Saturday, April 21, 2007

Death Scenes


Directly below you'll find the last sentence or two from 22 death scenes. Below those you'll find the expanded scenes--but with the last sentence(s) whited out. As far as I know, these are all scenes from unpublished works of fiction. No one claimed to have written the scenes specifically for this blog.

You have the opportunity, if you wish it, to guess which endings belong with which scenes. To get the correct answer, simply highlight the whited-out area with your cursor. If you don't care to make a game of it, you may highlight the entire page and just read the scenes. Authors would appreciate any helpful comments that occur to you. Be sure to identify by number which scenes you're commenting on. Character names that appear in both parts of the passages appear as blanks in the endings, to keep it from being too easy.

Endings

a. The breath slid from her in a long sigh and she subsided, her body going limp.

b. My head reeled. Mescobal was dead?

c. I'd managed to kill my husband a second time.

d. "Aikel," she whispered as she faded away.

e. She collapsed cross-legged onto the floor next to the dead body that had so recently been an animated human being and stared at it for a very long time.

f. It didn’t take long before his eyes were lifeless and _______ removed his hands.

g. He never saw the wrench before it shattered his skull. He fell, his hands and feet twitching as blood pooled beneath his body.

h. _________ had shot himself in the chest. I don’t know how long it took him to die, sitting there and hurting, alone in his car.

i. "Him," _________ said, and before _________ could do or say anything to save his friend, there was a sickening, wet crunch and the grotesque noise of a tongue lapping at meat.

j. He saw _______ struggling up, heard more shots and then _______ jerked and flopped back, flatter than before.

k. ___________, hero of the Elk Lick Falls High Football Program and Security Officer died screaming in the dark, efficiently separated into his metallic and non-metallic components.

l. Eric! It had to be him. But he was . . . dead. Her thoughts struggled wildly against that reality, the pain of it still too fresh and raw. But if it was Eric, did that mean she was . . .

m. "Maybe you should have taken my advice and returned with six of your friends," _______ muttered.

n. “I’ll take a rain check on that drink,” she said as his face melted away. “I have to see a man about a wolf.”

o. Before I could do much more, in the ominous silence, than seize Lune to me and throw us both to the grassy soil, covering her with my own body, a slamming gale of superheated air rushed over us faster than sound from the deformers' asteroid strike and all I could think as I died in agony, flesh macerated from bone and then ignited, through the desolation and anger at losing Lune and my recovered parents, was, "Oh fuck, they've totaled the dinosaurs again."

p. _______ lifted _______, and as he stood, a line of bullets laced through the two of them. He fell forward over his brother.

q. He was wracked with a spasm, and ________ thought he was going to vomit. Then he unclenched and lay back down.

r. She swayed for a moment and then fell forward, dead before she hit the ground.

s. "I was supposed to look after him," I said, and then blackness smothered me.

t. Then her head went under again and didn’t come back up.

u. It did no good; the scream wasn't auditory.

v. This is my final thought.


Scenes

1. She knelt over him, tilted his chin back, pinched his nostrils closed and put her lips to his for the first time. Robin blew two breaths, sat up straight, weight evenly above her knees, laced her fingers together and pressed the heels of her hands into his chest to deliver fifteen compressions. Immediately she tilted his head back, pinched his nostrils, blew another two breaths and then listened for his breath. Again and nothing happened. His color just seemed to get worse. She tried again and then one last time. She picked up the telephone from the desk and listened to the hollow dial tone for a few seconds, then slowly put the handset back and looked at Daniel. She collapsed cross-legged onto the floor next to the dead body that had so recently been an animated human being and stared at it for a very long time.

--Lisa


2. It was a service robot from the mining area, a smart electromagnet. Robots like this patrolled the gravity free zones, sweeping up rocks and crushing them to get to the sweet marrow of their ore.

The security chief let out a deep breath he hadn't realized he was holding. He even allowed himself a chuckle to steady his nerves, buzzing with adrenaline.

His sidearm yanked out of his hand. The robot was still operating. Todd tried to back away, but its electromagnet found the prosthetic parts of his body. He fought, but the pull was strong and his boots slid on the polished floor. In frustration, he hurled his heavy flashlight. The robot caught the light and dismantled it.

Todd Burton, hero of the Elk Lick Falls High Football Program and Security Officer died screaming in the dark, efficiently separated into his metallic and non-metallic components.

--Shannon


3. The sun was close to sinking when a tremor went through her. She blinked and sat up, looking around in confusion: something had changed. The snow was falling quickly now, dark clouds covering the sky. She shivered and rubbed her hands against her arms as another tremor touched her. The horizon shimmered and flickered briefly. The fae had left this land, never to return. She gripped the bracken, knuckles white with effort, to no avail.

"Aikel," she whispered as she faded away.

--Sylvia


4. Samael grinned. “I was there when you learned about the secret arts, remember? The ones that even God denies exist? You are a powerful magician, Sariel.”

Sariel’s hold on the gun relaxed a little. “I study the knowledge for its own sake, Sam. I always did. Just because. It doesn’t have to mean that I use it.”

Sam’s grin grew even wider. “You have your ways,” he said. “You could get close to them. Waterman’s only a man and he’ll be lonely now that you’ve offed his girlfriend. I’d be willing to bet he’d fall for your like a crow with fresh road kill. You’re a w-”

Sariel pulled the trigger, holding the Demon Lord while he discorporated. “I’ll take a rain check on that drink,” she said as his face melted away. “I have to see a man about a wolf.”

--leatherdykeuk


5. I scrambled out from beneath Surya, easing her down onto the floor. She let out a choked cry of pain as I moved. Horrified, I saw blood pulsing from her chest, black in the shadows, spilling over her habit. The horrible warmth soaked into my breeches as I knelt beside her, spurted through my fingers as I tried to staunch the flow. She shuddered under my hands, her limbs twitching spasmodically.

“Don’t move, Surya - Surya – please, please –!” I begged.

She made a little noise; half sigh, half sob. “The price…” she whispered. A bubble of blood broke on her lips, and a droplet of dark liquid ran along her cheek to pool under her eye like a tear.

“No!” I cried. “Please!”

The breath slid from her in a long sigh and she subsided, her body going limp.

--Zolah


6. They were a few feet into the darkness of the main tunnel when something leaped on Coyote Cody's back. He heard Luke hit the ground beside him. Cold, stale breath puffed down over his ear, and he realized that the approach of new threats had been veiled by the blade's reaction to the demon corpses. One of those supernatural sneaks crouched on Coyote Cody's back. It murmured appreciation for the taste of his fear.

The fact that Coyote Cody was sustaining his captor pissed him right the hell off. "You wanna start paying rent, asshole?"

"Scared little humans. Thanks for removing that cursed seal. It burns. Which of you would like to carry it for us?"

"Him," Luke said, and before Coyote Cody could do or say anything to save his friend, there was a sickening, wet crunch and the grotesque noise of a tongue lapping at meat.

--anon


7. I was standing there naked when a dead man sauntered into my bathroom.

Sauntered, not shambled.

That was the second frightening thing.

I'm not the screaming type or I would have shrieked. I produced an eeep! Like a paralized parakeet.

I didn't need the air of chemical putrescence he brought with him to know he was a revenant. A smell as sharp as teeth.

"Nathan," I gasped. I shouldn't have. The name gave the empty eyes focus. I skittered backwards until the shelves holding my soaps and pretty bottles bit my bare behind.

He curled back his lips and leered.

That was the third frightening thing.

So I heaved my entire container of rose-scented sea salt at him. The spew of crystals caught him full in the face.

He dissolved, all lacy and pock-marked, like the ice from your chest freezer when you dump it in the sink and run hot water over it. Even his clothes, the funeral black suit writhed and curled like burning paper and collapsed in a drift of dark dust on the bathroom tiles.

I threw up in the tub.

I'd managed to kill my husband a second time.

--Bernita


8. “Are you calling this murder?” Digger asked.

“What else would I call two dead crewmen? I’m going to initiate a full-scale investigation,” the Captain said.

“It looks like a mutual suicide pact between lovers.” Digger wanted to excuse the dead bodies.

“What do you think I am? An idiot? You've been on the bad side of everyone since we took you on as crew. Once the robot gets the surveillance tapes, we’ll know the truth. If you had a hand in this death, you'll face your day in court," the Captain growled, tapping his belt buckle. A robot appeared at his side.

“Aw fuck,” Digger said, jamming an electric power cell against the robot to fry its memory chips. It burst into flame. Startled, the Captain turned back towards his cabin. He never saw the wrench before it shattered his skull. He fell, his hands and feet twitching as blood pooled beneath his body.

--Dave


9. "You're cracked, Toots, but I guess that'll happen when there's nothing left but your head."

Saki sighed, raising a hand. She felt Jita and Taro on the island and had no doubt they would be here any moment. It was time to clean up her mess.

"You were my first actual enemy. You were a doozy, and you're one helluva fighter, but it's over. You threatened my boys." She raised her energy to a lethal level and formed it to her will. "I wish you peace, whoever you are.

"Nonono! the alien screamed inside her head, the thought so emphatic that Saki wanted to clap her hands over her ears. I will not die on this godforsaken mudball!

She loosed the blast with a hoarse shout, leaping into the air as it detonated--crushing, then vaporizing the alien's head and tearing up the ground for yards around. The internal scream inside went on and on, high and drilling, until Saki did clap her hands over her ears.

It did no good; the scream wasn't auditory.

--Gutterball


10. John stood up, kicked Peter so hard that Peter flew off the ground and landed a few feet away. Peter coughed, the air gone from his lungs, tried to get up and managed to, standing in front of John and then swinging at John again with the one good arm he had, trying to hit him and knock him out with the force he had. One punch landed and John took a step back, but the rest of the attack was useless.

John hit Peter hard in the face and Peter flew backwards, landing on the ground again. John kicked him, once, and then again, and then leaned down and held Peter's throat.

“What you do to me, I simply do back,” said John. “See how much more effectively I can uphold my honor.” Peter struggled for breath, but there was no energy left in his broken body, his mouth and nose bleeding, his bones broken. It didn’t take long before his eyes were lifeless and John removed his hands.

--Heather Walker


11. Why was the bastard running? Why didn't he use his own weapon? Alex tossed aside the tranq gun, stooped, pulled up his jeans leg and grabbed his own, real gun. Just as the main doors opened, and two more guards spilled out. Time to stop being heroic. Alex ran for the car, knowing that tranq guns didn't have much of a range. Thankfully, he had driven, and thus was the one with the keys. The sound of gunfire caused him to zag in a different direction, making for the cover of the nearest car not ten meters away. Diving behind it to the sound of more shots, he allowed himself to catch his breath, peering underneath the body of the vehicle to assess the situation. He saw Fabian struggling up, heard more shots and then Fabian jerked and flopped back, flatter than before.

--Functioning Fruitcake


12. I retched, and gagged, and heaved more liquid out of myself. Moved again, I threw up again. And again.

After that my head cleared a little, and I could look up to see who had hold of me. Verdinnian. He was scowling down at me, his nostrils pinched together.

"You with us, yet, Aquilla?

I blinked.

"Wha...?"

"That daft Arab took a branch for a snake, and you piled into him.

"Scrabbling, I tried to stand up; Verdinnian hauled me to my feet. Everything spun in fits and starts. I tried to find my horse, but the moment I took a step, I fell down again.

I was dragged up once more.

"That's fine work," Verdinnian added. "The Arab's back is broke, and if that weren't bad enough, you've also broke the cat's neck."

His words were punctuated by a shot.

My head reeled. Mescobal was dead?

--Buffy Squirrel


13. With a sudden burst of passion, the commander tried to heave himself up sideways like a wounded crab. The scaly thing on his body surged forward, writhing up his skin.

“Rigel! Rigel!” Natalja cried. “Lord Rigel!”

After his last effort, the commander was mostly still. He rocked his head back and forth, muttering to himself. She wasn’t sure if he could hear her.

“Lord Rigel, I can’t take on this sort of demon. Whatever you’re going to turn into is going to kill all of us. Fight it!”

She almost took hold of his hand while she said this, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Besides, there wasn’t anything much like a hand left.The commander seemed to come to himself a little while later. His eyes wandered the room until they locked onto hers, not quite focused.

“I can’t.”

He was wracked with a spasm, and Natalja thought he was going to vomit. Then he unclenched and lay back down.

--anon


14. The wave that came up behind her didn’t seem all that big. It lifted her a little, and I heard her laugh. It hit the shore and began to pull back, and as it sucked away from the sand it took my sister with it. I was close enough to see the fear on her face as she was swept backwards, off her feet.

Rob ran for the house as soon as he realized the riptide had caught her. “Stay here,” he shouted to me, “and don’t lose sight of her.”

I picked his shirt up off the sand and held it. Sarah would want something warm when she came back. It didn’t occur to me, not really, that the ocean could take her. My sister’s head bobbed up and down in the water, farther from me each time it reappeared. I saw her arms thrashing as she tried to swim out of the current sideways like our father had taught us, but it wouldn’t let her go. Then her head went under again and didn’t come back up.

--Wednesday


15. Later, as I soak the rest of reality out of every pore through the magic of soapy bubbles, I return to my plans for world domination. The world would really be a better place if I were the only person in it. ‘Oleanders,’ I ponder, preparing my bath. ‘All parts of an oleander are poisonous, maybe I can go around smacking people with branches of it.' I giggle out loud at the thought.

I sigh sleepily. “I'll get started tomorrow,” I gurgle. Something is not right. I take a deep breath, but what I would have said next is lost from my mind, what with not having the ability to breathe water. ‘Why did I have to take such a deep breath!’ I reprimand myself. This is my final thought.

--Crystal Charee


16. The fat asshole contractor took another guy with him for backup - like he needed any, the idiot - and together they found William slumped down in his car. I told myself it probably hadn’t been too hot there in the car even though the morning was almost gone when they found him. You’d expect it to be awfully hot; it was August in the South, but I didn’t think it was hot where William was. I could picture where they found him, sitting in his car beside the river, in the summer shade dapple of gargantuan green-canopy trees surrounding his small stilt house, the swift, soothing sound of the river running past him. A big bottle of Jack Daniels had spilled all over the front seat. William had shot himself in the chest. I don’t know how long it took him to die, sitting there and hurting, alone in his car.

--Robin



17. Even now Callie could hear the metal scream, feel her body jolt sideways as the two vehicles slammed together. Her T-boned door crumpled inward as the truck's fender plowed its way inside. Quick and irreversible, the damage ground through her -- crushed arm, crushed ribs, crushed heart. If there had been pain, thankfully she didn't remember it. Only a wonderment as the coupled vehicles skidded to a stop.

Like spreading fog, an intense white light rose up, enveloping her. So blinding she tried to shut her eyes against the glare, only to find them already closed. A dim figure appeared in the midst of that brilliance, coming toward her, arms wide and welcoming. She couldn't make out the face, but the figure radiated an aura of peace, warmth and unconditional love. Eric! It had to be him. But he was … dead. Her thoughts struggled wildly against that reality, the pain of it still too fresh and raw. But if it was Eric, did that mean she was . . .

--Phoenix


18. Alyson stumbled down the stairs, arms scrabbling feebly for support. A white hot pain was spreading throughout her chest, making each ragged breath a labor.

“Quite a powerful venom, no?” A voice called out from above.

She caught herself on an iron railing and searched for the speaker. Her vision was blurring. Every muscle in her body was contracting painfully.

“I imagine that right now, you’re beginning to regret your disobedience.” The voice belonged to the Duke. He stood atop a dilapidated balcony and leered down at her, his form splitting and swimming as her vision grew worse.

“What did you-“ Alyson gasped. A thousand wasps were assaulting her lungs. Her knees buckled and threatened to give way.

“Sleep now,” the Duke purred.

Alyson choked on something wet and warm. The pain in her abdomen rose to a furious crescendo. She swayed for a moment and then fell forward, dead before she hit the ground.


--Nick Berggreen


19. "Go get two more friends. We'll try again without the archer," Barro said.

"You think you're that good?"

"I'm better than the woman who defeated your leader. He's dead if you don't know yet. She didn't even have a blade in hand and was already wounded. Unlike her, I'm not wounded. Maybe you should go back and return with four Kogs."

Wazig charged upon hearing the insult. Barro stepped to the side at the critical moment. With his sword blocking Wazig's sword, Barro was free to thrust his dagger low from the side so Wazig couldn't make use of his shield at all. The look on Wazig's face left no doubt in Barro's mind that the fight was essentially over. By then Wazig's sword was falling to the ground with Wazig toppling across it.

"Maybe you should have taken my advice and returned with six of your friends," Barro muttered.

--Dave Kuzminski


20. "Get out of here," I told them. "They must know where we are."

A shockingly bright light was scorching down the sky, trailing fire. It struck the ground in total silence. A searchlight beamed upward into its trajectory, luminous as the weapon burn from Phlogkaalik's Adamski saucer crystal. Lune's weapon spoke to the sky. Brilliant crimson light bloomed directly ahead of me, then, at the horizon. Before I could do much more, in the ominous silence, than seize Lune to me and throw us both to the grassy soil, covering her with my own body, a slamming gale of superheated air rushed over us faster than sound from the deformers' asteroid strike and all I could think as I died in agony, flesh macerated from bone and then ignited, through the desolation and anger at losing Lune and my recovered parents, was, `Oh fuck, they've totaled the dinosaurs again.'

--August the 1st is too late


21. “I know,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense now, but when it does make sense--you’ll remember me, and the picture. I want you to know that it won’t be too late, even then, whenever that is.”

“Justin, I--”

“And I want you to forgive me.”

“You--”

She was interrupted by the sound of many engines straining uphill. Voices came up the road to them, shouting, “The sweep!” and other voices screamed. Strangers began running into the woods.

“Get out of here,” Eli shouted, pulling Kate by her arm away from Justin.

“But--”

“Shut up and run,” he said.

Black pickup trucks, each holding a dozen Community patrollers with automatic rifles, threaded along the road encircling the camp and stopped, evenly spaced like beads on a string. The black-uniformed officers hopped out of the trucks and commenced firing at every upright, un-uniformed being.

Eli lifted Justin, and as he stood, a line of bullets laced through the two of them. He fell forward over his brother.

--Jan Bear


22. Then there was this horrible frozen silence. Trev stood right in front of me, because I was hiding Rose behind me. His breath blew hot and oniony on my face and his eyes were wide, wide open, and I knew this wasn't what he'd planned, and then a shout rang from the other side of the road: "Run, Trev, run!" and he was gone.

The lorry driver staggered out of his cab, with blood streaming down his face and saying: "He came from nowhere, he came from nowhere." He peered at a dark object in the road and then he turned around and threw up on the pavement.

Rose was vomiting into the hedge. I stood alone on the pavement looking thirty metres along the road to where some clothes were scattered across the road with something broken and sprawling in them and dark stuff around them.

"'I was supposed to look after him," I said, and then blackness smothered me.

--Anon.

18 comments:

Bernita said...

My word, EE, there's a lot of killer writing in these scenes!

phoenix said...

Mmmm. Nothing like a little death with coffee in the morning. Presentation is everything, of course, and EE made it especially interesting with those reveals!

These were fun reads all, but very hard to comment on, manner of death-wise and such. Since these scenes were plucked from WIPs, I'll note a couple of construct things that struck me on some of them that may be indicative of the writing throughout -- or not. I'm sure I'm committing many of these same nits myself!

1. The majority of the sentences start with "she" or the equivalent. Maybe a little more sentence variation?

2. "His sidearm yanked out of his hand." I thought the sidearm was actually yanking itself out of his hand, so this phrase made me stop and lose the flow a bit.

4. Sameal and Sariel -- the names are awfully similar; may be hard to keep them distnguished. In "Lord of the Rings," my biggest peeve was characters named "Sauron" and "Saruman."

5. Ooh, I really liked this one. "subsided" in the last sentence was the only word choice that seemed awkward.

7. "A smell as sharp as teeth" didn't work for me as a metaphor. I did like the ice chest image, but using second person pulled me out of the writing. "...like ice from a chest freezer that's been dumped in the sink and hot water run over it ..." might not be so intrusive.

8. The Captain's long paragraph kind of had a lot of cliches in it for me. Didn't feel like real dialogue. Placement of "the Captain growled" feels wrong. Not sure you need that phrase or "Digger said" in the next 'graph either. You've established the speakers, just use action to distinguish them.

10. Sorry, but the second time Peter "flew" I snickered. Just a word choice issue, I think.

11. "real gun" stopped me for a moment. Isn't a tranq gun real? Do you see a real gun as only being one with bullets? My skin crawled at the word "thus," but that may just be a personal issue.

13. The phrase "a little while later" indicated to me more passing of time than what is really happening here. "...and lay back down ..." seems more gentle than what a spasming body would do.

14. Nice.

15. "final thought" sounds awfully final and for a narrator to say it's final makes it, well, not so final. If your narrator is coming back from the dead, that's one thing, and the thought would be a last thought before death, but if your narrator is gone for good, then it's kind of an awkward ending.

16. Not sure that "swift, soothing sound" goes together. I see the stream of conscious thinking here, but some paragraphing may help break up the different ideas going on for the reader.

19. My math skills were being tried here. First Barro says to get two friends, then he suggests four Kogs. On first read I didn't get the four Kogs were supposed to be in addition to the two friends, winding up with the six total Barro mentions at the end. The repetition of telling Wazig to bring back more allies didn't quite work for me.

20. I love the "Oh fuck, they've totaled the dinosaurs again" line, but it was a real chore reading through this densely written scene to get there. In a real-world situation, I'm afraid I never would have tried so hard to read and make sense of these long and complicated sentences.

Kat dreams said...

Phoenix said about 11 "My skin crawled at the word "thus," but that may just be a personal issue" Mine too!
and of
15. "final thought" sounds awfully final and for a narrator to say it's final makes it, well, not so final. If your narrator is coming back from the dead, that's one thing, and the thought would be a last thought before death, but if your narrator is gone for good, then it's kind of an awkward ending.

I wondered if it wasn't the final thought in the book. If so, it might work fine.

CSInman said...

Thanks everybody! This was fun!

IIIII
IIII










1. I guessed. You have a solid voice, and I got a sense of the character.

2. I guessed. The scene all fits together so well there was no other logical choice. Good job.

3. I almost guessed yours. I knew it was either D or R, but mostly because of the pronoun. I could see a pretty vivid landscape, which you suggested without even describing.

4. I didn't guess yours, but as soon as I read that last line I wanted to read it. You're witty.

5. I guessed yours. It was partially the pronoun though. Yours is one of the most emotional. I was left very curious if this is nearer the beginning of the book, or the end.

6. I guessed yours because I've read it, which is cheating. I'm a cheater.

7. I guessed it. Your voice is strong (and there weren't many first persons). It's engaging. I want to read it now.

8. I guessed it. Good job setting the scene--the way the Captain died was only logical.

9. Piece of cake, but somehow I missed it anyway. I somehow didn't see the option. You sound very creative.

10. I guessed. Man, that's brutal. If you wanted to make me uneasy about the idea of honor, you've done so!

11. I didn't guess yours because I didn't realize there was someone else there. Also, real quick, I was confused when you said he pulled out his real gun, but tranq guns didn't have much of a range. It took me a second read-through to figure out you meant the guards' tranq guns had a short range.

12. I should have guessed yours, but I did just wake up, so I'm slow. I cannot figure out why anyone's dying in yours, and it's made me very curious.

13. I guessed. His "symptoms" seemed to lead to the death sentence. (Hardy har, no pun intended.) Good job with continuity.

14. I guessed, but I wish I hadn't. That's horrifying. Yours is probably the one that affected me most after I'm Strangling You For Honor Guy.

15. The verb tense/first person combination gave it away, but I think I would have gotten it anyway. I'm really curious why the MC is bathing in poison. Cool.

16. Guessed it. Great voice, great details. The only one you're missing is now godawful a body in a car in August would smell when they found it, but uh, we don't really need that.

17. I guessed because the voice and pace matched so well. Good job.

18. I guessed. That villain is creep, but then again, if I poisoned someone I guess I'd probably rub it in too. "Vision was blurring => vision blurred," "was contracting => contracted," and "were assaulting => assaulted." I'm going through my own novel right now weeding out ever one of those superfluous instances of 'was,' and I have a lot of them.

19. Guessed it. The setup was irrevocably linked to the line. I hate admitting this, because it's so cheesy, but I love glib I-just-killed-you lines. Yours is good.

20. I guessed. It's pretty much impossible for that ending to belong to any other entry. Congratulations on originality!

21. I guessed. They're narrowed down by now, which helped, but I think the comrades-escaping-together feeling was thick enough I could have gotten it anyway. Good job.

22. Wow, I still didn't guess yours. In my morning fuzziness, I guessed one I'd already guessed. (R.) "Rose was vomiting => Rose vomited." I'm going through my own novel right now weeding out ever one of those superfluous instances of 'was,' and I have a lot of them.

Crystal Charee said...

1) I don't know if you're going for a formal, step by step tone because the character is in shock, but you may want to add a little more reactions from her, and less of the CPR instructions.

2) In the second paragraph, the breath thing is cliche, but I like the part about the chuckle. This is a powerful story you have here. It's like machine-vs-machine, which could be like, metaphorical for man-vs-man.

3) I liked this.

4) The rest of the paragraph after "...sake, Sam." is clunky. Especially if she's a woman of few words. The conversation seems a little "As you know, Bob" until he gets to the point and asks her to go be Waterman's new girlfriend. Although, if she's got a gun on him, and is about to shoot him, I wonder why they're having such a long conversation. If you're trying to build tension, the dialogue needs to be snappier.

5) I've read this before. A lot.

6) If CC is seeing his friend die, then describe it physically. Sight is what we rely on first, unless we're blind. If he heard the crunching from behind, then the last line is fine.

7) The "frightening things" drag the scene out and remove the tension. Ditch the "screaming type" sentence. The eep is fine, but a little flip if she actually gave a rat's ass about her husband. Throwing up in the tub is fine. Most ex-husbands make us sick. Cute story. I'd read more.

8) I liked this. Weird, but cool. Some of the writing could probably be tightened up, but it's difficult to tell with this short of an excerpt.

9) "First actual enemy" and "whoever you are" don't gel. I have no idea what the hell is going on, which in this short of a an excerpt means that you're either describing too many irrelevant things, or you're not using enough words to describe what's happening. I like the first and the last line, and the story is intriguing.

10) Your sentences have a lot of commas. You're describing a fight scene from a movie, there's nothing visceral for the senses to hold on to or focus on.

11) Action scenes are things we're all familiar with, so you don't have to start from scratch. Just describe the interesting parts, like the character's thoughts and reactions. Try keeping a closer POV on your character. How does he react when Fabian's body jerk back? What does he think? How does he feel? Is he already moving on to what his next move is?

12) The scene is a little disjointed, which makes sense, since we're only getting a portion of it. I wouldn't really say anything else except that prolonged bouts of wretching don't carry the action along.

13) "Besides, there wasn’t anything much like a hand left." Cool line.

14) Wow, that was sad. I wish I hadn't read that.

I wrote #15. Yeah, she wakes up under water the next morning, with a slightly adjusted attitude and a whole new set of problems. Thanks for the comments, guys/gals.

16) You may want to change the sentence with four commas into two sentences.

17) Very powerful writing. The "coupled vehicles" part reads a little awkward like you're trying to squish a few sentences together into one.

18) "A thousand wasps were assaulting her lungs." I love this sentence, but I would change "were assaulting" to "assaulted". Less passive.

19) "She didn't even have a blade in hand and was already wounded." Awkward. "She allowed herself to be wounded" sounds more arrogant, and it's easier to follow. I've read that three-second fight scene a thousand times and seen it in movies about a million times.

20) You have one sentence with nine commas in it. I love the last line.

21) I've read this before too. A lot.

22) "...some clothes were scattered across the road with something broken and sprawling in them and dark stuff around them." Huh? Don't spend so many words describing something so vague.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Bernita, where can I purchase some of that rose-scented sea salt? I have a son-in-law.... 'Nuff said? ;)

Dave Kuzminski said...

Oh, about that three-second fight, sorry, but I couldn't help keeping it realistic in length. Just based on my own experiences in combat. Fights just don't last very long.

Oh, and the girl was tied up. She managed to kick him from behind. That's when she was hit by a friendly arrow. She wanted to stay and stomp the guy dead, but Barro exaggerated about her killing him. He killed the leader so she'd leave then for the rescue ship. But I can see that it's easy to misinterpret the scene when so little is available.

McKoala said...

It astonishes me how often the POV character carks it in these. So what happens in the rest of the book?! Shifting POV? Or are these lots of prologues? Or final pages? Or characters coming back from the dead? Can we do a survey?!

A few comments:

4. Samael and Sariel: confusing names.

6. Who died?! Cody or Luke?

7. The biting shelves didn’t work for me. Great last line.

10. Too many Johns and Peters. How about the odd ‘He’? Your action should make it clear which one is being referred to.

11. I’d establish who drove earlier so you don’t have to split the action with it.

12. Confusing, but probably only because it’s an extract. A horse, a cat and who is Mescobal? Probably perfectly clear if you’re reading the whole thing, so ignore me.

14. This one made me feel. Loved the detail of the shirt. Spot on in every way.

16. Another great one. Nice tone, nice detail. Excellent.

20. A bit jargon-heavy to read, but fabulous last line.

22. Mine. Points taken. Thanks for commenting!

CSInman said...

Author of #6 here. ;) I didn't mean to be anonymous--I just forgot to add my name.

Crystal - this 150 words comes out of an entire chapter when they've been trekking through a lightless tunnel under a mountain. Thanks for pointing it out though--if they HADN'T been in the tunnel, that would have been a huge oversight for me. (And I make them. A lot.)

McKoala - I think I might have chosen something else if I'd had the foresight--as an excerpt this is more confusing that it is in the chapter. Luke "carked" it, so to speak. (I love your slang.)

takoda said...

They were all good! 3, 8, and 21 were my favorites!
Thanks for sharing!
Cheers,

Bernita said...

Don't try ordinary, iodized table salt, Dave - you're not treating him for goiter.

BuffySquirrel said...

The 150 word limit is of course to blame for any confusion ;).

"Cat" is a not-quite-derogatory term for Mescobal, a friend of our protag's who's just been killed when their horses collided while they were racing.

Hwalk said...

Mine was #10, and it was from a longer story I had written, but this particular death scene had to be edited out. I also changed the names from the original. But there are good comments--except I think a lot of it would be different if they had read the entire scene.

sylvia said...

1. I felt the scene was well written but low on stress. She could be an ambulance driver, doing her job. I like the reaching for the phone in terms of showing her mindset and confusion but "collapsed" seemed a bit strong.

2. I like this one but I wasn't sure what a sidearm was (did the robot yank it away from him? is it a divining rod type motion that makes him aware that the robot is still functioning?). The robot dismantling the light seemed to me gave the guy a break, the robot is distracted from him, just for a moment. I loved the efficiently separating of his components which removes any chance of anthromorposing the robot.

3. Mine -- and I was thrilled that csinman liked the description. That's something I always struggle with.

4. Maybe this works better in context but the first line immediately struck me as a version of "Well, Bob, as we all know...." exposition. But if I picked up this book in the middle (do other people do that? stealing a page or two that someone else is reading and then carefully replacing the book as it was?) I'd carry on out of curiosity about whether the man with the wolf existed or was just a twist on the phrase.

5. The first death scene with the narrator visibly shocked and upset! I really liked the description (black in the shadows, horrible warmth) and the backwards tear. I couldn't help but wonder how many people matched your last line to my scene.

6. This was confusing, possibly simply because it's out of context. Coyote Cody is a bit of a mouthful which becomes really noticeable with the repetition: "something leaped on Coyote Cody's back....One of those supernatural sneaks crouched on Coyote Cody's back." The next reference to CC could simply be "he" as we are only dealing with "him" and "it" at that moment. I was not clear who Luke was referring to (CC?) and why that meant he got eaten. Maybe I would with more context.

7. I felt a bit frustrated at not knowing the first frightening thing, this might be a context issue. "The name gave the empty eyes focus" is a great line and I laughed aloud at the final line (I admit that I actually scanned through the stories looking for the match when I saw the final line in the first section). I had to read the line where she backed up into the shelf twice, too many objects for me to hold onto what was where.

8. There's narrator confusion here I think. I believe the narrator when I am told "Digger wanted to excuse the dead bodies," but then it seems the narrator lied because Digger was the one that killed them? I don't mind description leading me astray but in this case I can only hope that I misunderstood the direct statement. The captain also seemed a bit odd - "I think you are a murderer and I think we are about to catch you but I'm happy to turn my back to you" -- under the circumstances, shouldn't he have been a bit more defensively minded?

9. I didn't really connect to Saki in this -- her monologue felt a bit like what I remember from comic strips -- "You thought you could take on the world, but then you made a fatal mistake!". Why is she saying anything other than "You threatened my boys" and upping the heat? I liked her cupping her hands over her ears despite the internal scream.

More soon...

Bernita said...

Sylvia, the dead man was the first frightening thing.

sylvia said...

So the second was that he was animated? I sort of combined the two into one. But I think that might just be me :)

sylvia said...

10. I had a bit of difficulty following who did what at the end of the first paragraph. With that sort of action scene, I think you have to be sure that every action is clearly attached to an actor. I personally would stick to short sentences but that may be a simple personal preference. I was slightly surprised that there was flying/splattered blood in all this? Or even just John removing his bloodstained hands - but somehow the scene feels "neat" to me rather than a messy fight scene.

11. "Just as the main doors opened" confused me until I realised it referred to the previous sentence, not the guards. Then the bastard who was running got no further mention -- this is perhaps clear in context but Alex was chasing, then running (and referring to a tranq gun he threw away? Ah no, that's the guards' gun he's thinking about -- in which case I think "knowing" is redundant). It was rather bizarre that the nearest car (assumably not coincidental) had someone underneath it that is being shot whilst Alex is in the clear: seems a bit close for comfort and why did Fabian simply wait there - couldn't he see Alex (and the guards) running at the car he was using for cover? This one intrigued me lots but out of context I just couldn't make sense of the scene.

12. "That daft Arab took a branch for a snake, and you piled into him" I have no clue what this means - is this something that makes sense within the world? The final line (which I wouldn't have guessed) seems an odd reaction to someone who is dying right in front of you -- or is he referring to the cat? In which case it's still odd to me that he'd be ignoring the shot.

13. "Whatever you’re going to turn into is going to kill all of us. " -- so it's a good thing he's dead instead of changing into something else evil, isn't it? The line about "come to himself a little while later" takes all urgency out of the scene, I get the feeling they are not in current, direct danger. If that's not intentional, then you may wish to rephrase.

14. Wow. I love this. Is this the start? I'd read on. My favourite.

sylvia said...

15. The plans for world domination seemed a bit blatant exposition -- there's no deeper thoughts there, no insight into the personality. More importantly, I can't quite imaging how you deal with a dead narrator.

16. If you delete "asshole" you give us the chance to work it out, likewise "like he needed any". The remaining sentence makes the narrator's feelings towards the contractor pretty clear. I like the rest of this a lot, it's hard to do that kind of description without it feeling like a list and you pulled it off nicely.

17. "If there had been pain, thankfully she didn't remember it." this takes out outside of the scene, to the future where she is thinking about what we remembers. The rest of the paragraph is so immediate and right there, I think this detracts. "There was no pain, only wonderment as..." would cover the issue without breaking us out of the moment.

18. I liked this a lot; I could really feel the pain. The only bit that struck me as a bit odd was his form splitting and swimming. For a moment I assumed supernatural, then at the end of the sentence I realised she just had double vision.

19. The paragraph of conversation is very stilted and feels like exposition. Do people say "if you don't know yet" ? And couldn't they see that the speaker isn't wounded? This struggles compared to the last sentence, where we can really feel Barro's personality. Wazig's shift from conversation to attack seems abrupt but this could be because the scene is out of context

20. I found this a little bit hard to follow: the last sentence is uncommonly long. Before, than, covering, all I could think, died, through the....it's very hard to keep track of (and I think the "than" is a mistake though it's hard to tell).


21. I like the amount of information I gain from this, without having to be told. The pulling her away action is a bit odd -- it seems that if he is pulling her away from Justin, he must be pulling her towards himself? Perhaps pushing her away from both of them would make more sense, but it's hard to say without context. I'm intrigued and want to know more.

22. I like the detail here and excellent examples of showing rather than telling: the driver's shock through the repetition, the clothes scattered on the robe, smothered by blackness. I'm not sure why Trev only stood before the narrator because Rose was behind? She's not really hidden then? This might be clear in context.