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Small Brook - Horror/Thriller


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#1 TClark

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 05:16 PM

           I don’t smoke but today is an exception. I keep eyeing the carton of cigarettes lumped precariously among the cluttered mess of my work desk. I smoke my current cigarette down to the bud and allow it to fall haphazardly from my mouth and rolled down my round belly. The still billowing bud joins several of its friends on my plastic hardwood floors.

 

            My fingers scavenge through the collection of random bits of paranormal research that had become my career. Infrared pictures of haunted asylums, spirit orbs lingering gently in the dark, the imprint of a ghost child’s face against cracked colonial farmhouse. These pictures and files represented the height of my career. I took the infrared pictures for the asylum next to the trash shoot in my apartment complex’s basement, the spirits orbs were nothing more than large collections of dust, and the ghost child was a funny looking smudge I photo shopped into paranormal sensation.

 

            My critics have become sharp and fierce. It wasn’t easy to lie in the age of the Internet. Religion is on the decline. Ration and reason were on the rise. In my heyday my books were close to being bestsellers. I would lock myself inside asylums and relish in the adrenaline rush when a door would slide open all on its on. I have been shoved over a gravestone by some unseen force and picked up incoherent muffles through my EVT sessions. The ghosts were real and so was the money, but then one day just like in those Christmas movies where enough people stop believing in Santa and the protagonist must reinvigorate the holiday spirit, people stopped believing in the unseen. Doors no longer swung open by themselves or voices would echo out of the dark. My religion faltered and now I wore my testimonial more out of shame than any true belief in the divine or the other side. The spirits have abandoned me but I haven’t let go. My online blogs and weak book sales a testament to the crap I have been spewing out left and right. I’m too old for a career change and lack any real employable skills anyways. No one would want to hire a loony ghost photographer anyways. 



#2 BadgerFox

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 08:10 AM

           I don’t smoke but today is an exception. I keep eyeing the carton of cigarettes lumped precariously among the cluttered mess of my work desk. I smoke my current cigarette down to the bud and allow it to fall haphazardly from my mouth and rolled down my round belly [this sentence is ungrammatical and the verb tenses don't match. That is not the best beginning, ideally]. The still billowing bud joins several of its friends on my plastic hardwood floors.

 

            My fingers scavenge through the collection of random bits of paranormal research that had become my career [these tenses don't seem to match either. Surely it would be 'have', not 'had'? Past perfect tense is for things that have already happened in the past and now stopped happening, or that happened before another specific point in the past.]. Infrared pictures of haunted asylums [seems a little cliche. I had to spend a week in a modern-day asylum, myself, with a serious mental health problem, and we don't really call then that anymore. It's considered a bit old-fashioned and sometimes not very polite either, context dependent. If this story is set in a historical era where they genuinely did have a different name for it, that's different, but it seems to be modern?] , spirit orbs lingering gently in the dark, the imprint of a ghost child’s face against a cracked colonial farmhouse. These pictures and files represented the height of my career. I took the infrared pictures for the asylum next to the trash shoot chute in my apartment complex’s basement. The spirits orbs were nothing more than large collections of dust. And the ghost child was a funny looking smudge I photo shopped photoshopped [this is all one word, usually] into paranormal sensation.

 

            My critics have become sharp and fierce. It wasn’t easy to lie in the age of the Internet. Religion is on the decline. Rationality and reason were on the rise. In my heyday my books were close to being bestsellers. I would lock myself inside asylums and relish in the adrenaline rush when a door would slide open all on its on own [typo. Not a good idea to submit pieces of work for any kind of public review without correcting spelling errors. This is one of several basic spelling problems in this passage. If you have dyslexia issues consider getting a beta-reader or spellchecker to catch these first, as they give the writing an unfortunately unprofessional look and will put readers off] . I have been shoved over a gravestone by some unseen force and picked up incoherent muffles through my EVT sessions. The ghosts were real and so was the money, but then one day just like in those Christmas movies where enough people stop believing in Santa and the protagonist must reinvigorate the holiday spirit, people stopped believing in the unseen. Doors no longer swung open by themselves or voices would echo out of the dark. My religion faltered and now I wore my testimonial more out of shame than any true belief in the divine or the other side. The spirits have abandoned me but I haven’t let go. My online blogs and weak book sales a testament to the crap I have been spewing out left and right. I’m too old for a career change and lack any real employable skills anyways. No one would want to hire a loony ghost photographer anyways. [This is a major infodump, and that's kind of a no-no if this is supposed to be an opening chapter. If you're not already familiar with infodump issues, this blog post on writing advice is handy: http://blog.janiceha...ompels-you.html ]

 

It feels like there are some fundamental issues with spelling and punctuation and typos here, which don't create the best first impression. The piece is also infodumping. There's nothing wrong with introducing a washed-up ex-ghosthunter (although it doesn't seem clear whether he's a fraud or believes he's really seen supernatural things? he says the ghosts were real but also he photoshopped them? I'm trying to understand this contradiction. Does he mean that they were real except he never could prove it by catching one on camera? Or that they were real at the start but then he turned to faking them?). But showing an opening where he is looking through a pile of old memories specifically for the purpose of telling the reader about those memories is a bit cliche and could be more dynamic. It's more interesting to see a character going somewhere or doing something, if this is an opening, not just sitting in his house reminiscing about the past. 

 

And it might be just me, but it seems hard to emphathize with this character at the moment. Some of us beleive that it's actually a great thing that a scientific worldview is spreading over a superstitious one, as it means people are less likely to hurt each other by believing things that aren't true (like accussing one another of witchcraft, for example). So take into account that a decent proportion of your readership may hold this view. They may not feel very sympathetic to an old fraud who admits to faking paranormal material to trick people, unless you can make him seem like a charming rogue with other likeable traits. This is genre-dependent, of course. You don't say which genre this is here, but of course if it is a paranormal horror piece then your readers are ok with assuming ghosts are real; if it is a different genre then there might be more variation in views.


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#3 TClark

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 07:23 PM

It feels like there are some fundamental issues with spelling and punctuation and typos here, which don't create the best first impression. The piece is also infodumping. There's nothing wrong with introducing a washed-up ex-ghosthunter (although it doesn't seem clear whether he's a fraud or believes he's really seen supernatural things? he says the ghosts were real but also he photoshopped them? I'm trying to understand this contradiction. Does he mean that they were real except he never could prove it by catching one on camera? Or that they were real at the start but then he turned to faking them?). But showing an opening where he is looking through a pile of old memories specifically for the purpose of telling the reader about those memories is a bit cliche and could be more dynamic. It's more interesting to see a character going somewhere or doing something, if this is an opening, not just sitting in his house reminiscing about the past. 

 

And it might be just me, but it seems hard to emphathize with this character at the moment. Some of us beleive that it's actually a great thing that a scientific worldview is spreading over a superstitious one, as it means people are less likely to hurt each other by believing things that aren't true (like accussing one another of witchcraft, for example). So take into account that a decent proportion of your readership may hold this view. They may not feel very sympathetic to an old fraud who admits to faking paranormal material to trick people, unless you can make him seem like a charming rogue with other likeable traits. This is genre-dependent, of course. You don't say which genre this is here, but of course if it is a paranormal horror piece then your readers are ok with assuming ghosts are real; if it is a different genre then there might be more variation in views.

Thank your for your reply. If its not clear (and its listed in the title of this page) the genre is horror/thriller. I know I struggle with information dumps so thank you for that criticism. I have shifted the beginning of the story to a little later in the first chapter. 

 

 

             An incessant, constant whirl to a phone number that shouldn’t even exist buzzed against my right year. If I had known I was being patched through to my eventual demise I would have destroyed my phone then and there. No one could have predicted the horror that lied on the other side of the connection.

            Click.

            “Jessica speaking.”

            My confidence was eviscerated. I choked as spittle dripped from lips.

            “Oh hi, uhh yes. I’m calling to speaking with a Ms. Jessica Alberts?”

            “Who is this?” Her tone was harsh and ripe with suspicion. I clenched as a small batch of stomach acid erupted into my mouth.

            “My name is Wilfred Walters and I am an investigative journalist and I was hoping to speak with you about your town. I just have a few questions…”

            “Investigation? Journalist? Cut your shit. Who are you?” she fired back.

            I clenched the phone and fought through my anxiety. I took a slow breath and steadied my shaking hands. This had to go well.

            “Ma’am I assure you my credentials are solid. I have published many novels and blog posts about various mysteries the public may find intriguing. I am across the name of your town earlier today and found the history of Small Brook to be fascinating. I would just like to ask a few questions. Obviously I will be respectful in nature…” I paused. Her breathing was rapturous on the other end of the line. I could feel her mind turning as my bullshit spilled from my mouth.

            “What did you say your name was?” she barked.

            “Wilfred Walters,” I repeated.

            “And you said you were published?”

            “Yes, that is correct.” I bit my lip. The tension was building. My false façade would come crashing down once she realized my true profession.

            “Hmm, give my a second.” I heard shuffling in the background and then the clicking of computer keys. “Uh huh… I see. So you’re the real deal I guess. Chasing ghosts and bigfoots in hopes to make a quick buck, huh?”

            My face turned dark red. My true identity was blown.

            “I’m a journalist ma’am, I look into subjects other don’t…”

            “Quit the bullshit. I see your ghost stories for sell on Amazon. Don’t fuck with me.”

            “I’m just interested in your town’s history. I would just like to ask you some brief questions and I’ll happily make your answers anonymous…”

            “Fuck it. Fuck all of it! You want a story? I’ll give you a story."



#4 Springfield

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 12:48 AM

You want to change the title or first post to say that you've posted an updated version. I only noticed when the reply window opened. 

 

Thank your for your reply. If its not clear (and its listed in the title of this page) the genre is horror/thriller. I know I struggle with information dumps so thank you for that criticism. I have shifted the beginning of the story to a little later in the first chapter. 

 

 

             An incessant, constant whirl to a phone number that shouldn’t even exist buzzed against my right year.  Typo, redundant,  and what's a whirl to a phone number? I don't know what this means at all.

 

If I had known I was being patched through to my eventual demise I would have destroyed my phone then and there. No one could have predicted the horror that lied on the other side of the connection. Redundant and how's it a thriller if you give away the endings before stuff starts?

            Click.

            “Jessica speaking.”

            My confidence was eviscerated. I choked as spittle dripped from lips. 

            “Oh hi, uhh yes. I’m calling to speaking with a Ms. Jessica Alberts?” This sentence isn't English.

            “Who is this?” Her tone was harsh and ripe with suspicion. I clenched as a small batch of stomach acid erupted into my mouth.

            “My name is Wilfred Walters and I am an investigative journalist and I was hoping to speak with you about your town. I just have a few questions…” No one speaks this formally, without contractions.

            “Investigation? Journalist? Cut your shit. Who are you?” she fired back.

            I clenched the phone and fought through my anxiety. I took a slow breath and steadied my shaking hands. This had to go well. Redundant, also there's no explanation for either nervousness or what the deal is or anything.

            “Ma’am I assure you my credentials are solid. I have published many novels and blog posts about various mysteries the public may find intriguing.  No one talks like this. Also those aren't credentials, let alone solid ones, so I kind of doubt someone would try that? I am across You must edit your work -- everyone has typos and errors scattered here and there, but the more prevalent they are, the more offputting they'll be to an agent. the name of your town earlier today and found the history of Small Brook to be fascinating. I would just like to ask a few questions. Obviously I will be respectful in nature” I paused. Her breathing was rapturous Is that the word you mean? on the other end of the line. I could feel her mind turning as my bullshit spilled from my mouth. He came across the name? Eh?

 

            “What did you say your name was?” she barked. Said bookisms are of the devil.

            “Wilfred Walters,” I repeated.

            “And you said you were published?”

            “Yes, that is correct.” I bit my lip. The tension was building. My false façade would come crashing down once she realized my true profession.

            “Hmm, give my a second.” I heard shuffling in the background and then the clicking of computer keys. “Uh huh… I see. So you’re the real deal I guess. Chasing ghosts and bigfoots in hopes to make a quick buck, huh?”

            My face turned dark red. My true identity was blown.

            “I’m a journalist ma’am, I look into subjects other don’t

            “Quit the bullshit. I see your ghost stories for sell on Amazon. Don’t fuck with me.”

            “I’m just interested in your town’s history. I would just like to ask you some brief questions and I’ll happily make your answers anonymous…”

            “Fuck it. Fuck all of it! You want a story? I’ll give you a story." Huh?

 

This is better than the original in the first post, but it's kind of confusing, as it lacks any context, even built in. The places you're just repeating stuff you could use to impart info. 

 

Also, I stopped pointing out the errors, but there were more. Also also, that's not how to use ellipses. 






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