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There are rumours flying around of Vampires in the city, after a number of reports of people being bitten in their sleep.
To Marshall it all sounds crazy, but it is just possible that the girl he met last night - the girl of his dreams - is a vampire too?
This is a complete departure from anything I've written before. It's been fun writing it, I hope you enjoy it too!
Happy Arrest Us!
This was fun. Wasn't sure where you were going with this at first but figured it would be somewhere along the lines you went. Still, a little different which kept it interesting.
One thing I noticed you had characters crying a lot. I mean not really but you tagged their dialouge with he cried. The simple exclamation point or punction would suffice. Maybe he/she said. When you use cried instead of cried out(which still isn't great, but I think that's what you were implying) it makes me ask myself as a reader why that character would be crying. If tears aren't really strolling down there face when they say it then I'd avoid using that tag.
Other than that the prose was good. It flowed well and the pacing was real good too.
I only had a tiny bit of a problem with your plot. I liked it a lot but was confused with the ending. So this woman has been steeling blood for her mom. Oh wait, she's just testing the blood to find an organ? So was she going to steal his? He was offering blood at the end. I guess my main confusion is, if she needs the blood, then drugged, drunk blood wouldn't help much. My conclusion was she was going to donate her own organ but still needed blood. Stealing it the way she did wouldn't work. She should know if she's a doctor. So was her plan to get him to volunteer all along? I guess I'd be a bit more satisfied if I knew what she were up to. But all in all, it was very entertaing. Nice work and good luck.
Thanks so much for the review, and I'm really glad you enjoyed it! I got a stinker of a first review last year so I'm already much happier :-) I've made a couple of tweaks to the vocab, but I've not changed the ending for two reasons. Firstly (the easy way out) - it'll take me while to rethink it, and I don't have time tonight! Secondly - I was hoping the vaguity might reflect her desperation, in that she's willing to try anything. It'd be cool to get thoughts from others too on whether they think it's too vague so that I know how much to update the ending in future edits!
Cheers for the tips,
Not bad, but I'm looking for a more tension, suspense, and intrigue in a mystery. Read easily and clearly, so complaints with the skill, but the plot needs some juice (no pun intended).
Is there a reason why some paragraphs are indented and other are not? Feel like I might be missing out on something...
Thanks for the read and the comments. The indentation is a standard method I think - if you are still on the same subject you indent a new paragraph, if you change tack you dont indent. I maybe use it a bit more than most authors, I guess its likely to be subjective!
Cheers for the feedback :-)
This is a pretty good idea. Parts of this read like it's a first draft that could do with polishing, and there are one or two awful lines that I've flagged up in the LBL and all but begged you to cut, but overall I enjoyed this. You make good use of the open ending, leaving it to the reader's imagination whether or not the proceedure goes horribly wrong.
I'd also rethink the blood transfusion idea a little bit. I've put this in the LBL too, but draining blood out of someone's neck is not as controllable or easy as most vampire films/stories would have us believe. If she used a needle and went deep enough to get the sample she described out of him, it would probably have had more of an effect on him than it did. Plus if she'd then drained out what's in those bags you show at the end, I think his hangover would have been worse.
Now that I think of it, you can't donate blood in real life if you've been drinking because it might have an adverse affect on the person who receives it if there's alcohol content. Considering she's giving this to a woman who's got liver problems, I don't think she'd allow him to either drink or be drunk before she carried out her plan. She'd have to sedate him to stop the whole thing from waking him (and you hint that she did because he fell asleep so easily) but the drinking thing might be a problem. Unless of course she was that desperate for the blood, or even wanted her mother to have blood with a nip of booze in it because it helped the withdrawal (don't know if that would work - perhaps you should actually ask a doctor about these details as research, if you get chance. That kind of research might enrich this story.)
I think the build-up in this story is very obvious and doesn't create much tension though. The story's strength lies in its surprise ending, but until then I felt like I knew what was going to happen. News article at the start + trip to a club + 'girl of my dreams' = uh-oh, she's gonna get him! The whole forumla's a bit tired. Perhaps you should actually cut the news excerpt from the start and change this story's 'Story Description' so that it doesn't mention vampires at all. That's the easiest fix. Lead us through a mystery, then when your guy sees he's got bire marks, and we've had all the gothic detail from Letitia's house, then the word 'vampire' can come out to play.
LBL attached. Hope this helps. -C.
Wow, you've put some effort in - that's an awesome critique! I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and your feedback is really useful! Always get new perspectives from someone whose head isn't in the story. There quite a few things to think about for a later rewrite. I was hoping people might just go with the drugs / alcohol in the blood thing, thinking she's desperate and quite a bit may have worn off overnight. It seems to bother people though so I may have to rethink! One other point you made was that she took rather a lot from him - I had envisaged that the fridge contains blood from a few people (it keeps a while allegedly) so that obviously isn't clear! I may pester you for some more thoughts after the comp if more people concur on a few of the things you've pointed out!
Thanks a lot for your feedback and advice mate, it's much appreciated!
This was an interesting idea, and a nice twist on the crime genre. The detail and setup was nicely conceived, although there were a few issues with your prose, for example:
That could easily be simplified to something like:
I liked the media hype about vampires, suggesting this girl has been doing this a lot. The chat up scene was good, although a little more show and a little less tell would benefit you here. Your narrator turning up with garlic and a stake was quite amusing, and her reaction to it was great. The ending reveal felt a little rushed, but was a good idea. I figured she wasn't a vampire but I didn't see your ending coming. A bit of work and you'll have something brilliant.
Thanks for the feedback and the useful tips Seb - glad you liked it!
This was a cute enough story, but I agree with some of the others that it feels under developed and more like a first draft.
I liked a lot of Marshall's voice, but at times it seemed to wavered and become non descript. He was strongest to me when he was at the bat with his friends, but when it was him and Leticia, his voice suffered. I think you need to try to develop Marshall and Leticia some more, give them a more define voice. Right now, Leticia is driven solely by the plot, so she doesn't seem like a fully realized character. I was also expecting Sian to have more of an impact considering how much you focus on her in the beginning.
A lot of the story right now feels like fluff that can be cut off. I would completely get rid of the beginning paragraph and the whole idea that Marshall is watching the television and thinking back to the previous day. It really doesn't add much to the story, and all that information can be dropped through dialogue, which might seem more natural. There really isn't much tension in this story right now, and I find that at least for me, that's often the case with stories that start off with the MC reminiscing. Not saying it can't be done, but in this case, you might be better served just to keep us all in the moment.
A few more things you can cut off:
The beer and conversation flowed easily. A couple who had lived in our shared house a few years before joined us late, and it was inevitable that it was going to be a big night.
“Hey Marshall,” grinned the skinhead on the door. “Must be payday, good to see you!”
“Are we that predictable?” I asked, taking his outstretched hand.
“Like clockwork mate. Busy tonight, have a good one.”
Things like this don't really add much to the plot and drag the story down. In fact, why not just start them off in the second club that Leticia hangs around with and put most of their dialogue there?
The tought situation of your story is that you push the vampire angle so strong early on, that my initial reaction was to try to figure out how this was NOT going to be a vampire story. I'm almost tempted to say that you should drop that angle entirely- you can still have Leticia do what she's doing, but let the reader come to the conclusion about vampirism, rather than merely telling us about it.
There also needs to be more tension. I think right now the tension is suppose to lie on whether Marshall is indeed turning or not, but like I said, I wasn't expecting that to happen at all, so that felt flat to me.
I did like when he tries to confront her with the stake and cross, and wished you would have extended that out a bit more. It's funny stuff. You could even add more tension here by having the reader wonder if he's going to kill her or not (which is where I originally thought you were heading with this).
My advice would be to get rid of all the extraneous stuff and focus on Leticia and Marshall. As I said, this is a good start that will hopefully grow as you revisit it.
I ll be honest, there were quite a few things that didnt work for me and I am going to randomly list them below:
1) The writing style in this piece is too generic, especially in the begining. Since the narrative is in the first person this also makes your protogonist sound boring. The dialog and the narrative sounded too similar which also started to make your characters sound similar. The writting style would have worked in the third person with a few more elements that added suspense. I did notice that the dialog got better towards the end of the story though.
2) Too much telling. You've probably heard this from the other reviewers, but there were atleast 2 occasions of massive info dumps in these 3000 words. These could have easily been shown through some interesting dialog and wordplay.
3) No feelings. The writing style was very factual and also dry for a first person narative. That might work in certain type of stories, but it doesnt work with most. What I am trying to say is that things sounded like they had being written in a journal or reported in a newspaper.
"I didn’t even realise I had been staring until Sian kicked me in the shin."
This could have been written as:
"I wouldn't have even realised I was staring if it hadn't been for the sharp pain in my shin thanks to Sian's stiletto. Painful bloody things when you kick with them."
4) Your protogonist wasn't believable. He starts out sounding pretty run of the mill and boring - Which is fine because not everyone is self driven and fantastic with women and goes spelunking with Bruce Wayne - but he also sounds like an intelligent, reasonable guy which were his plus points. This makes it really hard to believe that he would jump the gun and come back with a stake and the rest of the vampire hunting arsenal without some sort of concrete evidence. Maybe if someone would have pushed him and influenced, but I couldnt believe he would come to this conclusion himself and more so have the balls to attack the vampire himself. He needed more development to make his decision believable.
I am sorry if I seem harsh, but if I can't be honest then there wouldn't be much sense in having this writing event where we all get together and share our knowledge to improve.
Thanks for your comments guys! I'll consider them all in the next version!
Fun is the first word that comes to mind for me, too. It was a very enjoyable read. I didn't expect the mislead to have gone on for the entire thing up until the last page. Cool ending. Upvoted for sure.
Feel free to check out my story if ya want: http://litreactor.com/events/arrest-us/born-again-packaging
Thanks Max, glad you enjoyed it! I'll give yours a read in a bit.
You did Incy Wincy Holocaust last time out, right? That had a good idea, and a good twist, but this one is a step up in quality.
I agree that it feels like an earliyish draft, and could do with a little more in the way of development. What you have here is a solid foundation that you have started to build on, but it’s not quite complete. There are a few logic leaps. I like the idea of this girl getting blood, but I’d like to see her be less passive. She’d be better off actively seducing men, rather than letting them come to her. The stockpiling of blood makes a little sense, but again not from someone drugged and with alcohol in their system. I’m no doctor, but would a blood transfusion even help her mum in the long term?
I really would consider dropping the vampire stuff at the beginning, and letting the reader come to that conclusion as the story progresses. As it is, we‘re expecting him to get “bitten”, and we’re expecting a twist to the story. This is an intelligent person who turns up at her house with a stake and cross, so we need that slow build up as he starts to believe she really is a vampire. I’m not sure why Mum is hidden away in a cellar, it’s not illegal to be ill in that way, and there is no shame for her to be hidden away. Better if she’s behind a locked door rather than hidden away like that.
As it stands you have almost 2,000 words to play with, and I think you can develop this and build in more suspense. There is a nice idea at play here, and I think with some more love you can turn this into something very good. Keep plugging away!
Thanks - and I'm pleased you remember my last entry too!
You're right in that this is a fairly early draft, so all the suggestions I've had off people are going to be really useful. From having lots of comments about it, I definitely do need to deal with the drugged blood thing somehow, I did hope that her desperation to try anything would come across and it wouldn't matter but it clearly does! It may also only be a small sample of the blood used which is drugged, dilution may help? I don't know - I'm not a doctor either!!
In terms of her Mum being hidden away in the cellar - she needs to be because the equipment being used to treat her is stolen. I think I may only have mentioned this in passing so I'll definitely bring it out.
Thanks for your vote and suggestions, there are some really good tips in there - and I'm glad you liked it!
Returing the review,
Here's a few things for me that popped up that i hope helps you
"My head was banging, my limbs ached, and there was a terrible dull pain in my neck from the arm-rest my head had been on. I looked at my phone, it was the middle of the afternoon. I must’ve passed out and been gone for a long time. But now I had that need to get home to my own bed, so I stood up, and instantly felt dizzy and sick."
Now this is OK as is but could be better. Words and terms like My head was banging and ached and dizzy and sick are common and over used for physical descriptions, it's tricky but trying being more abstract. Don't know if you've read Chucks essay on this.
Section 2 did confuse me a bit in terms of events, he wakes up and gets a cab, the cabbie makes note of the blood on his clothes but his flatmates don't or see his neck.
Other than that section one is really well done, the nightclub section is really well done and buils tension well. As does the returning confrontation at the end when he confronts her and gets taken into the basement.
good stuff and aso really different
good stuff mate
Thanks for the feedback mate! Really useful comments and I'm glad you enjoyed it.
I've seen some of Chuck's essays but not made my way through them all yet!
double post doh!
I agree about taking out the vampire newscast bit at the beginning. It'll let readers piece it together themselves.
You could also have the narrator come to that conclusion early on, too. When he sees her at the club, maybe think to himself that she must be the vampire - otherwise why would she be talking to a schlub like him? - and then the rest of the story becomes a "Nah, she can't be...or could she?" tale, giving the twist even more impact.
And if you went that way, you could spend more time dwelling on his panic the morning after - will his friends know? Will he turn? (Etc.)
You've got a good idea here with lots of potential.
A kind of fun idea, treated alas in not a particularly fun way. You could and should have had a riot with this, as it is it's a bit dry, and despite mentions of mobile phones and all, sounds like something from the 80s, not 2010's (or whatever we're calling that nowadays...).
"As the television cut to the information-lacking interviews with random people on the street who were desperate to be on camera, my mind began to drift back to the previous night." - bit weak this - and as the first line proper, give it a little more oomph. Plus, "vox pop" is a thing, so use the term, or if you're being scathing, "vox pox"...
Next para is a bit ugh as well. Not convinced (yet) that a flash back is really necessary. It'd be a lot nicer to jump into conversations in the Red Lion, rather than spelling out the scene.
As we came up the steps from the subway - ugh, to enter the Subway club? Bad echo. Plus, subway? This in the US, or UK? Must be UK - nightclub is five pounds. So this is an underground road crossing? Somewhere that something dark and ominous can happen?
You then get to chatting to Leticia - which just allows you to infodump on us, and isn't chatting at all. All a bit dry, so far.
You could do a lot more with this bit : “So, I guess you’re coming home with me then?”
The lump in my throat came back again. I wouldn’t usually do this on the first meeting, but I would be stupid not to roll with it. “Errr yeah, I can do. That would be great.” I want the embarassment, the expectation, slight bafflement, maybe even a failed attempt at humour, and then her amused response. Plus, he's been drinking, and chatting to her for a while, so the idea that only when she stands does he realise she's the girl of his dreams...
This guy - doesn't try and put the moves on at all? Doesn't even think of it? This girl, who is presumably after only one thing... lets him drunkenly chat for ages? And even if the reason for this is that things are not what we expect, as a reader, we don't want to know that yet. I'd make the wine act a lot quicker. That shortcuts things. And given he's about to spark out, why does she try and jump his bones?
and closed myself into the safe solitude of my room. ?
I think you can do more with his flatmate's response. "Struck out... again!" or similar they might crow.
So, she seduces and then drugs strange men, takes their blood (how easy is to blood-type at home? How easy is it to do any of this after a number of Vodkas?) and then lets them wake up in the house, unattended? You could have had this him waking up in a dumpster, or park, but his mobile phone has GPS tracked where he's been that night, so he can find his way back. Or, he wakes up in the house, gets all freaked out, feels the spots on his neck, hears a noise (Leticia attending to her relative) and makes a run for it, only to return later on.
But ultimately you have to ramp up what is the short latter stages, the fear that he might be a vampire, the "clues" that she is, even the sourcing the stake (?) and garlic etc. We want the humour.
As it is, the illegality of the blood stealing isn't huge enough to make this particularly criminal, and do we accept that she's done this often enough for it to be a news story? (Better to have someone in the pub tell their friend of a friend story, to put the idea in his head.)
Get this right, and it's an entertaining gem. But alaso, it's not that yet.