated your thoughts. The critiques have been very helpful, and it was interesting to see how the situation was interpreted.