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Kevin Maddox's picture

Something in the Air

By Kevin Maddox in Scare Us

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This is a story which has always existed inside of me stemming from my Native heritage.


Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks July 10, 2012 - 8:38pm

I hate to say I don't like this story, because I can see a really powerful narrative trying to emerge from it. The material you are working with is fascinating. I think you need to do much more with sentence structure and basic grammar and proofreading before it will read smoothly, though, and I think (just my opinion) you also have to put more thought into making the story come alive. Right now it reads more like a piece of nonfiction in which someone is just explaining information. I wish you would re-imagine the whole story as if it were a play unfolding before your (and our) eyes and you are helping us see the the play.The thing I like most about the story is how you turn the monsters into positive forces, not negative or demonic ones. These monsters are the allies of the narrator, out for justice. You've really got something worth saying here.

Kevin Maddox's picture
Kevin Maddox from Melstrand, Mi is reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut July 11, 2012 - 7:02am

I know this needs work. It is still pretty much in the rough draft stage, but I wanted to get it out there and get feedback to help me in the editing process. I appreciate the comment, and I will be taking this off and reposting the revised version soon.

I also don't like stories in which the author gets lost in detail, so I try not to write like that.

Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson July 12, 2012 - 10:34am

Good ideas, here, and I understand the basic narrative. It's still rough so I found it difficult to read, and the short, choppy descriptions and paragraphs don't do much to enhance the setting or evoke much emotion. I know the North Shore well and there is so much beauty and mystery there: explore it more! I also feel the background offered on the first page could use some fleshing out; right now it sort of sits inert on the page. I know you don't want to get "lost in detail" but a little bit can go a long way if you use the right words (Craig Clevenger has a great essay on effective detail writing here:

I like best your idea of "spirit genes" passed down through generations, and the narrator's journey to awaken them, as well as the mild touch of humor (ugh, fasting). 

Keep working on it! 

erricknunnally's picture
erricknunnally July 15, 2012 - 12:36pm

Ditto to the comments above. Careful with the technical stuff like punctuation and grammar. As well, try to avoid or more purposefully use common cliched phrases like "as soon as possible."

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep July 29, 2012 - 7:55am

I think you have something here. Yes, before showing it to anybody, you should of course clean up the grammer and punctuation--those are speed bumps that you don't want to put in the the way of your readers--but I really like your concept, and I ended up enjoying your story.

However, I must admit that my mind took a different sort of track while reading this. By the end, I was convinced that our narrator was the true monster of the story. He summons the "monsters" without truly knowing what they will do, what destruction they will cause. He displays a classic comic book bad guy quality: a grand scheme to "fix" the world. In his mind, all the terror is justified, and he feels no sadness at the loss of life. He is energized by the chaos and destruction. These are not good guy emotions. Sure, I know it's set in the context of retribution, but still, he's displays super-villian levels of arrogance and misanthropy, raining hell down upon his hometown without a thought for how much of the burden he himself should be bearing.

My favorite part of the story is this sentence: "A better life was in store for this land, but only for those who can respect life itself."

Love it. So ironic, considering the chaos and loss of life our narrator brought about.

So yeah, he's the bad guy.

Just my take. If you want me to feel that our narrator's actions are justified, I think you'll have to make me understand (though the story) how the actions of all these people have hurt him directly. Make me feel more sympathy for him. For the purposes of this writing challenge, I wanted to feel the horror. Right now, for me, the horror is in the actions our narrator takes, not in the attrocities of the townspeople.

Smooth out the narrative a bit--read it out loud and see if those sentence really flow together. Some more detail will also help. You say, "The surrounding area is beautiful." but you don't have to say that if you describe the area and make me *feel* that it's beautiful.

Keep at it.

Kevin Maddox's picture
Kevin Maddox from Melstrand, Mi is reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut August 1, 2012 - 7:07am

Thanks. I know the story is there, and I need to take the time to develop more detail in the characters. I'm glad someone got what I was going for, This copy was really rough as hell and I haven't had much time to sit and edit and rewrite, but it will end up being much larger product than this one. 

The main character is the monster, and I'm going to elaborate on that byway of foreshadowing it himself early in the story. It will also be much more dark and gory.

Robert Blake's picture
Robert Blake from Glasgow originally, last wee while Manchester is reading The Sea Hawk (Rafael Sabatini) August 7, 2012 - 8:24am

A question I know the character is only part First People, so this is just me asking for information, but s "Karma" (a plus/minus balance based on actions) a concept Native Americans use?

I know this is a draft, so thought there are niggles here and there that are going to annoy the pedantic amongst us ("Sioux" rather than "Souix", "lake Superior" instead of "Lake Superior"). I'll try to ignore them.

Not sure how you could "I could cut the superstition with a knife." Was there a lot of "This is the work of devils I tells ya" "No, Ichabod, this surely is the results of trafficking with Peeps"?

That aside, it's a story I'd love to see polished. There is some good imagery in there and at the moment it's just "rough sketched". You do need to work on the balance. If you want to make the inhabitants of Munsing undeserving of punishment and just in the wrong place, then you need to cast it that way, if they deserve their fate another. At the moment your narrator is not only the villain, but just a puppet of someone else's desires. I'd like to see how much, or how little, will he has also developed