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"Inner Demons" extract by Neal Drummond (language caution) (1 Viewer)

drumzii

Senior Member
This is a small part of my story "Inner Demons" which follows the life of Billy Haywood, a 25 year old drug addict from South London. The story started out following his abusive childhood, which led him into a life of criminality and drug abuse, and then eventually tells the story of his redemption later in life. This is just a short piece 'mid story'. Its my first real attempt at writing, and I would appreciate any feedback - good OR bad!


South London, December 1983.

Billy Haywood awoke gasping for air; opened his dark, bloodshot eyes in a panic. His slumber had rarely been a peaceful one, and this occasion was no different. There was a shadowy figure, standing over his bed - resentful, malevolent, faceless; hands with outstretched fingers reaching for him as if it might reach inside his head and claw at his soul with its pitch black fingernails. It scratched at his eyes. Grasped at his throat, strangling the very life right out of him. Billy felt the bony hands pulling at his skin like it was trying to tangle his insides. It was the same most nights. The same man. Or was it a woman? The same faceless creature reaching for him in the night, dragging his scarred body into the darkness. He could even feel its cold fingers circle around his wrists, his ankle, his throat.
"What do you want?!" he spat the words out, struggling to suck air into his lungs. Beads of sweat stinging at his eyes and dripping off his chin like he was melting into the floorboards. The creature sunk back into the darkness. Or maybe it evaporated? He sat up, shaking in fright. The figure never made a sound, but sometimes he could swear he had been awake.

"Was it real?"

"Was it real..?" Billy was certain it was no dream. He could still feel its presence crawling all over his skin. Each time the figure came for him, he would awake paralyzed from the neck down. Completely lifeless like he was looking at somebody else. Or dead. As the figure disappeared back into the darkness, or his mind, strength returned and he could breathe again, however the feeling of dread remained a while.
He surveyed his bedroom - sparse - more like a storage room really, a stain covered mattress on the floor with no pillow. No TV. No drawers. Catching glimpse of himself in the dusty, cracked mirror, he sat up and saw that the bruise under his eye had gone down. It was now a light shade of purple. He touched the swelling gently and winced. It hurt like a bitch. He was lucky to be alive really after all that had happened this year. Lucky that air still filled his lungs. That blood coursed through his dark, thick veins. He looked around, hands groping in the dimly lit room and found what they were seeking. A half empty bottle of cheap vodka. Hands shaking, he lifted it to his lips, gulped down the rough liquid. Sparking up a cigarette, he pulled his socks up and himself out of bed into some clothes.
Rain began attacking the windows; wind speeding up the street and screaming in his ears. Peering outside, it seemed about 6am. He flicked a light switch in the hallway.

"Fucking great"

The electric was out. The words fell out of Billy's mouth like last nights regurgitated vodka. He grabbed his coat, hat and scarf, and taking one more puff of his cigarette, stepped out into the icy winter night for the last time.
 
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LeeC

WF Veterans
On my first quick read through, it seem you're trying to immerse the reader in this poor soul's emotional consciousness. It read a little slow to me though, but I'll have to get back about just why, when I can read it more thoroughly ;-)
 

LeeC

WF Veterans
OK, I'm back. What I see in rereading is verbosity slowing this down, when you want the story to keep moving, keeping the reader engaged. It seems to me you visualize this and go overboard describing you visualization, rather than keeping the story moving by telling just enough to engage the reader's mind's eye.

Of course we all have different styles and tastes, but a common misstep in painting a moving scene with words alone is either saying too much or too little. The delicate balance when found though whisks the reader up and carries them along.

Understanding my own style creeps in, let me try to show by example what I mean.

Billy Haywood awoke gasping for air; opened his dark, bloodshot eyes in a panic. His slumber had rarely been a peaceful one, and this occasion was no different. There was a shadowy figure, standing over his bed - resentful, malevolent, faceless; hands with outstretched fingers reaching for him as if it might reach inside his head and claw at his soul with its pitch black fingernails. It scratched at his eyes. Grasped at his throat, strangling the very life right out of him. Billy felt the bony hands pulling at his skin like it was trying to tangle his insides. It was the same most nights. The same man. Or was it a woman? The same faceless creature reaching for him in the night, dragging his scarred body into the darkness. He could even feel its cold fingers circle around his wrists, his ankle, his throat.

By the time the reader reaches the end of the first paragraph, they're bombarded by your brush strokes, maybe even thinking (like I was) OK, OK, so where's this going. Had I read a shorter version, like my example below, I'd eagerly plow on to see where this journey was taking me.

Billy Haywood awoke in a panic which was all too common. A terrorizing shadowy figure standing over his bed was reaching for him. Reaching for his very soul with vile hands, it seemed intent on tearing his flesh to extract the life remaining within. He imagined this aberration dragging his pitiful body into the cold darkness of oblivion.​

Another short example being:

"Was it real?"

"Was it real..?" Billy was certain it was no dream.

A single "Was it real..?" without the "Billy was certain it was no dream" would suffice here. Give the reader credit for a little intelligence and imagination. They'll see where your going ;-)

I do commend you for taking on such difficult and glossed over subject matter, and, from what you've presented, believe you have the wherewithal to pull it off.

Write on,
LeeC
 

drumzii

Senior Member
I will definitely take what you have said on board. Actually going back over my work now and reworking much of what I have written (Which is coming along nicely by the way!)
I hope my future comments will be as helpful to others as yours has been to myself.

Thanks Lee

Neal.
 
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