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View Full Version : Writing Excercise, Horror, 320 words



wainscottbl
August 27th, 2015, 09:12 AM
So I an doing short, daily excercises in random genres. Here is yesterday's. I am trying to work on different things in writing to help with my shortcomings. In this I set out to work on description. Tell me how well I did. TIA.


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The quick breeze blew up the leaves in a hissing sort of poof, and the cool autumn air felt odd. For only a week before it had been in the nineties. The smell of burning wood came to his nose, and he inhaled it with the cool breeze. The leaves were yellow, and looked slightly damp from the previous night’s rain, and when he entered the wood, the leaves were soggier and sere. The forest air smelled of wet leaves and soggy wood there.

He suddenly felt an eerie feeling…like he was being watched.

He had not gotten more than a few steps when someone spoke from behind. It was an older man’s voice, calm and cool. The coolness was a man’s, cold, not suave, and it had a self-pleasing sort of malevolence to it. “Hello, Jonathan,” it said.

Jonathan slowly turned around.

A blood curdling scream so high pitched it seemed inhuman. Jonathan’s body suddenly became cold, and he could hear his heart pumping fast in his head. The figure was tall and bone thin, dressed in a raggedy grey robe with a hood, a sickle in his hand. His face was brown. It was withered and dried out. He had a very long, thin, hooked nose with a short, sharp point that bent off perpendicular. His eyes were deep and large, the sclera unnaturally large. The pupils were hazel.

The figure spoke. “Ego sum morte,” it said.

It happened quick. A white figure flew at him, crying that same awful, inhuman shrill scream, causing Jonathan to fall to the ground. It was a woman, opaque-white and old with a smile that was full of an impish malevolence, as if she were laughing wickedly. The banshee flew through him however, and in an instant was gone.
Jonathan lay prone on the ground, the tall hooded figure over him. It brought down its sickle, and said n a deep, monstrous voice: “Requiescat in pace.”

MousePot
August 27th, 2015, 01:42 PM
Hey wains

great idea, I imagine these sorts of exercises are great for keeping up writing skills, I may have to follow suit ^^

The description in this is good, you cover the most important aspect of writing description which is 'use as many of the senses as possible'. In this you use smell very well at the start, and it gives a nice sense of atmosphere. It would have been nice to have more of the smells later on, perhaps smelling something foul rather than the 'sense something was watching him'

I will say that the biggest weakness of your description is the repeated words. There are times where you state the same thing three time in quick succession (the leaves were wet, it was a man's cool voice etc.) I imagine this is because it was just a quick exercise, but when trying to build a sense of atmosphere there are tons of things to describe, telling us the same thing only slows down the narrative. Also, in such a short piece, try to avoid using the same word to describe two separate elements, namely calling both creatures malevolent. It's a great word, but very very strong, and as such can only really be used sparingly.

A nice short cut for description and building atmosphere would be to use some metaphors or similes. Having a few comparisons to some macabre elements before the 'man' appears would be a nice way to get the readers mind on track for mischief ^^

I think your physical description in this is excellent, I love the little details you give, in particular the perpendicular nose, it creates such a nice strong image ^^

The only other thing I would say is careful of cliches (felt like something was watching, monstrous voice) but again, as a quick exercise I can see why they might have been needed.

Nice freaky piece, looking forward to today's exercise ^^

Sleepwriter
August 27th, 2015, 02:11 PM
I agree with the points that MousePot raised. He said them in a more eloquent way, so I will not fill the comment box with my Neanderthalic, key-smashing ramblings.

bdcharles
August 27th, 2015, 02:15 PM
Hi

For only a week before it had been in the nineties. => this is the better opener, I think. More evocative. Sets the tone, sets the atmos. Horror is about atmosphere as much as it is about chilly goings-on. The current opener is a little light, I feel.

Within the first 3 lines you repeat "breeze". In the first para you also repeat "soggy". Try and condense things into one sentence where you can, stripping out excessive wases, weres, hads etc, and replacing it with interaction and more vivid words, eg:

The leaves were yellow, and looked slightly damp from the previous night’s rain, and when he entered the wood, the leaves were soggier and sere. The forest air smelled of wet leaves and soggy wood there.

Could be =>

The yellow leaves crunched wetly under his heavy boots, slick from the previous nights rain, and Jonathan breathed in the damp forest air - and then stopped, perfectly motionless.

A tiny trickle of breath escaped his nose.

He was being watched - he was sure of it.

Not sure what "sere" means?

The description of the apparition is a bit too describey, bordering on the infodump. Have the descriptions worked into some actions, so it's not all "it was this, it was that", yet keeping all the salient info, eg:

The figure was tall and bone thin, dressed in a raggedy grey robe with a hood, a sickle in his hand. His face was brown. It was withered and dried out. He had a very long, thin, hooked nose with a short, sharp point that bent off perpendicular. His eyes were deep and large, the sclera unnaturally large. The pupils were hazel.

could be =>


A tall, bone thin figure dressed in a ragged grey robe and holding a sickle in one skeletal hand stared at him from under its hood with large hazel-brown eyes, and Jonathan jumped back. Twin wisps of unearthly breath escaped the thin, hooked nose. The withered face leaned closer.

I highlighted some words that I feel could be removed and the ideas and images around them sort of smooshed up into a more complex sentence. I did like "bone thin" - kind of an unusual descriptor.

Anyway, just some thoughts to use or ignore :)

wainscottbl
August 28th, 2015, 01:16 AM
Thanks guys. And part of it was that I was doing a jet excercise, but still, that's not an "excuse". But I enjoy your feedback. Yeah, I hated using the same words, and considered that, but wanted to just get it out. Did you notice the word "sere"? I had to use it because its so cool. I heard it form a wonderful Poe poem:


The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crispéd and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year;
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir—
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.





Freakin' awsome!