Last week, I resumed my regularly scheduled series of blog posts on critiquing the snippets of fiction posted here recently by my loyal blog readers.
We’ll continue that today, but I wanted to note that I heard today via the grapevine that another of my students/friends sold her first novel today. Her initials are CB, so if she wants to post the good news here in a comment, I’d love to hear all the details, or as many as she’s willing to share. Of course, she may be so busy celebrating that she forgets to read my blog, but let’s hope not.
I met CB at a conference a couple of years ago and have been following her progress with interest. I absolutely loved the sample chapters that she let me read last summer and I told her that she was very close to getting it published. So I’m thrilled to hear the news, because I really want to read the rest of the book.
In any event, today we’ll critique a submission by Lynda. Here it is:
Rumbles roused Alejandro to half-consciousness. Overhead a succession of sky shattering cracks increased in intensity, each answered by waning reverberations. Something cold splattered against the back of his neck. His eyes flew open, and he stared into dank soil that emitted the moldy stink of decaying leaves. More droplets struck his neck, bled down, and seeped into the depression that cradled his face. He gathered his strength and rolled onto his back.
Excruciating pain shot through his arm. He screamed, clutched a wound, and writhed. The agony decreased by degrees to a fiery throb that radiated into his shoulder. He wiped his eyes and stared into the underside of a shrub that dripped with moisture.
Where was he? He reached up and parted some twigs. The jungle?
The forest around him steamed, producing an earthy cloud. Its heaviness hindered his breath and dimmed the light.
It would storm soon. He had to find shelter. Tangles of Passion Vines reached the forest floor. He grabbed a fist full, hoisted himself to a sitting position, and scanned the area. No outcrops. No hollow logs. His gaze went to a Giant Kapok that towered above adjacent trees. It would have to do. With his good arm, he dragged himself over the thickly mulched ground and hid amid the tree’s buttress folds. The jungle exploded with light. A crash followed. Then like the opening of a spillway, a torrent poured through the rainforest canopy.
He rested his head against the bryophyte encrusted bark. What happened? He’d been in his office at the university. How did he get here? And, what happened to his arm? Through the deluge, he studied the wind ravaged surroundings. Nothing seemed familiar. His temples pulsed with concentration. There had been soldiers. Running. Rifle fire. Pain. Terrible pain. He closed his eyes. The nursery appeared on the inside of his eyelids. And, the bloody bodies of Elena and their baby. Anguish crushed his heart, dwarfing the pain in his arm. His fault. Everything was his fault. He grabbed his face and sobbed, “Perdóname, Señor, Perdóname.
Randy sez: I have some thoughts on this, but I’d like to see my loyal blog readers exercise their own critiquing skills on this passage. What is Lynda doing well here? What could she improve and why would it be an improvement?
As a first exercise, I’d recommend counting the number of Motivations and the number of Reactions in the passage. If you have never heard of Motivations and Reactions, now would be a marvelous time to read my summary article on them, “Writing the Perfect Scene.”
Let’s resume tomorrow, and I’d like to see some brilliant and incisive comments from you all. Post a comment with your thoughts!