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

Brad's picture


By Brad 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.


The citizens of a small, South Australian suburb are fighting to protect their local forest from a multi-national real-estate developer. Meanwhile, people visiting the forest are going missing and no one knows why.


Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Consider Phlebas, by Iain Banks July 22, 2012 - 10:52am

I love this story. It's so much fun. I think some of the characters might need further development; Pollock is pretty much a caricature, for example. But the fates of Sid and Larry are ingenious (might have to do a little more earlier in the story to explain to non-Australians about marsupials), and the final sentence is simply priceless.

Dane Nunez's picture
Dane Nunez July 24, 2012 - 1:58pm

I loved it man, "a giant wombat killed my kid. I want it dead." funny fun stuff man and creapy.


Cody John Beckius's picture
Cody John Beckius from Colorado is reading a lot of American Modernist literature July 25, 2012 - 12:03am

Hey Brad.

So there were some parts to the story that I really liked.  There is obvious care and attention paid to the setting of the piece, and the monster was very original, but with a bit of a throwback to old monster movies where giant animals terrorize a small town.  I like the area-specific update.

All of these ideas are obviously just suggestions, and only my opinion, based on quite a few years of sitting through workshops and classes and I hope you don’t take any of them as insulting.  These are just things that I think could help with the readability of the story in terms of character development, plotting and pacing, and tone.  And they’re all based on my assumption that I got what you were going for.

First off: The tone is a little inconsistent.  There are some scary parts and some funny parts, and quite a few parts that read like a demented action movie, but I’m not quite sure what kind of story this is trying to be.  If it is supposed to be one over the other ramp that element up, or if its supposed to be all three ramp them all up, maybe to an extreme degree.

Regarding the setting – I like how much you obviously care about the setting.  Most people probably wouldn’t include activists getting slaughtered and mention the environmental impact studies in a different scene.  You’re addressing some important real world issues, but do any of your main characters really care about them until their lives are effected by the consequences of the development?  And do they ever make that connection?  It might work to have the protesters in the beginning mention the crooked studies as an additional reason for chaining themselves to the trees, then in the town hall scene have Angela shake her head when Pollock rejects the idea of more studies.  It could still establish Pollock as an asshole, but without having to read a bunch of his slick answers, and create a bit of mystery without being too obvious.  

None of the main characters (Angela, Larry, etc) are physically described, at least in any way that sets them apart from the plethora of background characters.  I found that they got a bit lost in the action because there wasn’t a physical presence to make them stick out in the mind of the reader.  In Angela’s case it might help to give a bit of description of her uniform.  Are Australian police uniforms different than American blue uniforms?  That might help anchor the character in the Australian setting for readers who aren’t native to that continent.
There are a LOT of characters in here.  Without meaning to sound like a prick, there are too many.  It was hard, as a reader, to care about any of them because they come in and out so quickly that there is no way to care about any of them, with the exception of Larry, maybe.  I could barely keep any of the secondary characters straight.  They were interchangeable and only really existed to get killed or try and nudge the plot along.  To me, and this is my opinion – take it with a grain of salt, any story should be told with the absolute minimum of characters.  A story with only a few characters can create bonds between the reader and the piece that a large cast can’t, especially in a short story.  By limiting the focus it draws the audience alongside the characters, brings them on the ride, makes them feel as if they are living it, too.  And I think you could rearrange things enough to have almost all of the action happen to Larry and Angela. 

For example:

Angela could see Larry at the meeting putting up the poster. 

She responds to the call, goes to the woods, finds Larry.

They fall into the tunnel system, get lost for a bit, maybe hear some of the other  officers being attacked as they arrive on scene to assist her.

Exit the tunnels in fenced off development area, discover the dead baby wallaby  and return it to the mother in the midst of a huge gun battle/gore fest.

But even after all of that, I did like your story.  You know how to write and that’s obvious.  I think focusing on what the absolutely most important elements are to you is going to make this an even better story.  It always takes a lot of guts to put anything out there for other people to read, especially when you don’t know what they’re going to say.  So thank you for sharing this with everyone.  And thanks again for reading and critiquing my story.  It means a lot that you took the time to give me some feedback instead of just rating it.

Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts July 25, 2012 - 4:07pm

I really enjoyed this story and thought it was very original. The setting and monster were interesting to read about and the writing hooked me right away. I think my only suggestion would be to add more detail to the characters. I liked that you included townsfolk, envirionmentallists, police officiers, etc, but I think it became too easy for some of them to blend together as the action picked up. 

Again, I thought this was a very good read and interesting plot. Nicely done!

Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson July 27, 2012 - 1:06pm

Great monster, though from the title I suspected it would be something along those lines (but I'm a science nerd). I want to know what happened to all the cats- were they put into her pouch, too and just didn't make it out? I liked the relationship between Sid and Larry, and it was clever how you handled their disappearances.

I did feel that there were too many characters, leaving most of them flat and undifferentiated. There was also a lot going on in the space of such a short story, and the ending felt a bit rushed and maybe a bit too tidy. A few times I felt like I was careening back and forth between settings and characters without good reason. Some scenes probably could have been cut, like when Larry is taken home to his dad. I think you could have conveyed what a loser dad is without writing a whole scene for it. 

All that said, I did like the story. Good work!

M.E.Prince's picture
M.E.Prince from Georgia is reading A Stir of Echoes July 31, 2012 - 8:01am

While I did enjoy the setting and the monster (heck, I just spent the summer reading about a prehistoric shark), the story felt like watching a movie on fast-forward. Some scenes could have benefited from expansion. I agree with what others here have said about the cast of characters being too large, as well. Personally, I feel you over-use the passive voice, but that's also something I've been very aware of in my own work lately, so I could be wrong there.

On to the good stuff. The scene at the beginning was very tense. Really great, I thought. I also loved automated phone voice in the woods. Your dialogue is really entertaining, too. The setting was described very well, and just enough to be clear without being obtrusive.

Overall, I liked the story.

Anthony McArthur's picture
Anthony McArthur from Georgia is reading The Talisman August 15, 2012 - 3:11pm

I liked the ol' monster movie tone of the story. The creature and the story was fun and interesting all the way. Your writing is also fun, and your dialogue worked well for me.

I do feel that there could be a bit more work done to flesh out the characters, and I agree with others that you should limit down the number of characters in the story.

Also, for the tone of your story, I agree that at times it is inconsistent, but could be cleared up in subsequent drafts.  To me, the story is reminiscent of a Christopher Moore story, and I always believe that when he is writing he has a smirk on his face. Write with a smirk.  Your story is fun and can be a lot more fun by redrafting more humor throughout.


Thanks for sharing!  I'd like to read more from you.

Brad's picture
Brad from Australia is reading Speculative Fiction Quarterlies August 15, 2012 - 4:34pm

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for your review! I shall return the favour with your submission.

I definitely agree with your comments and others above about the characters needing more flesh. At first my excuse was that I had to cut 1000 words off just to submit it, but that's my problem not the readers and I need to work out what to do there if I want the piece to remain at 4k words.

Regarding my inconsistent tone, I am usually aiming for humour in my work and I'd like to make that consistent throughout. If you have a chance can you point out any examples of where you think the tone is distractingly non-humourous?