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bryanhowie's picture

The Second Plague (1st draft)

By bryanhowie in Scare Us

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Description

A new draft is up.  Please read and vote on that one.  Thank you.

A plague of frogs descends on a small town.  The frogs are of normal variation, except for the bristles lining their backs.  Thunderstorms have brought them out, but what they do when mingling with a small town threatens to destroy a man.  

Comments

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun July 1, 2012 - 2:50pm

Well, howie, since you were obviously destined to be the first person to submit a story (big shocker), I figured it would be fun for me to do my first-ever review. Plus, after the late night of making sure everything was ready to launch this, it was nice to relax and read a story while I had lunch.

At any rate, I see that you already commented on this being a first draft. I'm attaching my minor notes, most of which are simple typos or suggestions about confusing sentences. Stuff you have probably already noticed.

I really only have one real negative once I look past the obvious items. I get the concept with the brief fragments of thought and I like it in context of this story. However, in my opinion, there are a bunch of cases where they feel too incomplete - almost difficult to follow. I have marked a few that really stood out to me.

As for a hopefully usable suggestion: Consider putting another descriptive sentence or two into the "strobe" scene. I think you could really have something cool there and I wanted a little more.

Beyond that, I liked this a lot. In fact, if this were a movie I would watch it in an instant. The monster is great and as I dig through my horror-memory-banks I don't recall ever seeing such a creature anywhere else. It was a fun read and had some good gross-out moments.

So, even though I saw you have issues with it right now, I'm still calling this a good first submission!

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. July 1, 2012 - 2:59pm

Awesome.  Incredibly helpful.  Was it easy to eat lunch while reading it? 

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun July 1, 2012 - 3:08pm

Yes, very. However I've also eaten steak while watching Martyrs so I'm probably not the best judge of that.

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres July 1, 2012 - 6:42pm

I'm going to agree with a lot of Kirk's assessment.  Years ago, when I was still young and naive and hoping to one day make a difference, I was going to college to become an English teacher.  That never panned out, but it did make me picky when it comes to spelling and sentence structure.  So I'm that jerk who gets slightly irritated when reading a published book and sees words spelled disastrously wrong or sentences that just make no sense.  Kirk had already pointed this out, as have you in another spot.

However, the good thing about these errors is that, as you have already stated, is a work in process.  Which means things can still be fixed/edited/corrected/re-worded.  Which means it's not at all too late.

I also agree that, thinking back to all of the horror movies I've seen, I don't remember this monster having already appeared.  That is a HUGE plus to me, because the horror genre has become an unoriginal genre, so anything new is deserving of attention.

The other thing I do want to compliment is that you weren't afraid to break the taboo that so many horror pieces have been careful to avoid, and that is the one involving children.  I don't want that to sound creepy, but let's be honest here...kids are the ones scared of monsters ( the boogieman doesn't hide in the closets of adults!), so why does so much American horror avoid making children victims?  I compliment your courage!

Overall, sure, it needs a little technical work, but I definitely look forward to reading a polished final draft.  Nice work Howie.

Tmar78's picture
Tmar78 July 2, 2012 - 7:59am

Hi, Howie!

Just read your story and I liked much of it. The monster is original and the setting cool. Over all the story needs a little work though, in my opinion.

First of all, I'd open the story with this sentence: It rained for seven days... I feel that this paragraph is stronger as an opening and all that text before that paragraph can either be intagrated into what comes after that paragraph or can even be deleted. In that paragraph you introduce the monster and grab the reader by the nose.

Secondly, the text needs to flow better in some places, it needs a better rhythm. You break the flow from time to time with two or three very short sentences in a row. Perhaps that has something to do with the same thing that Kirk mentioned. 

The final part of my critique is that though the monster is awesome and the setting nice, I feel that the horror part of the story needs a little more edge. I can't quite explain it well, but I never felt it, so to speak. I didn't quite feel the sharp hairs in my mouth, the sour taste of mud or that gagging feeling as the ... (you know, but I don't want to spoil other readers experience). Perhaps what I'm saying is, give yourself time to add a sentence or two to make the picture in the reader's mind's eye more clear.

That being said, I think that this draft could be worked into a killer story, for this is great material.

Good luck :)

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. July 11, 2012 - 10:11am

The story originally started with "It rained for seven days and then the frogs came."  Guess I should have stuck with that intro.  I'll work on getting those tastes in your mouth.  

Blair's picture
Blair from Southern California is reading Needful Things July 2, 2012 - 11:39am

Hi Howie - liked your story. I have some notes on stylistic things that you may consider. Check out the attached.

.'s picture
. July 2, 2012 - 2:55pm

Howie,

Just a few notes on where you could trim the story up a bit.

 

"The waves of light filter through the swaying trees casts (casting?) dancing shadows on the green grass as the sun wanes lower in the sky." 


"The summer thunderstorm that threatens to arrive at dusk already building force to overcome the mountains surrounding my small town."

"With the clouds, with the darkness, with the night, comes the fear of another hunger to fill the lightless void." I see driftwood that needs to be trimmed when something is told twice. We know the night is dark, but I like the surrealism of darkness rather than the night. I'm just saying, try darkness or night but not both because they have the same meaning in my opinion. 

"It rained for seven days before the first of the invaders came out of the forest." I would use this as your first line, it's a great hook and straight to the point. 

"Stung by the sudden burst, I couldn't even blink before the thunder popped my ears." Witty but it doesn't work for me. Careful with hyperbole's like this. 

"With my other hand, I swept my hand across the other pillow." Try re-wording this so you aren't using the same words in repetition. 

"The lighting didn't stop as it strobed the room." You can do better than "didn't stop" you have the skills, just keep it in mind when you do a re-write.

"The frog tasted of pond muck, like wet, moldy cheese." Nice description!

"The nightmare was of children this time.  Frogs croaking in the background as I held a small girl down and watched the yellow-lined frogs crawl up over her body, chewing at the tight skin of her face and skull until blood washed away the remnants and the gray skull peaked through.  They tore out her eyes with tiny claws hidden in their nimble fingers.  One chewed on the orb until it popped and squirted an amber fluid.  Another swam in her slack mouth, jumping up to stab the bristly hairs into the roof of her mouth." Whoa! That made me cringe a little, I'm glad I wasn't eating. 
 

This is a horror story if I've ever seen one! Good job! 

-Dakota

 

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Ira Levin July 3, 2012 - 6:48am

Howie

Love the concept ~ as much as I have no problem with frogs (yes I’ve caught them before, we have one that lives in our garden) I think they make a great malignant enemy. Mostly in books and films you see toads - giant toads that wrap their tongues around their victims legs and drag them to their doom, so this is refreshingly different. Funny thing is, the other weekend I briefly considered a similar idea for a story after seeing an octopus at Sea Life. The information plaque said this variety could solve simple problems, walk across land, were very good at escaping from their tanks and could squeeze through a hole the size of pound coin… oh the possibilities!!!
The narrator’s night time transformation into froggy-human hybrid is great ~ kind of like a werewolf only cause by storms. I particularly liked all the subtle little details you used to describe this – such as body posture and movement as well as physical body mass.

Of course I've done an LBL (love those things) as always it all just my opinions and suggestions so feel free to ignore as much of it as you like.

Oh and I'm not really squeamish, but I do enjoy stories with a gross-out factor ~ great read.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. July 3, 2012 - 7:30am

Wish we could give points for these critiques.  That was very helpful.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff July 5, 2012 - 10:50am

It's a cool pretty story already, very good for a first draft.

----------------SPOILERS----------------------

You use some effective sentencing and the plot is neat. Characters sound genuine and I love the way Johnny, the man, comes out like the killing monster, and the creatures just a complement, or the spark/source of all trouble.

The setting is pretty convincing too, you clearly give a personal flavor to the place where the story is set. I can quite see the house where the dude wakes up, and the mud.

Some more comments in the LBL. Substantially, I like where this is going.

~Cristi

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. July 5, 2012 - 10:51am

thanks Flame.  I appreciate the LbL.

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia--now living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Kindred, by Octavia Butler July 6, 2012 - 7:44pm

hi, Howie--really gross frogs. Everyone else has already said it, but sentence structure, spelling, all those things need work, and I thought the story was slow to get started. What I REALLY liked: the story took off once you started writing dialogue. I thought it was great. I could hear those guys' voices in my head, and I believed guys like that would talk like that.

CatTrip's picture
CatTrip from Australia is reading nothing July 8, 2012 - 3:15am

Hi Howie, nicely unsettling. Ignoring technical aspects that most others have covered, I liked that the character still had some humanity left, enough to recognise what was happening, to want to end the nightmare, but was just too far gone to really do anything about it.

 

 

Stacy Kear's picture
Stacy Kear from Bucyrus, Ohio lives in New Jersey is reading The Art of War July 12, 2012 - 12:59pm

Howie, 

You did a great job making frogs creepy and I really like the story. Your descriptions of setting are really well done, I could put myself in every part of the story. I did a LBL and since I waited for the second draft I had to be super picky so keep that in mind. 

Whatever I write here will be regurgitating what I put in the LBL so good job and I hope my ramblings help a little. 

Stars for you, just doesn't seem right without the stars,

~Stacy

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. July 12, 2012 - 2:09pm

Thanks, Stacy.  This draft was more polished than the last, but I seem to have put in new mistakes.  Good eye on catching the fishbowl/aquarium thing.  I appreciate the comments.  I need to clean this up more.

Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson July 18, 2012 - 11:10pm

Wildly original and a sympathetic, if not entirely likeable, protagonist. I like your decision to make him apathetic; he's gone through this horror and transformation, finds out his nephew is sick, then vomits and drinks a beer. I have webbing between my fingers? Drink a beer. Spit out a bit of child, crash on the couch. It works for this guy, which is a little unsettling in itself. 

One change: you use "puss" when you mean "pus". After a career in the veterinary field I can tell you this is a common mistake, and one that autocorrect never catches (because, hey, you may be talking about a cat).

 
Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 3, 2012 - 9:47pm

Not sure if it was intentional but you somehow managed to reference One of my top five favorite movies.(Magnolia) My favorite comedian,(Mitch Hedburg) and my third favorite book of the bible.(Exodus)(I know that part was on purpose lol.)  Made me laugh and made me a little sick. So you already have my vote!

Loved Johnny's complacence. Very original monster. Tons of grammer problems but i'm quite sure you've fixed most of those by now. I think you did a good job with the ending too. I almost expected to see a little bit of Mathew after his infection. You made it clear that that would be the next chain of event. I may have liked to see Johnny's last black out, switch over to Mathew's first black out. maybe them hunting together? LOL. it's really good the way it is though. I imagine that will happen anyway after your end. Atleast for me.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. August 3, 2012 - 9:59pm

Hey, here comes that frog.  All right. Maybe he'll come near me so I can pet him, and stick him in a mayonnaise jar with a stick and a leaf, to recreate what he is used to.

-Mitch Hedberg

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 5, 2012 - 9:14am

Yep that's the joke lol.i was laughing when when u mentioned the bowl n the stick.