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nerdybynature
August 20th, 2014, 04:14 AM
This is and excerpt from a novel I am currently working on, looking forward to your critiques, and I know you are all nice people but don't be looking for brutal honesty.

“Welcome to Belmont” Aidan read aloud, as he passed a sign that use to welcome visitors and residents alike. He looked back towards his mother who was paying no attention to him. Her eyes and mind were focused on scanning the surrounding area as she walked at a brisk but steady pace. Her long white hair, pulled back into a loose ponytail, bounced with each step setting off the colors of her black blouse tucked into a pair of dark brown pants, securely fastened by a leather belt with silver ringlets. She carried a large duffle bag strapped around her shoulder and torso, keeping her two hands free to carry her M-14 rifle. She is 54 years old but with the exception of her pale white hair looks more to be in her late 30’s, early 40’s.
Aidan turned his head forward dismissing his mother’s dismissal. Up ahead he can see the town. For some reason it seemed different, but from this distance he couldn’t tell why. He and his mother have passed by on several occasions, but never stopped because they never had to. Going to any large residential area was always a last resort. Either bloodhounds or hostile residents overran many towns. They would set up traps for unsuspecting travelers, making risk of capture too high.
As they got closer to the town they stepped off the road and headed deeper into the woods to cover their approach.
Aidan struggled to get through the dense shrubs and low hanging tree limbs. He looked back to see how his mother was fairing. Her smaller frame made it easier for her to maneuver through the branches and thick bushes. A bit annoyed by his mother’s and obliviousness to his difficulty, he grunts forward and savagely shoves himself through the bushes.
“Slow down, your making too much noise,” Evelyn quickly warned.
Knowing she was right and there was no rational reason for him being so irritable, he slowed his pace and tried his best to move through quietly but held onto his bitterness. He looked ahead through the bushes to see how much farther before they arrived, when his heart leapt in his chest. He quickly dropped down as low as he can behind a cluster of bushes. Evelyn quickly follows his lead then shuffled up beside him.
“What is it?” she faintly whispered.
“I think there is someone up ahead.”
“Where?” She asked curiously.
“I saw a man, I think about 15 feet ahead, a little bit to the left.”
She nods her head then slid to her right peeking around the bush, after a few moments she brought her head back in and shoots Aidan a quizzical look, “I don’t see anyone.”
Aidan a bit chagrined, thinks back and is sure he saw someone ahead. He looked around to see if he can find a better vantage point when he decides on a thick trunked tree about 4 feet to his left. He turns to his mother motioning her to stay there. She moved as if to say something, but pulls back reluctantly accepting whatever it is Aidan planned to do.
He removed his backpack and pulled out his hunting knife. It’s an old knife. The hilt is battered and worn, but the blade is sharp enough to make any man reconsider action if pressed against his throat.
He slid the blade sideways into his mouth clenching on it firmly with his teeth, grimacing slightly from the taste of iron. He pushed himself off the ground and moved slowly toward the tree, a bit relieved that the thick brush is spaced out enough to leave him some room to get through quietly. He eased behind the tree being sure to get in a position so that whoever he saw doesn’t see him when he stands up, in the off chance the person hasn’t already moved. He slowly stands up while removing the knife; all to glad to get the hunk of metal out of his mouth. He flattens himself against the tree, still looking around to be sure there isn’t someone else around or that the same stranger didn’t become aware of his or his mothers presence and is now sneaking up on them. Feeling content there was no one else around he slowly peeks out.
Just as he thought, a figure looms several feet ahead, and realized from his mother’s position she wouldn’t have seen him. He looks over at his mother who is looking at him and intermittently looking around. When her eyes come back to him, he points forward then holds up one finger and she managed to take meaning from his hand gestures that there is 1 person ahead. He looks again to be sure he still hasn’t moved. He turns back to his mother and gestured to her with more hand signals trying to convey his plan. She stared intently trying to grasp his meaning but is befuddled by his hand gestures but recognized one, which was more than enough to explain his intentions. Before she could motion to object, he disappeared around the tree.
Aidan ducked down looking for the clearest path to the stranger, he managed to root out a path with his eyes and forged forward winding through. Positive the man’s back was facing him he moved to flank him, but as he got closer the looming man seemed to be positioned funny or standing well over 7 feet tall, but Aidan couldn’t see clearly through the low hanging branches and leaves. He finally rounds a tree that gives him a clear view and grips his knife getting ready to enforce a plan to take the stranger by surprise, but stops in his track when he sees what’s there.
“Don’t ever go off alone again,” Evelyn said angrily, as she saw Aidan walking back.
Her voice was low and whispered, but with that ability all mothers seemed to get at the moment of childbirth, her anger with him was clear as day. Aidan’s face flushed with embarrassment, realizing his error and his breaking of the one rule they hold high; never go anywhere alone. He stood there like a dog with his tail between his legs, not giving him a chance to compose himself she motions to the figure clouded by leaves that she is now able to see, convinced whoever it was, is either asleep or dead not to have stirred from their noise.
Aidan nods his head beckoning her to follow. He leads her through a clear path then rounds a tree. Evelyn stops in terror and her eyes widen as she gapes at the body.
A child no more than 7 or 8 years old, with a noose around his neck, hung from the tree.

bioclasm
August 20th, 2014, 11:04 AM
I thought it was rather well written. The only qualm I really have: 15 ft. Try measuring that out. It's literally directly in front of you. It's just over two lengths of your body away. You couldn't not see someone 15ft away unless you had some abnormally dense vegetation. Even thirty feet is extremely close. It takes you about 6-8 seconds to walk 60 ft. Just try to keep those measurements in mind when writing intense scenes like this where that distance is very important.

The last thing is the sentence: "When her eyes come back to him, he points forward then holds up one finger and she managed to take meaning from his hand gestures that there is 1 person ahead."

Give the reader a little more credit, and cut off the last part of that sentence. We can guess accurately what holding up one finger would mean in this context, and we can assume his mother would too.

Other than that, I really like it. The atmosphere was well built, and I gained insight into Aiden's and his mother's relationship without being spoonfed.

Digiphant
August 20th, 2014, 12:56 PM
Ok. Tenses: one of the most distracting things while reading a piece of text is to have the author switch tenses all the time. "She carried a large duffle bag... She is 54 years old..." You even do it mid-sentence here: "He and his mother have passed by on several occasions, but never stopped..."

All I'm saying is watch your tenses.

The concept itself is fairly interesting - always ready to read post-apocalyptic fiction.

nerdybynature
August 20th, 2014, 05:42 PM
Ok. Tenses: one of the most distracting things while reading a piece of text is to have the author switch tenses all the time. "She carried a large duffle bag... She is 54 years old..." You even do it mid-sentence here: "He and his mother have passed by on several occasions, but never stopped..."

All I'm saying is watch your tenses.

The concept itself is fairly interesting - always ready to read post-apocalyptic fiction.

I know (smacks self in the head), It's something I always catch myself doing,

nerdybynature
August 20th, 2014, 05:44 PM
I thought it was rather well written. The only qualm I really have: 15 ft. Try measuring that out. It's literally directly in front of you. It's just over two lengths of your body away. You couldn't not see someone 15ft away unless you had some abnormally dense vegetation. Even thirty feet is extremely close. It takes you about 6-8 seconds to walk 60 ft. Just try to keep those measurements in mind when writing intense scenes like this where that distance is very important.

The last thing is the sentence: "When her eyes come back to him, he points forward then holds up one finger and she managed to take meaning from his hand gestures that there is 1 person ahead."

Give the reader a little more credit, and cut off the last part of that sentence. We can guess accurately what holding up one finger would mean in this context, and we can assume his mother would too.

Other than that, I really like it. The atmosphere was well built, and I gained insight into Aiden's and his mother's relationship without being spoonfed.


Thanks for that, I never really thought that through, will definitely make some changes

mrmustard615
August 20th, 2014, 06:08 PM
Like I may have mentioned in another post I'm not really good at critiques. I really was getting a scary vibe by reading your except and then then comes the last line "A child no more than 7 or 8 years old, with a noose around his neck, hung from the tree." Now that my friend is chilling. Do not change that line.

Grammatically I saw a couple spelling errors, likely typos. your making too much noise should be you're making too much noise. I had a program that kept changing you're to your. It was pretty aggravating.

I don't really read a lot of horror but I have to say you write extremely well. Keep it up Mike :smile2:

nerdybynature
August 21st, 2014, 07:23 AM
Like I may have mentioned in another post I'm not really good at critiques. I really was getting a scary vibe by reading your except and then then comes the last line "A child no more than 7 or 8 years old, with a noose around his neck, hung from the tree." Now that my friend is chilling. Do not change that line.

Grammatically I saw a couple spelling errors, likely typos. your making too much noise should be you're making too much noise. I had a program that kept changing you're to your. It was pretty aggravating.

I don't really read a lot of horror but I have to say you write extremely well. Keep it up Mike :smile2:

Lol, only you know my true name MrMustard

But yeah, my work is always filled with errors. When I type I tend to forego grammar and spelling for the sake of getting my thoughts out, and it's a pain in the ass when I have to revise it because I never catch them all, and trust me when I say it's a lot to catch, Lol.

I appreciate your input though, you have all reaffirmed the confidence I have in my writing. Albeit it was just a small excerpt you guys critiqued, but it feels good nonetheless.

anthonyjmcgirr
August 24th, 2014, 07:13 PM
I enjoyed reading this :) If I were to make any changes, it would be tightening up the first paragraph and some of the longer, descriptive sentences. We don't need to read so many words which basically add nothing to the story.

For example:

“Welcome to Belmont” Aidan read aloud, as he passed a sign that use to welcome visitors and residents alike. He looked back towards his mother who was paying no attention to him. Her eyes and mind were focused on scanning the surrounding area as she walked at a brisk but steady pace. Her long white hair, pulled back into a loose ponytail, bounced with each step setting off the colors of her black blouse tucked into a pair of dark brown pants, securely fastened by a leather belt with silver ringlets.

my edit:
Welcome to Belmont the sign read as they passed, welcoming visitors to the town. He glanced black at his mother. She wasn't paying him any attention. Instead, her eyes scrutinized the surroundings as she moved at a brisk pace. Her white hair pulled back into a ponytail, it bounced with each step.

You can pay more attention to what she was wearing, especially the bag she was carrying, but really it doesn't add anything. Try to keep sentences short instead of dragged out.