Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Beginning 228

“There’s a parachute in that locker,” Sam yelled. Anti-artillery bullets shattered the cockpit, ricocheted inside the old plane. I buckled my parachute.

“They’ll shoot you down. We have to reach the escarpment. There are caves there that can provide shelter.” Engine #4 burst into flame. Airspeed dropped. The plane shook. Tried to fly. Falling. Glenn throttled down #4.

“Grab the stick and help me pull it up. We need to gain altitude.” I jumped into the copilot’s seat and yanked the stick. Ground rose faster than the plane climbed. Glen bent the throttle levers back. The engines screamed in death agonies, climbing once more. An updraft lifted the plane. It clipped trees. Killed birds. The escarpment came into view.

“Jump now.” Sam yelled, bracing the stick. Engine bearings shrieked as metal scored metal. Engine #1 seized, ripped apart. We jumped. We watched. Half-wingless, the plane spiraled downward. A final descent. A fiery end.

Too late I realized that if the plane was clipping treetops and killing birds, it sure as hell wasn't high enough for our chutes to open.

So within moments we were impaled on sheared tips of trees. Then we grabbed our sticks again, if you know what I mean, because hey, when you're impaled on treetops in the middle of nowhere, you might as well yank the stick.

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Dr. Hack


Bernita said...

I donno.
He should know where the parachutes are kept. Hard to jump into a seat with one on, I suspect.
"You?" Isn't it "us?"
And these caves in the escarpment information.
I'm sorry, I don't get any sense of reality here.

Anonymous said...

Bummer when they find those dudes on the ground already have fab hideouts in those caves, eh?

writtenwyrdd said...

This has a lot of drama and tension, which I like; but it doesn't really work just yet. There are some logic errors and a few details that don't quite work, but I think it can be fixed in your edits easily enough.

I particularly liked "Engine #1 seized, ripped apart." I think I'd have liked it more if you added something further such as, "its shrapnel pattered against the windshield." But I must point out that immediately following this, you jumped and watched...AFTER the plane is already clipping trees. This is a logic error.

I can believe prior knowledge of the caves, but the majority of the details () are more directed toward telling the reader stuff than to create the scene. That probably will make a lot of people wonder about the caves, too.

A few suggested changes: "and yanked the stick" becomes "pulled." Explain "bracing the stick." I assume you meant he wanted to keep the plane flying, but they are brushing the trees so it doesn't make sense. Delete "Birds died." (How would the narrator know this?) "They’ll shoot you down" becomes "They'll shoot us down." "But we realized" should be "but I realized."

This is very visual and pulls the reader along. I'd have kept reading, that's certain.

Anonymous said...

I got lost on the "anti-artillery bullets" and spent the rest of the time looking for other mistakes. I think you meant anti-aircraft artillery shells.

Others mentioned the treetops thing. I also didn't like the "Ground rose faster than the plane climbed." Technically, if the ground is rising, then the plane isn't climbing, is it? Unless... they're flying up a mountainside and the escarpment drops off in the direction they're heading, like in those opening James Bond scenes when he comes to a sudden 40,000 foot cliff and James drops his skis or snowmobile or powerboat and pops his chute. Is that the case? If so, it may be clear in your mind, but it's entirely unclear to your reader.

I'm also having a hard time seeing how people can be hopping in and out of cockpit seats, bracing the stick, and jumping out of the plane all pretty much at the same time. Does Sam get out, too?

Does the actual plane crash serve any plot purpose other than to put the characters into the location? Clearly you're trying to set an exciting mood, start out with a bang so to speak, but I'm wondering if perhaps you can forego the trite and relatively meaningless stick-yanking and start with the main characters watching the plane's death spiral from their chutes. If the scene inside the airplane is important to the plot, you're doing it an injustice with such a short description and so little detail all mashed together. If it's not important, I'd say drop it and start after they've exited the plane.

shaded-lily said...

Funny continuation. It focused on one of the big problems I had in reading this -- where the heck is this plane, that it's clipping trees and yet they're putting on parachutes?

Some things in the narration I really liked -- e.g., "Airspeed dropped. The plane shook. Tried to fly. Falling." ... "Ground rose faster than the plane climbed."

The dialogue didn't work for me. As someone above me pointed out, it seems aimed at the reader. Apparently the narrator knows his way around a cockpit, and yet Glen[Glenn?] is telling him something as obvious as "We need to gain altitude." Also, whoever's talking in paragraph 2 seems to be using rather long, formal sentences for an emergency situation. I know from reading CVR transcripts that cockpit crews sometimes maintain incredible coolness in danger, but they tend to talk in a clipped manner, more like your narration.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you love old WWII movies and want to write about that kind of stuff, but don't really know very much about the subject. My guess is that you're in high school and haven't had time to spend a jillion hours reading to get the military vocabulary and logic etc straight. That's what you need to start doing. Finding a few old guys who were there and are willing talk about what it was like would also be helpful.

Robin S. said...

First of all, you're a hoot, Dr. Hack. Yank indeed, so to speak.

Author, it's fine with me if someone in the plane doesn't know where the parachutes are, in the old plane that he/she may be in for the first time - as readers, we don't know that yet.

I think short, clipped sentences are great tools when you're describing an urgent situation - but still, the flow of the words needs to be there, I think.

For instance - "The plane shook. Tried to fly. Falling." I had trouble going from "tried to fly" to "falling".

I think this could be good - but might need fact-checking (see other comments for this- I have no facts to give regarding artillery, etc)- and maybe a reworking in a few parts. Nothing an edit can't fix.

Anonymous said...

Anon said:
"Unless... they're flying up a mountainside and the escarpment drops off in the direction they're heading,"

Bingo, you got it right.

Anonymous said...

The line, "They'll shoot you down" implies that the ground forces will shoot the parachute and cause it to fall too fast. Thus killing the user.

Anonymous said...

The author says:

This wasn't supposed to be first person. I didn't do a good job of taking all that out of the draft.

There are three men (Mark, Sam & Glen) in an old propeller driven airplane. One says jump. The pilot says don’t. They are talking to the third man.

This, by the way, is so strange forcing myself not to be emotional (excited) by the visual of the plane climbing over a mountain while under gunfire and remaining as analytical as I usually react to all the posts here.

PS - I'm not young and definitely not in high school. That's a big smile.

writtenwyrdd said...

Well now you know what is snagging folk's attention and what they are misunderstanding and can go fix it. Sometimes that's hard to hear, but you do get used to it. Sort of.

Wonderwood said...

Great continuation! It nailed the failed logic of the opening.

Author, if the purpose of the scene with the plane going down is to provide immediate tension, the logic is faulty, as has been pointed out. If the plane is clipping tree tops, parachutes aren't the answer. It may be that they clear a ridge and have thousands of feet below them, and this is clarified in the next few paragraphs, but by that time I've lost the will to suspend my disbelief. I also saw the problem of jumping into the co-pilot's seat with a parachute strapped on. This didn't seem believable.

I like the voice and the attempted tension, I think it has good possibilities, but I think it needs some work. Keep at it, you've got something there, some clarification with an eye toward logic would go a long way.

Anonymous said...

Author says thanks everyone.

Anonymous said...

Do you realize that if you take this original version:
"Jump now.” Sam yelled, bracing the stick. Engine bearings shrieked as metal scored metal. Engine #1 seized, ripped apart. We jumped. We watched. Half-wingless, the plane spiraled downward. A final descent. A fiery end."

And change it to this:
“Jump now.” Sam yelled, bracing the stick. We jumped. Engine bearings shrieked as metal scored metal. It seized, ripped apart. Half-wingless, the plane spiraled downward. We watched. A final descent. A fiery end.

It's logical and contains the same words as the original?

veri: igppmqxn - a new drug?

Anonymous said...

I liked the part about the ground rising faster than the aircraft gained altitude.