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Penh's picture


By Penh in Scare Us

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ChokingGame's picture
ChokingGame from New York is reading American Psycho July 6, 2012 - 8:23pm

Oh, I so very much enjoyed this.  Your opener is breathless, your pacing is wonderful, your violence is visceral.

My only critiques are these:

1) The two backpacks they find at the hole -- I was anticipating a reveal of the hikers' corpses.  It's a great set-up.  Also, you do a great job of setting up these creatures (and how dangerous they are) in the beginning -- don't be in such a rush to bring them out again.  Make us wait for them.  

2)  I wish I knew more of where these things came from, what they are.  They're disgusting and they're violent but they lose that "bigger picture" creep factor because I don't know anything about them.

Good work, Brian!

Andrew Kelly's picture
Andrew Kelly from Florida is reading Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton July 6, 2012 - 8:48pm

That was good...that was good.

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks July 6, 2012 - 9:36pm

This is really great. I love your writing. It's vivid and amazing. And I love that you begin right in the middle of the violence and don't let up. I love the voice of the narrator. Yes, we have no idea where these big hairy things come from, but neither does the narrator and he doesn't have time to think about it. I loved the last line. To sum it up: I loved your story, and I don't even like this kind of thing.

Chad Stroup's picture
Chad Stroup from San Diego is reading Primal Screamer by Nick Blinko July 8, 2012 - 11:22am

Pretty great overall. I identified with a lot of this and there are even portions of it that felt like ones I could have written (it seems we both have an affinity for dark humor and crazed, unique metaphors).

My only complaint: the almost complete absence of dialogue. I think there are certainly some stories out there that can get away with little to no dialogue. I don't think this is one that does, though. It would help to develop the characters so much if they interacted with each other via more dialogue (we really only get a slight glimpse of this at the end), and it would matter more when they died. As it is now, I know nothing about any of these guys, so their deaths are somewhat meaningless. Plus, I'd love to see the sorts of dialogue you'd come up with. It could take this story to the next level. It's a fun romp as it is, but it could have extra depth with further character development.

Joseph Nassise's picture
Joseph Nassise from Phoenix is reading Too many books to list July 9, 2012 - 1:07pm

I'm sorry to say that I had some difficulties with this one.  I think the concept and the general storyline were fine; it was some details in the execution that I had difficulty with and they spoiled my enjoyment of the piece as a result.

1. To begin with, you've got a problem with the narrative voice in the first paragraph.  You start out with what seems to be an omniscient narrator - the first three sentences are referring externally to Frank rather than being through Frank's viewpoint. You then switch to Frank's viewpoint in the fourth sentence ("He felt") which creates an odd resonance in the text.  Deeper into the story you might have gotten away with it; here in the opening paragraph it stands out quite sharply.

A few simple pronoun changes would fix this:

"Indirectly, it was Hector who saved him, probably the first useful thing that fuck-up had ever done in his life, though to be nitpicky, he hadn't actually done it during his life. It was Hector’s blood and brains that were dripping into his burning eyes as he fled through the woods, blinding him to the root that sent him sprawling to the ground as the creature that had launched itself at his head missed him by inches. It recovered quickly, rolling twice in clumsy somersaults before springing to its feet and whirling to face him, who may have been half-blind, but when you've got a shotgun and your target is four yards away and running straight at you, aiming is greatly simplified. Frank felt like he was moving in carefully choreographed slow motion as he dragged his shotgun around, sighting down the barrel at the shrieking mass of claws and teeth that filled his vision."

Those simple changes put the entire opening squarely into Frank’s perspective and makes it read much easier, eliminating that odd resonance that comes from an unnecessary change in viewpoint.

2. You have a habit of using the same sentence structure to start many of your paragraphs.  Go back through the piece and notice how many times you use a phrase-comma-phrase structure to start a paragraph or a sentence.  There are quite a few of them and they create a built-in rhythm to your piece that you might not want.   Examples include “Frank racked the shotgun,” followed in the next paragraph by “Once he felt somewhat recovered,".

3. You have several places where your pronouns are modifying the wrong object.  Take these two sentences for instance:

"Frank racked the shotgun, screaming in wordless fury at the thing's stubborn refusal to die, and shoved the barrel at it as he yanked on the trigger again. Its head unfolded backwards like time-lapse footage of a flower blooming, blood and meat flying in all directions."

The “thing” in the first sentence refers to the shotgun, not the creature.  The “head” in the second sentence refers to the barrel or trigger in the first sentence, not the creature.  Changing the order of your phrases would fix this.  You might also want to indicate that he actually hits the creature with the shot, because your wordage above makes it seems that the creature’s head unfolds backward because he yanks on the trigger. (You aren’t giving any indication the gun actually goes off, in other words.) 

Here’s an example of what I mean:

“Screaming in wordless fury at the creature’s stubborn refusal to die, Frank racked the shotgun and shoved the barrel forward as he yanked on the trigger again.  This close he couldn’t miss.  The creature’s head unfolded backwards like time-lapse...”

4. My biggest issue, however, came from the climactic moment at the end of the battle.  Perhaps I was misunderstanding your description, but as near as I can tell the move Frank uses to kill the final creature isn’t physically possible.

Here is the section I’m referring to:

"...he drew the shotgun back like he was preparing to knock a lazy slow pitch over the back fence. Everything slowed down again, and he could feel exactly how it would go, like he was playing through a well-rehearsed scene. As he drew near the creature, the other one arrowing toward him from the left, he suddenly reversed his swing, spinning around clockwise instead, bringing the shotgun around in nearly a complete circle. The creature had already started dodging the expected blow from the other direction, and leaped into the butt of the shotgun as Frank swung it with all his might.”

So Frank has the gun in the ready position, pulled back over his shoulder like a batter standing at the plate.  Let’s say it is his right shoulder, since you don't specify. He reverses his swing, bringing the gun around in a circle – which means instead of switching hands he actually brings the gun around from the opposite direction. If he has the gun over his right shoulder, he would normally swing from right to left.  Reversing that means he spins to the right, coming in on the creature’s right as well, bringing himself around in a full circle.  This not only presents his back to the oncoming creature but PREVENTS him from swinging the gun – go ahead and try it.  The grip prevents any kind of momentum from being attached to the swing as your arms get twisted up.  No momentum means no skull-crushing blow.

Even if I am misunderstanding what you are trying to describe here (which is certainly a possibility) you still have a problem because the character’s big moment is confusing.  The confusion steals the thunder away from it and leaves the reader feeling let down, rather than fulfilled.

Had I been reading this as an anthology submission, I wouldn’t have gotten past that first paragraph and would have rejected the story as a result.


SoulBoulder's picture
SoulBoulder from Chicago is reading The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotions July 9, 2012 - 1:07pm


The story has a lot of potential. Four friends having fun when something terribly goes wrong. Perfect set-up...unfortunately, I felt like I didn't get to see the realtionship dynamic between the four freinds. Which left me reading pages of non-stop gore and guts and shotgun blasts. And since I didn't care about the characters (because I didn't really know them), all the action seemed carried-on and dull.

However,as for your creatures, I loved the concept of them and their intellegence. "chimpanzee's body into an iguana's skin and patched the tears with hair from a yak carcass . Its too-long arms hung loosely at its sides, wicked claws tipping each finger"  -Great!

As great as some of the description, I did notice many cliche metaphors that was throwing me away from the horror.

  • it had to be the most beautiful sight in the world 
  • panted like a dog in August  
  • bursting his head like a melon 
  • hit him like a punch to the gut. 
  • lake of red 
  • like a precious teddy bear meant to ward off the monsters under the bed.

And one last feedback...since there is so much action, so much blasting and guts flying around, maybe writing the story in present tense would make the action even more intense since it's unfolding as we speak.

I enjoyed reading your story, I hope to see more.


szainabwilliams's picture
szainabwilliams from Los Angeles is reading Beyond Good and Evil July 16, 2012 - 4:01pm

I thought this was a fun, fast-paced piece. It's obvious you put a lot of thought into your descriptions. "Greasy pink coils" and "time-lapse footage of a flower blooming" were my favorites.

I also would've liked to know more about the creatures and the characters. I knew more about Sean than the main character, Frank, and in effect found myself more concerned that Sean would make it out alive.

Overall, your story is quite the entertainer!