View Full Version : chapter on someone trapped in rubble

January 22nd, 2011, 08:34 PM
the novel is going to be sci fi sort of but in this chapter it is merely someone who is trapped in a car, that's why I posted it here. They were on their way to mail boxes to drop points to a friend hiking the AT. She has sweved to miss an animal in the road, that's the last thing she remembers. She is not were she thinks she is but what I am trying to achomplish in this chapter is the horrow of being trapped alive. Any/all suggestions for improvement welcome. I am having trouble with repetition of the word "she" but can't think of a way around it. I think I eliminated as much as I can.

I'm not sure if I am handling the thought dialogue properly as well. I hope I am not over the limit of excerpt, this is my first posting of something.

She jerked violently and opened her eyes. She was in the dark and couldnít remember what happened. She reached forward with her hands and felt something round. It was the steering wheel. Iím in my car! She remembered swerving to miss a cat. ďOh my God, Iíve been in an accident! Am I hurt?

She tried to get up but was surrounded by boxes. I was on my way to the post office. She blinked her eyes and touched her face. Why canít I see, am I blind?

Her heart raced and she fought back panic. She groped at the dashboard waved her hands around and felt the seatbelt. The seatbelt! Thatís why Iím stuck! After several tries she managed to unlock the buckle and the belt retracted. Her hands fumbled to find the door handle but boxes where in the way. Her heart pounded in her ears and she couldnít catch her breath.

The sound of her heartbeat was interrupted by another sound, a periodic thumping. She thought she heard voices. Iím in here! Help! She pounded on the roof and dashboard, screaming and kicking. She stopped and listened for a response, recognition, anything, but it was very quiet and still. The thumping stopped and all she heard was the ringing in her ears.

She started trembling and her mouth went dry. This isnít happening, itís a nightmare. Iím in my bed and my alarm is going to go off! Any moment I will wake up and laugh at this awful dream.

She remembered the small light on her key ring and reached for the steering column. The keys wereít in the ignition! She suddenly thought of the horn, and repeatedly pressed the bar on the steering wheel but nothing happened. Overwhelmed by panic she kicked and screamed while stricking blindly at the dashboard. Her head started to tingle and her voice sounded like it was coming from inside a well. Then everything went blank.

Her awareness returned, she wasnít sure how much time had passed. The air was stuffy and foul, she didnít remember throwing up. The backs of her thighs were wet. She saw the outline of some boxes next to the window and realized the sun was coming up. She remembered it was near dusk when she was driving and a quick calculation told her she had been trapped for at least 10 hours.

If the sun was coming up that meant someone might see my car! She tried again to call out for help but her throat was sore and her mouth was sour and dry. She remembered the bottle of water she got and tried to reach under the boxes in the passengers seat.

She turned and saw that the box blocking the door on her left could be pushed to the rear and after several hits it flew to the back seat letting more light pour into her small space. She could now see the entire door. A trembling hand tested the door knob but the door wouldnít budge. The window crank was stiff but she managed to move the window a few inches, letting in some welcome fresh air. After a few moments she had the window rolled half way down and pushed a few boxes out, giving her more room to maneuver. When it was all the way down, she pivoted on her hips, and pushed herself out of the vehicle head first, landing on the boxes.

She was weak and trembling but free from the buried car! She looked back through the window, the water and keys were in easy reach. She opened the water bottle and took a large gulp. The first few swallows made her cough. She shivered and remembered the windbreaker she kept in the side pocket of her book bag. She retrieved the bag from the passenger seat and sat on a rock while she finished her drink.

She looked in the direction of the shaft of light. She seemed to be inside a small cave, or rock cairn. The car was surrounded by stone in such a way that only the window was exposed. It appeared as though a boulder had formed perfectly around the car.

The sound of voices snapped her out of her reverie and she shambled towards the small opening. It must be EMS! Thank goodness, boy were they going to be surprised! She had to lie on her stomach to squirm between the rocks guarding the entrance but in a matter of seconds she emerged on the other side.

Her eyes squinted in the bright sun, she heard the sound of human voices.

Relief turned to confusion as her vision cleared and she saw people. They werenít rescuers and there was no ambulance. Instead she saw 2 men on large horses. They were dressed in what appeared to be armor and they were chasing people on foot. She watched as the riders surrounded one of the men, not prepared for what she was about to witness.

Olly Buckle
January 22nd, 2011, 09:58 PM
The 'she's' will become less noticeable if you try and avoid putting them at the beginning of sentences, eg,

She jerked violently and opened her eyes. She was in the dark and couldn’t remember what happened. She reached forward with her hands and felt something round. It was the steering wheel. I’m in my car! She remembered swerving to miss a cat.
Jerking violently she opened her eyes, but it was dark and she had no memory of what had happened. Reaching forwards she felt something round; it was the steering wheel. I'm in my car! she thought, and remembered swerving to miss a cat.

I deliberately left out "with her hands", it is what people reach out with unless specified otherwise and right at the start you want to keep it as tight as possible, you could go further

Jerking violently she opened her eyes, it was dark and there was no memory of what had happened.

but then I am starting to play with the sense of it as well as the phrasing.

You have a problem with 'were' and 'where', you have transposed one in your intro and the other in the text.

January 23rd, 2011, 05:57 PM
Thanks for reading! I tried to cull some of the repetition out,I think I told my spell checker to replace with the wrong words, gotta watch that.

I have tried rephrasing some of the lines. For example, instead of "she opened the bottle and gulped the water" I put "opening the bottle, she gulped the water" or something like that.

Isn't it bad grammer to put that verb form in the beginning of the sentance? I ask because I read a book that did that so frequently, it was almost unreadable. I see this used sometimes, even in good books, and wonder if it's acceptable in certain contexts.

I am trying to establish how horrible it was to be trapped, so I can establish how awesome it was to excape. Of course in the next scene the relief turns to horror.

I might have to edit the scene some more. I might have to wait until I have more written so I know where I have to strike a balance.

Olly Buckle
January 23rd, 2011, 08:54 PM
I am not qualified to say what is and isn't good grammar, but it sounds okay to me.

I am reminded of a saying of my Mother's when some one used she without explaining who "She! Who is 'she' the cat's aunt?", the implication being that you should provide enough information people know who you are talking about. Of course there are situations where you don't want to reveal an identity fully, but some information will act as a teaser and also allow your reader to empathise with her more fully, heightening that tension you want.
Consider if "She jerked violently and opened her eyes. She was in the dark and couldn’t remember what happened" became_

"The young woman jerked violently as she opened her eyes, then brushed the hair back from her forehead, finding a bruise. it did not, however, dipell the darkness or restore her memory of what had happened"

By describing her I avoided the first 'she' by adding something that kept her in the scene I avoided the second, I also told the reader that she is young, long haired and hurt, "ahhh por fing" goes the reader. Joking aside I think that important, without knowing her the reader might as well be reading about a crash test dummy, before you create the fear you must create some one to feel it.

Olly Buckle
January 23rd, 2011, 09:01 PM
I might have to edit the scene some more. I might have to wait until I have more written so I know where I have to strike a balance
My practice is to read the beginning before I continue, sometimes I edit, sometimes I simply read to put myself in the mood of what I am writing, as it gets longer I may start reading further in, but I can still sometimes find improvements after reading something many times, usually after I haven't looked at it for a bit.