View Full Version : Shuck: Intro and Chapter One (Minor Language)

May 28th, 2012, 01:37 AM
I haven't written anything with any real length or story since high school...
A good few years have passed; I write what I think I'd like to read - and I like to read creature features!
I very, very rarely share my work so I have no idea how it comes across!
Please be kind :P

This section contains violence and language!



The night bit into Eden Baard's exposed fingertips and burned the inside of her nostrils as she trudged across the courtyard and towards the wooden barns at the opposite end of her property. Slipping in the wet mud, she pitched forwards; the heavy buckets in her hands preventing her from colliding with the ground entirely. Eden cursed. She hated this part of her life. She hated the wet, dripping meat in the buckets. She hated the sweet yet musky scent that wafted towards her from the barns. Most of all, she hated that her husband had left her with this responsibility.

Samuel Baard had died from a stroke three years previously, leaving Eden and their son, Elliot, the owners of the family farm. Eden loved her son, and although the inhabitants of the farm were little more than horrid freaks in her eyes and she despised them so, she would do anything to protect him. She saw people as more of a threat than her animals; people could not be controlled. People could harm, kill, or take Elliot away from her.

She knew the farm, it was hers. Here she felt safe, regardless of the pets.
The floodlight on the barn exploded into life with a loud clunk, bathing Eden and several meters of the marshy field behind her in a silvery glow. The sound of claws on concrete and shifting straw splintered the otherwise silent night air. More to tease the animals than anything else, Eden noisily dropped the buckets to the ground and sighed. With numb and swollen digits, she fumbled with the latches on the barn door.
The familiar long, low, rolling hoot still chilled her. More animals began to call and growl, urging their feeder to hurry. She heaved up the last rusted latch and the door juddered ajar. The noises ceased. Eden leaned forwards slightly, listening intently as she half carried-half dragged the meat buckets closer to the door. She kicked it open and stepped inside the dim, dank structure. From inside the stalls numerous pairs of hungry, glowing eyes followed her every move. The sweet, pungent aroma of the animals washed over her, causing her to sway a little on her feet. Brushing the lank, black hair away from her frigid face with the back of her hand, she took a large meat hook from a peg on the back of the door and plunged it into the bucket, hauling up a chunk of meat and tossing it with a grunt to the animal in the stall on her left. The unfed beasts erupted with noise; snarling, roaring, cackling, hooting.
The sudden riot startled Eden and she stumbled backwards into the door of one of the stalls. The animal inside launched itself at the door. Eden swung around in terror, catching the beast in the jowl with the meat hook. A screaming roar of agony momentarily drowned out the other calls. A panicked flick of the huge, shaggy head sent Eden sprawling backwards across the concrete floor.
More roars and rattles joined the awful chorus as the brutes began to leap and scratch at the gates of their own enclosures.

Eden rolled onto her front, her head spinning from the impact. Her limbs shook uncontrollably and her breathing came in ragged gasps as her brain registered, through the howling, the sound of splintering wood. All at once the din halted. Eden forced her dazed eyed to peer upwards. Two huge, gleaming blue eyes stared back at her. The black lips on the thick muzzle curled up into a maniacal grin to reveal long, dripping, yellow canines. Viscous globules of bloody saliva dangled from the chin and torn jowls like monstrous fingers. The brute's entire shaggy frame shuddered as one hand-sized paw hit the ground, just inches in front of Eden. The beast lowered its head. She drew in a breath. Without warning, the howling anarchy commenced once more as the stalled animals went wild, jumping and clawing.
The hot, rancid breath clogged her nostrils. Eden felt a thunderous growl envelop every one of her senses seconds before the immense maw clamped down and, with a sickening crack, pulverised her skull.

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Chapter One

Sleepy sunlight filtered through the half-drawn cotton curtains, swamping the room in a gentle orange hue. The merry chatter of the sparrows outside the window and the distant sound of conversation were drowned out intermittently by the dull rising and falling moan of vehicles as they drove past the house on their various morning commutes.
Rayna Harris listened to the strangely comforting sounds. Hearing them everyday, she had grown accustomed and her mind subconsciously tuned them out. Only now did she realise that she could only really hear them when she was actually listening for them. She smiled to herself, amused by how simple, commonplace noises could make her feel so safe, and how strange things would be without them constantly flitting around her ears.

Sitting on the end of her freshly made double bed, she leaned forward to look at herself again in the full length mirror on the far wall. She ran her fingers lightly through her cropped blonde hair, screwed up her face silently, then tousled hair with both hands. She stood, stepping closer to the mirror and looking herself up and down. After brushing down her legs and blue shorts with her hands and straightening her white tank top, she twirled slowly. Nodding to herself in contentment, Rayna spun around to the bed, grabbed up a black jacket and a heavy tote bag with each hand, gave herself a final glance in the mirror and skipped out of the room. She leaned on the banister on the top of the stairs and peered over.
“Cass! Get your rear in gear, boy!” she called down cheerfully.
A round, chiselled face floated into view from the door frame in the hall at the bottom of the stairs. Ruddy cheeks bulged slightly beside pursed lips as smiling green eyes widened and thick, dark eyebrows raised in answer to the call.
Rayna suppressed a smile and furrowed her brow. "Cassian... that best not be our lunch in your mouth...."
Cassian made a show of turning his head and eyes to the ceiling, playfully avoiding his girlfriend's gaze.
She heaved a half-serious sigh as she trotted down the staircase, "Those sandwiches were for everyone! It's on you to buy lunch for the gang now, fat boy!" slapping his stomach as she glided past him into the kitchen.
The tall boy swallowed his mouthful, and threw his arms into the air in false exasperation. His solid 6'1 frame was actually more muscle than fat.
"Seriously? Those vultures should be bringing food for us! It's my car we're taking, after all."
"You can't bitch about it if you volunteer to drive!"
A lopsided grin spread across Cassian's wide face, argument lost. "Fine. Roadside burger van meals for all!"
Rayna chuckled and purposely fell into Cassian, letting him catch her. "I was thinking more lobster and caviar..."
His smile broadened and he pushed her away gently before scooping her close to him again, leaning over slightly to kiss her softly.
"Ooosh! Wait for me to get the camera out first, kids!"
The sudden raspy voice made them both jump. Rayna looked up and glared at the lanky boy in the doorway. "Geez, Trick, do we not knock any more?"
Fiddling with the buttons on his midnight blue shirt sleeve, he rolled his eyes and clicked his tongue. "With yous lost in the heat of passion and all you wouldn't have noticed anyways..." he mumbled into his chest. "Ready to rumble?"
Cassian ran his hand along Rayna's back and winked at her, carrying on his motion to pick up the duffel bag perched atop the kitchen counter. With his free hand he pointed a finger gun at his friend stood in the doorway. "Rock and roll!"

Patrick 'Trick' Darling had known Cassian Faulkner for many years; since Primary School, in fact. The boys had not always been friends, but had become closer over the past year after sharing a number of college courses. It was on a 'end of exams' night out that they then both met Rayna Harris. Being boys, they had challenged each other to get as many girls' phone numbers as possible that night. Being naturally confident and bubbly, Rayna had humoured the boys, somehow wrangling a number of free drinks from Trick especially. Sussing out the drunken game almost immediately, Rayna declined to give out her phone number. She did, enjoying fun and flirting as much as anyone, join the game. With their new companion, it wasn't long before Cassian and Trick lost interest and simply took up shots. Inebriated and impulsive, the trio had stumbled noisily round to Cassian's tiny flat and spent the night together. Blaming the booze, and maybe all feeling a little more than sleazy, they had all refused to acknowledge if anything had happened that night... though the three had been inseparable since.
After realising that one of her closest friends in college was actually Cassian's younger sister, Rayna had begun spending more and more time at that flat. Time and exposure had brought them both much closer and, after getting the obligatory go-ahead from his sister, Avery, Cassian had made Rayna his girlfriend.

Though the Faulkners and Rayna didn't seem to recognise, there was a certain awkwardness that Trick definitely picked up on. Not wanting to be pushed of of the group that seemed to be tightening its bonds without him, he introduced Avery to his friend, Luke Auklet. The pair had hit it off right away, thus bringing the gang up to a total of five.
The girls, being the youngest members of the group, had both completed their colleges courses a month previous and as such had planned a celebratory trip into the countryside with their boys for what they all saw as some well earned good times. They would spend a week away together, then return to their sleepy town before going their separate ways into various universities and the working world. This was, they had decided, going to be the best farewell getaway they could possibly have.

After slinging the two massive suitcases into the open boot of the celestial blue Mazda 3, the bulky lad shuffled round to the rear left door and opened it, nodding politely as his athletic, brunette partner smiled to him and climbed inside the car. Wiping the strawberry blond mop of hair from his forehead with a chubby paw, he plodded around to the passenger side door in the front of the car and slid inside, swivelling his big head over his shoulder to sneer playfully at the passengers in the back seats.
Rayna and Avery sneered back in mocking as Trick winked at him. "Alright, Lukey! You forget that you riding shotgun leaves me all alone back here with yous guys's lovely ladies..."
"I'm not worried, Paddy; I'm sure they can defend themselves from your scrawny bod!" came Luke's deep but nasally Scottish-twanged response.
"Oh Tricky, don't tempt me!" Rayna placed a hand on his bony knee and spoke breathily in parody, "You know i just can't keep my hand off you..."
Avery giggled. Trick turned his shaggy brown head away and snorted in discontent.
"Now, now, children; there shall be no 'bod touching', scrawny or otherwise, in this car." Cassian shrugged the checkered red hoodie from his shoulders as he rocked the car, seating himself and shoved the keys into the ignition. "If we have all quite finished, I'd like to get this freak show on the road. Everybody got everything?"
Thumbs-up were thrust into Cassian's face from all directions. He rolled his eyes and nodded, turning back towards the windscreen. Luke expertly tapped the screen of the Sat Nav stuck on the window and cleared his throat, drawing out his words somewhat as he registered the information on the little screen. "Right... Says we'll be there in about 3 hours. Since you've all been dicking about all day, that means it'll be just getting dark..."
"But that's okay since the site allows camp fires." Avery added, her gentle voice almost drowned out by the car engine firing up.
Rayna raised her shaped eyebrows at her friend and grinned. "Fingers crossed it hasn't rained then!"

The blue car reversed away from Luke's parents' bungalow and rolled down the almost empty afternoon street, towards the motorway, officially commencing what the group had already labelled as their last trip together.

May 28th, 2012, 08:07 AM
Be careful of working with introductions. Obviously, I have no idea where the story is going beyond this chapter but right now it seems like the intro is part of a whole other story. That can work to your advantage since it leaves your readers wondering where that intro is going to come back into play, but it can also work against you if you are wanting to publish this. Agents are often turned off by intros especially if there is no immediate relevance to the story. That being said, I really did enjoy the mystery of the work. I think that you're well on your way to creating a great history and back story for the setting which is phenomenal for getting a loyal fan base.

Stylistically I think that you're telling us too much instead of showing us. I read a handy little adage for working on this: if you're saying something then it should be able to be seen by a camera. Clearly you don't want everything to be like this, but if you tell more than you show then the work gets slow and heavy. Another thing that I think could help you tighten the flow is to drop some of those adjectives. I make the same mistake all the time. You can see so clearly what's going on and it feels like if you stack those adjectives/adverbs on then it heightens the energy as you read it. In some cases this is true, but overdoing it will ultimately tear down whatever style you've worked so hard to establish. I suggest that you list all of the adjectives/adverbs that you have in this segment and then cross out all the ones that are common or redundant. Then throw the remaining ones back in and look over where you took the other ones out. Chances are you can choose a stronger word to get the same thought across without an adjective (ie., "a lopsided grin spread across his face" could become "he smirked"). This cutting in word count gives you more flexibility to maybe add a little to the description with stronger wording and/or additional wording (since you have some more wiggle room in the sentence length now) while making the read tighter.

I'd be careful of too much description of the characters. Leave the reader room to fill the images themselves. It will draw the reader in and make the players more important to them. I think that one of the best ways to do that is to describe the motion/behavior of the characters in particular ways so that we read into the personality and physicality ourselves. You don't have to do it this way, but I think that it can add to the flow of the reading and draw us in. I'd definitely avoid very overt descriptors like when you refer to Cassian's "6'1" frame. Reread the details and ask yourself, "Is it important to the story that the reader sees this like X." If the answer is no then you can let us fill in the blanks. Just a handy tool that I've stumbled across.

Over all I really think that this has potential. There's a lot of room for suspense and development of a complex plot with the multiple characters you've already introduced. I particularly like the change in tone between the intro and the first chapter. I think that it adds a lot and really helps get the reader to ask questions about what's coming next. I'm jealous of the flow that your dialogue has. You do a great job of establishing a comfortable pace of speech between the characters and also making it feel like they've known each other forever. There were some grammar mistakes here and there, but I figure that those things can be sorted out easily with careful editing. Just cut down on the repetition and streamline the descriptions and I think that you're looking at a really solid start!