First 13 of a 7,000 word story. Would you read on? Would anyone like to read?
"Melinda!" yelled Liselle, not quite drowning out the scream of fright and pain coming from her baby. Melinda sat unmoving in the dirt in front of the shack, too far out to be grabbed from the safety of the steps. Liselle cursed as she struggled to jam on her steel-soled shoes, cursing the voracious grubbies, cursing this god-forsaken planet, cursing her momentary lapse of attention that had allowed Melinda to tumble down the front steps. Oh, god, if any grubbies made their way inside her baby... She ruthlessly shoved that thought aside. She'd already had too many nightmares about being eaten alive that way. The left shoe was being stubborn again. Oh, how she hated those painful necessities -- the only thing that would stop grubbies.
Very interesting premise. I was hooked until you got around to the letting the reader know that the mother had set the child down within literally feet of a dangerous situation. Sorry, but as a mother, if there is a known danger, just feet away from my kid that kid would be glued to my hip AND there would certainly be some kind of gate or something on the porch. Even now we have child proof gates. I think you need to rethink that. However, I like your critters, the grubbies. If they are so voracious, their adult form must be really interesting.
Your intial lines are good and attention grabbing-- I'm still intriqued! Also, I had a problem with the steel soled shoes. They don't stop grubbies do they, as much as squish 'em? Or are you trying to say they stop the grubbie's from penetrating flesh? Would they penetrate through leather? Just seemed a bit extreme that these grubs can get through shoe leather, but not what ever the shacks are built from-- but again, I love your child in the midst of grubbies scene. Maybe because, as a mother, it speaks to that mother instinct to "Save the child, save my world."
I tend to agree, although my take on it would be that the mother would not delay to put on the anti-grubber shoes - every moment she does that, her baby remains in danger. I honestly think she'd be more likely to risk her own life to try and get to her child as quickly as possible.
Starting with dialogue and having two names in the first three words is immediately confusing about who's who, what their relationship is, and whose POV we are in. I think that could be handled more cleanly.
People short on money or resources often have to put their children in less than 100% safe environments. I'm not sure how old Melinda is, but I know my 23-month-old can boogie around quite a bit. So I just figured the tumble came after a bit of exploration on Melinda's part (maybe while Liselle was using the bathroom or something). So I have no problem with finding out Melinda tumbled down steps into a possible danger.
I do have a problem with Liselle not running out barefoot. If these grubbies are so fast that they can latch onto moving feet, why haven't they already burrowed into Melinda?
Good points -- especially about stopping to put on the steel-soled shoes. Yes, grubbies will go through shoe leather and plastic and wood -- you learn later that the shack is on metal stilts. But I can have Liselle pick off her own grubbies, too, to emphasize how nasty and fast they are. Maybe this first time crawling that far becomes the motivation for a gate of some sort.
I thought Melinda wasn't the baby until the third reading, when I realized she was. the reason I thought she wasn't was because you portray her as both wailing, and non-moving. Babies who are wailing are moving. non-moving is MUCH more frightening, honestly, because you just don't know if they're dead or severely hurt.
Agree that the slow process of putting on the steel shoes is too lengthy for a mom who is trying to save her baby. She'll dart into traffic, into a burning building, plunge her hand into pirhanna-infested waters for her baby. Your idea to send her out without boots to get her baby and then have to pick the nasties off herself and Miranda is a good one. Then we get a sense for what these little beasties are like so we know why their environment is the way it is. You can tell us about the steel boots later, after Miranda is saved.
Good luck! As with all feedback, take what works, leave the rest.
I 2nd or 3rd it, She should have ran to the child before putting on her shoes. Bottom line if not having shoes on meant death that quick then the child was already dead, but as a father, not sure that would even matter.