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DOGGONE VOICE: THE SHIFTING DARKNESS

Friday, 29 June 2012  |  Posted by Brenda
 
 
Title: THE SHIFTING DARKNESS
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
She smelled it before she saw it. Like always, the stink of the crime scene crept ahead of the gory view itself and Sidney Lake knew this one was bad. The meaty smell of torn flesh, the copper scent of blood, mixed with the tinge of electricity buzzing from the third rail of the subway tracks below, the putrid smell of an opened bowel swirled with the filth of scavenging rats. It all made Sidney very glad she hadn’t had time for breakfast when she’d gotten the call.
 “Sorry about the late hour, Sidney,” Dr. Tom Fellows said.
New York City’s Medical Examiner lifted the yellow tape marking off the crime scene and Sidney ducked under.
“It’s not late anymore. It’s early,” Sidney said, and gave him a half smile to let him know she didn’t mind. Tom would have made a good linebacker thirty years ago, if he’d been taller. Instead, he’d chosen the lab over sports. Now his shoulders had a curve to them that never seemed to go away. A result of decades of being hunched over a table dissecting human cadavers.
She never saw Tom so happy as when he’d discovered something incredible in the lab, something no one else had seen before, which happened often in their line of work.
“Been down here too long.” The medical examiner removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. Despite his tiredness, he was radiating that energy he always got when there was something big going on.
“What have you got?” Sidney asked.

Filed: Misc, Workshops

5 Comments
  • Leigh Ann says:

    I know this entry! *winks*

    I normally wouldn’t love opening with such a big chunk of description paragraph, but because it’s made very clear on the first page what Sidney’s line of work is, this paragraph is particularly effective – it shows us that she is observant, and how she thinks about her surroundings. I’m assuming that’ll be important later on.

    I have no other real comments – I feel like I know this character from the first page, which is a WIN. If I’m going to get picky, take out that second paragraph about whats-his-name always being happy in a lab. You can move that to later, and voice-wise, I want to spend some more time getting to know Sidney and how she’s experiencing this situation.

    Nice work. Load up the cannon.

  • Marieke says:

    That is one GROSS description of smell. I love it. It’s a very vivid image to start with, but in this case—considering the scene, it works.

    I love the voice here too. I love how you set everything up quite carefully, which paints a very vivid and clear picture of what’s going on. I do think it’s important to keep it focused. For example, I love the introductionary paragraph for Tom, but I think the next para (“She never saw…”) is pushing it into overkill. At this point, the most important thing is trying to keep the narrative moving. 🙂

    Besides, like Leigh Ann says, I would love to get to know Sidney better first! 😀

    Overall though, great job!

  • REVISED:

    She smelled it before she saw it. Like always, the stink of the crime scene crept ahead of the gory view itself and Sidney Lake knew this one was bad. The meaty smell of torn flesh, the copper scent of blood, mixed with the tinge of electricity buzzing from the third rail of the subway tracks below, the putrid smell of an opened bowel swirled with the filth of scavenging rats. It all made Sidney very glad she hadn’t had time for breakfast when she’d gotten the call.
    “Sorry about the late hour, Sidney,” Dr. Tom Fellows said.
    New York City’s Medical Examiner lifted the yellow tape marking off the crime scene and Sidney ducked under.
    “It’s not late anymore. It’s early.” Sidney gave him a half smile to let him know she didn’t mind. She’d rolled out of bed, thrown on her trench coat over jeans and a black v-neck sweater, tied up her favorite steel-toed boots, and come straight down. There was never much time for proper grooming when Tom called. If she managed a swipe of the mascara brush and some lip gloss it was a good day.
    “Been down here too long.” The medical examiner removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. Tom would have made a good linebacker thirty years ago, if he’d been taller. Instead, he’d chosen the lab over sports. Now his shoulders had a curve to them that never seemed to go away. A result of decades of being hunched over a table dissecting human cadavers.
    “What have you got?” Sidney asked.

  • Brenda Drake says:

    Wonderful voice here. The revision is perfect. I’m amazed how you were able to get me to “see” the crime scene by describing the smells. Brilliant.

    Poor Tom’s going get picked on again. I’d streamline the description of Tom even more. Like this…

    –>“Been down here too long.” The medical examiner removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes, his bulky shoulders had a curve to them that never seemed to straighten. A result of decades of being hunched over a table dissecting human cadavers.< -- Of course this could be just my opinion and Lauren or Becks may feel differently, so wait for their comments. I love urban fantasy, so I’m intrigued at what’s going to happen here. Great job!!

  • callmebecks says:

    I love, love, love how visceral this opening is. I think there is loads of voice already present – I just have suggestions for tweaking it to give it more punch.

    IN-LINE CRITS:

    She smelled it before she saw it. Like always, the stink of the crime scene crept ahead of the gory view itself and Sidney Lake knew this one was bad. I feel like this sentence is unnecessary and just delays me from getting to the fabulous following sentence. I’d almost rather cut it and have the first sentence go, “She always smelled a crime scene before she saw it.” Just a suggestion, though.) The meaty smell of torn flesh; (changed to semicolon) the copper scent of blood, mixed with the tinge of electricity buzzing from the third rail of the subway tracks below; (changed to semicolon) the putrid smell (You just used smell above – maybe something else?) of an opened bowel swirled with the filth of scavenging rats. It all made Sidney very glad she hadn’t had time for breakfast when she’d gotten the call.

    “Sorry about the late hour, Sidney,” Dr. Tom Fellows said.

    New York City’s Medical Examiner lifted the yellow tape marking off the crime scene, (added comma) and Sidney ducked under.

    “It’s not late anymore. It’s early.” Sidney gave him a half-smile (added hyphen) to let him know she didn’t mind. (I’d say the “to let him know she didn’t mind” was unneeded. I’d cut it and put the half-smile bit in front of the dialogue.) She’d rolled out of bed, thrown on her trench coat over jeans and a black v-neck sweater, tied up her favorite steel-toed boots, and come straight down. I feel there might be a shade too much detail about what she’s wearing here, but that might just be me. I like the trench coat and boots, but beyond that it’s just extra detail.) There was never much time for proper grooming when Tom called. If she managed a swipe of the mascara brush and some lip gloss, (added comma) it was a good day.

    “Been down here too long.” The medical examiner (I’d say you could just use “he” here. You identified him as an ME pretty recently.) removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. Tom would have made a good linebacker thirty years ago, if he’d been taller. Instead, he’d chosen the lab over sports. Now his shoulders had a curve to them that never seemed to go away, a (changed to comma) result of decades of being hunched over a table dissecting human cadavers. (This is a great physical description.)

    “What have you got?” Sidney asked.

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