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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Jonah's House - dark fiction - 1700 words

Author Topic: Jonah's House - dark fiction - 1700 words
Member # 9718

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This is a dark fiction short story, around 1700. It's been rejected a couple of times. I'd like to know if the first 13 lines grab you. Any feedback is welcomed. Also, if anyone cares to review the complete story, please let me know.

“We shouldn’t go in there.” Tracy spun a lock of auburn hair around a finger and shifted in place. “Are you sure it’s even empty?”
Jonah Fret smiled. Sometimes his girlfriend surprised him. He knew she’d be hesitant, but she looked downright scared. “No one’s lived here in over thirty years.”
The rusted gate hinges groaned against the intrusion. Jonah settled his arm around Tracy’s waist and urged her forward, down the cracked sidewalk.
A nearby street light cast a glow upon the property. A caretaker trimmed the grass, watered the flowers, and kept a fresh coat of paint on the wood. Grime-covered windows supplied the only signs of abandonment. Shafts of light escaped through slivers of uncorrupted glass.

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Member # 9700

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I have to admit it does not grab me. It reads the like the start of a Jason or Freddy movie. The idea that it's been vacant for 30 yrs, but still has a groundskeeper seems hard to swallow (though that may lead somewhere later - this early it just seems out of place). Between Tracy's comment and the evidence of a grounds keeper, are you trying to have the reader side with her that the house might not be empty? Also, why would a groundskeeper paint the house, but not clean a window?

Jonah doesn't seem surprised when the narration says he is. Nothing Tracy says or does seems surprising to me as a reader, either. His next thought says he was expecting a similar reaction, so I'm not sure why he would feel surprised by a reaction he expected.

You seem to be trying to build a dark atmosphere but neither person (even the scared Tracy) reacts to the groaning gate. There seems to be a disparity between the atmosphere you want to convey and how that atmosphere is affecting the characters.

Sorry, I hope that helps some.

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Member # 7912

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I agree about the inconsistency of the groundskeeper...if it is significant in some way, you may want to hint at it more strongly...otherwise, I'd cut him.

I think I understand what you mean about the surprise...she is more affected by the circumstances than he expected, although the depth of her feeling could probably be displayed more strongly.

Also, while there isn't a whole lot "new" here, the writing flows well. This is why I don't really like trying to comment on 13 lines in a vacuum...especially horror stories of this sort. Without knowing what's going on, its hard to comment in a useful manner on what you might add. Go ahead and send the whole story to me.

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Member # 9718

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Treamayne - Yes that is helpful. Thank you for taking the time to look over.

Merlion-Emrys - The grounds keeper could be cut easily. I'm sending the story your way now. Thank you for taking the time. I'm thinking it may need more character building and perhaps a pov scene from Tracy. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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