This a 2200 word short. Let me know if you'd like to read the full story. Thanks. --------------
When it started raining blood, Craig wished he had mowed the lawn.
The hum of the quellers overhead beat a whump whump whump into his ears and echoed off his neighbors’ houses. The fans that propelled the giant, gray crafts through the sky had been turned to face the ground, slowing their flight and allowing their large delivery nozzles to give the grass and dirt a good soaking.
The air shifted and Craig shielded his face from the misting blood as he raced for the porch. He wondered if any of the drops coating his lips were his own.
He’d donated only a week before. Donate. A strange way to describe the mandatory bleeding of who was left of the country.
Well, your first line almost lost me as a reader. It feels too much like it's trying to be an eye-catching opening, but it's a bit strained.
But if you cut that and just open with the second line, I'd have been more drawn in. You've got a lot of backstory in these paragraphs, which isn't exactly a killer for me, and I'd *probably* read further.
You have an intriguing premise, and my interest is piqued. I think my central issue is Craig. The way I'm imagining the world you've created, what looks to be aliens are draining the blood of humans, most of whom are no longer on the earth for an undisclosed reason.
But Craig. It just doesn't seem like he lives in that world you've painted before. Would he still have a lawn? A lawn mower? Would he be a bit more mentally unrecognizable considering everything this story hints has happened to him and those around him?
His thoughts are orderly, clean, concise. He thinks 'donate', then he clarifies (admittedly, this is more for the reader to clue them in on what's happened in the past). I'd expect Craig to be more rambling. Right now, as the reader, I feel like Craig is on the outside of this world looking in in mild fascination at his current circumstances.
It sucks when someone suggests a classic story to read and perhaps emulate, but as I write this, I'm reminded of I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM by Harlan Ellison. Octavia Butler also does a masterful job of writing humans in alien situations (if these are aliens we're dealing with). Even if it's a manmade catastrophe, I'd still imagine Craig being different somehow in his thought process than what you have here so far.
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I like the first sentence, the juxtaposition of raining blood and lawn amuses me.
But I don't get the basic premise of the story, so in this form I see no hook.
If blood is being donated, why's it raining down? Sure, that's odd, and a puzzle, but not for me a hook. Craig seems unconcerned, so the reader too is unlikely to care.
If Craig had a problem with the blood or the raining or donating, and if I understood it, I'd be more likely to read on. But I won't read on just to see the solution to the puzzle; when I read stories I want to spend time with characters I like - or hate - who face challenges and overcome them, or at least try.
Nevertheless, I have some spare time this week so if you'd like to send it over I'll offer a short crit I hope you'll find helpful.
For me, this fragment resembles the action of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds: human blood used for nurturing plant life.
The first sentence sets up a different expectation than the fragment remainder. Craig wishes he'd mown the lawn when the quellers come. That signals he's okay with blood rain; he's complicit, not rebellious. Then he complains the powers that be increase the blood demand to a point that's troublesome.
On one hand, Craig's cooperation and dissatisfaction work at cross purposes. On the other hand, the implication is Craig's time of cooperation nears an end and rebellion is not far away. The routine is about to be interrupted. That's an artful opening strategy, one of several emotional "hooks" that openings demand.
A few language glitches that also hamper my reading immersion.
I think stronger development of the pendent rebellion and mown lawn wishes to signal Craig will rebel soon are a function for this start, for revision focus considerations. The event of substance is Craig's pendent reaction to increased blood demand, before he's drained to the point he no longer has strength to rebel. Odd, you know, what that says about the human condition: how victims at times cooperate with their demise.
I might read on, curious if that theme and message develops, though after the opening is more strongly and clearly ironed out.
The opening line is a real grabber. But I don't get why the blood rain makes Craig wish he had mowed the lawn. I think there could be a better way to demonstrate that blood rain is both normal and unpleasant to Craig. However, try to keep that same tone, I think it's a good set-up.
It might be best to leave Craig out of the first line altogether. Without him there, it creates a nice pan-in from what is happening in the world at large to how a specific person, Craig, is dealing with and feels about things. That works well for me.
It's not a bad start though, I'd want to read on.
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