Tuesday, August 15, 2006

New Beginning 74

A Life Gone Wrong

The dust was still settling and there wasn’t time to think. He jumped from his truck and ran toward the overturned SUV, crunching broken glass and indistinguishable bits of automobile under his boots. A hand was lying partially out of the window on the hard packed dirt of the roadway. He braced himself for yet another bloody MVA as he dropped to the ground and looked into the open window.

She was hanging from the seatbelt; blood running down her face, through her dark hair and onto the roof below. She turned her head; her dark blue eyes terrified, her mouth moving but her words lost in the din from the still blaring radio.

He leaned lower and searched around the interior. She was alone and the passenger side door was wedged open. He pushed up, ran around to the open door, dropped to the ground and slid into the cab.

He gasped.

"I . . . I thought it was the radio -- but you've actually got the CD! Oh my God, do you know how long I've been trying to get my hands on Bobulinski's "East of the Sun?"

She groaned.

"Shh!" he commanded. "This is the best part."

Opening: anonymous.....Continuation: Sophia Ahmed


Anonymous said...

Brilliant continuation.

I like the opening too. I'd definitely read on. What's an MVA though?

Anonymous said...

There's a lot about this I really like. Crunching broken glass puts me right in the scene. I love that the radio is blaring.

However (there has to be a "however" if I'm gonna try to offer any help, right?), there are also a few places I think you can really improve.

The opening sentence: "dust was still settling" is too close to the common phrase so it doesn't plant the reader at the scene of the accident right when it happens. Million more ways to do it, even if you want to keep dust. But soon after, her hand is on "the hard packed dirt" so I have a placement problem. Did she go off the road and stir up a lot of dust or is she still on the road?

I didn't get much sleep last night, but I'm thinking hard as to what "MVA" stands for.

Oddly, wouldn't the blood be running UP her face since she's hanging upside down? It's minor, maybe, but I think it would actually enhance the picture of the scene for the reader and provide another of the excellent details you've got working for you.

Finally, he doesn't actually search around the interior. I think that's the wrong word. Gives the impression he's inside there when in reality, he's looking inside. So his eyes might be searching.

It's a good read though and I enjoyed it a lot, so I'd definitely keep reading.

Now somebody please enlighten me on the MVA front.

braun said...

Kudos on the continuation!

Hey, the opening's not bad either.

Evil Editor said...

Motor Vehicle Accident

Anonymous said...

I'd like it.

(bzzr: me)

Anonymous said...

I really like this one--except the first sentence. The second sentence would make a great beginning. The first sentence is boring and the only useful work it's doing is telling us the accident had just that moment happened. Do we really need to know that? If so, maybe something like "the overturned and still rocking SUV"? (OK, that's awful, but maybe something along those lines?)

It sets up an interesting situation, the description is vivid, I definitely want to keep reading.

Anonymous said...

Down, as a direction, is still down, frainstorm -I think.

I think this is good writing but agree with frainstorm about the "dust was still settling" part. Maybe, "He crouched down as the dust settled around him."? I don't know. I obviously am not a writer but you get the idea (I hope). -JTC

Beth said...

Interesting, with just a few prose glitches to bump us out. Make it clear up front that the car is upside down, because that isn't how I first pictured it and I had to rearrange my image later. That's always jarring. Also, since she's hanging upside down, wouldn't the blood be running up her face? And that phrase--"he searched around the interior"--sounds like a physical search. Maybe "he glanced around..."

Might be a nice detail to include exactly what was playing on the radio.

Though with the engine presumably stalled, would the radio still be on?

Anonymous said...

pdqoqtk: "the overturned and still rocking SUV" sounds like a great tittle for a song, or a biography!

Anonymous said...

As long as the key is on, the radio will be on.

Also, agree with JTC, down is still down. As in, the direction gravity pulls.

Macuquinas d' Oro said...

Good strong beginning. Real action!I liked it and want to read more.

I would lose the "MVA" acronym. You may be using it to suggest that the rescuer is some kind of paramedic or police, but it is just too distracting, as the previous comments attest.

I would like a clearer layout of the accident scene. Is the vehicle upside down in the middle of the road or on the shoulder?
When the rescuer was crunching glass and metal under his boots, I visualized pavement, but then do I hear it's packed dirt? I suppose you can still crush glass on a dirt surface, but you suggest pavement then say dirt.
Help your readers get a little clearer settled picture of the accident scene, and we will respond better to the action.

Anonymous said...


"If this SUV's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'."

Sorry. Sorry. It's the NyQuil.

The opening sentence is weak, but the rest is good. For those who didn't realize the SUV was upside-sown, well, He jumped from his truck and ran toward the overturned SUV... Can't get much clearer than that. And living here in the boonies, I can testify that dirt and gravel roads crunch--sometimes without the assistance of broken glass. I would change "down her face" to "across her face" or something, to avoid the whole upside-downside thing.

As for MVA--sheesh, people, don't any of you watch er? :)

Beth said...

Also, agree with JTC, down is still down. As in, the direction gravity pulls.

Well, then what's needed is more vivid detail. The blood ran into her ears/hair/eyes...something to help us really see this. This opening felt a little on the bland side to me, in terms of concrete, arresting description.

Bernita said...

Simple past, please.
Not "was hanging" but "hung", etc.

HawkOwl said...

Beth - It is clear upfront that the SUV is upside-down. It's described as "overturned" the first time we see it. And there is no need for the engine to stall, especially if it's an automatic.

Frainstorm - Driving a dirt road kicks up a lot of dust. She could very well be "on the hard packed dirt of the roadway" and still have dust settling. (Though it is rather weird that the SUV rolled but stayed in the road. Generally vehicles roll perpendicular to the road, hence into the ditch.) And cops do search your car just by looking in. It's not as thorough as pulling everything out while you stand and watch, but they do it. (I've had my car searched quite a few times.)

pdqoqtk - Why would the timing of the accident not be included? It's totally relevant to everyone's actions at this point. And the dust is relevant too. It sets the scene and it might affect reactions as well. No one likes dust.

I'm surprised that so many people could read a description of a motor vehicle accident followed by the term "bloody MVA" and not conclude that MVA stands for Motor Vehicle Accident, but Macuquinas d'Oro might have a point. Although it totally helps set up the male character as a probable rescuer, it might have to go.

What I think is most disappointing is that everyone is picking at the ups and downs and tenses, and no one commented on the interesting creepiness. The guy looks like a rescuer, but then he starts searching the interior instead of assessing the victim? Sounds like something gross and disturbing is about to happen.

I don't like it personally, but it's more of a genre thing. It sounds like it's either gonna go CSI or Dean Koontz on us, and I don't like either. But if that's what you're aiming for, good job so far.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know what MVA was, either. And yes, I took it to indicate the character was a police officer or paramedic or some official. The story already had me by then so I didn't really slow down to worry about it.

Loved the detail. Agree dust settling is trite, though.

The writing is clear and tracked easily for me, but I was caught by "he pushed up"--Just a sentence or so before he searched around the interior, so I thought he pushed up with his hands on the accelerator or something, but quickly got re-oriented with the next bit. Understood he pushed himself up off the ground. Perhaps if you change "searched" to glanced or whatever, I wouldn't get caught on this.

Except for that one clause (and the first sentence), I loved it.

I'd keep reading.

Beth said...

It's described as "overturned" the first time we see it.

Hmmm [hastening back to look again], so it is. My apologies. However, a more graphic description than a single adjective (which my eye bumped right over) would not go amiss.

The opening has great possibilities. It just needs some color added.

Anonymous said...

I thought the whole searching of the interior was maybe just for other potential victims. Unless this is a cop whose been chasing this vehicle for miles, he might not realize she's alone in there. I didn't get any creepy vibes from this--especially after he has to brace himself against what he might find in the SUV. He's just trying to find out what he's up against, and how best to deal with the situation. Always better to look before you act.

As for the up/down--it really is fine either way, IMO. It's clear from the rest of the sentence that the blood's running from her chin to her hairline and then "onto the roof below." I had absolutely no trouble visualizing this scene.

HawkOwl said...

Yeah, but if he's just looking for additional victims, why does he walk around the vehicle after he's already looked in? He can see from the driver side that there is no one, and what's more, the first victim is conscious. The guy actually walks away from a conscious victim without saying one word to her. That's just wrong. If he was there to rescue her, he'd talk to her right away. I think he's going around the passenger side to do something evil. Hello, author? Tell us what he's up to!

And back to the dust, why is it trite that dust is settling? It's been done... So what? It's been done because dust settles. Often. Especially after car accidents on dirt roads. Just because it's a weather opening doesn't mean it doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

He can't talk to her because the radio is blaring Bon Jovi's "Have and Nice Day", so he runs around to the passenger side door which he saw was wedged open when "glanced" around the SUV interior.

He's a Navajo County, Arizona Sheriff's officer, named Gabe Navarro.

She's Shelby Ryan, a Department Of Justice Agent investigating a domestic terrorist act at the nearby Cholla Power Plant.

Help me find a publisher and learn the rest of the story.


HawkOwl said...

Ok, then I don't like it. LOL I totally think a real good guy would have shouted something over the radio (how loud can the radio possibly be, anyway?) and if he couldn't make himself heard, done something else to reassure the victim. I was liking the idea that something totally evil happens on word 151 - even though that's not my genre. Cops versus terrorists is totally not something I want to read. However, I think you can write, and don't let anyone talk you out of the dust. There's nothing wrong with dust settling. Good luck finding a publisher.

mtqykr - the sound the victim would have made next if I had my way.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you could have such fun with the song left playing on the radio.

"Wreck on the Highway" - Springsteen
"Shiny, Happy People" - REM
"Crash Into Me" - Dave Matthews
"Leader of the Pack" - Shangri La's
"Dead Man's Curve" - Jan & Dean
"Spirit in the Night" - Manfred Mann, but only if she dies in the next 150 words.
"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" - Gordon Lightfoot. (It's only 150 words, they might be driving on a dirty ferry for all we know.)

Okay, I'm about out.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I bet there's a grunge band somewhere near Seattle called MVA and they probably have a single called "Death Crash" or something.

I'm just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback and fun everyone.


Anonymous said...

I thought maybe he went around to the other side to retrieve something - something she was trying to keep safe and failed. It is more important than she is and with her out of the way....BWHAHAHAHA. I'm not quite as ominous as Hawkowl but I definitely liked the bad guy element. Maybe I just miss the X-Files.

Frainstorm's Seattle band suggestion is great. I've had a lot of experience trying to incorporate song titles and ALWAYS am lambasted if the song is too parallel or obvious. You could use the song for obscure forshadowing. However, making up and band and song could also be great and maybe that missing piece you've been searching for...(MVA "Death Crash" - love it!)