To read this story or to participate in this writing event, you only need a free account.
You can Login with Facebook or create regular account
To find out what this event is about click here

Mess_Jess's picture

Binoomea – Dark Places

By Mess_Jess in Scare Us

How It Rates

Voting for this event has ended
Once you have read this story, please make sure you rate it by clicking the thumbs above. Then take a few minutes to give the author a helpful critique! We're all here for fun but let's try to help each other too.


Jennifer goes back to the rural area she grew up in for the funeral of her lover, Zeke. After an emotionally traumatic funeral, she tries to clear her mind by doing something she loves - exploring the local limestone caves.

She succeeds in distracting herself from her misery, as her familiar haunt turns on her. 


Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce July 30, 2012 - 7:33am

I realised that I've uploaded a docx. file, and some people might not be able to read it. Doc. file attached! 

cdregan's picture
cdregan from outside of Philadelphia is reading The Corrections July 31, 2012 - 7:10am

Hey, I just finished your story. SPOILER ALERT for those who haven't yet read... 

1) New and interesting creature! Not sure how something like that could possibly evolve, but kudos for originality!

2) The first half of the story, although really well written, doesn't add a context to the horrible second half. Maybe if you start with her at the cave mouth and have flashes into why she is there (still not really sure - to escape the cold? to escape her life? to be absorbed by something larger than her life?). Her hangover doesn't add to her circumstance (maybe she could escape because of her being 'off' from drinking the night before? Maybe she snuck a flask into the tour and the alcohol saves her? I suggest you spend your word count on building the tension while inside the cave. Maybe you could have your protag get a phone call just before she goes into the cave to establish an overview, and the phone breaks up later.

3) If you paint the behaviors (not so much the speech) of the tour guide to be more awkward and creepy (more show than tell) and let us SEE him as 'dangerous' instead of using your protag's thoughts to convince us - he would be more of a focus of the threat. Throw us off the scent even more than you already do. I kept wondering what kind of monster he actually was. Tricky. 

4) Be careful of word echoes. Yeah, yeah, I know, we're in a cave, but if you can avoid repeating words without sounding thesaurus-y, it just makes the reading experience smoother.

5) Knowing the constraints of the contest and knowing abstractly what was coming (deaths and monsters), the descent of your protag through the forest built tension for me - her isolation was reinforced, but THEN she checks in at the tourist center and it broke that tension wide open. You can use this to greater effect, I think, whether it was intentional or not. 

6) We don't know that we're in Australia until she starts describing her drive to the cave. It was a little hiccup. ("Oh, right, that's why she said 'arse' and the bartender said 'mate', okay")

7) 'Bartender' is one word. 

8) A tale well told, but what did your protag do to deserve the ending? Inject a little thematic focus on her reasons for being, why she might deserve her fate. It would just add a bit more fulfillment to the reader on some abstract psychic level. (Hypocritical me, I need to do this to my story now)

Well done! 

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce July 31, 2012 - 9:41am

Thanks for your feedback!

I had a friend on litreactor read over my story and give me their opinion on it before I submitted it, and he mentioned the same thing about the first half of the story and suggested it might be worth tying in Zeke's death to the caves. I didn't really tie it in at first because sometimes shit things just happen to normal people... and then when my friend mentioned it to me, I thought 'Yeah... I guess it's normal for people like their to be a reason for stuff, or it can all feel a bit futile, or what's the point? I made a very vague patchwork attempt in the last scene where she dies to imply there was a link, but by that stage I had writing fatigue. You know when you just don't want to look at your story again for a week or so? I really like your suggestion of starting in the caves, and having a flashback... hope you don't mind if I end up borrowing this!

Also, good thoughts on the tour guide, I'll give that a shot in my next draft, and think about icky, creepy behaviour for him in the meantime.

Thanks again for your feedback, it was very valuable and I appreciate the time you spent on it.


sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres July 31, 2012 - 11:31pm

Note: when I first read the description, my eyes played a trick on me and read it to say "She succeeds in distracting herself from her misery, as her familiar haunt turns her on."  Needless to say, I expected something much different.

My misunderstanding aside, this is a good story.  I like that it wasn't an obvious monster, even as the situation began unfolding.  I also really like that it's unexpected.  It's not set up from the beginning, starting with a creepy scenario, then just building off what has been established.  It's a believable set-up: a girl is depressed, she wants to take her mind off things, she resorts to doing something that has made her happy in the past.  Then BANG, bad things start happening.  And in the end, the character we are brought to like and feel for dies, and the monster remains for future victims. You set the scene with a peaceful getaway, painting the picture of the beautiful environment , then unleash a monster.  All of these things are great, in my opinion, as they let the reader start feeling a sense of comfort in their imagined surroundings, then hit them with the horror.  And it's not like you're sacrificing story either, you're keeping the reader's interest with the notion of someone dead.  (sidenote: Audition is one of my favorite horror movies; it starts very tranquil, you feel bad for the main character, and then one thing happens and suddenly you're taken on a trip to hell).

A couple things: Al/Alex is a little lost on me.  I get the need to push the story forward and give a little info through conversation vs info-dump, but he appears and then disappears just as quickly. He matter-of-factly introduces that people have been disappearing in the area she says she's about to visit, but it becomes a non-issue very quickly.  In my opinion, either build his character a tiny bit more, or drop him.  Jennifer can still create who Zeke was in her description of her memories.  

Did Zeke really die by slipping on ice and falling?  At one point, hey, that happens.  People die in "sillier" ways everyday.  I wonder if there's a slightly more tragic way he could have died that possibly links to the monster we see later, and adds to the overall shock of his death.  Or maybe not.  I'm split here.  The fact that he died, and Jennifer is back for his funeral, seems to set the stage enough, so maybe it doesn't need to be more tragic.  I'll let you decide on that one.

Going along these lines, when the death keeps getting brought back up by the tour guide, I guess it just seems he'd mention it more if it was shocking, as opposed to a simple accident.  Alex pointed out that "tourists," plural, had been disappearing, but the tour guide makes no mention of that.  Would he really bring up the fact that some random local slipped on the ice and died recently?

I agree with the earlier comment, "show" more that the tour guide is kind of a creep.  We get it, but it would be more effective if we see it as opposed to hearing Jennifer's thoughts telling us he is.  It would create even more of a "red herring" for us to wonder about.  Especially since she already compared him to Norman Bates.  And later, when he says he is "very pleased" she's finishing the tour, it'd be even creepier.

I almost want one of the Japanese couple to be killed by the monster, and then when the tour guide tries to get them out, they discover all the spots of the cave that "didn't belong there."  Not necessary to change that though, since it again builds up up for a moment thinking they got attacked, then eases us back to calm before the storm.

I like this a lot, and I definitely want to read more of what you write.  



David Ireland's picture
David Ireland from London is reading Confessions of an English Opium-Eater August 1, 2012 - 2:36am

Hey, I'd start off by saying that this is really well put together, you clearly have a talent for writing. Everything was convincing and realistic and I enjoyed reading the story very much.

I didn't read the comments above before I read the story but, having read them now, I agree with many of the points raised.

As Fitzgerald (apparently) said, along with many others, 'action is character'. It's hard, when you're writing something where you spend so much time in the head of the main character - but there were opportunities throughout to create deeper character through action rather than internal thought.

Also, I'd agree that the story arc as a whole could be looked at, in order to tie the two, slightly dislocated halves.

I do think you have something here, I'd like to read your second draft!


OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz August 1, 2012 - 6:02am

Hi Jess,

I liked that the monster/creature wasn't your typical ghouly beast - rather what seemingly appears to be an inanimate object. I thought the descriptive language of the water coursing through the guide's veins was very well done and I could easily picture that scene in my mind. Well done.

With that said, the story does feel to be almost two separate stories married into one. I'd like a little more continuity. I think you need to bring a little more significance to Zeke. I'm guessing the cave got the best of him since Jennifer feels him (and now maybe they finally get to be together) but this is a little unclear as it says he slipped on black ice. Was his body recovered? Was his body actually at the wake or was it taken by the caves? 

In any case, if you tie these two together, it could work really well. It currently reads as a nice slow burner, with tension building. But if you strengthen some of your themes early on, it could be that much stronger. It currently seems a little convenient - she just wants to go to the caves to "be one with nature" or maybe just because she's home. But really build up why she needs to go to the caves. What is she really looking for there? How are those caves going to help her heal?

Also, minor - but if something didn't trip Ms. Lam - then why did the cave let her go? This isn't a huge point, but just something that some readers may end up asking. May be worth thinking about. 

Thanks for submitting!


Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce August 1, 2012 - 11:56am

Sean, David & Jason - thanks for reading my story and providing useful and indepth feedback. I know it takes time, so I'm really appreciative you made the effort.

@Sean - haha! I debated copying and pasting the sex scene into the description to see how much interest it garnered, but figured that would be a bit silly given it's one tiny piece of the story. I'll have to check out Audition, I haven't seen it (or heard of it before!).

@Sean & Jason - I'll have a think about a darker way, more linked to the caves death for Zeke. Reflecting on it now... slipping on black ice is not how a local would die, it's a tourist death. Seriously, tourists in Australia have a death wish. 'I can't swim, let's go to a beach that has a constant, heavy rip!' 'I'm not used to exercise, let's do an 8 k bushwalk without a GPS, without water and in 35 degree heat!' I digress - linking Zeke's death would help with continuity, rather than having it as a kind of 'shit happens' scenario. 

@Sean & David - you guys both raise the same point as cdregan about more 'show' rather than 'tell' with setting up the tour guide as the potential monster. So this is something I'll have to work on in the next draft. I'll have to think up some creepy tics or traits for him. Right now I think he's just a cave nerd, you know - the sort that collects minerals and googles furries, not particularly menacing if Jennifer wasn't thinking he was menacing! I'll work on this...

@Jason - re: Jennifer's motivation for going to the caves, maybe it could be one of Zeke's favourite places, so she goes back to feel close to him? I need to have more of a think about that one...

Thanks again for reading!



sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres August 1, 2012 - 3:25pm

googles furries!!! yes!

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce August 1, 2012 - 3:58pm

Is it bad we both know what furries are?

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres August 1, 2012 - 4:48pm

yes...yes it is

Naomi Mesbur's picture
Naomi Mesbur from Toronto, Ontario, Canada is reading Burn Baby Burn Baby by Kevin T. Craig August 1, 2012 - 9:39pm

Beautifully written, Jess! you can save a couple of words since "bartender" is one word. I too found the first part disjointed from the latter part, and found myself wondering what the affair had to do with the end.

Maybe it's just my love of Cronenberg films, but as soon as the guide said not to touch the sides, I figured out your creature. That didn't take anything away from the story for me at all, though. Good show. Thanks.

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce August 2, 2012 - 9:08am

Thanks Naomi! At the moment I'm debating two ways to go with the next draft - whether to make the caves something Zeke loved, or something Zeke and Jennifer used to do together... or whether to link Zeke's death to the caves. Still mulling over it...

You know, not touching the walls wasn't even something I thought of! It's actually what you get told every single time you go through the caves. The oils in our skin do actually ruin the caves and stain the crystal formations permanently.  Hrm. Maybe I should take out that part so it doesn't give the game up too quickly! I don't think any reader (apart from an Australian limestone cave nerd) would be too bothered by taking out that section from the cave rules.


Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson August 2, 2012 - 11:11am

I didn't catch that either, re touching the walls. It's always something you hear on cave tours, though, so I liked that you included it.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 2, 2012 - 4:35pm

I actually liked that about the wall. the way you have it written now doesn't indicate that the tour guide is in cahoots with the monster or even aware of it. It just sounds like something a tour guide would say.

Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson August 2, 2012 - 11:08am

Great story! I like the early character development of Jennifer and don't feel like it's at odds with the rest of the story, and I appreciated the long build-up toward the horror at the end. The monster is intruguing and I like the detail about how it kills its victims. 

The tour guide didn't feel creepy to me; he felt like a lonely dude who's really into caves, and your protagonist is reading all sorts of things into this because she's insecure and kind of bitchy (at least that's how I read her based on the first half). When he put the lights out I couldn't help but think "they're just inviting lawsuits here", and then I wondered whether Jennifer had to sign a release.

I don't feel like her death has to be explained. I get it, bad things happen. Maybe it's an allegory for her guilt. I don't know. But I did find Zeke's death by "slipping" a little odd. Did he slip and fall off a cliff? Slip and get run over by a car? Or did he really just slip and fall? 

One thing that stood out to me: the Japanese couple with the surname "Lam". Not a realistic surname as Lam isn't a Japanese word. 

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce August 2, 2012 - 4:00pm

Hey Emma,

Thanks for your feedback and the positive comments.

I had a good giggle about your legal comments. I quit my job as corporate counsel this year and it's one of the best things I ever did for my happiness. Australia is not nearly as litigious as the US, probably due to the specifics of its common law system. The tour guides turn the lights off constantly in the caves to try and give tourists a scare, but they always warn them, and they only do it for about 20 seconds. I'm going to do an AUSTLII search on these caves in a minute, you've peaked my interest now...

I'm still mulling over what to do with Zeke's death... hoping to decide in the next day or two and start re-drafting next week.

Lam was sloppy of me, thanks for picking it up. I didn't think twice about it honestly. I just googled it and it's Chinese. Now I feel culturally ignorant! I'll definitely change this.

Thanks again,



Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson August 2, 2012 - 4:09pm

Honestly, I only know about the name issue because I speak Japanese. No worries!

My husband is in law school right now and is constantly pointing out liabilities so I guess I've picked up that trait. It must be nice to live somewhere that isn't so knee-jerk-litigious. Good for you, quitting your job! I did the same a year ago- poor but happy.


Scott MacDonald's picture
Scott MacDonald from UK is reading Perfidia August 2, 2012 - 11:45am

Liked this very much.  I really enjoyed the set up with the affair and her loss.  It made her very human and, for me anyway, added an extra element of loneliness to what was a very lonely death. 

I did feel that the reading pace was broken up a bit by couple of phrase repeats that were used a bit too quickly on the heels of each other ("crystal formations" and "wet forest" are the two that immediately spring to mind).

I really liked the cave setting and I liked the diversionary tactic of one of the other tourists falling.  And I really liked your monster, something incredibly primeval about the caves and the water that cast her earlier grief and loss, (which would be very traumatic) as something (relatively) insignificant in the face of a threat that felt aeons old.

And definitely, not a nice way to go.

Very enjoyable.

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce August 2, 2012 - 4:09pm

Scott, thanks for your thoughts. You know, I thought the same about the crystal formations and wet forest when I was writing it. I think I got too hung up on using accurate descriptions of nature, rather than making it flow more smoothly. Will add to the re-draft list...


Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 2, 2012 - 5:03pm

Jess, this was a great read and i get what the others are saying about the two halves. Both are extremely well written and while it didn't bother me at all maybe there is a way to pull them together a little more tightly.

About the tourguide: I think you wrote him really well actually. i don't think that he needs to actually be creepy. I feel that might take away from Jennifer. You built a very real charachter with her and what really drew me in during the cave seen was that your lonley, somewhat insecure and uptight charachter, imagines the worst of someone who just happens to be a little odd and nerdy. You can definately add to her thought that he probably googles furries Lmao. Make that come from her though.

I'm conflicted between what David and Emma said. Emma says the slow build up until the finally was great and i agree. It really worked. David said it needs more action. And i think it could benefit from a little more lol. Like i said, I'm conflicted.

In response to Cdregans #4. I'm going to have to disagree a bit. The one "echo" that stands out is "electric blue". And i love it. When someone describes something as electric blue, then later it's bright blue, royal blue, or any other blue it kind of bugs me lol. If the water is electric blue i always want it to be electric blue. Plus the color and the repetition of it gives the water a pulse and when it takes over Jeniffer, I imagined she felt the electricity. If you did want to delete the repetition i would consider shock blue or current blue to stick with the theme. But i personally enjoyed it especially since Jeniffer was in a cave.

Not sure if this works at all but it's a thought. If you do want there to be a clear connection between Zeek, Jennifer, and the Cave. You could change the flashback of the sex scene to a cave rather than a park bench. Not sure if that works or not.

Thanks for subbmitting this Jess. I really liked the style and the charachters. Can't wait to read the next draft. Or anything else you have written.




Pushpaw's picture
Pushpaw from Canada is reading Building Stories by Chris Ware August 2, 2012 - 5:28pm

Wow, that's one crazy creative monster. About as close as you can get to an inorganic creature, I think. A lot of beautiful descriptions in this piece. The whole scene where she goes to the caves flows really well and was my favourite part. You seemed most in your element in the more "literary" parts of the story, when you were basically narrating about a character and her troubles and describing the setting.

I've attached a file with some comments - just suggestions. The main one relates to the narrator. I wonder if this story would be served by making it first person, told by Jennifer. Her voice was the most compelling part of the story for me, so I figure it can only make it even more compelling.

Thanks for sharing!

Btw-I like Margaret Atwood too (in response to your review of my story earlier) - and I was actually thinking of Oryx and Crake when I wrote it.

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks August 3, 2012 - 6:30am

I like your main character, and her original situation is very interesting. I wanted to know more about her relationship with Zeke and more about how she's handling his death. In other words, I was in the middle of a well-written realistic story that had really grabbed me. Suddenly, hung over and grief-stricken, your main character wants to go on a touristy expedition. This just doesn't ring true to me.Then, the story makes another leap into the horror part. That part doesn't ring true to me either. Is this how Zeke died too? We're led to believe so. But if so, how did the body get recovered? Could there have been a body? If anything had remained of Zeke, wouldn't someone have noticed something odd about his remains, and wouldn't this have gotten out? The tour guide is weird, too--aside from being the iconic WoW player who lives in his parents' basement and googles furries. He probably plays a furry. A druid furry. ( Friends Don't Let Friends Play WoW--tm) But I digress. All that about Norman Bates and maybe the guy wanting to be a real Druid was actually red herring territory. Can a story this short afford to work up a red herring this elaborate? I think you really write well--hence the thumbs-up--but I didn't believe this story and I really, really wanted to.

Sancho LeStache's picture
Sancho LeStache from El Paso is reading Hunger August 3, 2012 - 12:54pm

Your descriptions of everything are so vivid, I loved it. The death scenes were awesomely gruesome, too. I think the Zeke stuff would tie in a bit better with the second half if their relationship was kind of delved into a bit more. Both parts were still really good, but they didn't seem to relate too much after I thought about it. I adored everything that happened in the cave, though, so super thumbs up from me.

Shawn I.'s picture
Shawn I. from New York is reading Important Things That Don't Matter August 7, 2012 - 8:19am

You've got a solid foundation here for a good story. But like others have said, I'd like to see more of the cave and a little better explanation of the origin of your creature. I think linking it either to Zeke or to Jennifer's grief/guilt/shame would be a good way to go about it. Not to rewrite your story but if you changed the dynamic of the relationship where Zeke was the more dedicated of the two and couldn't live without her while Jennifer was the more aloof one it could be the reason for his need to consume her. That or perhaps, as someone else stated, use the caves as one of their rendez-vous locations. Maybe Zeke died at the caves on a day Jennifer didn't show up for one of their trysts.

As far as the writing, I made some notes on the attached file. I think the use of italics, bold face, and exclamation points would help rather than repeated use of underline. There w

I like the bar scene and how it explains and builds her grief. If you need to cut something out I would say remove the Japanese couple and maybe have the poor weather be the reason she is the only one on the tour.

Hope the comments help. Looking forward to reading more.

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce August 7, 2012 - 8:03pm

@jonathan thanks for the kind comments and feedback! I'm having a chuckle you're another one that knows what furries are (I think that makes us all nerds...) Do you reckon that would be lost on most readers? I'm not quite sure... That flashback idea to sex in the caves is a good one. I'll put it on my pondering list to the next draft. I just started writing in June, so hopefully I can get a few short stories together in the next few months.

@pushpaw Thanks! I had one of my girlfriends suggest turning it into a first person narrative from Jennifer's point of view as well. Truth be told, I've only done one first person short story (for a litreactor class in June), and I found it quite difficult. Maybe if I try again, have a bit of practice, it could work.

Also, isn't Oryx and Crake one of the best books ever? Crake is such a perfectly hate-worthy, evil genius.

@jane - I used to call myself a Widow of WoW. I had a boyfriend years ago who played obsessively. Though, is there any other way that WoW is played? Thanks for your comments, and the thumbs up! I will work on those 'believability' issues in my next draft. I'm hoping to get to it before the review period ends, but I'm not sure if I'll have time with a horribly busy week or two lined up.

@sancho - thanks for your comments. I've been trying to work on making my imagery more vivid, so your feedback has made me happy.

@Shawn - I read somewhere recently (and cannot remember for the life of me where) that short stories can really only hold a maximum of four characters. I think in redrafting this one, I'll employ that and get rid of Mr & Mrs Lam. Thanks for your comments, very much appreciated.


Joseph Nassise's picture
Joseph Nassise from Phoenix is reading Too many books to list August 31, 2012 - 5:33pm

Jessica - Congratulations on winning a critique!  I hope my notes prove helpful to you.

I have to be honest and say that this one just didn't do it for me.  You write well and have some solid descriptive passages that are in your favor.  However, there isn't any real underlying structure for a story here and that's a major problem for me. 

Stories are about things happening to people and how they react to those events.  They have, at their heart, some essential conflict that the character responds to and rallies against.  What you are here is essentially two big scenes with little connective tissue between them.  You have your "girl mourning in bar" scene and your "girl dying in cave" scene.  That's it.  There isn't any connection between the first and the second elements.

All the background information about Zeke is just that- background.  There isn't any real point to it other than telling us about Jennifer's emotional state - but that emotional state is irrelevant to the events that occur in the cave.  It is just extra information.

The reader is left with half a dozen questions about the creature itself - what is it, what is it doing there, why does it attack Jennifer?

And finally you have an issue of narration - you tell the story through Jennifer's viewpoint and yet when she is past all point of conscious awareness the story is still being told.

If you can find a way to tie the two scenes together in some cause and effect fashion, and deal with the issue of the viewpoint, you might have an interesting story.  Right now, it is just two fairly decently written scenes with the same character.

I've uploaded a marked up copy of the story with comments on grammar, word choice, etc.

Best - Joe Nassise

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce September 7, 2012 - 1:23pm

Hi Joe,

Thanks for reading my story and providing your critique. 

The main issue for my redraft is the story arc, like you pointed out, there kinda isn't one currently. I had this feedback from several litreactor reviewers, as you can see above. I just wish I had the time to do a redraft, either cutting Zeke from the story altogether and finding more motivation for the Caves creature creation to attack the protagonist, or to link his death to the Caves, before you did your critique. 

Thanks for pointing out the end part about the POV shifting. That's something I don't think any of us picked up, and it's a glaring error, now I can see it. I must admit, I've only been writing for a few months, so I have an enormous amount to learn, and the POV shifting is the thing that catches me the most. I find myself wanting to write in an ominiscient manner, and then I gravitate towards the third person point of view for one specific character. 

I did have a giggle at one of your comments. In Australia (I'm from there, I just moved to Canada in May this year), we always have the wake after the funeral, because it's custom to get utterly shitfaced at the wake. Couldn't have us all turning up drunk to the funeral!

Thanks again for your critique, it's very much appreciated.


Camo's picture
Camo from Norway November 11, 2012 - 2:40am

Hey, this is the start of something very cool, but it needs a bit of work. First, the good stuff. Original monster has been pointed out. I love the way it seems like the tour guide is the monster at first, but then he is killed by the real monster. It struck me that having your tour guide be even more creepy and threatening, possibly very dangerous, then having him eaten by the monster, underscores the badassedness of your monster. It eats other monsters.

You have some really nice descriptive passages.

You build authority with your knowledge about the Australian mountains and what-not, I don't know if all of it is true, but I believe you when you tell me.

What needs a bit of work is the story arc, which I think has been pointed out. Your set-up could relate more directly with what comes after, lending heart authority to the rest of the story. You should also consider how you can make us care more about the protag from the beginning, too. Maybe there was an aspect of her relationship to Zeke only she and Zeke knew about, something you can unfurl along as the story progresses in flashbacks, something that makes us think she is real and makes us care about her, and feel the loss of Zeke. Then, since you've already spent so many words on Zeke, use him for the rest of the story, maybe he comes in at the end, tries to save her somehow, and fails, but manages to tell the protag that one thing she needs to hear before she too is devoured.


These are just suggestions on how you can tie your story together more.


For me, underlining words, using !! and saying instead of showing, these things take me up to the surface again, remind me I am reading. I would take them out, since they draw attention to the artifice that is writing, as opposed to the real deal of being somewhere. Besides, your monster is more subtle, insidious, and your language would do well to reflect that, I think. Understated menace.


Anyway, thanks for the read, just what I needed this morning.


- Stian

ender.che.13's picture
ender.che.13 from Northwestern U.S. living in the southeast peach. is reading Ken Follett January 13, 2013 - 2:16pm

While I agree that there's a disconnect between the various facets of the story, this also has the benefit of giving the reader a great deal of backstory, character development, and external information, in spite of the limited wordcount allowed for the story. All you really need is something to tie it all together, probably just a single paragraph, and it would be perfect. Excellent job on your prose.