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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Describing the Obvious

The world I created for my first novel was one built on magic. Magical abilities there are akin to athletic abilities here. Or musical abilities. Or intelligence. It’s something everyone is capable of although some are better at it than others.

Since magic is so widespread, these people haven’t developed the kinds of technology that we have in our world. If you can move objects with your mind, you have no need to create engines.

But, there is another group in this world, a group that is interested in what could be created mechanically. They like to tinker with gadgets, and they study science. They’re a marginalized group, but marginalized like a group who’s fascinated with an obscure TV show here would be. Those who know they exist don’t pay all that much attention to them.

The inciting incident in my novel is an attempt on the king’s life. The weapon used is one that was made by this group. My point of view character doesn’t have the background or vocabulary to name this weapon, but it is something that the reader should recognize. I hope.

Here’s where the weapon is described:
The assailant brandished a small, black item with such intent that I knew it had to be a weapon. His hand was wrapped around a base of some sort, and above it stuck out a tube with the open end pointed away from the assailant. Before I knew what I was doing, I leaped for the man. A loud “pop” sounded just as I slammed into the man, making a bruise-worthy connection between my hip and the assailant’s hand holding the hard weapon.

A small, fast-moving projectile came out of the weapon. I flashed to snowball fights in the winter with my brothers. Challerton zinging one at me with his face full of anger and intent. It was the same expression the assailant had. Those snowballs stung, but they never did any real damage.

So, snowballs filled my mind, and I forced that image onto the projectile. As the two of us fell, I heard a loud, wet splat. I fell onto the man as he hit the ground, and I struggled to breathe.

But of course I am way too close to the story to be sure if I did it, so… Did I do it? Do you know what weapon the assailant used? What can I do to make this passage clearer?

16 comments:

E.J. Wesley said...

Love the premise for the magic in your story! As for the weapon, I'm going to guess a gun, but I'm not 100% as I don't know if anyone could actually 'see' a bullet. But being a magical realm, perhaps the protagonist can slow time somehow? Hmm

Patchi said...

I think you are worrying too much. It's clear the man has a gun in his hands, you probably don't even need all the details you have.

Nevertheless, I think her reactions are in the wrong order. The man's intent should have reminded her of her brother, not the projectile. She needed to have the snowball fight already in her mind to react fast enough. I would suggest something like this:

The assailant[' s] hand was wrapped around [the] base [of] a small, black [gadget. The thing's] open end [was] pointed away from [him]. [He] brandished [it] with such intent that I knew it had to be a weapon. I flashed to snowball fights in the winter with my brothers. Challerton zinging one at me with his face full of anger and intent. It was the same expression the assailant had.

I leaped for the man. A loud “pop” sounded just as I slammed into [him], making a bruise-worthy connection between my hip and the weapon.

A small, fast-moving projectile came out of the weapon. [S]nowballs filled my mind, and I forced that image onto the projectile. Those snowballs stung, but they never did any real damage. As the two of us fell, I heard a loud, wet splat. I fell onto the man as he hit the ground, and I struggled to breathe.


I hope this helps, but feel free to ignore anything you disagree with :)

Angela Brown said...

From the first paragraph, I can tell this is a gun. Very good job in describing it.

In the second paragraph is where things got a little choppy for me. I was trying to follow the MC's train of thought bit it was difficult given my current, though very limited, knowledge of guns and bullets. Some of the POV's internalization when the projectile released seemed to jar with the notion that the bullet could be seen. That may be something that could be adjusted if I were aware - before reading this scene - that such things could occur. Perhaps something that established that this MC had super-sight abilities since this is a world of uber magic powers :-)

I'd also have to agree with the preview comment. During the internalization regarding the snowball, the intent seemed the most important point so this would have a stronger impact if mentioned earlier when the "brandishing of the gun" occurred.

prerna pickett said...

a gun? I loved the scene, very intriguing.

Carol Riggs said...

I'm guessed gun at first, but then I reached the "pop" and wasn't so sure. That sounds less like a gun. Guns are LOUD. Also, a "small, fast-moving projectile" threw me a bit--whether it was a bullet or not. At that point I'm thinking oh, a dart gun, then? Because you can't usually SEE bullets. You just hear the noise and see the place of impact (broken window, splintered wood), or see that someone's injured. I was a bit confused at the ending paragraph too, not quite sure what the MC had turned into a wet splat (the gun, or the person?). That could just be me. :) But you say AS they fell, a loud splat was heard, so it sounded like the noise they made as they fell.

Laura Stephenson said...

I invent guns in my world, and I have the people who aren't familiar with them call them "invisible death" because you can't see bullets.

mshatch said...

Gun would be my guess, too.

Jadzia Brandli said...

Loved this scene. No worries at all if it actually is a gun, which is what I thought from the second sentence of description. I don't think you even have to go into the bullets, which several people have made some good points about probably not even being able to see them as the shooter fires. I get it from the first para and I like the way you did it. :)

Liz said...

Yes, it's a gun. And I've got to find a better way to describe the scene.

Liz said...

As I went over this to get it ready for this post, I noticed that there were some problems. It's on the to be edited list. Thanks for the suggestions.

Liz said...

Thanks. I'll look at that.

Liz said...

Thanks.

Liz said...

It's supposed to be a gun, but the scene still needs work.

Liz said...

That's cool. I'd steal "invisible death", but this is the gun's only scene.

Liz said...

And you'd be right.

Liz said...

That's good to know. I thought I didn't have enough detail. Looks like I can pare this down a bit.