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J.Scarlett
January 8th, 2014, 06:39 PM
Storyline: An immortal adolescent boy the ability to control fire teams up with a teenage girl clock maker to solve a string of suspected murders that are disguised as suicides.












1865 New York
The ground was hard and cold in the deep winter months and would grow to be even more so now that small flakes of snow had begun to fall.
The boy sitting with his knees to his chin in the alleyway raised his head to the grey sky above the rooftops of the buildings around him. Frost tinted the tips of his red hair, his face was pale and his lips were turning blue with cold and every bone in his body shivered violently.
He cupped his hands stiffly as the snow fell around him, closing his eyes in concentration and a light flickered beneath his fingers dully.
Slowly, the colour returned to his cheeks and the white in his hair began to melt. His shivers became less furious as the warmth spread.
The boy sighed in relief, holding his hands closer to his body.
It was only when he opened his eyes again that he noticed the man silhouetted against the alleyway’s entrance. The boy made a move to extinguish the light in his palms but the man held up a hand which caused him to pause for a moment.
“Let me see,” the figure said softly. He had an English accent, the boy noted as the man stepped forward into focus. He wore the long, navy coat of a gentleman, a silken well-tailored top hat adorned his head and in his right hand he held a stylish black silver topped cane. “Show me,” he repeated.
The boy narrowed his eyes in suspicion but he cautiously drew his left hand away from his right to reveal a small flame flickering in his palm.
The light suddenly flared up and the boy, panicking, thrust his palms into a pile of snow to his left, extinguishing the light. The stranger smiled reassuringly.
“What is your name child?” he asked.
The boy raised an eyebrow, mistrust in his eyes.
“Jack,” he said slowly.
“Jack,” the man repeated and held out a hand. Jack shook it warily and withdrew his hand in surprise. The man’s hand was soaked and, as Jack stared at the small droplets now trickling down his wrist, the stranger smiled and twitched his fingers. The droplets floated away from his wrist and formed a shimmering strand of water that writhed in mid-air and divided into two large beads of moisture. They orbited each other for a few seconds and then stranger dropped his arm to his side. The two beads froze in the air and fell to the ground, landing with a soft plop, plop.
“You must learn to control your abilities in order to move ahead. Would you be interested?”
The boy looked up at him and noticed the way the man’s eyes glowed slightly in the shadows.
“What are you?” he asked.
“What are we young Jack?” the man replied with a small smile. He turned and headed to the entrance of the alley where a carriage had pulled up, unnoticed by the boy. The stranger opened the door and splayed an arm as an invitation. “Would you like to find out?”
Jack took a few seconds to weigh out his options. Live (or die) on the streets as a nobody or get in a stranger’s cab with a 30% chance of gaining information and a 70% chance of being murdered horribly.
A smile twitched the side of his mouth. He liked those odds.










Chapter 1: Dead Man

Present day, London

A crimson tide dyes the cobbles while a murderer melts back into the coiling shadows from wince it came…
Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, 30th Sept, 1888

The man squinted at the page in the dim streetlamp light but gave up and placed the casebook on the passenger seat next to him, then settled in his own seat, waiting for a fare. He folded his arms across his chest and observed the scene outside the cab. The sound of late shoppers was continuous. The muffled shouts and sudden bursts of laughter was more noticeable and exceedingly more irritating as most of it came from groups of people seated nearby. They sat surrounding tables set outside the two rivalling pubs on the street, clutching wine glasses and beer bottles as they spewed anecdote after anecdote. The cab driver suspected that none of them were likely to remember these conversations the next morning.
Robert Winters did not much enjoy his job, though he had to admit it could get interesting at times, especially on Fridays such as this one. Already, within a few hours, he’d escorted a man who appeared to be a runaway groom to (quote) ‘for God’s sake, just anywhere but here’, a pregnant woman and her partner then had to be taken to the nearest hospital (you can only guess why). He’d just witnessed a marriage proposal after he had dropped a young couple at Nelson’s Column (a positive thought, provided it didn’t turn out like the previous panicking groom’s day).
His reminiscing was interrupted by a surprisingly loud squawk of laughter that should have been muted a little by the rolled up windows but that barrier proved to be no use against the source’s enthusiasm. The sound had come from a small gaggle of girls who looked far too young to be wearing heels that high and to be acting that drunk.
The man suddenly heard a rapping on the window next to him and he turned. It was Adam, a man in his early twenties who’d meant to start his shift two hours previously. The two men had decided between themselves to share the workload and to split the pay check. This must have been something a little less than legal (especially as Robert’s employers had absolutely no idea of the arrangement) but the man had owed Adam a favour and Adam had taken up on this as soon as he’d lost his valeting job.
“Relax,” he had said their first time working together, “I know how to handle cars.”
Just because you know how to clean them doesn’t mean you can drive one, the elder had wanted to reply, but he hadn’t.
Back in the present, Winters glared at Adam disapprovingly and the young driver shrugged apologetically, took the keys when handed to him and, without a word, took up the man’s place in the black cab as the small group of girls hobbled on their heels to pay for a ride home. A few of them, Robert noticed, were trying to make a little too much eye contact with the car’s new driver.

Away from central London, the man wondered through darkened streets on his way, from where the bus had dropped him off, back to his flat. The cold nipped at his uncovered ears and his surroundings had become eerily silent, unusual as they were only a few streets away from the main road.
Unnerved, the man flipped up his coat collar, covering as much of his cold ears as possible, and set his movements to a brisk walk.
The sky grew darker as Winters walked on, keeping his eyes of the pavement to avoid tripping over his feet. The wind brew steadily through tree branches, the disturbance causing a slight rustling, now the only sound to be heard.
Winters quickened, eager to get to his door before his imagination overtook his logic.
Then, somewhere to his left, he heard a slow, deliberate shink, like something metal, scraping against granite.
The man’s head turned sharply to try catching a glimpse of the sound’s source. The buildings across the road were draped in shadows. Anyone could simply stand flat against the wall and Winters would not be able to see them.
He peered into the shadows, searching for a sign of life.
There was nothing.
“Paranoid,” the man muttered to himself, setting off once more. “Far too paranoid.”
Behind him, he heard another noise. A grumbling that was coming toward him from behind. His brisk walk turned into a jog and his jog turned into a run. He pounded down the road as the sound got louder and whatever made it approached faster than he could get away. Winters quickened, his old lungs now aching from the sudden burst of exercise.
Suddenly he felt himself fall. His foot had met a patch of ice and he was now lying, sprawled on the ground at the mouth of an alleyway. He lifted his head enough to see what was coming and was immediately blinded by white light. The light then faded suddenly as the car drove past, ignoring the shaken man lying on the ground.
“A car?” said Winters, relieved. He then gave himself a mental slap. “A car?! It was a car you suspicious old goat.”
He carefully picked himself up, still chiding himself. He held onto the corner of the alley to pull himself up.
“Straight to bed me thinks,” he growled. He turned toward the road.
A hand suddenly grabbed him by the neck and he couldn’t breathe. He saw only a silhouette against the street lamps, despite the close proximity. The only distinctive feature the man’s profile possessed was the shape of a top hat perched upon what must have been his head.
No, he thought, no, you can’t be alive. That’s impossible.
This thought was cut short when Winters noticed the cool leather gloves clutching his throat and that the air was slowly being squeezed out of him. He then heard the shink again and this time the source was quite clear to him. The black outline of a blade was held in the stranger’s other hand and he was scraping it against the brick wall of the alley, as if sharpening the hungry steel.
Winters let out a cry and swung his arm towards the figure’s head in panic. Quite by accident, his lower palm connected sharply with the stranger’s jaw and the shadow stumbled backwards, loosening his grip on his neck.
Robert Winters tore away from the madman and staggered backwards, further into the suffocating darkness of the alley. He needed to get away; he needed to get home, to lock the door, to call the police. But the maniac was blocking the entrance to the alley and the only a dead end awaited him further down the passage.
Wonderful, he thought sarcastically as he stood there, I go down getting brutally mauled by a psychopath in one of the most clichéd murder locations on Earth.
He saw the man’s silhouette turn his way and slowly walk down toward him. Winters had no choice but to go backwards.
He was breathing heavily now, his pulse was hammering fiercely and a bead of sweat was trickling from his brow to his neck.
He felt the cold stone wall behind him. The dead end.
Dead end, he reflected, aptly named in this situation.
The stranger was a couple of metres away now. Winters briefly noted that the fellow didn’t seem too upset by the blow he had given him, though, admittedly, he couldn’t see his expression. He was just standing there now, presumably staring at Winters, blade held below his waist.
Then the man smiled.
Winters didn’t know how he knew but he seemed to sense the change of expression. This monster was grinning, he was sure of it.
Then, the old taxi driver had an epiphany. There was no point in running from this... from him. No point in trying to escape. Everything was going to end and in Winter’s final moments he decided to go out cursing. After all, if it weren’t for Adam’s tardiness he may not be in this mess. And so, now perhaps standing a little straighter, the man’s last thought in the land of the living, before the blade of sharp steel sliced through his metaphorical life thread, was something along the lines of, Adam you idle son of a b-
And then the thought was cut short and the light faded from his eyes. The dead pupils were left staring out of an empty shell.

InS_ght
January 13th, 2014, 06:26 AM
You have excellent style and very good use of character development. The ending of your first stanza "A smile twitched the side of his mouth. He liked those odds." Was particularly well done.

I think you are on the right path for writing. You feel comfortable with your style and have a definite direction with your work. I would like to offer some criticism though; I notice one thing which could be improved upon with your style.

As descriptive as your writing is, you tend to drag on a sentence with commas for far too long. Case in point, "He folded his arms across his chest and observed the scene outside the cab, taking in the bustle of late shoppers and the muffled shouts and sudden bursts of laughter that came from groups of people seated at tables outside the two rivalling pubs on the street, clutching wine glasses and beer bottles as they spewed anecdote after anecdote, none of them likely to remember the conversations the next morning." is all one sentence. It is broken with pauses yes, but in the end becomes a very tiring slice of detail. Breaking these run on sentences with periods will make them easier to swallow and result in a much stronger write overall. A quick example of what I mean would be something like this:

"He folded his arms across his chest and observed the scene outside the cab, taking in the bustle of people around. A throng of late shoppers filled the streets, joined by the company of lively drunks. Their muffled shouts and sudden bursts of laughter were obnoxious, but that is to be expected on this stretch of pavement. The noise came from groups seated at tables outside the two rivaling pubs on the street. They clutched wine glasses and beer bottles as they spewed anecdote after anecdote, none of them likely to remember the conversations the next morning."

One of your sentences I have now chopped into five. I added some detail to make it flow, which is a happy byproduct of chopping up run on sentences - you get to add even more detail into each sentence to make it fully packed and lively. Keep an eye on that, and your story will shine like gold.


I hope this helps, my criticism is intended only for you to improve and not as a slander to your work in any way. Cheers, I would love to read more from you in the future.

J.Scarlett
January 13th, 2014, 03:17 PM
Thank you for the reply and for the advice you have offered. I shall certainly take all you have said into consideration and I shall post chapter 1 soon.

OliverGrey
January 14th, 2014, 03:23 AM
I like the style of the writing so far, but there are a few errors as pointed out. I think they would be fixed with a bit of proof reading. Also a taxi has fares, that's something you may not catch if you weren't aware.

I'm a little confused what the first section is. It comes before the prologue? And why is it italicized? I personally don't like reading italics, it just seems harder. If that's the style you want, by all means go for it, I'm just not sure what it's meant to get across.

I like the parts of the story you've shared, though I do think it's a bit cliche that the kid who can start fires has red hair, and I would love to read more in the future.

J.Scarlett
January 14th, 2014, 04:36 PM
Thank you for pointing out the spelling errors and what I am planning to do is to have aqroun eight 'immortal', each with the ability to control a lemet, and to have small sections of each of their lives before they were fully aware their powers. these arts are in italics as they don't hv much of an impact on the plot and I do want the readers to know where tse sectios begin and end. I just want people to know a little of their back stories. anyway, cheers for reviewing.

thepancreas11
January 14th, 2014, 05:41 PM
1865 New York
The ground was hard and cold in the deep winter months and would grow to be even more so now that small flakes of snow had begun to fall.
The boy sitting with his knees to his chin in the alleyway raised his head to the grey sky above the rooftops of the buildings around him (not needed; we're in an alley). The tips of his red hair had turned white due to the frost that coated them (try "His red hair was tipped with frost,", his face was pale and his lips were turning blue with cold. Every bone in his body shivered violently.
He cupped his hands stiffly as the snow fell around him, closing his eyes in concentration and suddenly, a light flickered beneath his fingers.
Slowly, the colour returned to his cheeks and the white in his hair began to melt. His shivers became less furious as the warmth spread.
The boy sighed in relief, holding his hands closer to his body.
It was only when he opened his eyes again that he noticed the man silhouetted against the alleyway’s entrance. The boy made a move to extinguish the light in his palms but the man held up a hand which caused him to pause for a moment.
“Let me see,” the figure said softly. He had an English accent, the boy noted as the man stepped forward into focus. He wore the long, navy coat of a gentleman, a silken well-tailored bowler hat adorned his head and in his right hand he held a stylish black silver topped cane. “Show me,” he repeated.
The boy narrowed his eyes in suspicion but he cautiously drew his left hand away from his right to reveal a small flame flickering in his palm.
He closed his fingers around it, extinguishing the light and the stranger smiled.
“What is your name child?” he asked.
The boy raised an eyebrow, mistrust in his eyes.
“Jack,” he said slowly.
“Jack,” the man repeated and held out a hand. Jack shook it warily and withdrew his hand in surprise. The man’s hand was soaked and, as Jack stared at the small droplets now trickling down his wrist, the stranger tipped his hat in apology. “My apologies. I am afraid my abilities are not adapted to the winter air. It gets a little hard to control.”
The boy looked up at him and noticed the way the man’s eyes glowed slightly in the shadows.
“What are you?” he asked.
“What are we young Jack?” the man replied. He turned and headed to the entrance of the alley where a carriage had pulled up, unnoticed. The stranger opened the door and splayed an arm as an invitation. “Would you like to find out?”
Jack took a few seconds to weigh out his options. Live (or die) on the streets as a nobody or get in a stranger’s cab with a 30% chance of gaining information and a 70% chance of being murdered horribly.
A smile twitched the side of his mouth. He liked those odds.

So, I did a bit of proofreading, but you're going to need some more help there. Certain mistakes make it hard to understand what you're going for (i.e. using "wonder" instead of "wander"). A little editing, and you've got yourself a find story. It's a great idea, I must admit, a nuanced version of an old hack tale, putting superheroes of sorts in a Victorian murder mystery. Finish it, and I'd love to read it.

Several more suggestions:
1) This is a period piece. Make sure that the situations you use in your story belong to the period they are in. I have a hard time believing gaggles of young ladies were out getting drunk on Friday nights, and I'm not sure when they started using cars for cabs. I suggest you read some pieces by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or, better yet, contact Courtjester, a member on this very site!
2) A couple of times you overdo it with the describing. For instance, I corrected the part about the rooftops of the buildings next to him. He's in an alley. Assume we know there are buildings all around him.
3) That last stanza is weaker than the rest. Why talk about his cat? Why is it lucky that he will never make it back to his place alive? This is the perfect opportunity to inject some mystery in your mystery. Talk about sounds behind him, or the fact that the same man seems to appear in the crowds around him over and and over, or talk about the lighting or the dinginess or anything that will make us rattle in our boots. You completely glossed over the good part! Expand!

I'm serious though, you've got the most important part: a unique idea. You've even got the second most important part: a good voice. Put a little more in there, and you've got yourself a winning effort.

J.Scarlett
January 15th, 2014, 01:02 PM
You have been a gigantic help with something that u don't actually know about. I should really put the words present day in front of the prologue, meaning that part of the story is in present day and other parts is looking back on certain character's lives (they have long lives). by mentioning this i may have just lost a reader but now you've mentioned it, i have been planning a period piece based on one of my characters. In the alley you talked about I just thought it would be nice to get a little imagery in there and it sounds alright so ill be keeping that. but I will take your other suggestions into consideration. Thanks again, I've just realized many people who have read this may have thought the same as you.

thepancreas11
January 15th, 2014, 10:57 PM
In the end, we can all try to style your piece some other way, but it's just suggestion. I appreciate your fervor with writing. I'm a bit of a fanatic myself. I would highly encourage that period piece. Yes, also, the present day London makes this much more understandable. Good luck!

J.Scarlett
January 15th, 2014, 11:20 PM
Great, again thanks for pointing that out (as unintentional as it was)

Zeynith
February 20th, 2014, 08:59 AM
Hey Scarlett,

Loved the first part in the alley. It was well written and really grabbed my attention. I think the second part could still use some work though. Biggest issue I had with it was it became sort of exposition at the end. You have a great chance for a scary thriller chase scene but kind of gave away the punchline at the beginning by saying right away he never gets home. I would suggest trying to play the whole thing out so the read doesn't know he is going to die till he does. Great job though. Look forward to reading more in the future. :)

stormageddon
February 20th, 2014, 10:20 AM
You have a habit of overusing "and", for example with "Frost tinted the tips of his red hair, his face was pale and his lips were turning blue with cold and every bone in his body shivered violently." This sounds a little stiff as a result. This sentence is a little tricky to rephrase, the danger being that it becomes like a list/ sounds too objective so I would suggest splitting it into two sentences, for example: "Frost tinted the tips of his red hair. His face was pale and his lips turning blue with cold, every bone in his body shivering violently." But I use that example very much as an example- put a little thought into it and you will easily come up with a far better alternative than that :) also, referring to bones as shivering sounds quite odd to me- it is not bones that shiver, but muscles. However you could be using that as figurative language to exaggerate how cold the character is, in which case ignore me, it is only my overly critical eye picking out the unnecessary.
Besides that and the odd typo, it is well written. You have a clear, pleasant to read voice as a narrator, and the first section in particular made me want to read on (I am notoriously difficult to please so that in itself is a fair achievement).
I must suggest that you strongly consider writing a story with that character in 1865- personally, I have little interest in reading a story set in modern times unless it is very nearly a masterpiece, whereas you'd be hard pressed to keep me from a story set in those days and carried off even moderately well (which you are certainly more than capable of). I say this because you are a very promising writer and I would be very interested to read your work in the future. Also, as thepancreas11 pointed out, setting it in that era would make for a much more original work, and thereby give your potential audience a stronger incentive to read it. The wonderful thing about an immortal character is not only the potential for intense character development, but also the freedom to continue their story in any era they have lived through ;)

W. Dallas
February 20th, 2014, 10:48 PM
It come across as trying way too hard to be a 'writer'. Which has the negative effect of feeling juvenile. You have a good idea don't over write it by trying to sound like what you think a 'real write' would sound like. Just write the scenes as you see them. Flesh them out, make them real. An over abundance of description was the opposite we want as a write too often. It slows down the flow and discourages the visualization of the reader. Adjectives, and more so adverbs, can be your friends, but they will turn on you in a heartbeat.

J.Scarlett
March 25th, 2014, 09:54 PM
I have made a few major alterations and my prologue is now to big to actually be a prologue so it is now chapter 1.