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Colin Speirs's picture

Dear Green Place

By Colin Speirs in Scare Us

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My home town, Glasgow, grew to be "the Second City of the Empire" by dint of Industry and Trade. Maybe not all the imports were to the benefit of the city.


Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks July 30, 2012 - 2:43pm

Very nice!

SPOILER AHEAD: By now, I've read several stories about killer trees, but in this one, we know why the trees get mad enough to kill. It's really important to know that, I think.

I like the narrative voice a lot. One thing I've noticed in my own attempt to write one of these and in the stories I've been reading: the reaction of a narrator or any character while that character is either witnessing or being subjected to a horribly violent act is a real problem. We have to imagine how we'd react. Would we scream, or would we be too paralyzed with fear to scream? things like that. I thought you handled that well in this story. I also liked the sense of place, communicated through the dialect and place descriptions.

Finally, I loved the last two sentences. That repetition seems crucial for us as we attempt to inhabit this character's skin.


cdregan's picture
cdregan from outside of Philadelphia is reading The Corrections August 2, 2012 - 5:10am

Well done!

- - - - - SPOILER ALERTS!! - - - - -

This fits well within the 4K restraints. Excellent pacing - the first gore shows up exactly halfway through. I loved the militant greenman concept.

Although there was NOTHING that made me stumble in your prose (except for the thick dialect in some parts) there are couple of things I wanted to see different. Some of these are style preferences:

1) Lighten up on the dialect. Many readers don't get to hang out with David Tennant, so we're unfamiliar with some of the words you threw in there. I ran into this problem once when I wrote a story with a character with a Russian accent - in my case, it made her sound comical and made my writing sound amateurish. In your case, I just didn't understand a few words. (or, rather, 'worrrrrrrrrds' - I can tease. I'm Scottish on my mom's side - we hail from North Angus in a town called Monikie)

2) The pacing feels like a Lovecraft story - the character is telling the story in past tense, so we know he survived, and the manner of his report seems sane, so I am put to ease that all will be relatively well, but knowing Lovecraft, creepiness will ensue. I'm not sure that his realization at the end that 'the walls will be pulled down by vandals' is an uncomfortable  enough twist to justify the past-tense first-person approach. I think the present-tense first-person is much more intimate and potentially terrifying. Your monsters are the focus of the creepiness, so I would focus wordcount on describing that encounter as intimately as you can.

3) In any case, I suggest you focus your wordcount on the scenes from the halfway point to where they leave the estate. I want to be in the moment and feel the terror - your narrative style keeps the reader at a safe distance. Maybe if you add in more sensory information of the character? Don't get me wrong, what you have is brilliant, but it feels a little rushed. Maybe trim down the lead-in? I hate saying that because it's great the way it is. (Damn, you, 4K limit!!)

4) The lumberjack joke. I get it. It gave me a big goony smile. A lot of my nerdy friends were Monty Python fans, so they would get it too, but I fear this aside may cause a cultural hiccup to readers outside the UK. It's just a teeny whinge from your cousin across the pond. I may be wrong on this detail and am underestimating Python exposure. Now I've wasted too many words on this. 

Really refreshing to read someone who knows how to craft a story. 

Colin Speirs's picture
Colin Speirs from Glasgow, UK is reading Heroes (Joe Abercrombie), Russian Faerie Tales, historical Lovecraft, the Sickly Stuarts, Seabiscuit August 2, 2012 - 12:02pm

Thanks both. There were two things that bugged me in the writing of the story. How much local language to use and is a Monty Python reference a reference younger readers wouldn't get. The Monty Python is a pure judgement call, because 20 years ago the question wouldn't have arisen.

(If you don't get the Lumberjack Reference, here it is - )

The language is trickier. I could have made it much more vernacular, I could have left the vernacular out. One purpose it serves is to peg characters at social backgrounds, the UK being more overtly class ridden than the US. I'll take a look at the speech, see if I can achieve the same ends but make it more readily accessible. The Ukrainian was deliberately messed up.


Thanks again

Shawn I.'s picture
Shawn I. from New York is reading Important Things That Don't Matter August 2, 2012 - 12:28pm

Nice work Colin. Really vivid presentation of the physical and historical aspects of the setting. The personality of the narrator really came through as well. I must say though that I did struggle at times with the language and dialect. cdregan's third point/recommendation pretty much says everything I was thinking about your story. I would just add that on page 5 you use the word stranger repeatedely to refer to the old man. I think incorporating some variation would serve you well. Thanks for the read.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On August 2, 2012 - 12:46pm

I actually had no problem with the vernacular or the colloquilisms. It was actually refreshing to hear English in it's more "original" forms. I think it helps make the characters feel more genuine. Most of what I like here is the slow build up and the atmosphere. You really painted those grounds very well. A couple of points where I stumbled. I wasn't sure what languages you were using, or if they were actually real. Later you kind of specified, but I didn't get the sense that they added much to the story; it kind of pulled me out a bit. Another issue were that there were a number of grammatical and punctuation mistakes. I don't mean in the dialogue where that's necessary sometimes and even encouraging, but in the narrative itself. I usually have someone else I know and trust read my stuff specifically for that, so that might be a way to go. That said, I thought the "environmental" monster was an interesting twist to the boogie-man in the woods. Nice work.

Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson August 3, 2012 - 11:14am

I really enjoyed your setting and found it rich and spooky in a very classic way. I liked the mythology of the monster and the eerie clues you drop along the way regarding its origins. The dialect wasn't a problem for me, and I found it added to the authenticity and overall feel of the story. 

Others have mentioned the grammar and punctuation issues; I found your major mechanical issue to be misplaced commas. I'd also suggest putting the Ukranian lines in italics, or omitting them altogether.