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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » What a Way To Spend Eternity (HorrorWIP) *Rated R*

   
Author Topic: What a Way To Spend Eternity (HorrorWIP) *Rated R*
Bent Tree
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Adult Content

I was compelled to write this in the first. I would like to hear comments on it's effects, and the hooks appeal.


As I sat their feeling the warm piss flow across my thigh and puddle on my seat, hands bound by some unseen force. I looked at the old lady, her back turned in that dress that looked like curtains in some old school seventies porno, then at the stack of magazines beside me on the table. She was humming and making cocoa. I was wishing I had listened to the part of me that said skip this house; something doesn’t feel right, and not the part of me that told that part to go f#$% itself because I needed to sell magazines to make rent.
Whatever she was grating; it smelled like nutmeg, but the sound echoed through my skull. She turned and offered me some. She seemed so pleasant, like my gramma. I couldn’t move my hands. What the f#$% was happening? The old grey haired woman just


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skadder
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Hi,

Great and interesting hook. The first sentence is hard to swallow. I think it could be separated into two ideas. When I have to read the first sentence twice I usually decide not to read any further.

Just kidding! But I did have to read your first sentence twice as it doesn't make proper sense. IMO.

As I sat their(there) feeling the warm piss flow across my thigh and puddle on my seat, hands bound by some unseen force.

As I turned, I saw..

As I lifted the box, my back hurt.

Your sentence starts with 'as' but the later clause 'hands bound by some unseen force' doesn't seem to fit. If you changed it to '...my hands were bound...' it would work. I am no english expert but it is just the wrong type of past tense. In fact, looking at it it was probably just an oversight on your part.

I looked at the old lady, her back turned (odd way to phrase it)in that(a) dress that looked like (the) curtains in(from) some (old school--old school and seventies--one of them is redundant) seventies porno, then at the stack of magazines beside me on the table.

I would break this sentence up a bit.

I was wishing I had listened to the part of me that said skip this house; something doesn’t feel right, and not the part of me that told that part to go f#$% itself because I needed to sell magazines to make rent.

So the stack of magazines he saw earlier were his? I would identify them as such then, you may even lose a chunk of this sentence, e.g.

...then at my stack of magazines--my stock--that sat beside me on the table.

I would probably guess he was a salesman from that, although door to door travelling magazine salesman is not common. Brushes? Vacuum cleaners? It would be more obvious.

The gist I am getting is she poisoned him (why his bladder relaxed and he can't move), or perhaps, since you don't mention his half empty cup of coffee perhaps she has psychic powers. Or maybee he is having a stroke...they happen to young people too. Although I presume it's not the last one, but it could be. I would just be a little clearer about the speculative element.

I am hooked enough to continue. The situation is interesting. It sounds like a Roald Dahl story where an old lady poisons a man while they are chatting having a cup of tea. If your story is nothing like this, I would give a few more hints about what is actually going on. Your MC need not know exactly, but the reader could have a slightly clearer picture.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 21, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 21, 2008).]


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TheOnceandFutureMe
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quote:
As I sat their feeling the warm piss flow across my thigh and puddle on my seat, hands bound by some unseen force.

This is not a complete sentence, nor a properly edited one. C'mon, Bent Tree. You know grammar.

Aside from that, the powerful image of being tied up and pissing yourself is damaged by the flowing sentence. Use short strong sentences for strong images.

"Piss ran down my thigh and puddled on my seat. Some unseen force bound my hands."

Not perfect, but the sentences are active and strong.

quote:
I looked at the old lady, her back turned in that dress that looked like curtains in some old school seventies porno, then at the stack of magazines beside me on the table.

No need to say "I looked," because I know who's POV it is. Just tell me what's happening.

quote:
She was humming and making cocoa.

"She hummed, making cocoa."

quote:
I was wishing I had listened to the part of me that said skip this house; something doesn't feel right, and not the part of me that told that part to go **** itself because I needed to sell magazines to make rent.

"I wished I listened to the part of me that..."

Lose unnecessary words.

quote:
Whatever she was grating; it smelled like nutmeg

"Whatever she was grating smelled like nutmeg."

Lose awkward punctuation as often as possible.

quote:
but the sound echoed through my skull.

"Sound" is not specific enough. I can't imagine it. Should I be hearing grating bone, flesh, wood? Nails on a chalkboard?

quote:
She turned and offered me some.

Why not have the dialog? It would pull me more into the scene.

quote:
I couldn’t move my hands.

I know; you told me. If you want to remind me, do something else. Have your character struggle or something.

quote:
What the **** was happening?

Don't ask this question. It's obvious your character is thinking it. You're doing a good job of making me feel it. To state it is not trusting yourself to convey that emotion, and not trusting me to understand it.


As to your questions:

I rarely say anything positive about the first person. I won't comment on that. (Aside from that)

The hook is there - I want to know why he's tied up, how the old lady is doing it, what's going to happen - but what makes this different from all the other stories that start out with people tied up?

I would keep reading (and will if you want).


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annepin
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Maybe it's because this is the second post I've read this morning involving loss of bladder control, but this opening really isn't doing it for me. Maybe also because I don't read a lot of horror. The thing is, yeah, the character is in a jam, but that's not enough to make me care about him or her. He/ she is too much the victim and not in a position to act. I prefer openings that leave more choice open to the mc.

Obviously, this is just my story preference, but I thought I'd throw it out there as a counterpoint to the others.

Some of the writing is a little clumsy, but others have already pointed that out.


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Bent Tree
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How about this. Magic is the speculative element. Perhaps Dark fantasy would have been a better genre classification. I haven't written this genre before.


Piss ran down my thigh and puddled on my seat. Some unseen force bound my hands. The old lady had her back turned in that dress that looked like the curtains from some old school seventies porno. I looked at my stack of magazines on the table and wished I had listened to the part of me that said skip this house; something doesn’t feel right, and not the part of me that told that part to go f#$% itself because I needed to sell magazines to make rent.
Whatever she was grating smelled like nutmeg, but the sound grated my nerves.
She turned "Would you like some cocoa?" She seemed so pleasant, like my gramma. I wanted to choke the b#$%@. I heard the words,"I'd love some" come from my mouth, but they weren't mine.


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DebbieKW
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I'm still having troubles with this.

quote:
Piss ran down my thigh and puddled on my seat.

When I read this, I know nothing about the MC. By default, I'm assuming he's standing. So this sentence made me stop and ask, whose piss is this and how is it running down his thigh to puddle at his seat? It occurred to me that the fellow is sitting and that the piss both ran down his thigh and puddled at his seat, but I don't see why it would puddle if there is enough slope for it to run down his thigh (and, I'm assuming, on down his leg). So maybe he's seated, and someone is peeing on him and it's running 'down/up' his thigh to puddle at his seat. That's what I ended up picturing. I don't think I'd have any trouble with this sentence if you just said, "Piss puddled on my seat."

quote:
Some unseen force bound my hands.

Does this mean that his hands are behind is back and he can't see what they used to bind him or just that he can't move his hands. As in, where are his hands and how does he know this? I couldn't picture this, but I got the sense of fear that you probably meant for this sentence to impart. So it works on one level, but not on the other.

quote:
The old lady had her back turned in that dress that looked like the curtains from some old school seventies porno.

This doesn't make sense. I assume you mean, "The old lady had her back turned toward me. She wore a dress that looked like the curtains from some old school seventies porno." Even then, I can't imagine the dress since I've never seen a seventies porno and have no clue what they'd use for (window?) curtains in a porno, anyway.

quote:
I looked at my stack of magazines on the table and wished I had listened to the part of me that said skip this house; something doesn’t feel right, and not the part of me that told that part to go f#$% itself because I needed to sell magazines to make rent.

This sentence makes no sense. As it currently is, I'm reading the sentences as: "I looked at my stack of magazines on the table and wished I had listened to the part of me that said skip this house. Something doesn’t feel right, and not the part of me that told that part to go f#$% itself because I needed to sell magazines to make rent." As in, what doesn't feel right is the part of himself saying 'go sell' rather than the house doesn't feel right.

I'd suggest something like: "I looked at my stack of magazines on the table and wished I had listened to the part of me that said skip this house, something doesn’t feel right. Instead, I'd listened to the part of me that told that part to go f#$% itself because I needed to sell magazines to make rent."

quote:
Whatever she was grating smelled like nutmeg, but the sound grated my nerves.

I'm not sure why you're using "but" here. The sentence doesn't seem connected in a "this, but that" sense. Maybe something like: "She grated something that smelled like nutmeg. The sound grated my nerves." Or use an "and" instead of a "but."

quote:
She turned "Would you like some cocoa?" She seemed so pleasant, like my gramma. I wanted to choke the b#$%@. I heard the words,"I'd love some" come from my mouth, but they weren't mine.

This is fine, and gives me a sense of what's going on.

Hope this helped.

[This message has been edited by DebbieKW (edited March 21, 2008).]


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TheOnceandFutureMe
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This is much better. I've got a better sense of what's going on, and the craft is much cleaner.

I still fear the story may be flawed. As annepin said, if you're character can't act, then he can't drive the story. But this may not be the case.

If you're done I'll read the whole thing.


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Wildstar
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I like this opening, it makes me think of the witches house on my block when I was growing up. Of course no witch lived there. I’m not sure if this is a witch story but the stove and old lady makes my mind go there.

Here are my thoughts, take them or leave them, whatever feels right to you.

“Piss ran down my thigh and puddle on my seat. Some unseen force bound my hands.”

Note: This is good. It gets me interested right away.

“The old lady had her back turned in that dress that looked like the curtains from some old school seventies porno.”

Note: This was awkward to read. To me it seem like she was wearing the dress backwards. Also, “old school” and “seventies” are redundant. Might read better like this: “An old lady, wearing a dress that looked like the curtains from some old school porno, had her back to me.”

Quote: “I looked at my stack of magazines on the table and wished I had listened to the part of me that said skip this house; something doesn’t feel right, and not the part of me that told that part to go f#$% itself because I needed to sell magazines to make rent.”

NOTE: I understood he was a magazine salesman from the first part of the sentence. I’m not sure the second part helps move the story or delay it. You can get the same information and lose the middle of the sentence.

“I looked at my stack of magazines on the table and wished I had listened to the voice in my head that said, “Skip this house, it doesn’t feel right.” but rent is due.”

–OR-

“I wish I had listened to the voice in my head that said, “Skip this house, it doesn’t feel right.” But I need to sell the magazines, now sitting on the table, to make rent.”


Quote: “Whatever she was grating smelled like nutmeg, but the sound grated my nerves.”

Note: This is probably a bad note; but, the play on words “grating” and “grated” bothered me for some reason,.


Quote: “I wanted to choke the b#$%@. I heard the words, “I’d love some" come from my mouth, but they weren't mine.”

Note: I’m note sure what he wanted to choke. Was it the “#$%@ out of her” or something like that? You can also keep the action moving by losing, “I heard” and just went with “I’d love some” came from my mouth but the voice wasn’t mine. Is it the words aren’t his, as he would say something else or the voice wasn’t his?


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