Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Power of Tension blogfest


It's time for the Power of Tension Blogfest, and here's what's required:

"Give us an excerpt (up to 300 words) from your manuscript or recently completed work (or just a random scene) that just drips with tension and will tie us up in knots wanting to know more. It doesn’t matter what the piece is about, as long as it screams tension." - Rachel Morgan & Cally Jackson


I'm going to share an excerpt from one of my Chrysalis stories. I'm sorry to say it's 12 words over the 300-word limit. I snipped what I could but I think I left the essentials. I could be wrong of course. :D Feedback is of course welcome!

The story was originally in past tense, but I switched this excerpt to present because I felt that would increase the "immediacy". I think I caught all the "need to switch that from past to present" moments.

Anyway, here goes:

I make it to the corner store with minutes to spare.

Rushing down the kitchen and bathroom aisle, I dart around the corner and see the storeroom door. Suppressing a yell of triumph and relief, I fly at the door and rattle the handle—it turns. I fall on it, push, slip inside. My breaths are harsh in my ears, but at least they’re still coming.

Time, time, so little time.

I begin to whimper as I lock myself in and throw my dusty backpack on the grimy white tiles. Sometimes I can’t help making those sounds. It’s been so long since I spoke to another human being. Talking to myself is a substitute. And when the words won’t come I just make sounds.

Human sounds, I think.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember.

Silent tears make tracks through the dust on my face as I kneel and rummage through my pack. Compulsively I check my stopwatch and nearly cry out.

Less than a minute to go.

The syringe is in my hand, but I can’t find the scarf. I curse and dig deeper, fingers scrabbling. Where the hell IS it?

I look around in mounting desperation, and see a bungee cord. I don’t even stop to wonder what that might have been used for originally. I snatch it up and wrap it around my arm, breath tearing in and out of my throat. My veins pop out under my skin, and I quickly fill the syringe with sleep syrup. Then I stick myself.

When it’s over and a tiny speck of blood is all the sign that I’ve made it in time, I pack away my materials and lean back against the door, eyes closed. Tears continue to bubble over, making my eyes sting even more. But I’ve made it in time. I’m
sure I have.

Reality fades, and I play dead.

51 comments:

  1. Which one was that from? It's slightly intoxicating.

    The only feedback I have is 'My breaths are...' sounds kind of strange.

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  2. It was from the "come to me to feel my protection" prompt :) Yeah, I wasn't sure about that "breaths" part either. Originally it was a longer sentence... lol

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  3. Ooo, so many questions! Nice job building the tension. I want to know what the MC is hiding from, why they haven't talked to anyone in so long, why are they playing dead, why the deadline? Great job. I would keep reading to answer all of those questions.

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  4. Very nice. Very well done in the present tense too. I'm way to chicken to try that.

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  5. I think you should give it a shot Rusty! :D Most of my writing isn't present tense, but the stuff I've done I have really enjoyed. :)

    Thanks Charity :)

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  6. I'm really wondering why she doesn't even remember if the sounds she makes are human sounds - very interesting!

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  7. Yep that is a good one :-)

    Love to know what and where that fits into!

    well done!

    Sarah

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  8. Tension is certainly there. So are the questions! You did a masterful job in drawing us in, making us worry for her. Roland

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  9. Thanks guys!

    The short story is actually one I'd like to expand into a longer work. Right now it's about 1,700 words.

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  10. Wha-wha-what? What happened? What did she inject herself with? What happens next? Why is she playing dead? Who was she running from? So many questions! I loved this! Brilliant!

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  11. The tension was there from the very first line, which was great! Present tense adds a feel of immediacy, very clever. Well done!

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  12. Thanks J.C. and Lissa, glad you enjoyed :)

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  13. That was really great, I felt for her the whole time. Nice tension! :)

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  14. Excellent tension! I agree with the others, there's so many questions I want answered - NOW! You had me pulling for her straight off with the bit about not knowing is she's making human sounds. :D

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  15. I loved that. So immediately in the thick of the turmoil. You give such vivid details. Wonderful.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

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  16. Anytime you have a time limit, it's bound to bump up the tension. Good job!

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  17. Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed! :)

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  18. Very nice! Love the uncertainty on the end.

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  19. Really good. Great tension. I have so many questions. I would sooo read on to answer those questions. The present tense worked perfectly here.

    Nice!
    Vicki

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  20. Nicely done! I actually felt her panic. I really liked this post.

    I agree with Brooke's "My breaths are..." comment. It falls strangely on the ear while the rest of the piece feels almost lyrical. I'd suggest you use something like "my breathing sounds harsh..."

    :-)

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  21. Wow that was fabulous! Original and well paced.
    Did you see mine?: http://scribbleandedit.blogspot.com/2010/11/excerpt.html

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  22. I like this. You are a great writer and I could feel the tension in your prose.

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  23. This piece is likely to stick with me. I'm left with lots of questions. Good luck!

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  24. Thanks everybody :) Loving the other excerpts I've read too!

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  25. Oh wow, this was amazing! Please please please write it into a longer work! I'd want to read a novel about this person. So very cool (and tense).

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  26. Thanks Sari :) I'm contemplating expanding on it for BuNoWriMo...but I dunno. Argh, so many ideas, so little will to decide on just one. hehe

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  27. Wonderful! I was holding my breath and practically running along with the character from the very beginning. Loved it!

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  28. That was very intriguing! It left me with a million questions, first and foremost being, what on earth is the deadline for, closely followed with, what would happen to her if she didn't make it in time?

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  29. The tension is certainly there and I want to know more about the deadline!? Great job :)

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  30. Thanks Halli, Gabrielle & Gwen - glad you enjoyed :)

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  31. Wow. I'm hooked. You did an excellent job with the tension!

    Power Of Tension Blogfest

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  32. You hooked me as well. Great tension and fascinating character. Really enjoyed reading this.

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  33. WOW Trish...


    This was AMAZING.... Lots of tension and unanswered questions. Impressive!

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  34. Ellie, Siv and Michael - thanks, glad you liked it. It's been great reading everyone else's excerpts too!

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  35. Even though I have no idea what is happening, or why the MC is in such a hurry, the tension and immediacy is clear. Good job!

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  36. That scene hooked me. I'm dying to know what's going on and what happens next. Nice work.

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  37. Thanks Botanist and Stephanie - glad you enjoyed it! :)

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  38. Wow. Hectic! I really want to know more about this story! So many unanswered questions...
    Thanks for entering :-)

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  39. Thanks for co-hosting it Rachel! It's been lots of fun reading the other excerpts too :)

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  40. That was amazing... I got chills!

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  41. That gave me goosebumps! Not only do I hate needles (they make me tense ;P) but I love the part about her making sounds, and not knowing if they are human sounds. Plus, why is she knocking herself out? So intrigued!

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  42. Wow! This is terrific! I'm full of questions and dying to know the rest of the story!

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  43. Crystal, stickynotes & Susanna - thanks, glad you enjoyed it :)

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  44. Trisha you got me at "Reality fades, and I play dead."
    Oh my, I can't believe you're leaving your readers with such a poignant cliffhanger. *whimpers*
    Now silliness aside, I really really enjoyed it. I don't think the tense change would've done it different for me, but either way, you kept me hanging onto every word.

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  45. Thanks Akoss :D Yeah, I thought it was pretty okay with past tense too, but I do love me some present tense ;) Just haven't written much of it...

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  46. Congratulations! You have been chosen as one of the top six finalists!

    xx Rachel

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  47. Congrats on making it to the finals, Trisha. We're letting the public choose the winner so make sure you let your readers/subscribers/ followers know to vote for you! :-)

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  48. Thank you Rachel and Cally!!

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  49. Whoa. Trisha that was intense. And truly, truly excellent. Good luck!

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Thanks for your words, me hearties! and don't forget to leave a link to your blog somewhere I can find it!