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Jeko
April 15th, 2013, 03:27 PM
The bus was hurtling towards the edge of the world, and I was on it.

I couldn't breathe. Sweat ran down my face and a hundred spiders were running up my spine. I was staggering near the back, gripping the seats either side of me like my life depended on it. It did more or less, not that holding onto furniture could avert the giant fireball of death that was getting closer and closer to happening but if I let go Id fall over and probably crack my head on something. We were going so fast. I was moving further and further up the bus. Soon I could see the cliff coming up ahead. The driver was dead. The passengers, the thirty children on board, were like zombies with their eyes wide open and their mouths agape to make silent screams. But I felt more afraid than they did.

A young boy was staring at me from the front of the bus. The air grew colder the longer he looked at me. He was like a solid ghost, his skin white like bone; no, it was bone. Even his hair was flakes of brittle, chalky skeleton. From his bony right hand a fingernail was extended, dripping blood that almost glowed. From the way he looked at me I knew he wasn't expecting me to come, but he didn't see me as a threat.

I ran at the boy, trying to do anything, anything to stop what he was doing. But there was a moment when I looked past the boy to see the last of the road, and then the whole bus jerked and tipped and gravity took its course.

I shot back to the back of the bus. We were falling. This is it. The world blurred and the air was sucked out of the bus and now I could hear the screams. He was making me hear them. I knew it.

The bus went into a nose dive and the boy, the pale monster of a boy he clicked two of his bony fingers. Then we hit the ground and everything went black.

This is how my nightmare began.





I don't want to post anything I'm working on/would count as a WIP at the moment (writing with the door closed, so to speak), but I'd really appreciate feedback on old projects that I'm never (I think) going to finish. This novel never really began anyway, and this may be the 100th reincarnation of the opening. It's a story that became stale as I worked on it and I found a better character and world to funnel my ideas into.

PSFoster
April 15th, 2013, 06:52 PM
It's kind of "out there", but as the beginning of a nightmare, it works. We all know that dreams and nightmares don't make sense.

isaiah
April 15th, 2013, 09:24 PM
Aside from small minuscule places where I would consider swapping some words (if this were mine), I say this is constructed well. You seem to have thoroughly put your character into a living hell, which would be ideal for a nightmare. This is something that I would want a lot more background on rather soon into the reading if it was a novel that I had picked up. I would want to know who the character was, what was wrong with him, etc. If this is any indication of your story-telling abilities, I think you will be perfectly fine in whatever else you write.

StevenW
April 16th, 2013, 12:36 AM
Honestly, it just doesn't grab my attention. The writing seems clunky. I think you'd do better to change from 1st to 3rd person perspective; it assumes the protagonist isn't going to die, as he's narrating.

isaiah
April 16th, 2013, 12:45 AM
Honestly, it just doesn't grab my attention. The writing seems clunky. I think you'd do better to change from 1st to 3rd person perspective; it assumes the protagonist isn't going to die, as he's narrating.

He makes a valid point about the 3rd person. It might would serve well to use 3rd person in a situation like this. I imagine it being an effective way of having the reader wonder the fate of the character.

Jeko
April 16th, 2013, 08:39 AM
Thanks for all the feedback!

PSFoster: Great to hear it's coherent but still dream-like. I cna never be sure myself if I'm getting the balance right.

isaiah: Thank for the encouragement. What I'm writing at the moment is the same genre (ish), so I hope I can keep this style going.

StevenW: Unfortunately, I'm completely against perspective shifts as a means of editing (both because it can muddle up how I'm handling the passive/acitve voice, and because it detaches my own personal perspective from the work). Also, the character does die. I use the first person to imply it.

Is there anything else that makes the writing clunky? Because being clunky is something I'm working on a lot at the moment.

StevenW
April 17th, 2013, 12:40 AM
I can't really explain it. It's a roughness that could be smoothed out.

J Anfinson
April 17th, 2013, 03:14 AM
Hmmm. I'm not so sure about it being rough, as it's written well, it just doesn't seem like the tense fits. You might try writing in first person present tense for something like that, to put the reader in on the action. Then you could switch to past tense to describe what happened after. I've read books that used that effect wonderfully.

Pelwrath
April 17th, 2013, 05:26 AM
Color. That's what missing. It's been said that we don't dream in color, therefore in dreams something is missing as it should I guess and that is what I thought reading this. What questions I had became irrelevant and I didn't mind. So, as for capturing a dream, you did just that.

Rfurness
April 24th, 2013, 01:39 AM
I actually really enjoyed it. I disagree with most of the other opinions on this thread, the first person narrative works. Especially where the character is describing a dream sequence, I don't think the POV is indicative of whether the character lives or dies. Also, there is no problem with telling the reader what the end result is, so long as the journey is interesting.

isaiah
April 25th, 2013, 01:03 PM
It's been said that we don't dream in color...

I've heard others tell me they don't dream in color, but I always have. I find this odd, because never have my dreams been without color. My father tells me his dreams (the rare occasion he actually remembers one) are like an old, black&white television.

jayelle_cochran
April 25th, 2013, 09:13 PM
I like this. It's a good opening though I think it would work really well if it were longer (perhaps a prologue). I keep feeling like there needs to be some more to the description. Perhaps thoughts that the MC has. I don't know. It just feels as though it's missing something. Then again, I am a huge fan of showing and length.

For example, the narrative talks about stopping the boy but I'm not entirely sure what the boy was doing. I get that he's a specter of some sort and somehow responsible for what is going on. I'm craving specifics though. Did he kill the driver? Was he forcing the bus to drive over the edge? Was he tormenting the MC in his dreams or in real life? I find that if there's a question as to what someone is doing then it's usually a good indication that more information is needed for the reader...unless you want the reader to have questions. lol That works too if the information is revealed later on.

I know this isn't a current WIP but I would LOVE to see more. Too bad you're not planning on finishing it. You've definitely captured my attention! :)

*hugs*
Jayelle

chris-mac
June 21st, 2013, 09:20 PM
Love the description of the children as zombies, Cadence, and the boy stood at the front of the bus. Possessed or ghost children makes those hairs stand right up on the back of my neck every time. This perhaps need reworking and then developing more. I take it you wrote this some years ago?

Striving
July 1st, 2013, 01:27 AM
Hello Cadence,

I enjoyed reading it, but like other I found it somewhat clunky. Since you were looking for specifics, I'm volunteering. (These are my opinions; others may disagree).

I couldn't breathe. Sweat ran down my face and a hundred spiders were running up my spine. <it gave me a pause: were spiders running up his spine, or was that a metaphor? Now I know it was the latter, but I had to think about it, which is bad> I was staggering near the back, gripping the seats either side of me like my life depended on it. It did more or less, not that holding onto furniture could avert the giant fireball of death that was getting closer and closer to happening <the phrase ‘that was getting closer and closer to happening’ is a major clunk. Use the word ‘imminent’ and be done with it. As in ‘the imminent giant fireball of death’> but if I let go I’d fall over and probably crack my head on something. <do you need ‘on something’? I think it makes for a rough read.> We were going so fast. <This latter sentence is choppy and hinders the flow. Your opening sentence, ‘hurtling towards the edge’, implies speed sufficiently enough.> I was moving further and further up the bus. Soon I could see the cliff coming up ahead. The driver was dead. The passengers, the thirty children on board, were like zombies with their eyes wide open and their mouths agape to make silent screams. < ‘make silent screams’ is a strange English construct. I understood it but it made me stop.> But I felt more afraid than they did.

I’ve got to work some more tonight, so I’m off. Still, good luck and keep honing your writing.

bioclasm
July 1st, 2013, 08:27 AM
I liked it, but was dissapointed that it was a dream. A lot of stories open with something that really grabs me, then the "...it was a dream." It just feels likes I've been lied to. But I did feel the writing was very smooth, and it certainly kept me interested.

BobtailCon
July 1st, 2013, 11:08 AM
This was good, kinda my style, I like the creepy feel. I've had dreams where I'm heading towards a fall and can't stop it. Very cool.

JEvershen
August 6th, 2013, 12:46 PM
I enjoyed this and was a little upset at the thought of it not continuing. I'm not a fan of the opening being a dream (this is merely a personal preference of mine.) I do think that it gives a very nice cliffhanger to grab the readers attention.

Jeko
August 7th, 2013, 11:28 AM
Thanks for the continuing feedback on this. Though I'm not continuing it, some of the ideas and characters are filtering into my current WIP.

Also, it's not a dream. The MC actually dies; my idea was for him to refer to his entire messed-up life beyond this incident as a nightmare, despite it being real.

Thanks again for the feedback.

Lucifer
August 7th, 2013, 04:44 PM
there are some really solid critiques on here already, but here's my opinion anyway. I liked it, kept me wondering. I kind of agree that the whole "it was only a dream" thing is kind of overdone. but it was a really enjoyable read and I wouldn't mind seeing where you are going with this.

Jeko
August 7th, 2013, 08:20 PM
I kind of agree that the whole "it was only a dream" thing is kind of overdone.

I ought to add a disclaimer than this is not a dream.

Lucifer
August 8th, 2013, 02:48 AM
sorry for misinterpreting your work. I must have been misinformed and obviously misconstrued the nature of your story.

Greimour
August 8th, 2013, 03:32 AM
Firstly, I love your descriptive capabilities. Due to the clunky writing you said you are working on, I will simply voice opinion and let you choose to ignore it or take from it as you will.
I agree with pretty much everything Striving said; like spiders - I literally imagined spiders at first with a small spinal spasm of horror, before guessing it was a metaphor... so I guess I will do my own personal opinion of everything that follows.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A young boy was staring at me from the front of the bus. The air grew colder the longer he looked at me. He was like a solid ghost, his skin white like bone; no, it was bone. Even his hair was flakes of brittle, chalky skeleton. From his bony right hand a fingernail was extended, dripping blood that almost glowed. From the way he looked at me I knew he wasn't expecting me to come, but he didn't see me as a threat.<But he didn't see me as a threat. Gave me pause, it took me a while to come to a conclusion that told me the boy was probably 'Death' (Grim) or something similar. It was the first 'real' moment where I had pause that made me do a re-read. Reading on let me come to the conclusion, but I would probably change the "but he didnt see me as a threat" part... like: From the way he looked at me I knew he wasn't expecting me to come, he was just letting me know why he was there. (not that, but something that stays with the mystery and implies understanding later)

I ran at the boy,<Why? I wouldnt go running at the grim reaper... trying to do anything, anything to stop what he was doing<Which was what besides pointing at him? Has protagonist never heard of The touch of death, guess it's not the grim reaper or an angel of death?. But there was a moment when I looked past<I hate past and passed, from my understanding I believe you used the right word (look passed, looked past) I am unsure whether that would make your use of past an adverb or a preposition... or what... but it still stumps me (and an unfortunate great many) both when using and reading past/passed used in this way - I find it reads easier and believe it describes better when substituting the word for one like "Beyond" by changing the sentence layout a little: "But there was a moment, looking beyond the boy, where I could see the last of the road. for example" the boy to see the last of the road, and then the whole bus jerked and tipped and gravity took its course. <Due to my comment for the sentence preceeding this one, I played with this one a bit too. I didn't see a problem with it until I gave an example or a change to looked past. So here is how I would have personally tackled the imagery (and I have also professed that you are better at descriptive than I, so do as you will with the comment <3 But there was a moment, looking beyond the boy, where I could see the last of the road. The bus jerks, tips, gravity takes hold, we're going over... a direct vertical drop greets my eyes. And that means I merge what comes next too... I'm flying, before (descriptively smashes against the back of the bus due to gravity sucking the bus down whilst he (protag) had been levitating in void space) You go on to say "we were falling", I'd chop that to We're falling and on the edit goes. When describing scenes of immediate action with possible life ending results, I try to use short quick statements for fast flow to meet a climatic end.

I shot back to the back of the bus. We were falling. This is it. The world blurred and the air was sucked out of the bus and now I could<and now I could? ... and now I can...?... I am not sure what my problem is with that part, maybe its the word "could and now" confusing past and present tense. At least it is the way I read it... (am I wrong?) hear the screams. He was making me hear them. I knew it.<"I knew it" is, to me, unneccessary added extra.. the fact that you stated it in first person means you (protagonist) know it to be true.

The bus went into a nose dive and the boy, the pale monster of a boy – he<"he" is added extra, don't need it. You have already described its the pale monster of a boy being referenced (read it without using the word he and decide for yourself). clicked two of his bony fingers<not sure on the use of the word "two" like when I snap my fingers, the its thumb on middle finger and the snap sound is made as it hits the bottom of my thumb, which is how I imagined you meant "clicked two of his bony fingers" I don't know but I would merge that section with the next and remove clunkiness. Then we hit the ground and everything went black... (I don't like starting sentences with Then or They and other certain words, but to each their own I guess) anyway, for the merge of bony clicking fingers and so forth... "snapped his bone fingers as we hit the ground. Darkness. ... using "and everything went back" lacked a certain sense of finality for me. The image I saw was he clicked his fingers at the same moment the bus hit the ground and everything went black, but what I read was he clicked his fingers - then the bus hit the floor - then everything went black.


That's my two scents <3

I am going to have to work on my descriptive skills, you seriously slapped my face with your superiority ^_^

P.S. With the ending sentence: "This is how my nightmare began" ... I did not interpret that to mean it was a dream. Not until I read comments anyway.
I interpreted that to mean, the afterlife - or whatever came after the crash, was the real nightmare. The bone-boy implied he was to be taken away - for example to hell - upon the moment he met his death. That is where I concluded : the real nightmare began once he died.

Had you written further, I expect that would have become self-evident and a reader would have had no problem making the transition. Any belief they had been cheated by it being a dream would have been wiped clean, forgiven and forgotten the moment they realized the mistake was their own.



~Kev

:4stars:

CCRazorback22
August 8th, 2013, 05:51 AM
I really enjoyed it. I feel that you described the situation fairly well and even though not a lot is given about the character, I think that's good. The fact that we don't now anything sort of makes it more exciting.

CCRazorback22

emilie
August 10th, 2013, 01:58 AM
I'd say more about the eyes, or the expression of the boys face. Like what does she see when she looks into its eyes, etc.

ffslogin
August 23rd, 2013, 05:06 AM
Liked it :). Those first couple sentences really grab your attention.

bezidentita
August 26th, 2013, 12:42 AM
Nice! I got into it. Only one suggestion. I got into it so much that the motion was just flowing right along. Then I came to "We were going so fast." I get why you put it in there, it just seemed a little out of place, like it slowed the rhythm or something. Otherwise, great job. I got carried away.

ejrosetta
August 28th, 2013, 05:27 PM
Hey! I bloody love this, possibly the best opening line I've read in a long time. The chilling boy is a really vivid image, I swear I could almost see his eye sockets! I really hope you find a place to use this. Usually I hate the "And them it was all a dream..." paragraphs but this one was particularly powerful. Thanks for sharing :-)

TheoMiller
October 4th, 2013, 10:39 PM
Clunky-ness: embrace the Hemingway. Less talk, more action, so to speak.

his skin white like bone; no, it was bone. Even his hair was flakes of brittle, chalky skeleton. From his bony right hand
We get it, there's bone. How about"...skin that wasn't skin at all but bone; even his hair was brittle and chalky. From his right hand..." or something like it instead?
A lot of that is the choice in narration - I agree that third person would be better. Maybe even 3PO, because 3PL is just as limiting in regards to character death, generally. Otherwise, very spooky. I adore creepy things. Can't write them, that would require me taking the world seriously, but I love to read them.

Jeko
October 5th, 2013, 05:17 PM
Thanks for the continuing feedback on this everyone. It's nice to compare my current work to this, to see what's changed.