View Full Version : Spinney Tap Farm

June 21st, 2013, 10:48 PM
Okay guys (gulps nervously)...my first offering to this forum. So many talented writers here from what I've read thus far so after just 11 posts this is something of a Baptism by fire... this is the first few lines of a novel I am close to finishing...this is my opener. Any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated, and I plan to post up a selection of my short stories in the future, whilst all the time reading, commenting and learning from you guys. I am not going to pretend I am a great or even good writer as I don't think I am, so any help to improve my craft will always be welcomed by me...I am not frightened of harsh critiques...okay that's a lie...I'm terrified...O:)so here goes...


Meths was snoozing in the overstuffed armchair oblivious to Cromwell who was now negotiating the great mid-rift of the human mountain.

Many spiders had perished within just a few feet of meths, mostly under foot, and Cromwell appeared up for the challenge, or perhaps not having much choice after falling desperately floorward from the oak beam above and landing on the bloated carcass.

Worse still Meths' great dullish pink belly was tightly squeezed into stinky vest, and Cromwell's rather wobbly but sedate long legs tip toed at speed and nestled in the sweaty folds of flesh around meths' stubby neck. Cromwell was a magnificent specimen of teganera giganticus. He smelled with his feet, and the stale and acidic wetness of the body of the big man had him galloping at even greater speed up and over meths' fat head and disappearing behind the armchair to darkened sanctuary away from the glare of the TV set and the lamplight.

Karen had been sitting on the sofa watching with great interest the tenacity, prowess and grace of Cromwell and believed she could hear him retching in his dark corner. But not being able to stand another moment of Meths' various stenches that appeared to emanate from every orifice of the drunk, and wafted their way with great regularity up her nostrils, she upped and went to grab the keys from off the dinner table.

She pulled on her hoody and stuck a finger up at the now snoring meths and went through to the kitchen and out the back door and locked it. She left the beast to slumber and wondered to herself what became of the sleeper denied the embrace of Morpheus. The fact that he was asleep meant of course that Morpheus must have a very poor sense of smell.

As Cromwell before her Karen too had escaped...for now.

June 21st, 2013, 11:09 PM
We have a few problems here, but that's okay. Dr. Folcro's gonna fix them for you.

Your main problem ironically highlights your potential--- you write too much. Good! It makes your job and my job easier. We have what we need. All we have to do is clip.

Well, there are a few things that need to be added--- commas. If you switched your number of commas in this piece with the number of adjectives, you'll be ten big steps ahead. A great example is your opening line:

Meths was snoozing in the overstuffed armchair, oblivious to Cromwell, who was negotiating the great mid-rift of the human mountain.

I took out "overstuffed" because I don't see the relevance of it. I took out "great" because "human mountain" already describes the size (a fine description, by the way). Why burden it with redundancy?

The over-description threw me off a bit. Maybe I'm just off my rocker today, or desperate for something different, but it seems to me that someone died, and his surviving cats are trying to escape? If this is it, I love it. Brilliant idea. But cut back. Don't give me interpretations or conclusions ("Cromwell appeared up for the challenge") because we don't know anywhere near enough about the situation or the characters to understand what these conclusions mean. Instead, simply show us what is happening.

If any of this sounds good to you, give it a shot and repost. Or at least tell me if I'm right about my idea about the cats ;)

I'd love to help you further with this. Any questions you have, don't hesitate.

June 21st, 2013, 11:32 PM
Thank you very much indeed Folcro. Indeed. I did fear it was perhaps a little too over descriptive and take your advice on board. Not cats--but spiders!:) Later in the novel it is established the farm house is over run by house spiders---or for you Americans--Hobo spiders! Later on another character is seen giving the eight legged pests names of Historical figures. Hence 'Cromwell'! More on that perhaps later. Meths is an alcoholic and slumbers each evening, he perhaps being more 'overstuffed' than his armchair. Thanks again!

June 21st, 2013, 11:34 PM
Oookay. Much clearer now that I know that. Would you care to speak a bit to where you plan on going with it?

June 21st, 2013, 11:48 PM
It's essentially a horror story. The spiders being key to the plot which involves a young woman, an ageing artist, and an attic room. Set in rural England we discover that the artist harbors a dreadful secret about a missing relative, and voodoo may be at work. My influences come from many horror writers, but I have desperately tried to craft my own style as opposing to emulate other authors, I believe that is fundamental. I have written a number of short stories, including those that veer more toward the supernatural rather than pure horror. I'm a big fan of the traditional short ghost story.

June 21st, 2013, 11:51 PM
So, even though this is about intelligent spiders, you would consider this to be a dark story, ala Watership Down (except spiders)? Just trying to get a feel for it. I'm a toucher :)

June 22nd, 2013, 12:00 AM
I would say it's a little more twisted than Watership Down, lol... some of my human characters have animal characteristics, so we have an elderly neigbour who like an owl sits in a tree and spies on the local nightlife...a ghastly villain who works for a local newspaper and as a rat raids the bins for tit bits of a story...and a red haired gentleman who rather like a fox is hunted down by a rabble of elite thugs...

...btw Folcro I am currently reading some of your stuff here too. O:)

June 22nd, 2013, 12:05 AM
Wow, how literary of you. It seems like it will make for a very interesting story. And geared more for adults, with twisted horror themes. Very intriguing.

Oh... be gentle :cower:

June 23rd, 2013, 03:48 PM
As I read your opening, I was confused, not for the opening but due to the way I read, that being attempting to figure out what will and did happen. I create the visual aspect of a scene in my mind s I read it. That said, after reading the comments it explained a lot and why my mental creation was off. I liked it but yes, do be careful of over description as much as under. Hmm, some of George Orwell in here via Animal Farm? All animals are equal but some are more equal than others? Keep the work up and not to worry about a baptism by fire, both are synonymous with rebirth and change, for the better.

June 23rd, 2013, 04:24 PM
This is a classic example of the WIP's opening scene - too wordy, and not captivating. The trick to an effective opening is conflict - clear, exciting conflict.

To improve the piece's clarity, get rid of the unnecessary descriptive 'fat' - you'll be left with the muscle of the story. This will also make the piece more exciting, as the reader will be able to connect more clearly with the events described. I would warrant adding more conflict, as this introduction - at it's core - doesn't contain much.

The narrator seems to float around the scene - I would recommend tying the narration to an individual character so that the reader can become more directly involved and connected with the story.

Also, I'm not entirely sure what happened in the scene, or where this is going. This reads more like flash fiction to me, rather than the start of a novel.

I would focus on finishing the novel, then coming back to this and working out how to effectively introduce the reader to your story.

Thanks for the read!

June 23rd, 2013, 04:56 PM
Thanks very much Pelwrah and Cadence. Points taken on board.