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valianttrust's picture

Lost on Gravity Hill

By valianttrust in Scare Us

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Dear Lit Reactor,

I wish I sent in my submission earlier, but the website kept on going down at particular hours. I apologize in advance for my belated submission. Thank you for your time.



Abraham Kim


Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks July 31, 2012 - 6:56pm

This is a pretty interesting story--many fun little details. The characters are all repellant--maybe not the mother, but everyone else--so it doesn't matter when they get killed. I don't understand the ending at all, though.

cdregan's picture
cdregan from outside of Philadelphia is reading The Corrections August 3, 2012 - 7:23am

Dude! You have a lot going on in here. Reminds me a little of Stephen King's 'Desperation' with the living land influencing behavior. And a little 'The Shining' come to think of it... he's been riding that theme for a long time, hasn't he? 

Anyway, you have the makings of an interesting premise, but it seems kind of scattered. What are those clawed things in the dark? People who didn't escape? 

I've heard about Gravity Hill and the fingerprints. What about the rumor of the busload of children who died because they couldn't get across the train tracks? This is a famous-enough urban myth that you should address that. 

Why were these two singled out to be sucked into this dark land? If there is an urban myth surrounding the effects (the boy had heard from somewhere - so obviously more than one person escaped from the dark hill to tell this story), there has to be some outstanding character to this boy and girl to have them sucked in. What is it? You don't have to show us a diagram or spell out the science, but at least hint that other people have disappeared along that stretch of road. It's a good opportunity to build tension.

And if the boy knows about it, the girl will, too. If you make her scared and superstitious, that's a whole other angle to play. It makes the boy seem all that more prone to abuse and violence - and would be a good spin for the end to fit better. 

Notes attached.



ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. August 6, 2012 - 12:01pm

This story is a little too disjointed for me.  It's obvious that the two kids get yanked into a pocket dimension of some sort but the rest doesn't really make that much sense.  How do they wind up going cannibal?  Is the boy really so callous that he'd kill Mary that easily?  It feels like there's a big chunk of time missing in the middle without enough follow up or context.  The fact that Mary didn't recognize/care about her father being killed bugged me as well.  The one plus was that there were only a few minor grammar issues.  ( things like: word.," and maybe one or two missing words.)  Still, good job.

Regina Peacecraft's picture
Regina Peacecraft from the Philippines is reading Android Karenina August 8, 2012 - 11:02pm

Connect the handprints on the car with the monsters/ghosts they encounter in "the hill"; the urban legends about the hill were never explained. And also, what were those hooded creatures?

Regarding some of the ambiguities cited in earlier comments, the alibi of Joe removing the head of Mary's father so she wouldn't recognize him, worked for me. The couple killing each other was effectively disturbing too

sjwatson's picture
sjwatson from Houston, Texas is reading How It All Began by Penelople Lively August 10, 2012 - 8:50am

Hi there: You have the bones of a very creepy story here (reminds me of the X-Files episode in which Scully and Mulder nearly kill each other, egged on by some very obnoxious ghosts). I like the premise of Something on the Hill, the unseen hands on the bumper, etc. That said:

You might try reading the draft out loud to yourself. That's a great way to catch awkward sentences and to see where you need to put some punctuation into your dialog. Quite a few important commas are missing. Nits, but they matter.

Dialog is really hard to do and your characters sound stilted--especially Mary and Joe on their ride up the hill. How they speak to each other should tell us about their relationship --e.g., you could set up from the start that maybe they're a little prickly with each other, so it's easier to buy Joe ready to stab Mary later.

You can lose a lot of the dialog between the mom and dad--all you really want to do is establish the father's going to look for the daughter, so that scene goes on too long.

I don't quite catch a sense of desperation from Mary and Joe about being trapped up there on the hill. Got to have that -- it takes a lot for a person to become a cannibal. And aren't they only there a little while? Sounds like Mary and Joe have only been missing from home one evening. How is the hill trapping them there? Have to have some internal logic, even if seriously twisted.

The ending: if the thing/hill needs a dead person, why doesn't it just use one of the victims Joe and Mary have trapped (again, need to check your timeline)? What's the point of it killing Mary's mother in the hospital? Wouldn't it be creepier to suggest something has returned that is no longer Mary? (Murder can be so boring.)

Anyway--good bones to build on. Keep on keeping on!




valianttrust's picture
valianttrust August 10, 2012 - 7:04pm

Wow thank you for all of your insightful comments! They are very helpful for improving upon my writing proficiency (pardon my belated response, I have been on the road).

There are definintely a lot of areas I could improve upon this story. Personally I think the story might improve with a few hundred more words (definintely should have included the history behind Gravity Hill since it is pretty compelling. Expand upon the ending. A few more lines to make more sense of the plot development, etc...). Also I could have made a stronger ending (it feels kinda weak and vague after my 4th reading of it).

Currently I am looking for ways to improve upon dialogue as well since they seem a bit dry. Definintely the scene between the mother and father could be cut to spare a few hundred words which could have been allocated towards more exposition of Gravity Hill or developing important characters.

Wah, so much to improve upon! But I really appreciate these comments since they will certainly help me pay more attention to certain nuances of my writing. At least it is readable, so I am relieved for that.

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres August 11, 2012 - 2:36pm

The beginning of this story is really good.  In fact, outside of some of the dialogue between the mom & dad, this is great up to when it's revealed that Derek & Mary feel like they've been gone for months.  The flour on the car trunk was awesome, the sudden confusion on where they were was great, the dad going out to find his daughter, then getting killed was great.  (I assume Mary didn't know that it was her father?  Can't decide if Derek knew it was her dad, or if it was a coincidence...)

However, once we get to the scene where they're eating, and the other creatures appear, I lose my excitement.  I do think it has a lot to do with the dialogue.  I think it's very dangerous to have the characters suddenly tell the whole story with their conversations, because it seems so far from reality.  Same for when the "monster" talks to Derek.  I feel this second part of the story just loses it's way.

If there's some way to gain the momentum that was being built with the first part, I would love to read the next revision of this story.  Like I said, I really liked that opening scene.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 11, 2012 - 2:46pm

I can buy the premise that time is relative when dealing with some sort of "warp zone" what feels like hours in the real world could be an eternity in the hills. Clean up the dialouge and the parents scene and add some of the mythology and this could be good. The idea of them being trapped there was really frightening for me.

One suggestion for the ending. If this monster needs a vessel to get out of the hills it feels almost like "Flatliners to me" Maybe it needed the body to (something to do with the heart) to be near death and the revived to give your monster human form again. I would like to know a little about that and why the monster is compelled to kill in the real world when it seems like it really just wanted to escape the hills. Pretty good.


Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 11, 2012 - 2:48pm

Oh yeah i meant to mention something. Sean said it for me. The beginning was realy well done.