Author Topic: 647 Words - Chapter Sample (Horror Novel)  (Read 2001 times)

Offline ScribeSeeker

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647 Words - Chapter Sample (Horror Novel)
« on: October 13, 2009, 04:18:53 PM »
This is part of chapter 7 from my novel in progress.  This is where my two protagonists meet.  I'd love to get your feedback.  Technical edits as well as reader opinion is welcome.  Thanks!

Nick Yancy was the first to die.  The morning after my doctor's visit, I walked to the pharmacy to fill my prescription.  The place was locked tight and there was a hand-scrawled note on the door that said, "Closed until further notice.  Death in the family."

I figured Harold Sr. had finally passed away.  He was ninety-two for goodness sake.  You can imagine my shock when I picked up the paper outside of Starbucks and saw Nick's face on the front page. 

I went into the coffee shop and ordered another Italian Cream Latte.  Stunned, I sat on the faux leather couch, letting my coffee cool this time while I read.  The story said that Nick had been in a fatal car crash the morning before while driving home.  I swallowed.  He hadn't been okay to drive.  God, why didn't I offer him a ride?  I could have rescheduled with Conroy.  Guilt washed over me, my hands clammy and stained now with newsprint.  "Good God," I whipsered.  And wept.

A breeze whooshed into the room, and I saw another customer was entering the Starbucks.  Jammy was a stringbean, and he had to duck through the doorway.  Under his cap (the kind old Italian men wear), wiry hair hung in clumps around his face.  (I found out later, these were called dreadlocks.  He wasn't exactly black.  He wasn't exactly Asian.  Kind of a mix.  His skin was the color of my latte, and the energy that seem to electrify his entire body unnerved me. 

He ordered a Chai latte, whatever that is, and sat down in a wicker chair directly across from me.  Our feet were almost touching.  I pulled my feet back and crouched on the couch, shrinking.  I'm no racist, though I ought to be considering my upbrining.  This guy made me nervous, not because I looked like blanched parchment next to him, but because he was bouncing his legs and surveying me intensely.

"Something wrong, sir?" he asked.  I'm ashamed to admit that his lack of accent surprised me. 

"What's that?" I said, straightening in my seat and trying not to look terrified.  In retrospect, it's amusing that my first impression of Shepard Adamson was so unfair.  I didn't know then that we'd become such good friends. 

"I was just wondering, because you look like you just saw a ghost," he replied.

"No," I said, collecting myself.  "Just found out that someone I knew died yesterday."  I tried to express my grief without making my personal guilt obvious.

"Ah," he said, nodding.  "The guy at the pharmacy."

"Nick," I supplied.

"Nick, right," he said, nodding again. "Tragic, that."

I nodded dumbly, confused about why this young man was engaging me in conversation. 

"I'm Shepard," he said, extending his hand.  I leaned over and shook it.  His hand was calloused which was strange considering his soft, lanky appearance.  I didn't know that beneath his long-sleeved henley were ropey arms, strong from his part-time job in construction.  His handshake was firm and my tense shoulders relaxed slightly.

"Shepard?" I asked, one eyebrow raised.

"Well, Abe Adamson, actually.  My mom calls me Shepard," he explained. 

I nodded.  Though I was sixty-seven, I did my best not to give him an old man's disapproving look.  Really, Shepard's name suited him well.

"And you are?" he asked, seeming oblivious to my rudeness.

"Oh!  Carlisle, Carlisle Jensen," I stammered.

His almond eyes twinkled.  "Well, Mr. Jensen, pleased to meet you."

"Carlisle, please," I said without thinking.  I was usually a stickler about young folks addressing me with formal respect.  He had caught me off guard, I suppose.

Almost 9000 words and I'm just meeting Shepard.  Yeah, I do a word count while I'm writing, even in horrific times like these.  It's the anxious author in me.  It seems though, that he should have been the first person I mentioned to you.
Eileen
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Writing my first novel, tentatively entitled "Better"

Offline ma100

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Re: 647 Words - Chapter Sample (Horror Novel)
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2009, 05:41:06 PM »
It's a good piece but it is rather telly. I do this myself and I have to underline my telling indicators to make me reword and show better.
Was, were, there, it, had, that, lys etc.

Also watch your repeated words and maybe take out all the 'that's' which don't alter the meaning of the sentence. In a couple of places you slip tense.

The first sentence seems strange to me there. Not really sure it works. I have bolded some of the telling indicators


Nick Yancy was the first to die.  The morning after my doctor's visit, I walked to the pharmacy to fill my prescription.  The place was locked tight and there was a hand-scrawled note on the door that said, "Closed until further notice.  Death in the family."

maybe... A hand-scrawled note attached to the locked door said...

I figured Harold Sr. had finally passed away.  He was ninety-two for goodness sake.  You can imagine my shock when I picked up the paper outside of Starbucks and saw Nick's face on the front page. 

I went into entered the coffee shop and ordered another Italian Cream Latte.(Had he had a latte before then?  Stunned, I sat on the faux leather couch, letting my coffeedrink cool this time while I (doesn't move the story along) and  read the article.  The story said that Nick had been in a fatal car crash the morning before while driving home.  I swallowed.  He hadn't been okay to drive.  God, why didn't I offer him a ride?  I could have rescheduled with Conroy.  Guilt washed over me, my hands clammy and stained now with newsprint.  "Good God," I whipsered.  And wept.

Quote
I didn't know that beneath his long-sleeved henley were ropey arms, strong from his part-time job in construction.
Nope you don't know so...Pov issue

Sorry I didn't have time to do more. Good work though and I hope this helps. :)

Ma

Offline ScribeSeeker

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Re: 647 Words - Chapter Sample (Horror Novel)
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2009, 06:12:35 PM »
Thanks so much for the feedback.  I agree with a lot of your points.  The cooling coffee thing is a reference to some spilled hot coffee the day before.  I really appreciate your time!
Eileen
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Writing my first novel, tentatively entitled "Better"

Offline Chandara5

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Re: 647 Words - Chapter Sample (Horror Novel)
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2009, 08:20:38 PM »
I agree with Ma about it being told rather than shown.  I also couldn't get a sense as to how Jensen perceived Shepard.  At first he was scared of him and then he describes him as "soft."   Not clear of the emotion/tone your trying to set with this scene. You mentioned they are the protagonists and they meet for the first time. I didn't get a sense of why the meeting was important (if it indeed was).  I didn't get a clear grasp of what Jensen really thought of Shepard.  (If that was the intent of the scene, if not totally ignore me).  ;)
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Offline Max Zvyagintsev

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Re: 647 Words - Chapter Sample (Horror Novel)
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2009, 04:06:13 AM »
Hi ScribeSeeker.

Ma has introduced several good points in your piece, I'l take you through a few as well as Ma had done - yet will focus mostly on the rest of the story.

I've got a few comments for you to look at, feel free to toss any you don't need.  ;D

The place was locked tight and there was a hand-scrawled note on the door that said, "Closed until further notice.  Death in the family." – If you read a novel by Stephen King, he has a very effective way to display what you've done here. What he simply does is, leaves the "that said" bit out, and starts straight with the notice. Allow me to show: "The place was locked tight, and there was a hand-scrawled note on the door. "Closed until further notice. Death in the family." Now, to do the finishing touches, you would make the notice itself in italics, or bold to make it stand out. Makes it easier for the reader to distinguish between the narration and what I'd call "extras"

I figured Harold Sr. had finally passed away. – "I figured" is not necessary. Tighten your writing up, keep it short and straight to the point. How to do this? Ask yourself, would the sentence still carry the same meaning if I remove this bit from it. When you can't remove a single word from a sentence with out changing its meaning, you've tightened it.

You can imagine my shock – don't tell me, show me. You're the writer, not me. You want me to imagine something, give me detail to do that. Describe what your faced looked like.

Stunned, I sat on the faux leather couch, letting my coffee cool this time while I read.  – why were you stunned? If it was by the story, it's worth mentioning it briefly here. Or in other words.

The story said that Nick had been in a fatal car crash the morning before while driving home.  – referring back to my last comment. You could simply say this sentence before the one previous to it. Re arrange the order, and the problem of "why were you stunned." Is fixed.

I swallowed.  He hadn't been okay to drive. – It would be best to combine these sentences, right now, they sound like 2 different sentences that "are just there" and are not really needed. How about: "I found it hard to swallow at the thought of him not being in a state to drive."

Guilt washed over me, my hands clammy and stained now with newsprint – "now" is not needed.

I whipsered.  And wept. – the dialogue before it is great. It sounds more powerful by itself. Adding these bits here, drags on the point.

and I saw another customer was entering the Starbucks. – remember what Ma said about removing those "teller indicators?" In some cases you can simply remove the word with out changing any part of the sentence, like in your example. "and I saw another customer entering Starbucks." There you have it, magic.

Kind of a mix. – creative writing and formal writing do have a few similarities, and this is one of them…be straight forward and confident in what you say. Instead of saying "Kind of a mix." Say that it was/was not a mix. Be precise.

His skin was the color of my latte – another way you can remove a teller indicator easily, replace it with a word. And you guessed it, you can do it in this particular example. How about saying: "His skin matched the colour of my latte."

He ordered a Chai latte, whatever that is, - sounds a bit flimsy. All over the place, a bit of a mess. Not much that, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more detail here. I'd say: "He ordered a Chai Latte. I had no clue as to what it was, yet the smell urged me to find out."

Our feet were almost touching. – once again. Be precise. Were your feet about an inch away perhaps?

I nodded dumbly, - like Ma said, avoid repetition. Here, it is the word "nodded"

His hand was calloused which was strange considering his soft, lanky appearance. – linking to what Ma said about showing vrs telling. One of the easiest ways showing can be achieved is through the 5 senses. Allow me to show you what I mean: "His hand felt calloused against mine. Strange, considering his soft lanky appearance."

Yeah, I do a word count while I'm writing, even in horrific times like these.  – stating the obvious. Not needed.
"The World doesn't owe you anything, it was here first"

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Offline SeaDoc

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Re: 647 Words - Chapter Sample (Horror Novel)
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2009, 07:14:28 AM »
Hi Eileen,

I sense a real undercurrent of tension [also known as conflict the essential ingredient of any story] between these two. I'd like to see that conflict revealed through dialogue. Would a POV other than first person be better here? You can always switch back to it in another chapter if you need to. Personally I would like you to ramp up this scene with dialogue a bit more. Guess that's my two cents worth for now. On another subject, I'm rewriting chapter five pretty much as you suggested; it's going to look much better.

Thanks,

Jim(SkyDoc)
Jim Gilliam
USNS WALTER S. DIEHL T-AO 193

You have never lived;
'Til you've almost died;
For those who fight for it;
Life has a flavor;
The protected will never know!

Offline oreenscott

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Re: 647 Words - Chapter Sample (Horror Novel)
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2009, 04:12:08 PM »
I very much liked your writing style. 

Here are a few suggestions:

The morning after my doctor's visit, - Did the doctor make a house call?  That's a rarity these days, or did he visit the doctor?

crouched on the couch -  To me this reads like  aliteration and seems out of place.

Almost 9000 words and I'm just meeting Shepard.  Yeah, I do a word count while I'm writing, even in horrific times like these.  It's the anxious author in me.  It seems though, that he should have been the first person I mentioned to you. Is this part of the novel?  I don't understand.
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Offline ScribeSeeker

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Re: 647 Words - Chapter Sample (Horror Novel)
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2009, 05:34:16 PM »
The MC goes back and forth from recounting the story to comment directly to the reader.  The 2nd person only happens occasionally, but basically, he's telling the story AFTER the bad stuff happens as a warning to the reader.
Eileen
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Writing my first novel, tentatively entitled "Better"