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The Face of Murder (500 words) (1 Viewer)

ussaid

Senior Member
An amateur effort by me to write a strong themed tale under a specific word limit. Hope you enjoy, and please remember to give your most desired opinions and critiques.


The Face of Murder

16th March
The unending blood-thirst of these men is petrifying. I have lived at this place for too. Too long have I heard these mean-spirited oaths and curses, witnessing scenes of warriors unleashing their wrath on pleading victims, every single day. Their blades are rusty and bloody, being the last sight of many poor souls. The hatred of this place is MADDENING! Yet perhaps the worst of all this is that this insanity is glorified! The halls are dotted with haunting pictures of celebrated murderers and destroyers, songs in their remembrance still sung centuries past. And in the middle of all this, I silently watch these horrors. I watch these men slaughter others, I watch them live and die. What was before this madness is long beyond my recollection; there is only this bloodshed and its participants, with my eyes following their movements. An old man below my apartment shares my feelings, and I believe he is my last saving grace from madness, but his health is declining and he can barely talk now. I am afraid it is barely a matter of days before he completely loses his ability to talk.


20th October
Somehow, I feel I am beginning to enjoy this place! The splattering of blood has now become music to my ears, and I cherish even the thought of its sweet sound! The songs sung in the halls seem as beautiful as the images on these walls, although I think the pictures are changing their appearance.


30th December
The euphoria that I am experiencing right now is beyond mere words! My thoughts are dizzy and my limbs light, yet it feels like paradise! The day before yesterday, there was no bloodshed. It made me uncomfortable, yet I wasn’t worried; the next day will come with the next death. However, yesterday, too, there was no death, there was no blood, and there was none of that sweet, calming sound of gashing liquid. I grew very impatient, yet still I knew the next morning will solve everything. Today there was no killing again. It drove my senses to madness, as I curled into a ball on the floor and screamed in agony. Then, the sight of the old man downstairs crossed my mind. I at once took a dagger and went down to slit open his throat, and then bathed under the spray of the rushing blood. I tasted it on my lips, I felt the warmth on my hands. When I turned, I saw the images on the walls had changed completely; now they resemble a calming scene of demons consuming various meats around a round table, with hellfire burning around them. Then the door of the hall opened, and the warriors, whose faces have changed to look like corpses, invited me inside and we sang a beautiful song detailing my enlightenment. I looked inside my bowl of water and saw my improved reflection; a blackened, rotten face. The sweet face of murder!
 
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GalacticInsanity

Senior Member
Alright so I read this and meditated on it a bit! I'll give you a critique of everything I think is important! :3 If I miss something, I'm sure someone else will come along and give you something good to chew on. I'll ask some questions, too, in an attempt to help you question yourself and figure out if the ideas are solid. If they are, awesome! I could simply be misunderstanding something, after all. But if not, well, I hope this helps a bit!

Ideas / Concept / Execution

So first the good stuff! I like the setting that you provide. Boy, would I have liked some more context, but in the space allowed, you wrote some really good, provocative imagery! I like the heavy tone you use, and 16th of March gives a good introduction to this world we'll be spending such a short amount of time in.

And now, some critique. I feel like the introduction can be a little stronger. We don't get a good sense of time, minus the language used which lends to me this idea of it being set in older times. Still, a better idea would strengthen the story, I think, at least enough to ground the reader a little more. Also, if the person has lived there so long, why haven't they succumbed already? (I use they seeing as how I don't know the gender, though I imagine the may be male).

An old man below my apartment shares my feelings, and I believe he is my last saving grace from madness, but his health is declining and he can barely talk now.

Here you mention an apartment. Like I said earlier, seeing an actual physical place is very useful for the reader to imagine exactly what it is you're trying to convey. By saying apartment, I immediately envisioned (possibly wrongly) the seven levels of Hell (or whatever it's called). I mean, before that, I envisioned Hell in general, but you get the idea. Seeing that this is an apartment reminds me that this should be fleshed out a bit more, if possible (I know you had constraints of word limit, but I thought I'd mention it anyway!)

The songs sung in the halls seem as beautiful as the images on these walls, although I think the pictures are changing their appearance.

I feel like the pictures should be described in detail, as to how they're changing and what they're changing into. Perhaps doing that, you can convey the sense better in this shorter part, 20th October. Describing what the pictures looked like initially could also help!

I at once took a dagger and went down to slit open his throat, and then bathed under the spray of the rushing blood

In 30th of December, you show the change the character makes. I feel like this quote in particular could use a bit of work, simply because I would have liked more imagery about the actual act of slitting the old man's throat. Call me morbid, but that's me! Anyway, beyond that, I feel like this whole part is really interesting. The imagery is strong (even if the word choice which I will get to gets in the way a bit). I would have really liked to see more of how this lack of bloodshed changed the speaker, but again, that all comes down to personal preference!


Word Choice

So some of the word choice in here is a little problematic. It may be because you didn't read it out loud after writing, and perhaps a little re-reading will help. Still, I'll point out some stuff that I feel could be rectified easily!

I have lived at this place for too, too long have I heard these mean-spirited oaths and curses, witnessing scenes of forbidding warriors unleashing their wrath on unwary victims, every single day.

This is a run-on sentence (pretty sure, at least), and can be fixed by breaking up the two clauses. "I have lived at this place for too long. Too long have I heard these..." Or something to that effect. Also, the bolded word 'forbidding' is used incorrectly. Perhaps you meant 'foreboding' or something to that effect. Either way, forbidding means 'to refuse to allow' or something to that effect. IE: I forbid you to do this. Also, I found there are a lot of adjectives here. While adjectives are important, there are other ways to describe what you mean! So keep that in mind. When I say adjectives, of course I mean 'mean-spirited' and 'unwary'.

You seem to use adjectives and adverbs a lot throughout the story, and it can weaken the images you mean to create. So instead of saying 'unwary', describe 'unwary'. Remember to show, not to tell!

The euphoria that I am experiencing right now is beyond mere words!

I feel like the word 'mere' here is unnecessary. The sentence itself helps the reader to understand that words are not enough to describe it. Using 'mere' makes it a little too wordy.

It drove my senses to madness, as I curved into a ball on the floor and screamed in agony.

I think the word you mean here is 'curled' or something similar.

Verb Tense

I found this in a few misc areas, but I just wanted to point this out at the end.

When I turned, I saw the images on the walls have changed completely;

Here, the word 'have' should be 'had' for very strange grammatical reasons. I'm not entirely sure what the tenses are called, but 'have changed', 'has changed', and 'had changed' are all different slightly depending on the time in which you're trying to speak. Since this is past tense, and the pictures changing happened further in the past than when the speaker had been talking about before, you should use 'had changed'. (And to anyone reading my critique, I'd love to here a better explanation of this! I could look it up, but I'm quite tired, haha.)

Closing Thoughts

The sweet face of murder!

This last part really stuck with me. Of course its also the title, but I love the way you wrote the story to make it the most important line. The devolution of the character into a murderous creature really stuck with me. I read this over a few times, and I really enjoyed it. This has a lot of potential if you ever wanted to make it into something slightly longer, but that would be up to you! And as for showing and not telling, remember that adjectives and adverbs can hold you back a bit, sometimes, as can unnecessary words. Lose some of them (not all!) and you'll loosen up the story, allowing the reader to breathe a bit better. Hope that made sense and I hope some of this helped.

Also, considering the word count limit, you did a great job at spinning a tale. So great job! I look forward to more! =)

PS: I just realized how constraining the word-limit was. Jesus, you get extra props for that!
 

ussaid

Senior Member
Thanks a lot for your input, GI! It was really helpful and has established some important points for me as I move forward. I wrote this story to showcase surrealism (which I believe is the most fascinating form of art). I have made some changes to the original draft and have added a few lines detailing the murder of the old man but it is overriding the word count so I don't know if it is fair. Otherwise I plan upon correcting the various word choices and tenses.

I was hoping you do tell me, how much did you liked the story? For example what would you give it out of 10 or 100. Do you suppose it is a good enough feat for a 13-year old? Also I was hoping you could tell me how a non-native English writer can improve his vocabulary as I felt it is a difficulty I often encounter while writing.

Another thing. A presence of so many adjectives was meant as an insight to the character's style of thinking, as he was meant to be a person of needless details and specifics. What do you think about that?

At last I wanted to answer your question
"if the person has lived there so long, why haven't they succumbed already?"

I must have not made it very clear in the story but I included a line in the first entry which suggested that it was only his conversations with the old man that was keeping him sane and that old man lost his ability to speak.
An old man below my apartment shares my feelings, and I believe he is my last saving grace from madness, but his health is declining and he can barely talk now. I am afraid it is barely a matter of days before he completely loses his ability to talk.


All in all, thanks a lot for you reply!
 

GalacticInsanity

Senior Member
Oh wow, you're 13? That's awesome! You've done a great job, I think, and I did enjoy it. I'm not good with ratings, to be honest, but I guess I'd give it a 70-80 (maybe a 75?) because I liked the premise, but I wish it was longer. Either way, as a story its got a good premise and a lot of potential, if you ever wanted to expand on it!

At last I wanted to answer your question
"if the person has lived there so long, why haven't they succumbed already?"

I must have not made it very clear in the story but I included a line in the first entry which suggested that it was only his conversations with the old man that was keeping him sane and that old man lost his ability to speak.

Also oh I see! that makes more sense! Thank you for clearing that up ^_^

Also I was hoping you could tell me how a non-native English writer can improve his vocabulary as I felt it is a difficulty I often encounter while writing.

Hmm well one thing I did when I was younger to improve my vocabulary was subscribe to sites that give a 'word of the day' sort of thing. Also, you can always look up synonyms of words on thesaurus.com, and plug those words into a dictionary to learn their meaning. You might use some of them wrong sometimes, but we can always point it out and give you a helping hand! ^_^ Overall, I'd say to try out words you've learned and read in books. That's also how I improved my vocabulary. Reading often is also really helpful! (Keep in mind that I am a native english speaker, but when I was trying to learn German for awhile, this was how I did it).

Just remember that some lesser-known words are lesser-known for a reason! If you see a word you've never seen before, try to figure out if it's a word a lot of people would use. You can always ask, too!

Hope that was... somewhat helpful? Vocabulary is tough because sometimes, when you write and use words that aren't well known, it can sound like you've merely used a thesaurus and plugged words in. So always keep in mind how your characters think, as well, and if they'd use words like the ones you're considering! Best of luck!
 

ussaid

Senior Member
Your vocabulary tips are indeed helpful! It's often the most infuriating thing in writing when you face difficulty in properly describing a scene without sounding repetitive or bland.

75? That's good enough I guess considering I had a short word-count.

Thanks again for your responses, they had been extremely helpful!
 

Bevo

Senior Member
Great job at any age, at 13 it's exceptional!

i found the imagery strong and felt the changes as he went through it into madness.
Great job!
 
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