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View Full Version : Chapter 1 of my dark fantasy novel, Mantle of Darkness



RJ_Parnell
July 24th, 2015, 11:08 PM
The man knelt beside the campfire. He was cold. It was just past seven in the morning in early May. He was in the West Virginia woods,
but he was no woodsman. In fact, he didnít have much knowledge of the woods at all. If not for the Zippo lighter that he had taken from
the old couple at the farm, he would have no fire. As it was, it was a poor excuse for a fire, more smoke than flames, though he welcomed
any warmth at all. He looked up at the sunlight as it stabbed its way through the trees, washing everything in brilliant white-yellow light and
deep black silhouettes. He sighed and let himself fall backwards. He felt the wet ground beneath him, but it didnít matter.

He thought about his situation and how hopeless it now seemed. He wasnít sure what he was going to do. He didnít like the way things were.
He didnít like being tired, cold, and wet. He thought that maybe he should have stayed at the farmhouse, the house that had belonged to the
old couple. What had been their name? The Smiths, he was nearly certain. Their house was warm and there had been plenty to eat. Heíd felt
home, almost welcome, but he had been afraid to stay there for long. The Smiths were dead and he couldnít risk lingering there. The Smiths
were dead because he had killed them two days prior.

The man who sat on the wet ground in the middle of the woods of West Virginia was Dwight Fuller. He was a killer. It wasnít just the Smiths.
They had been a necessity. He had not had much choice in the matter of killing them, not after they realized who he was. Dwight Fuller
was an evil man. He was evil to the core of himself. He had no redeeming qualities, nor justifications.

He was on the run from the West Virginia State police as well as the FBI. Dwight Fuller was a confessed and convicted murderer of children.
He didnít just murder them. He tortured them. He beat them, burned them, dismembered and disfigured them. He loved to hear them beg
and scream. What he loved more than anything was their innocence and the way he felt as if he could take it from them. He had killed people
before, adults, but it was of little enjoyment to him, and it hadnít been for some time. He grew tired of the same begging for their lives or
last resort threats of violence if he didnít let them go. He had heard every connection to dangerous and influential people that his victims
could imagine. Some of those connections must have been real, he thought. Most of them were surely imagined in a last attempt to save themselves.
Thatís what he deeply loved about the children, about taking their lives. They didnít beg to be spared, they didnít threaten or ask why this was
happening to them. They begged for their mommy and daddy. They begged for them to come and save them from this pain and to take them to a
safe place. They begged for the innocence that he had taken. After he had beaten and tortured enough, heard the awful pleas and felt the last drop
of beautiful innocence leave them, he would kill them. He buried their small bodies in remote places where no one would find them. Places that
would not betray his sickness or reveal his methods to eager police detectives looking to make a name for themselves. He buried their bodies in
graves he dug himself. Shallow for the sake of speed, but somehow deep with the despair of their families, who would never again find peace or
real happiness. The kind of happiness that a person can only find through their children. Dwight replaced that with the kind of despair that could
only be felt through their loss. He was a monster.

Eventually, Dwight Fuller was caught. As it happened, one of the shallow graves did relinquish its secrets. Once the grave was found, it was easy
for the police to build a case. Dwightís weakness was his arrogance. He had been sure that no one would ever find his impromptu burial sites.
He was so sure of it that heíd made little effort to conceal any physical evidence present on his victims.

There had been a trial full of grisly details and tears. In the end, he had taken the DAís deal to reveal the graves of his remaining victims in
exchange for spending the rest of his life in prison. There was no possibility of parole. He preferred such a fate to a sentence of death because
he was a coward and he feared death. Over the course of several months, Dwight led police officers to each of the childrenís graves. There
were seventeen small graves in all. It was a relatively small number when associated with any other event or situation. But seventeen murdered
children, seventeen families destroyed, seventeen holes in the fabric of the universe that could never again be filled, it was shocking in its enormity.

After the victims had all been revealed, Dwight was sent to spend the rest of his life in prison. Heíd prepared himself for an insular few decades,
surrounded by bars and barbed wire. But he was never to make it there. The circumstances surrounding his escape had been strange, especially to Dwight himself.

He wrapped his jacket tightly to his body as he remembered the events of that night, the night he had escaped. It was four days ago, when the
police transport truck had been winding along the interstate and something had happened. He felt a percussive jerk as the truck seemed to
strike something and began flipping off the road, down a steep embankment.

Dwight couldnít help the shudder of cold that ran up his spine. He looked around as he remembered. Even now, he felt icy tendrils of dread work
their way up his back to the base of his neck. It had been past dusk on a freezing night. He remembered one of the guards yelling that there was a
bear in the road before he had felt the shock of hitting something massive. What happened after that seemed to come to him quickly, but in an endless
pool of time. He remembered it in ripples that washed over him in a chaotic fashion. He could recall the sensation of tumbling over repeatedly, combined
with a strange kind of weightlessness. There were screams of pain and then a growlÖ some sort of awful growl. Or not a growl really. It was like
nothing he had ever heard before. It sounded like a hundred voices screaming at once, each echoing itself. He was shocked by how he found it
unnatural and terrifying. Dwight Fuller wasnít used to being the one that was terrified.

As the truck came to rest on its top, he remembered looking through the caged windows and seeing something looking back at him. It wasnít a bear.
What he saw had shifted his blood into ice. He remembered his head started to spin and blackness closing in. All was lost in that blackness but the face
staring back at him. Dwight had always known that he was a sinister man, heíd always been the one that caused fear. He had thought that he had known what
fear was after seeing it so many times in the eyes of his victims. He thought that he knew that he was the paragon of evil. Yet, as he blacked out and his
vision narrowed on the face staring back at him, he knew that he was wrong. He knew that he had seen the face of the devil.

Allysan
July 24th, 2015, 11:41 PM
I hope in chapter two the devil comes and tortures Dwight's disgusting ass to within an inch of his life, then let's him heal and think it's over, then starts again from the beginning.

Your writing itself is good. You pulled me in. But by the time it was over I wanted to puke :) then again I never had the stomach to read or watch things where children get hurt! But good job I would read your next installment (as long as you promise Dwight will get what's coming to him!)

curtis
July 25th, 2015, 01:37 AM
That was a very good story. You did an excellent job of building tension. Is Dwight going to continue killing? Will he be caught again? Who will be his next victim? He has no redeeming qualities. However, it is fascinating to learn more about this character.

LeeC
July 25th, 2015, 03:22 AM
Seeing as how the creative boards are intended for posting one's work with the expectation of critiques, I thought I'd give this a shot.


The first paragraph, though establishing a setting doesn't really grab me. The choppy sentences are a bit of a bumpy ride, for me at least, and the last two sentences of such seem mostly filler, slowing the pace.


As in the second paragraph, one can easily assume there's thoughts rattling around in his head. So maybe the same thing could be said just as descriptively but more succinctly with:



The situation seemed hopeless to him, more so for being tired, cold, and wet. Thoughts of the warm farmhouse and the food there intruded, but having killed the residents two days prior, he couldn't linger.


I'm not suggesting my style is better, but my point for what it's worth is that you could say just as much in fewer words and keep the pace moving along more smoothly, increasing the immersion of the reader.


In the third through seventh paragraphs you not only repeat the setting unnecessarily ("who sat on the wet ground in the middle of the woods") and otherwise are a tad wordy, but launch into a full characterization and backstory. I see this segmented approach often, so it may work well enough, but it would be more interesting to me if it came out piecemeal, intertwined with the action and less wordy.


Then in the eighth paragraph on we're abruptly back in the present noting Dwight's recollection of his escape. Now we're finally getting into where the story is going. A bit of a jarring change for me, distracting from the flow of the story.


I think your story has a lot of promise, but I believe you could have drawn us into it more smoothly and skillfully.


Just the thoughts of an old fart, that I hope helps in some small way :-)

musichal
July 25th, 2015, 03:34 AM
Looks like you used copy and paste. Try this, it is easy:

Use copy as usual from your source (pc).
Click on "Go Advanced" in WF reply window.
Instead of paste find the little box with a 'w' in it, Click that.
Click "Allow Access."
Your copy should then appear in better format than you have above.

aj47
July 25th, 2015, 03:36 AM
Is this intended for tweens? If so, you may wish to rethink the action. If not, then you need to vary the sentence structure and complexity or your readers will not make it past the first paragraph, much less the first page. Your prose reads on the level of Dick and Jane, not on the level of a novel intended for adult readers.

Are you, by chance, a non-native English speaker translating this from your native tongue into English?

J Anfinson
July 25th, 2015, 04:03 AM
I have to agree with a lot of Lee's points, but allow me to get specific. My comments are in red.


The man knelt beside the campfire. He was cold. It was just past seven in the morning in early May. He was in the West Virginia woods,
but he was no woodsman. Really choppy beginning that would work better for me if most, if not all of it was presented in one sentence. In fact, he didnít have much knowledge of the woods at all. If not for the Zippo lighter that he had taken from
the old couple at the farm, he would have no fire I can't help but feel there's a better way to say this, without the comma. As it was, it was a poor excuse for a fire Repetative. We know you're talking about the fire. , more smoke than flames, though he welcomed
any warmth at all. He looked up at the sunlight as it stabbed its way through the trees, washing everything in brilliant white-yellow light and
deep black silhouettes Excellent imagery.. He sighed and let himself fall backwards. He Watch out for repetative He's. Restructure the sentence or paragraph to avoid it. felt the wet ground beneath him, but it didnít matter.

He thought about his situation and how hopeless it now seemed. He wasnít sure what he was going to do. He didnít like the way things were.
He didnít like being tired, cold, and wet. He thought that maybe he should have stayed at the farmhouse, the house that had belonged to the
old couple. What had been their name? The Smiths, he was nearly certain. Their house was warm and there had been plenty to eat. Heíd felt
home, almost welcome, but he had been afraid to stay there for long. The Smiths were dead and he couldnít risk lingering there. The Smiths
were dead because he had killed them two days prior.

The man who sat on the wet ground in the middle of the woods of West Virginia was Dwight Fuller. He was a killer. It wasnít just the Smiths.
They had been a necessity. He had not had much choice in the matter of killing them beating the reader over the head with something that's obvious, not after they realized who he was. Dwight Fuller
was an evil man. He was evil to the core of himself. He had no redeeming qualities, nor justifications.

He was on the run from the West Virginia State police as well as the FBI. Dwight Fuller was a confessed and convicted murderer of children.
He didnít just murder them. He tortured them. He beat them, burned them, dismembered and disfigured them. He loved to hear them beg
and scream. What he loved more than anything was their innocence and the way he felt as if he could take it from them. He had killed people
before, adults, but it was of little enjoyment to him, and it hadnít been for some time. He grew tired of the same begging for their lives or
last resort threats of violence if he didnít let them go. He had heard every connection to dangerous and influential people that his victims
could imagine. Some of those connections must have been real, he thought. Most of them were surely imagined in a last attempt to save themselves.
Thatís what he deeply loved about the children, about taking their lives. They didnít beg to be spared, they didnít threaten or ask why this was
happening to them. They begged for their mommy and daddy. They begged for them to come and save them from this pain and to take them to a
safe place. They begged for the innocence that he had taken. After he had beaten and tortured enough, heard the awful pleas and felt the last drop
of beautiful innocence leave them, he would kill them. He buried their small bodies in remote places where no one would find them. Places that
would not betray his sickness or reveal his methods to eager police detectives looking to make a name for themselves. He buried their bodies in
graves he dug himself obviously. Shallow for the sake of speed, but somehow deep with the despair of their families, who would never again find peace or
real happiness. The kind of happiness that a person can only find through their children. Dwight replaced that with the kind of despair that could
only be felt through their loss. He was a monster.

Eventually, Dwight Fuller was caught. As it happened, one of the shallow graves did relinquish its secrets. Once the grave was found, it was easy
for the police to build a case. Dwightís weakness was his arrogance. He had been sure that no one would ever find his impromptu burial sites.
He was so sure of it that heíd made little effort to conceal any physical evidence present on his victims.

There had been a trial full of grisly details and tears. In the end, he had taken the DAís deal to reveal the graves of his remaining victims in
exchange for spending the rest of his life in prison. There was no possibility of parole. He preferred such a fate to a sentence of death because
he was a coward and he feared death. Over the course of several months, Dwight led police officers to each of the childrenís graves. There
were seventeen small graves in all. It was a relatively small number when associated with any other event or situation. But seventeen murdered
children, seventeen families destroyed, seventeen holes in the fabric of the universe that could never again be filled, it was shocking in its enormity.

After the victims had all been revealed, Dwight was sent to spend the rest of his life in prison. Heíd prepared himself for an insular few decades,
surrounded by bars and barbed wire. But he was never to make it there. The circumstances surrounding his escape had been strange, especially to Dwight himself.

He wrapped his jacket tightly to his body as he remembered the events of that night, the night he had escaped obviously. It was four days ago, when the
police transport truck had been winding along the interstate and something had happened. He felt a percussive jerk as the truck seemed to
strike something and began flipping off the road, down a steep embankment.

Dwight couldnít help the shudder of cold that ran up his spine. He looked around as he remembered. Even now, he felt icy tendrils of dread work
their way up his back to the base of his neck. It had been past dusk on a freezing night. He remembered one of the guards yelling that there was a
bear in the road before he had felt the shock of hitting something massive A moment ago, he only knew "something had happened". I don't buy him suddenly remembering. Not if he's forgotten for days. He has brain damage or something. . What happened after that seemed to come to him quickly, but in an endless
pool of time. He remembered it in ripples that washed over him in a chaotic fashion. He could recall the sensation of tumbling over repeatedly, combined
with a strange kind of weightlessness. There were screams of pain and then a growlÖ some sort of awful growl. Or not a growl really. It was like
nothing he had ever heard before. It sounded like a hundred voices screaming at once, each echoing itself. He was shocked by how he found it
unnatural and terrifying. Dwight Fuller wasnít used to being the one that was terrified.

As the truck came to rest on its top, he remembered looking through the caged windows and seeing something looking back at him. It wasnít a bear.
What he saw had shifted his blood into ice. He remembered his head started to spin and blackness closing in. All was lost in that blackness but the face
staring back at him. Dwight had always known that he was a sinister man, heíd always been the one that caused fear. He had thought that he had known what
fear was after seeing it so many times in the eyes of his victims. He thought that he knew that he was the paragon of evil. Yet, as he blacked out and his
vision narrowed on the face staring back at him, he knew that he was wrong. He knew that he had seen the face of the devil.


For the most part this is pretty good. I think it would benefit from professional editing, though. Hope anything I said helps.

RJ_Parnell
July 25th, 2015, 06:53 PM
Thanks to everyone for the critiques, they are greatly appreciated! I am a very new writer and appreciate all the advice that I can get. I try to keep my mind open to ideas and I certainly understand that there is a massive amount that I can improve on.
As far as being a non-native English speaker, that's not the case. I'm a bit dismayed that your opinion of my writing was so low as to think that, but I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read my work. I value all opinions and understand that I'm never going to appeal to everyone, perhaps not anyone, but I'm learning each day and love what I'm doing.
My style of English might be vastly different than what many are used to, mostly because I grew up in a household that didn't put much stock in things like grammar and syntax. If fact, as far as I know, I was the first person in my household to graduate from high school. For many years, I sort of bought into the idea that I wasn't good enough to do anything with my brain. Anything creative or imaginative was a farce.
So, I joined the Army after working for several grueling years in a lumber mill. The armed forces was another acceptable means of earning a living, and I served as a Military Police Officer.
I eventually became an electrician and then found my way into the engineering field.
If not for cancer turning my life upside-down three years ago, I'd probably still be doing that. My wife and five kids urged me to follow my dreams, however unrealistic, so that's what I'm doing.
I hope that clears up why I may seem to have a long way to go with my writing. Again, thanks so much for the honest advice. I truly appreciate it.

LeeC
July 25th, 2015, 07:08 PM
All of us can improve and it sounds to me like you've a good grasp of that. My best wishes in your endeavors :-)

J Anfinson
July 25th, 2015, 07:20 PM
I see you've already published the book. I'm not trying to discourage you, but honestly I think it would be a great idea to check out craiglist or another classifieds board to find an afforable editor. You could update the book once you go over it again, and I'm willing to bet it would make a huge difference. It's really tough to self-edit, especially for beginners. I won't claim to be a great self-editor, myself. I've only been writing a few years. But with practice I've gotten better.

Good luck with the book no matter what you decide to do.

RJ_Parnell
July 25th, 2015, 11:35 PM
I actually did have it edited, I thought. It took about six weeks, but being new at this, I wasn't sure what to expect. It took me a further three weeks to make the changes and go over everything. I wouldn't presume to put a book out that wasn't edited. I really thought it was pretty good, until now, I guess. I'm still quite proud of the accomplishment, and don't think it's poor work. That's my opinion, biased as it is. I had several people proofread it and sent it to the local paper for review before putting it out. I felt good about it when it was time to release it. Thanks again for the advice. It's appreciated.

Apex Predator
July 27th, 2015, 02:59 AM
Might I just add that this was on of the most dark, yet fascinating pieces of literature I've read!

I was all but content with the opening paragraphs about this being a mere story of a man in the woods. However, upon learning that the man was a monstrous serial killer - I could not stop reading!

This is of genuine merit! It honestly feels worthy of publication!

Keep up the good work! :smile: