Title undecided (Possibly Lucifer's Fingers)


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  1. #1

    Title undecided (Possibly Lucifer's Fingers)

    **Warning, strong language and violence**

    So, to start, this is an excerpt. It is a scene I'm going to have in the middle of the book somewhere. I wrote it out because this scene is going to be wildly important later on. The character John has AIDS, he got it from a medical error as a child. Society is collapsing due to a fungus that is turning people into "Drones". Basically the fungus inhibits brain function and they end up dying of starvation.
    Keep in mind this is rough, and many changes will be made along the way, but I'd love some feedback.


    Excerpt

    John stood in front of the medical clinic, a shotgun strapped to his back under his backpack, a pistol strapped to his thigh, and a large hunting knife on his belt. It was cold, the wind pierced his clothes and made him shiver. The sky was a dark grey, clouds covering any hint of blue, and the trees were all but leafless. Piles of orange, red, and brown covered the ground. He took a deep breath. He'd been here plenty of times before to get medication, but never like this.

    One of the Drones was standing in the street, she looked about thirteen. She was progressed pretty far, three deep red stalks were protruding from her forehead, blood running down her face. She stood staring at the sky, eyes a vacant, bloodshot red. John could tell she had stalks under her clothes as well, little fingers standing the sleeves of her shirt up.

    He walked over to the girl and pulled out his knife, she might as well be dead already, this would be a mercy, and some decent practice. As he approached, the Drone looked at him. She made some incoherent mumbling noises, followed by a deep guttural cough. She sounded like a dying animal. For all intents and purposes she was one. He walked close, maybe three feet away, and spit at the creature. It didn't react, never broke eye contact. She coughed, open mouthed, at him. He was very thankful for his mask at that moment. He laughed, the mask making a small suction noise when he inhaled.

    He flipped his knife in his right hand so the blade aimed down, and in a swift motion, grabbed the girl by the hair, and plunged the knife into her skull. Her body jerked and twitched before becoming dead weight. He pulled his knife out and blood began pouring out of the wound. He then let go of her hair and she slumped to the floor. He knew it wouldn't stop the stalks from sending spores, but it would at least limit this cluster's mobility. That was all the justification he needed.

    He turned back to the clinic. He was sure it would be relatively free of people. It hadn't been looted yet, but he wanted to be prepared anyway. He made sure both guns were loaded, then stepped up to the door. He pushed on the door, knowing it'd be locked. Then, click, it opened. He paused, why would it be open? Only one reason, someone was inside. Some employee not being cautious enough to lock the door behind them, they probably didn't understand how bad things were gonna get. They would soon.

    He walked in as quietly as he could through the door and down the hall. The lights were all on and he could hear talking and rustling down one of the halls. He stopped and tried to recall where the medication was stored, then realized it was in the same direction as the voices. No turning back now. He steeled himself, and readied his shotgun.

    He crept to the medicine storage and could hear the voices coming from in the large room. It was a man and woman, "Where is it? We need more." the man said.

    "What's it called again?" The woman asked.

    "Odefsey." the man responded hurriedly.

    No. Hell no.

    That's what John was there for. He couldn't wait any longer. He wasn't about to let them get it. He turned the corner and aimed his gun, "Get the fuck away from there."

    They both looked up. The man was probably in his fifties, the woman in her thirties. The man looked frantic, he was bald, had glasses, and was wearing what looked like camping gear. The woman looked worn, tired, and disheveled. She had short black hair and brown eyes that looked at the gun with terror.

    "Please, we just need medicine. Please don't hurt us." the man pleaded.

    "Please. Don't." the girl added.

    John didn't respond. He stepped into the room a little further and aimed the gun directly at the man.

    "No no no no, just let us go! We didn't get much, you can have everything else!" the woman begged.

    "Not enough. I'm planning on surviving a long time. And I don't know the next time I'll find more." John responded coldly. He'd had enough of trying so hard. No more going broke for medicine. No more struggling. He was going to survive. No, he was going to live, and no one was getting in his way.

    The man looked at the woman, "She won't survive even a week without this. You can't need all of this for yourself. At least leave us some. Please!"

    John paused, maybe he should let them have some. After a moment he felt his anger boiling up again. No, that bitch probably got it from fucking someone. If anyone deserved the medicine it was him, this disease wasn't his fault. He didn't make any choices or decisions that lead to this shit.

    As he was thinking the man suddenly lunged at him. John reacted on instinct, firing the shotgun twice. The shells exploded into the man's chest and face, blood spraying the room in a macabre red mist. The woman screamed a bloodcurdling scream. She ran at him and grabbed the shotgun, aiming it away from her and wrapped her hand around his neck. John swing his first into the side of the woman's face as hard as he could. She reeled back and he took the opportunity to strike her face as hard as he could with the stock of the shotgun. Blood shot from her nose and ran from her mouth. She staggered, holding her hand up to her face, a second later John struck again, knocking her to the ground. He struck her with the gun directly in her face again, breaking her nose. There was blood covering her face and she put her hands up weakly in protest. He could barely hear her screaming over the sound of his heartbeat.

    Thump thump

    Blood

    Thump thump

    More blood.

    He hit her again, and again. The only thought on his head, survive. He struck her savagely over and over until her face was no longer recognizable. The stock of his gun was covered in scarlet blood and chunks of flesh. Her skull had ruptured and organic matter was splattered in a macabre painting all across the floor.

    He finally stopped and stood upright, panting and exhausted from the effort. He looked at her remains with a vacant stare. Was this even real?

    He looked at his hands, blood had covered them in streams and lines of red. He couldn't stop them from shaking. He looked over at the bottles of pills after what felt like hours. He took his backpack off and filled it with every bottle he could find, and picked the bag off the lifeless body of the man he'd shot.

    He turned around and walked out of the clinic, a look of horror on his face. He walked out into the cold air outside and looked up. The sky was a deep red with splashes of lavender. He fell to his knees in the empty parking lot, propping himself up with the bloody shotgun, and tears began trailing down his face. He sobbed and shuddered.

    He was alive, but a part of him had died in that room with those people, and he knew it.



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    Last edited by Kreegen; September 24th, 2017 at 11:01 PM.

  2. #2
    A parasitic mind control fungus? I'm in on that basis alone!

    In terms of the writing, you might want to think about how you can just bolster some of the verb choices. Rather than had and made and were and stood and took, think of ways you can make the event more vivid and dynamic; eg:


    "John leaned against a twisted lamp-pole in the cracked parking lot of the medical clinic, a shotgun strapped to his back under his backpack, a pistol snug against to his thigh, and a large hunting knife hanging from his worn leather belt. Freezing wind pierced his clothes. He shivered beneath the stone-grey uniformity of cloud, kicking occasional dervishes of leafy reds and browns as they spun across the chily asphalt. He took a deep breath. He'd been here plenty of times before to get medication, but never like this."

    So there I tried not to rely too much on things that basically say "something existed" but rather "something did something", to give it more control and mood and more means by which you can set the tone of both the scenery and the character (by having them interact, rather than having them simply exist side-by-side). Hopefully that makes sense?

    Watch also for repetition (eg strapped, in the original text). Also - you like a comma splice. There is a time and a place for them but just consider a more structured sentence in some cases.

    Hope this helps. Ignore if not


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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    A parasitic mind control fungus? I'm in on that basis alone!

    In terms of the writing, you might want to think about how you can just bolster some of the verb choices. Rather than had and made and were and stood and took, think of ways you can make the event more vivid and dynamic; eg:


    "John leaned against a twisted lamp-pole in the cracked parking lot of the medical clinic, a shotgun strapped to his back under his backpack, a pistol snug against to his thigh, and a large hunting knife hanging from his worn leather belt. Freezing wind pierced his clothes. He shivered beneath the stone-grey uniformity of cloud, kicking occasional dervishes of leafy reds and browns as they spun across the chily asphalt. He took a deep breath. He'd been here plenty of times before to get medication, but never like this."

    So there I tried not to rely too much on things that basically say "something existed" but rather "something did something", to give it more control and mood and more means by which you can set the tone of both the scenery and the character (by having them interact, rather than having them simply exist side-by-side). Hopefully that makes sense?

    Watch also for repetition (eg strapped, in the original text). Also - you like a comma splice. There is a time and a place for them but just consider a more structured sentence in some cases.

    Hope this helps. Ignore if not
    That is great advice, thanks a ton

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Member Jack Dammit's Avatar
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    Noob here: Take this feedback from whence it comes.

    • It would be hella uncomfortable to wear a shotgun under a backpack. Whenever the trigger-happy John wants to draw his shotgun he would have to jettison his backpack, which would be dangerously slow and awkward.

    • "the wind pierced his clothes and made him shiver" makes "It was cold" redundant.

    • "Camping gear" refers to items like tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, stoves and cooking kits. Assuming the frantic bald man wasn't wearing a tent, you could describe him as wearing "camping clothing", or, if you're pretentious like me, "camping attire".

    "Thump thump

    Blood

    Thump thump

    More blood."

    could be pulled without changing anything.

    • "Was this even real?" is a throwaway.

    • "
    He was alive, but a part of him had died in that room with those people, and he knew it." is a great line but you could pull "and he knew it."

    • "
    He turned around and walked out of the clinic, a look of horror on his face. He walked out into the cold air outside and looked up.": two "walked out"s.

    • "
    He looked at his hands, blood had covered them in streams and lines of red": "His hands were covered in streams of blood."

    • "
    The only thought on his head, survive.": "His only thought was to survive."

  5. #5
    WF Veteran H.Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreegen View Post
    **Warning, strong language and violence**


    Excerpt

    John stood in front of the medical clinic, a shotgun strapped to his back under his backpack, a pistol strapped to his thigh, and a large hunting knife on his belt. It was cold, the wind pierced his clothes and made him shiver. The sky was a dark grey, clouds covering any hint of blue, and the trees were all but leafless. Piles of orange, red, and brown covered the ground. He took a deep breath. He'd been here plenty of times before to get medication, but never like this.

    As bd has pointef ouout there is a lot of discription missing frfrom this whole extract. Could you not find a beeter name than Drone for you fungusfungus people?

    One of the Drones was standing in the street, she looked about thirteen. She was progressed pretty far, three deep red stalks were protruding from her forehead, blood running down her face. She stood staring at the sky, eyes a vacant, bloodshot red. John could tell she had stalks under her clothes as well, little fingers standing the sleeves of her shirt up.

    Stalks of what?? WhatWhat do they llook like? What colour, how would the protagonist think they would feel?

    He walked over to the girl and pulled out his knife, she might as well be dead already, this would be a mercy(,) and some decent practice. As he approached, the Drone looked at him. She made some incoherent mumbling noises, followed by a deep guttural cough. She sounded like a dying animal. For all intents and purposes she was one. He walked close, maybe three feet away, and spit at the creature. It didn't react, never broke eye contact. She coughed, open mouthed, at him. He was very thankful for his mask at that moment. He laughed, the mask making a small suction noise when he inhaled.
    what do you mean by decent practice? This throws off the pace you have established as it reads awkward. ()=delete. You repeat the word 'she' five times in this one paragraph. IMO you do not need the spiting, it is repulsive and put me off. You repeat mask to soon, how about: Laughing he found himself thankful that he'd put the mask on today, inhaling he heard the tell tale sound of suction.(or something.)

    He flipped his knife in his right hand so the blade aimed down, and in a swift motion, grabbed the girl by the hair, and plunged the knife into her skull. Her body jerked and twitched before becoming dead weight. He pulled his knife out and blood began pouring out of the wound. He then let go of her hair and she slumped to the floor. He knew it wouldn't stop the stalks from sending spores, but it would at least limit this cluster's mobility. That was all the justification he needed.

    I think that if you shortened the sentences that at the beginning of this paparagraph the pace would be enhanced, as it would quickly set upup tension within the scene and draw the reader along. More description is needed for example: In one sswift motion he held onto her golden hairand plunged the in. Her skull split umder the force.

    He turned back to the clinic. He was sure it would be relatively free of people. It hadn't been looted yet, but he wanted to be prepared anyway. He made sure both guns were loaded, then stepped up to the door. He pushed on the door, knowing it'd be locked. Then, click, it opened. He paused, why would it be open? Only one reason, someone was inside. Some employee not being cautious enough to lock the door behind them, they probably didn't understand how bad things were gonna get. They would soon.

    He walked in as quietly as he could through the door and down the hall. The lights were all on and he could hear talking and rustling down one of the halls. He stopped and tried to recall where the medication was stored, then realized it was in the same direction as the voices. No turning back now. He steeled himself, and readied his shotgun.

    He crept to the medicine storage and could hear the voices coming from in the large room. It was a man and woman, "Where is it? We need more." the man said.

    "What's it called again?" The woman asked.

    "Odefsey." the man responded hurriedly.

    No. Hell no.

    That's what John was there for. He couldn't wait any longer. He wasn't about to let them get it. He turned the corner and aimed his gun, "Get the fuck away from there."

    They both looked up. The man was probably in his fifties, the woman in her thirties. The man looked frantic, he was bald, had glasses, and was wearing what looked like camping gear. The woman looked worn, tired, and disheveled. She had short black hair and brown eyes that looked at the gun with terror.

    "Please, we just need medicine. Please don't hurt us." the man pleaded.

    "Please. Don't." the girl added.

    John didn't respond. He stepped into the room a little further and aimed the gun directly at the man.

    "No no no no, just let us go! We didn't get much, you can have everything else!" the woman begged.

    "Not enough. I'm planning on surviving a long time. And I don't know the next time I'll find more." John responded coldly. He'd had enough of trying so hard. No more going broke for medicine. No more struggling. He was going to survive. No, he was going to live, and no one was getting in his way.

    The man looked at the woman, "She won't survive even a week without this. You can't need all of this for yourself. At least leave us some. Please!"

    John paused, maybe he should let them have some. After a moment he felt his anger boiling up again. No, that bitch probably got it from fucking someone. If anyone deserved the medicine it was him, this disease wasn't his fault. He didn't make any choices or decisions that lead to this shit.

    As he was thinking the man suddenly lunged at him. John reacted on instinct, firing the shotgun twice. The shells exploded into the man's chest and face, blood spraying the room in a macabre red mist. The woman screamed a bloodcurdling scream. She ran at him and grabbed the shotgun, aiming it away from her and wrapped her hand around his neck. John swing his first into the side of the woman's face as hard as he could. She reeled back and he took the opportunity to strike her face as hard as he could with the stock of the shotgun. Blood shot from her nose and ran from her mouth. She staggered, holding her hand up to her face, a second later John struck again, knocking her to the ground. He struck her with the gun directly in her face again, breaking her nose. There was blood covering her face and she put her hands up weakly in protest. He could barely hear her screaming over the sound of his heartbeat.

    Thump thump

    Blood

    Thump thump

    More blood.

    He hit her again, and again. The only thought on his head, survive. He struck her savagely over and over until her face was no longer recognizable. The stock of his gun was covered in scarlet blood and chunks of flesh. Her skull had ruptured and organic matter was splattered in a macabre painting all across the floor.

    He finally stopped and stood upright, panting and exhausted from the effort. He looked at her remains with a vacant stare. Was this even real?

    He looked at his hands, blood had covered them in streams and lines of red. He couldn't stop them from shaking. He looked over at the bottles of pills after what felt like hours. He took his backpack off and filled it with every bottle he could find, and picked the bag off the lifeless body of the man he'd shot.

    He turned around and walked out of the clinic, a look of horror on his face. He walked out into the cold air outside and looked up. The sky was a deep red with splashes of lavender. He fell to his knees in the empty parking lot, propping himself up with the bloody shotgun, and tears began trailing down his face. He sobbed and shuddered.

    He was alive, but a part of him had died in that room with those people, and he knew it.



    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
    There are alot of edits that need to be made through out this excert and to me it reads like the first chapter of a book instead of supposed to being from the middle. Great start though and I eould be interested in reading more of it. Also edit and repost the edited version and I would be happy to look at it again. Keep writing.
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  6. #6
    John stood in front of the medical clinic, a shotgun strapped to his back under his backpack, a pistol strapped to his thigh, and a large hunting knife on his belt.
    You're thinking in terms of telling the reader a story. This line is what a verbal storyteller would say, to set up the scene and make up for the fact that the storyteller is alone on the stage and has no visual aids. It's detail you visualize. When you read, "John stood in front of the medical clinic," the words point to that image in your mind. But pity me. I just got here. How can it be "the" medical clinic when I don't know which one you're talking about? I don't know the country, the era, or even, with any certainty, the planet. So for me, the words point to that image in your mind. Doesn't help me much, right? But I'm a reader, one of those you write the story for. Doesn't it make sense to make the reader know what John does...as he does?

    And think about it. It's John's story, right. What what matters more to a reader, what John's focused on, or what you, someone neither on the scene or in the story, notice? Why tell me he's wearing a backpack. That takes a line dedicated only to visual detail that-he's-not-paying-any-attention-to. And as I said, it's his story. Want me to know he's wearing a backpack? Have him readjust the pack's straps on his shoulder as he studies the street. Then it's incidental enrichment to a line that tells us what he's focused on instead of being about what you see.

    Instead of you the author telling the reader what's happening, show what matters to him, and why. The first informs and the second involves. And given that your reader is with you hoping to be entertained...

    It's not a matter of talent and potential, it's learning the tricks of our trade—the things that, once pointed out make you say, "Why didn't I see that for myself?" Some time spent digging out those tricks will be a wise investment of time.

    Hang in there, and keep on writing.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greenstein View Post
    You're thinking in terms of telling the reader a story. This line is what a verbal storyteller would say, to set up the scene and make up for the fact that the storyteller is alone on the stage and has no visual aids. It's detail you visualize. When you read, "John stood in front of the medical clinic," the words point to that image in your mind. But pity me. I just got here. How can it be "the" medical clinic when I don't know which one you're talking about? I don't know the country, the era, or even, with any certainty, the planet. So for me, the words point to that image in your mind. Doesn't help me much, right? But I'm a reader, one of those you write the story for. Doesn't it make sense to make the reader know what John does...as he does?

    And think about it. It's John's story, right. What what matters more to a reader, what John's focused on, or what you, someone neither on the scene or in the story, notice? Why tell me he's wearing a backpack. That takes a line dedicated only to visual detail that-he's-not-paying-any-attention-to. And as I said, it's his story. Want me to know he's wearing a backpack? Have him readjust the pack's straps on his shoulder as he studies the street. Then it's incidental enrichment to a line that tells us what he's focused on instead of being about what you see.

    Instead of you the author telling the reader what's happening, show what matters to him, and why. The first informs and the second involves. And given that your reader is with you hoping to be entertained...

    It's not a matter of talent and potential, it's learning the tricks of our trade—the things that, once pointed out make you say, "Why didn't I see that for myself?" Some time spent digging out those tricks will be a wise investment of time.

    Hang in there, and keep on writing.
    It's an excerpt. So, leading up to this there's going to be information about the clinic, where it is, etc. I wrote this scene out so I wouldn't forget it.

    And it's not just John's story. Obviously I didn't expect anyone who read just this to know that, but I'm planning on having the story follow multiple people, with no real main character. So I wanted the narration to come from a "neutral party" so to speak.

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kreegen View Post
    It's an excerpt. So, leading up to this there's going to be information about the clinic, where it is, etc. I wrote this scene out so I wouldn't forget it.

    And it's not just John's story. Obviously I didn't expect anyone who read just this to know that, but I'm planning on having the story follow multiple people, with no real main character. So I wanted the narration to come from a "neutral party" so to speak.

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
    This may be so, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water;

    "Want me to know he's wearing a backpack? Have him re-adjust the straps on his shoulder as he studies the street. Then it's incidental enrichment to a line that tells us what he's focused on."

    This is really good advice, it gets more out of the line, enriches the reading experience by putting you in the mind of a character as well as telling you about the physical reality. That the character is central to the whole story or not is not hugely important, making him real in the section where he has some importance is. I might disagree with Jay if it made some trivial bystander over important and distracted from the actual story, but that does not seem to be the case.

    Crit, like writing, is often not in the form we might put it ourselves, but when someone takes the trouble to point something out it is because something has struck them, ignore the 'I like this, good job, I would read more' comments that do not address actual issues, but when they are talking about your writing, rather than their feelings about your writing, it is usually worth taking the time and making the effort to see if there is something in there you can use, even if the way they phrase it does not instantly grab you.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Kreegen View Post
    It's an excerpt. So, leading up to this there's going to be information about the clinic, where it is, etc. I wrote this scene out so I wouldn't forget it.

    And it's not just John's story. Obviously I didn't expect anyone who read just this to know that, but I'm planning on having the story follow multiple people, with no real main character. So I wanted the narration to come from a "neutral party" so to speak.

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
    I get it. The book is not just John's story. What about this excerpt? Do you consider this piece to be a piece of John's story, or multiple people's story/stories?

    It's a great idea to write scenes that you're inspired to write. I think inspired writing is better quality than forced writing. Though sometimes I'm surprised by a "I've got to get this done" scene becoming inspired during the writing process.

    So overall, kudos.

    About the backback suggestion. I don't like adding action that is out of character, so if John wouldn't adjust the straps on his backpack he shouldn't. That's a suggestion from someone who doesn't really know the character. The sentiment behind the suggestion is valid, however. There's telling the reader something and then there's showing it. And it can be an art finding the right balance. Sometimes telling is best and sometimes showing.

    For a first draft, what you have is pretty good. Note the comments made and refer to them during the editing process.

    Keep in mind that this section is visible to guests as well as members. Therefore it counts as published. So don't put too much here. If you want feedback on other pieces of your book, I recommend the prose workshop in the members only section.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of all trades View Post
    I get it. The book is not just John's story. What about this excerpt? Do you consider this piece to be a piece of John's story, or multiple people's story/stories?

    It's a great idea to write scenes that you're inspired to write. I think inspired writing is better quality than forced writing. Though sometimes I'm surprised by a "I've got to get this done" scene becoming inspired during the writing process.

    So overall, kudos.

    About the backback suggestion. I don't like adding action that is out of character, so if John wouldn't adjust the straps on his backpack he shouldn't. That's a suggestion from someone who doesn't really know the character. The sentiment behind the suggestion is valid, however. There's telling the reader something and then there's showing it. And it can be an art finding the right balance. Sometimes telling is best and sometimes showing.

    For a first draft, what you have is pretty good. Note the comments made and refer to them during the editing process.

    Keep in mind that this section is visible to guests as well as members. Therefore it counts as published. So don't put too much here. If you want feedback on other pieces of your book, I recommend the prose workshop in the members only section.
    Thank you. I wasn't discounting your advice, I'm certainly going to go over it and see how I can make the scene more dynamic, but I just wanted to clarify those points so there wasn't too much misunderstanding about the nature of the excerpt.
    And I'll definitely look into posting in the members only section.

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk

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