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After reading this chapter, do you want to read the next one?

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Voting closed: October 21, 2018, 06:40:36 PM

Author Topic: Hell's Gift (Chapter 1) (Thanks for the feedback!)  (Read 422 times)

Offline rkeller1373

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Hell's Gift (Chapter 1) (Thanks for the feedback!)
« on: September 28, 2018, 02:13:07 PM »
I have written a novella and below is the first chapter.  It is a fantasy YA novella.  Let me know your thoughts:

Chapter 1

Hell finds me.  She always does.  No matter where I am, what Iím doing, or what time of day, she always finds me.  She has been hunting me for the past three years, two months and eight days, and I still donít know why.  She first appeared the night after my mom died.  I received my first scar from her that night too, on my thigh that has remained plump and rose-red, unlike my other scars.

It has been forty-six hours and not enough minutes since our last tango.  When she meets me, it never ends well, at least for me.  She always comes on my worst days, and this one has been particularly vile.  On nights like this, I force my mind to clear by running through the woods behind my house.  Sometimes, I run to the middle of the woods and scream.  Other times, I pound a poor thick oak with my fists. Sometimes I sit on the shores of the lake, crushing the course sand in the palm of my clenched hand.  Tonight is no different.  I donít want to be even in the same town as my Father.

I am standing on a twenty-foot cliff at the edge of the woods.  The lake is below, but I donít hear its lapping waves.  I fling my bangs from my eyes and glare at Hell.  Hell stands between me and freedom.  Hell is shadowy, darker than the night that surrounds her.  She resembles a tall, powerful female.  Her hair thrashes around her head like tentacles, thick and angry.  Her almond shaped eyes glow a smoldering scarlet.  Her fingernailsómore like clawsóare tipped in the same scarlet as her eyes as if she had just finished a fresh kill.  The left side of her face is chiseled as only shadows can be.  A crater exuding a crimson glow replaces her cheek, as if someone before me had crushed the entire right side of her face.  Lines crackle from the crater across her face, pulsing scarlet in rhythm with my heartbeat.

She stands to my right, blocking my escape route to go deeper into the woods.  I only have two options to escape.  I can try to run past Hell, but I have the scars to prove that I will fail.  I can go to my left, but that leads me back to my Father.  She knows I have no desire to go there.  I back up to the edge of the cliff.  Hell starts walking toward me.  Maybe I have a third option.  I look over my shoulder at the calm water below.  I suddenly wish there is a fourth option.

The stars and moon cower behind dark clouds.  The crickets which I heard only a few minutes ago are silent and likely hiding beneath the fallen leaves.  The once cool, crisp air is now electric and heavy.  I take a deep breath.  The scent of Hell fills my lungs; she smells like jasmine but only sweeter, lighter.  I realize now that I will not escape her tonight.  I will not make it to sunrise without another scar.

Hell stops ten feet from me.  Her right arm reaches out to me.  Her crimson face pulses faster and faster as my heartbeat punches my chest to escape.  Her body stretches wider as she slinks closer.

My feet bob, telling me that I can race past her, but my head tells me that while I am seventeen and invincible, I am not foolish.  What little hair I have on my arms tingles.  My stomach tightens, and every muscle in my body stiffens for battle.  But I will not win.  I never win against Hell.

So I do the only thing I can.

I jump.

Offline Thair

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Re: Hell's Gift (Chapter 1) (Thanks for the feedback!)
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2018, 11:35:52 AM »
The second paragraph, consider elaborating on one of your worse days.

When you bring up your father, there is no lead-up, so it seems rather abrupt to mention him. Maybe you can take this sentence out because when you mention your father as one of the options later (para. 4) on it works best.

By the fourth paragraph, Iím thinking, (1.) Is Hell fear? (2.) Are you running from your own demons? Please donít tell me, I thought it would be insightful for you to know.

Your description of hell and the smell of hell doesnít work for me. How can something so ugly smell like jasmine? I rejected this idea.

I donít read YA, but it was good enough that I can imagine flipping the page. Thanks for sharing.

Offline jkalman

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Re: Hell's Gift (Chapter 1) (Thanks for the feedback!)
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2018, 11:18:46 AM »
Hello :)

Here is what comes to me in the order that I read it. Some of it is grammatical:

1) 
Quote
I received my first scar from her that night too, on my thigh that has remained plump and rose-red, unlike my other scars.

This sounds like your thigh has remained plump and rose-red, not the scar.

2)
Quote
Poor thick oak
, doesn't work for me. I can't image a thick oak being hurt by fists.

3)
Quote
donít want to be even in the same town as my Father.
This was unexpected in a confusing way. You were talking about Hell, and now your Father comes up, and why the capital "F". It leaves me confused overall.

4)
Quote
as if she had just finished a fresh kill
Your work is written in the present, so I think a reference to the past should go in the past simple (as if she just finished) or present perfect (as if she has just finished), and not the past perfect.

5)
Quote
The left side of her face is chiseled as only shadows can be
I have trouble thinking of shadows as chiseled.

6)
Quote
I can try to run past Hell, but I have the scars to prove that I will fail.

7)
Quote
Hell starts walking toward me.
Hell walks toward me, feels more powerful.

9)
Quote
Maybe I have a third option.
In this paragraph in general you use the word "I" a lot. Can you find ways to avoid using it overall? For example - "Maybe there's a third option." This seems to bring a more immediacy to the character for me when I am reading.

10) The smell of hell was't very hellish :D

11) I find "won't" reads easier than "will not" in places.

Thanks for sharing. I am curious if Hell is an actual entity and would turn the page.




Offline jkalman

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Re: Hell's Gift (Chapter 1) (Thanks for the feedback!)
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2018, 11:41:55 AM »
One more grammar bit :)

Quote
I suddenly wish there is a fourth option.

When wishing, take one step into the past with your wish. So -- I suddenly wish there was a fourth option.

Offline hillwalker3000

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Re: Hell's Gift (Chapter 1) (Thanks for the feedback!)
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2018, 04:34:30 PM »
I'll comment as I read through f I may:

Quote
Hell finds me.  She always does.  No matter where I am, what Iím doing, or what time of day, she always finds me.  She has been hunting me for the past three years, two months and eight days, and I still donít know why.

Good start. It makes us want to read more, though I'm not sure you can personify a place (real or imagined).

Quote
She first appeared the night after my mom died.  I received my first scar from her that night too, on my thigh that has remained plump and rose-red, unlike my other scars.

This is where it gets confusing. Receiving a scar (from Hell, I assume, rather than from mom) is odd phrasing. Maybe the scar appeared instead of being received. And as others have pointed out, what remained 'plump and rose-red'? I think the scarring is an important issue and needs clearer handling.

Quote
She always comes on my worst days, and this one has been particularly vile.  On nights like this, I force my mind to clear by running through the woods behind my house.

Which is it? Days or nights?

Quote
Other times, I pound a poor thick oak poor and thick? neither word makes sense with my fists. Sometimes I sit on the shores of the lake, crushing the course coarse sand in the palm of my clenched hand.  Tonight is no different.  I donít want to be even in the same town as my Father Where did he suddenly appear from? and why the capitalisation?

You seem to like interspersing enigmatic, poetical statements with important bits of plot that are throwaway at best. The problem is, you're making a complex story seem confusing. Complexity and confusion are two different things.

Quote
She stands to my right, blocking my escape route to go deeper into the woods.  I only have two options to escape.  I can try to run past Hell, but I have the scars to prove that I will fail.  I can go to my left, but that leads me back to my Father.  She knows I have no desire to go there. I'm lost. I back up to the edge of the cliff.  Hell starts walking toward me.  Maybe I have a third option.  I look over my shoulder at the calm water below.  I suddenly wish there is a fourth option.

So far I'm picturing some kind of female demon you've called 'Hell' who challenges you in the woods at night and claws at you - and your father who is even more evil. The problem is, I don't beleve either of these threats really exist so despite all the fantastical build-up I can't share the narrator's fears.

You can write well enough and do a fair job of building up the tension, but so far it's all smoke and mirrors. There has to be something concrete the reader can engage with - something they can say 'yes, I know exactly what that feels like'. Without an element of reality, fantasy has no chance of being taken seriously.

Just one opinion - use or lose.

H3K

Offline rkeller1373

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Re: Hell's Gift (Chapter 1) (Thanks for the feedback!)
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2018, 06:38:53 PM »
Thank you everyone!!  Such great feedback. The feedback is more detailed than I ever imagined.  I hope to chew on the feedback and incorporate them into the chapter. 

Thanks again.  Another chapter coming soon!

Offline Jennie

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Re: Hell's Gift (Chapter 1) (Thanks for the feedback!)
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2018, 11:10:14 AM »
I have written a novella and below is the first chapter.  It is a fantasy YA novella.  Let me know your thoughts:

Chapter 1

Hell finds me.  She always does.  She comes on my worst days, and this one has been particularly vile.


This should be the sentences that begin the story in my opinion. Take it or leave it.

Offline Mark T

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Re: Hell's Gift (Chapter 1) (Thanks for the feedback!)
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2018, 01:53:14 PM »

Jennie's right, as an opening, that has the hook factor. Um, the poll feature is normally used for writing competitions and challenges, to find a winner.
Mark