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Checker's Unnamed Novel - Introduction (only 670 words approx.)

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Old 09-01-2015, 01:26 PM
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Default Checker's Unnamed Novel - Introduction (only 670 words approx.)


I'd appreciate it if you'd read this before continuing:

Author's Note - A Disclaimer


[center]Prologue?[center]

A whirlwind of typing ended with a defeated sigh as Karen Sunders finished off the last bit of creativity she could muster that evening.

She knew that this stack of half crossed-out dribble was just as bad as the last hundred that were now scattered haphazardly in piles around the small study, just as she knew that these very same piles were basically the last chance she had.

Just like after every previous failed writing session for the past two years, Karen felt a near-crippling surge of regret radiating from her very core. She missed being a high school teacher, just as much as she missed being able to afford hanging out with her old friends, and being able to pay her bills. Hell, she even missed the bullshit that helped her make the decision to quit in the first place – the cancerous bureaucracy that controlled every element of her classroom, the occasional tacky come-ons of horny teenagers, and the hours of paperwork that used to take over all the time she wanted to spend on her precious writing after the main work day was over.

All that was gone now.

She noted almost helplessly that the very same paperwork that she dreaded as the bane of what her writing was probably more productive and creative than anything that she had written in this room for the past year; that is, unless one a trove of abandoned ideas as especially creative.

Thinking about her current options made her head spin. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, hands brushing coarsely through her short hair, and let the breath out in a deep sigh.

Without opening her eyes, she carefully plucked up the current ream of paper from the output bin of the typewriter and placed it tentatively to the left, near another slightly smaller stack from a few days prior.

The first sound that ruptured the silence permeating the room was a small, involuntary squeal-like noise originating from the back of her throat.

It broke her out of her trancelike state.

“I can do this,” she told herself, nervously, unsure if she could believe the lie much longer.

After another moment of staring into blankness, she got up, re-tied her turquoise bath robe, and pulled the pull string above her desk, bathing the study in darkness. She crept sleepily through the dim hallway to her bedroom.

* * *

Karen woke up to the screeching of her alarm. It didn’t even get three loud-pitched *beeps* in before her hand shot out of the blankets and assaulted the snooze button.

Though the room itself was dark, an observer could have noted a faint glow of the bright hot sun radiating through the heavy curtains that covered the room’s windows.

She stretched, still laying down, face planted deeply into her pillow. Her legs and arms outstretched, she tensed up all the muscles she could, stretched out her limbs, and collapsed like a rag-doll, now at least partially awake.

Slowly, she pulled herself up into a sitting position, legs extended off the side of the bed, while – with great effort – prying her sleepy eyes open and greeting the new day with a soft yawn.

Momentarily liberated from the bed covers, Karen felt intense cold chilling her body.

“I guess this is what it’s like to not afford proper heating during the winter,” she said, or rather, mumbled.

She quickly singled out a dark purple quilt, wrapping it around herself, and decided that it’d be best to satiate her growling stomach as soon as possible. She dragged herself drowsily to her kitchen, her makeshift cloak dragging on the spotless tile floor, and began preparing a shabby breakfast of toast and coffee – coffee being one of the few luxuries she still allowed herself.

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Last edited by Checker; 09-01-2015 at 04:38 PM..
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Old 09-01-2015, 02:28 PM
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some spelling and you need to watch your modifiers

pules (piles) around the small study

and being able to pay her bells (bills).

But, alas, all that was gone now,( Alas - really)

Thinking about what options she had now made her head spin
(maybe, --- Thinking about her current options made her head spin.)

she carefully plucked up the current ream of paper from the output bin of the typewriter -- (do typewriters have an output bin, a printer does.)

It broke her out of her trancelike state. (you shouldn't be shuffling papers in one sentence and the next have her in a trancelike state. She could shuffle papers in a trancelike state and then be brought back to reality.)

pages covered in sloppily-typed X’s ( is this possible)

an observer could have noted a feint glow (faint)

best to satiate her growling - (means to fill to overflowing.)

I don't think you need 'nowadays' at the end.

she also seems to have very elongated wakening.

this was just an introduction so I got very little feeling for your character. I'm sure as the story rolls on that would change.


it is evident that you are not an American writer and I will help more if you'd like - although some say we don't speak American down here in the south either.

ya'll keep writing, ya hear

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Old 09-01-2015, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by max crash View Post
It is evident that you are not an American writer and I will help more if you'd like - although some say we don't speak American down here in the south either.
I am an American writer, albeit a bad one.

The spelling errors are from time constraints - I'll edit those now.

By the way, with a typewriter, it is entirely possible to have sloppily-typed X's if one uses them to cover unwanted text in writing. Regardless, I'll remove that.

Thank you very much for your input.

Edit: I corrected a few other things. (oh god this is embarrassing)
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"So you are going to relax, cher ami. You are determined to hide your trembling, achieve a few moments of silence, begin smoking one of your delightful cigarettes, and then after this appropriate expenditure of precious time and in the midst of your composure, then you will attempt to dissuade me, to talk me back to sanity (as you will express the idea), to appeal to my kindness and good sense. I approve. I am listening. The hour is yours. But of course you may use the lighter. Only reach for it slowly and keep in mind my warning. Do not be deceived by my good nature. I am as serious as a sheet of flame."

Last edited by Checker; 09-01-2015 at 03:02 PM..
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Old 09-01-2015, 03:48 PM
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I read the spoiler and I am not a fan of horror. However, if you want to center the title, here's how.

[CENTER] goes before what you want centered. I think it's important that it be in caps.

In caps.

In lower case.

Last edited by poirot; 09-01-2015 at 03:50 PM..
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Old 09-01-2015, 03:52 PM
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Alright. I learned something. Caps is not necessary.

[/center] ends the centered section. You are missing the slash.

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-01-2015, 04:20 PM
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This was a run-on sentence: "She knew that this stack of half crossed-out dribble was just as bad as the last hundred that were now scattered haphazardly in pules around the small study, just as she knew that these very same piles were basically the last chance she had." Also, I'd put a comma between "half" and "crossed-out". Usually, when you are describing a noun with two or more coordinate adjectives, you will separate them with a comma.

I'm only nitpicking here, "Just like after every previous failed writing session for the past two years, Karen felt a near-crippling surge of regret radiating from her very core." "Just like" seems to casual.

Again, here I'm only nitpicking. I personally wouldn't use the word, "bullshit". However, if you like to use slang terms, that's alright.

This should be broken up a little more: "She noted almost helplessly that the very same paperwork that she dreaded as the bane of her writing was probably more productive and creative than anything that she had written in this room for the past year; that is, unless one counts scores of pages covered in X’s and a trove of abandoned ideas as especially creative."

This was a little awkward: "Thinking about what options she had now made her head spin." I'd reverse "had" and "now".

Right here, in the beginning of this sentence, you used "that" a second time. It didn't flow well. "The first sound that ruptured the silence that permeated the room was a small, involuntary squeal-like noise originating from the back of her throat."

Again, you need to reserve something here: "It didn’t get even three loud-pitched *beeps* in before her hand shot out of the blankets and assaulted the snooze button." You should reverse "even" and "get".

This was a run-on sentence. Too many "and's" : "She quickly singled out a dark purple quilt and wrapped it around herself and decided that it’d be best to satiate her growling stomach as soon as possible."

Overall, I thought it was a good start. Keep writing!
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Old 09-01-2015, 04:31 PM
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I've definitely need of more editing.

Thank you very much for the help, Benjamin!


Edit: I have hotfixed the majority of the qualms you had. The rest will require major revisions that I don't currently have the time for.

I swear this was much better on paper. :/
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"So you are going to relax, cher ami. You are determined to hide your trembling, achieve a few moments of silence, begin smoking one of your delightful cigarettes, and then after this appropriate expenditure of precious time and in the midst of your composure, then you will attempt to dissuade me, to talk me back to sanity (as you will express the idea), to appeal to my kindness and good sense. I approve. I am listening. The hour is yours. But of course you may use the lighter. Only reach for it slowly and keep in mind my warning. Do not be deceived by my good nature. I am as serious as a sheet of flame."

Last edited by Checker; 09-01-2015 at 04:40 PM..
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Old 09-02-2015, 03:18 AM
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I liked the pace of your descriptions, however as the start to a horror story it didn't grip me.

Must Karen be a writer? It's a well worn out trope for writers to write about writers.

End note: please stop being so down on yourself. Nothing reduces the desire to read something like a preface by the author that describes how bad the work is. (And the work isn't bad, at all!) We're all learning here; the only way you get better is by putting on a brave face, cutting out the 'woe-is-me', and continue to produce.

Hope to see more from you!
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Old 09-02-2015, 04:21 AM
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Hi checker!

I read your piece carefully. I'm not going to go into nitpicking mode because I realise it's a first draft. If I can offer any advice it would be to me merciless with the cliches. I try to weed them out of my own writing by trying to take them one step (or even several steps) beyond the obvious. Though sometimes I'll deliberately put a cliche in ('Nina Simone sing[ing] Plain Gold Ring as if she spoke for every torn heart in the joint').

I'm thinking particularly of 'radiating from her very core'.

But I do know what it's like. Getting that first draft down is the hardest bit - filling that empty page/screen with words. Then leaving it to simmer gently, then coming back to find all the mistakes. Very brave of you to post it.

Although there's no intimation of a horror story yet, it's good to start low key and commonplace, so the horror - when it comes - is all the more unexpected for it.

Keep it up!
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:30 AM
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I took a chance and read it and the comments. Fortunately it wasn't getting into the horror.

I kind of like the style. I'm not sure what audience you intend this to be for. It (the style) probably wouldn't work for an adult crowd, but might for a younger reader. But young readers and horror don't go together. Do you like to write comedy? This style would work well for that. I'm thinking of something like Wizard at Work. I don't remember the author's name.

Satiate means to fill, which on her low budget she's unlikely to do. "Attend to her growling stomach" maybe? She needs to do something, but it won't be much. I'm sure you can think of something better.


Members Only forum offers more protection for rights (and slightly more for plagiarism). Fiction forum pieces can be read by guests as well as members. In other words, anyone with Internet access. Membere Only limits access to, you guessed it, members of writersbeat.

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-02-2015, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Checker View Post
I've definitely need of more editing.

Thank you very much for the help, Benjamin!


Edit: I have hotfixed the majority of the qualms you had. The rest will require major revisions that I don't currently have the time for.

I swear this was much better on paper. :/
Sure thing!

And I agree with pswgear. Don't be too hard on yourself; we all make mistakes in writing. And as pswgear said, we're all here to learn something.
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:23 AM
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I wasn't beating you up about being or not being an American writer either, it's just the way you turn some phrases, and your choice of words particularly modifiers; not your spelling or grammar, mine is much worse on a first edit.

you just keep writing and keep editing.

to echo other sentiments. from my own experiences you will never think your writing is very good, I don't think mine is, but others most likely will like at least some of it. and that's what you're looking for, those who like it and have money to buy it.

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Old 09-02-2015, 05:00 PM
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Just a word to the new poster:

Any disclaimer that brings with it the caveat "I just knocked this up in between lessons - rough draft not edited" tells me that you're not too serious about getting feedback, other than perhaps a short comment on the content of your story.

There are many unnecessary modifiers here ("just" is in there a lot) which is a sure sign of a lack of editing. So eliminate them. As for the content - it's ok, but I need to read more (and better edited versions) to really comment.

Cheers
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:39 PM
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I don't have too much more to add to what has already been said. One thought, she can't sit up in bed until she rolls over.
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Old 09-03-2015, 03:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Jolly View Post
I don't have too much more to add to what has already been said. One thought, she can't sit up in bed until she rolls over.
Gah! Thank you! Can't believe I didn't notice this!

Thank you, Jolly, Max, and Chris. The support and feedback is very appreciated.

Very special thanks to go my good man Poirot, who I forgot to thank earlier. Sorry, dude!
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"So you are going to relax, cher ami. You are determined to hide your trembling, achieve a few moments of silence, begin smoking one of your delightful cigarettes, and then after this appropriate expenditure of precious time and in the midst of your composure, then you will attempt to dissuade me, to talk me back to sanity (as you will express the idea), to appeal to my kindness and good sense. I approve. I am listening. The hour is yours. But of course you may use the lighter. Only reach for it slowly and keep in mind my warning. Do not be deceived by my good nature. I am as serious as a sheet of flame."

Last edited by Checker; 09-03-2015 at 11:01 AM..
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Old 09-03-2015, 11:05 AM
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First, Checker, don't get discouraged, I was captivated by the character and think she has a lot of potential. Grammar, syntax, BLAH BLAH BLAH, you got this, it can easily be fixed in the final draft of your work. I know authors who write shorthand then make it into an actual work at the end. Whatever works for you.

My advice is on tension. I didn't read the disclaimer until I was done and I honestly had no idea this would be horror. I think what you need is an epilogue (if this is your first chapter), that sets up the tension and conflict, before you get into showing us her life.

My advice is READ! Read as much horror and thriller books as you can get your hands on, and the writing will come on its own. Reading books in the genre you're writing is the best way to put yourself in that mind set and get inspiration.

Hope it helps and NEVER GIVE UP! WRITE ON!
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Old 09-03-2015, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Gypsy-Queen View Post
First, Checker, don't get discouraged, I was captivated by the character and think she has a lot of potential. Grammar, syntax, BLAH BLAH BLAH, you got this, it can easily be fixed in the final draft of your work. I know authors who write shorthand then make it into an actual work at the end. Whatever works for you.

My advice is on tension. I didn't read the disclaimer until I was done and I honestly had no idea this would be horror. I think what you need is an epilogue (if this is your first chapter), that sets up the tension and conflict, before you get into showing us her life.

My advice is READ! Read as much horror and thriller books as you can get your hands on, and the writing will come on its own. Reading books in the genre you're writing is the best way to put yourself in that mind set and get inspiration.

Hope it helps and NEVER GIVE UP! WRITE ON!
Thank you for the advice and feedback! Not much has really happened yet since this is only the first 600 words - hardly a 20th of a small novel.

I think, for the time being, I'm going to abandon all attempts at anything too complicated and time/brainpower-consuming. In fact, the current iteration of this story removes a third of the events in this draft and completely shifts the pace of the novel (something I've had comments on about both here and in PMs) into one that starts the action fast. Once I have in my hands something a tad more quality, I'll see what I can do about posting it here.
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"So you are going to relax, cher ami. You are determined to hide your trembling, achieve a few moments of silence, begin smoking one of your delightful cigarettes, and then after this appropriate expenditure of precious time and in the midst of your composure, then you will attempt to dissuade me, to talk me back to sanity (as you will express the idea), to appeal to my kindness and good sense. I approve. I am listening. The hour is yours. But of course you may use the lighter. Only reach for it slowly and keep in mind my warning. Do not be deceived by my good nature. I am as serious as a sheet of flame."
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Old 09-04-2015, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Checker View Post
Thank you for the advice and feedback! Not much has really happened yet since this is only the first 600 words - hardly a 20th of a small novel.

I think, for the time being, I'm going to abandon all attempts at anything too complicated and time/brainpower-consuming. In fact, the current iteration of this story removes a third of the events in this draft and completely shifts the pace of the novel (something I've had comments on about both here and in PMs) into one that starts the action fast. Once I have in my hands something a tad more quality, I'll see what I can do about posting it here.
Keep in mind that while some folks like to start a story in the middle of an earthquake, that may not be popular among the general reading public or work for you.

I'm not a horror fan, but I've heard that Steven King books start in a very commonplace way. Then the reader is drawn in. And by the time the reader discovers that it's horror, the reader wants to know the outcome.

I know that now Stephen King is known for horror. But that's how he built his fan base.

Keep in mind, too, that writing a good novel and writing a good short story are very different.

Good luck.

Last edited by poirot; 09-04-2015 at 12:41 PM..
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Old 09-04-2015, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by poirot View Post
But young readers and horror don't go together.
Sorry, but I have to disagree with you. I actually really picked up my taste for reading at eight, reading horror stories for kids at school. (By John Flanders, a Belgian writer. Under the pen-name Jean Ray he wrote the horror classic 'Malpertuis', translated in multiple languages, also English). I think that's something seriously wrong with literature today, all those 'you cannot's. Of course you can write horror for kids, you can even write sex stories for kids, if you do it in the right tone, with the right precautions and sensibilities.
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Old 09-05-2015, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Marc Haertjens View Post
Of course you can write horror for kids
Definitely second this. Growing up, my reading list always included Goosebumps, the Fear Street series, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

And it wasn't just me. The entire school read them.
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Old 09-05-2015, 06:09 AM
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Marc and pswgear --

I'm sure the entire school never read any one thing or series. There's always exceptions.

Naturally, he's free to do as he wishes. My opinions are mine and I stand behind them, just as you stand behind yours.
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Old 09-05-2015, 06:52 AM
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I am new to writersbeat. In fact this is my first comment. I read through your work and the comments that followed. I don't know if it's too late to comment but i have a couple things i would like to say. First, it seems to me like quite a number of people are averse to run-on sentences. I favor them; when done right they say a lot about the writer as well as the story. you should be careful with them though.
Second, I think the awakening scene sort of dragged on for a little too long. but it's possible that i feel this because i read it as a short. it might be alright for a longer story.
Run-on sentences are good in my opinion. i love them. i don't know why everyone frowns on them. they can be complicated and difficult but that's part of the beauty i suppose. nice work on the whole though.
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Old 09-05-2015, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by poirot View Post
My opinions are mine and I stand behind them, just as you stand behind yours.
Poirot, I think you are mixing things up. When you say "young readers and horror don't go together', that is indeed your opinion, though you state it as a fact (you don't say: "I think that young readers ...").
When I say: "Of course you can write horror for kids." that is not an opinion, that is a proven fact. Where do you think e.g. Roald Dahl got all his millions from?
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Old 09-05-2015, 07:33 AM
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Hi Checker,
Sorry to interfere like this in your story's comments, for a private discussion with Poirot. The advantage is that your story stays longer on top of the list, so more people will read it :-)
Worse is that I did not comment on your story myself, and in fact I didn't plan to, because my opinion of it (and all that follows is just my opinion) is rather negative.
I believe that a story, whatever genre it is written in, must allow the reader to live through it, to see things happen as if they were reality. And that's what I'm missing in your story. I won't say these things didn't happen in reality, of course they did, probably they still do. Only, I can't believe in it when I read how you describe it. Don't worry, you are in good companionship. Most people loved Donna Tartt's latest novel 'The Goldfinch', I hated it, probably one of the worst books I've ever read. For exactly the reasons mentioned above, I could not believe in the story for one single moment.
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Old 09-05-2015, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Marc Haertjens View Post
Hi Checker,
Sorry to interfere like this in your story's comments, for a private discussion with Poirot. The advantage is that your story stays longer on top of the list, so more people will read it :-)
Worse is that I did not comment on your story myself, and in fact I didn't plan to, because my opinion of it (and all that follows is just my opinion) is rather negative.
I believe that a story, whatever genre it is written in, must allow the reader to live through it, to see things happen as if they were reality. And that's what I'm missing in your story. I won't say these things didn't happen in reality, of course they did, probably they still do. Only, I can't believe in it when I read how you describe it. Don't worry, you are in good companionship. Most people loved Donna Tartt's latest novel 'The Goldfinch', I hated it, probably one of the worst books I've ever read. For exactly the reasons mentioned above, I could not believe in the story for one single moment.
This is some of the deepest feedback that I've encountered, and it hit upon something that is imperative to the new meaning for this scene in the newest draft. I worried about this for quite some time, before the weekend took over and I had (or rather, have) other things to worry about writing.

What makes it even more frustrating is that I'm describing the actions of someone I'm particularly fond of, and the writing (as I read aloud) only comes off as a series of sterile descriptions punctuated by a dumb use of figurative language here and there. I feel overly constrained by "my" role as a third-person narrator, but I know (and you will have to take my word on this) that if I went with a first person PoV that it would only lead to confusion and messiness later on (in the newest revision, that is) that I simply cannot have.
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:43 AM
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I am very sorry, Checker, if you could see me, I'm blushing till right behind my ears. In fact I gave your story the comment I meant (or rather didn't mean) to give to another story I've read on WB. That happens if you scroll through comments of different stories and make comments on comments, without rereading the actual story each time. I know, there's the Writer's Café for that, so next time, I'll go and discuss there.

I kind of liked your story and your general language use. Though there is a major problem with the 'suspense arc' (sorry, a literal translation of a Dutch term, that I believe has no equivalent in English, or at least I don't know it). I'll try to explain: you have to keep the tension in the reader alive, at nearly homeopathic doses, throughout the whole story, and that's what I'm missing here. If not a very interesting start, do continue writing and working on it!
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Old 09-05-2015, 11:46 AM
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I really liked it. I'm not exactly sure where the story is going. A few of the words seemed to be chosen to give it a more adult appeal. "Satiate" for instance. But other than that, which seemed a little forced, I liked it. I knew from your introduction you liked writing horror which I never liked so I avoided this at first. But this story seems compelling. And I think would make a good opening in any genre. Hope this helps.

Arte.
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Old 09-05-2015, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Marc Haertjens View Post
I am very sorry, Checker, if you could see me, I'm blushing till right behind my ears. In fact I gave your story the comment I meant (or rather didn't mean) to give to another story I've read on WB. That happens if you scroll through comments of different stories and make comments on comments, without rereading the actual story each time. I know, there's the Writer's Café for that, so next time, I'll go and discuss there.

I kind of liked your story and your general language use. Though there is a major problem with the 'suspense arc' (sorry, a literal translation of a Dutch term, that I believe has no equivalent in English, or at least I don't know it). I'll try to explain: you have to keep the tension in the reader alive, at nearly homeopathic doses, throughout the whole story, and that's what I'm missing here. If not a very interesting start, do continue writing and working on it!
Well, I honestly haven't chuckled this hard in ages!

Thanks again for more feedback.
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Old 09-05-2015, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Marc Haertjens View Post
If not a very interesting start, do continue writing and working on it!
And now I see I made one of these punctuation errors that really do change the sense of a sentence. I meant: if not,(comma!) a very interesting ...
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