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Nathan's picture

“The Urge’s Malevolent Design"

By Nathan in Scare Us

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Description

“The Urge’s Malevolent Design” by Nathan Pettigrew. 

A modern-day Horror tale.

Features an original creature of my own creation.

3 Deaths Occur.

Takes place where I grew up, which is Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana—consisting of 3 main bayous: Bayou du Large, Bayou du Lac, and Bayou Chauvin.

Just under 3,850 words.

Comments

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Consider Phlebas, by Iain Banks July 19, 2012 - 11:11pm

Sorry, I just can't go there. It's well-done, though.

tobygibbons87's picture
tobygibbons87 from Liverpool/London is reading Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman July 20, 2012 - 12:15pm

To begin with, I think you're attempting to break taboos by writing about things like rape and incest and while there are example that this can be done well, you haven't. The message of this story seems to be that by avenging something you are inevitably going to turn into the thing that you're trying to destroy. Which, because it in turn leads to your character raping his own daughter, is ridiculous and seems like an insane length to go to prove a point. The story itself is gratuitous to the point of offensive and I don't blame the above reviewer from not being able to read it. There are ways that this story could be told and the concept of ultraviolence is nothing new, you just have to know how to write it and to be able to understand aspects of what you’re writing, such as writing a rape scene from the perspective of the female victim.

In terms of the actual writing, I think it needs a lot of work. The dialogue is clumsy and at times, cheesy. Your central character could be a great parody of an 80’s action hero, but you clearly take him to seriously. The deeper moments, such as “burns being fingerprints,” have been said before and while I can acknowledge that after nearly three thousand years it is becoming harder to say something original, you can at least try. The description of your monsters, Flamen or Monster Breeders (very sly) are overly metaphorical and make very little sense - at one point, while on fire, you describe them as having ice-slits for eyes. You also say one thing and then contradict yourself:

“The two-story house on top of the hill, like in a horror movie, except the house is not secluded somewhere, just elevated and set apart from the rest of the neighbourhood.” - I’m pretty sure that being elevated and set apart would still make it secluded.

In summary, I don’t think there’s any point to this story despite your efforts to try and find one. My best advice is to think of something else.

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read July 20, 2012 - 3:59pm

Jane and Toby, I appreciate your time.

Of the several people I've known firsthand to experience sexual abuse, there were a few unfortuantely who went on to repeat the cycle themselves. That scares the shit out of me. Then there were those who hadn't experienced it all, and yet became predators. Now That, to me, is Scary. Where does that urge come from? Where? So that was the starting point for me with this.

Victims of sexual abuse, especially females, I've dealt with them. So I'll take the hit and criticisms on the writing, sure, but not on the understanding bit or the perspective with regrds to sexual abusve victims. While, no, I am not a female abuse victim, the Opening Scene, or Diary Entry is almost verbatim from a dear friend's experience. I shouldn't admit that but it is what it is.

Far as the story goes, I think the perspective of the predator is the more relevant, and I wasn't trying to break any taboos or shock with ultraviolence. As pointed out, nothing in my story is new, right?

And no, the guy didn't go home and do what he did because he became too obsessed. His obsessions led him to his actions toward the beginning and middle, right, but with that closing scene, he was tricked. The monsters produced the urge in him that wasn't there before ever encountering them. I shouldn't spell that out, as the story should convey that, but if it doesn't, then yeah I have to look at it again.

They duped him, and the notion of an evil supernatural force producing the urge in pedophiles was interesting to me, far as monsters go and also the ultimate question of where that urge even comes from? Point of the story, in short, since it was brought up, was to write something scary, and this is what scared me.

P.S. I kind of like the contrast myself, regarding the flame bodies and ice eyes.

 

wickedvoodoo's picture
wickedvoodoo from Mansfield, England is reading stuff. July 20, 2012 - 6:14pm

Being a good friend of Nath's, this might just get taken as me going to his defense, but really it's not. Because tobygibbons' comments up there are very flawed.

Toby, you don't seem to have understood the story at all.

 I think you're attempting to break taboos by writing about things like rape and incest and while there are example that this can be done well, you haven't. The message of this story seems to be that by avenging something you are inevitably going to turn into the thing that you're trying to destroy. Which, because it in turn leads to your character raping his own daughter, is ridiculous and seems like an insane length to go to prove a point

Well none of that bares any relevance to the story. This is a story about an evil that is alien to us. Demonic creatures that do not work in a way that the human mind is able to comprehend. The Flamen are entirely inhuman in their way of thought, and the protagonist here is completely at their mercy from the moment they appear in the story. And before that point the story is about a man that has lost control of his abiltiy to supress his rage at a sickening injustice done to his wife.

Your comments suggest you did not understand what was happening. It seemed clear enough to me, so I am going to assume that you did not pay the story the sort of attention that you should if you are going to then post comments/a review. Maybe the violence in the story put you off, which is fair enough, that stuff ain't for everyone, but if you are going to comment on the story with the level of depth you have tried to so then you should at least read it properly ;-)

*

As for my critique, well Nath, I have to say this is certainly a new direction for the Trial By Fire story haha. It does work, and you are right, the Flamen are pretty darn scary. It's the unconquerable evil factor, nothing the protag can throw at them can make a dent. He's fucked from the moment they turn their attention on him. They are scary creatures fo sure.

I think Toby was right in one regard though, this could probably do with a bit of tightening on the dialogue, as it doesn't seem as snappy as what I am used to from you. But really, it's the usual early draft kind of stuff, the only things that need changing here are the little things, tiny tweaks and odd sentences that don't flow as well as the rest. Overall, it's a fierce piece of work

If you want man, I will write you a proper review and email it over or something? Or you should put this up in the workshop maybe? You would get some good feedback there I reckon.

 

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres July 20, 2012 - 6:47pm

Sometimes it's hard to remember all the good things we've accomplished in life, but it's always so easy to pinpoint that one big mistake.  And, along the same lines, I think it sometimes is easier to talk about things we don't like compared to things we do.  I'm going to tell you why I don't like this story, but (hopefully) do it in a constructive way that sheds some light and helps it maybe become better.  Maybe...

I'm going to go out on a controversial limb here and say that I am very much NOT a fan of rape.  So this story started in a deep hole that it needed to really wow me to dig out of.  That's not to say that it shouldn't be spoken of, because it is real and it can't be hushed away.  We, as males, can write all we want about rape, and rape-revenge, and sometimes it will be successful and empowering (i hesitate to reference "I Spit On Your Grave" as something that I feel can be seen as an empowering story, because that's a different topic for a different message board thread).  But more often than not, the male point of view is severely lacking in the empathy category, and so will come across as ignorant and belittling.

Ok, that out of the way, let me say that your alpha male shows absolutely no sympathy toward his raped and abused wife outside of the fact that he wants to fulfill his primal instinct of revenge.  He wants blood to flow for what happened to her.  Actually, what did happen to her?  She had a horrible childhood, and now she is gone.  But not as a direct result of her horrible experience, as she had some time to write in her diary.  Did she kill herself?  Did she live every day with a feeling of unease, guilt, pain, the horrible memories that wouldn't let her ever feel comfortable?  We don't know, because the man flexing his muscles, the revenge, is the focus here.  How did she die?  Did I miss this?

Why did he pick this day to set out on his killing spree?  Was it the anniversary of her death? Did he just recently learn of what had happened in her earlier years?  Was he drunk?  What caused this?  Had he known for a while, and had to sit with a fake smile every time he saw her family?  I guess what I'm saying is, as tobygibbons87 pointed out, this does sound like a parody of a one-dimensional 80's action hero taken to the extremes.  But you are taking him seriously.

I see what you're trying to do, and it takes a lot of guts (see how I didn't say "balls?") to write a story and put it out there for everyone to see.  It's really scary to let a piece of you be seen by people you don't know, and I speak from experience.  And it's also very hard to put out a story that you know people will either love or hate because it deals with tough subject matter.  But please re-think your main character.

He is all tough, no brains.  He is no pain, no gain, macho tough guy.  Does he have sympathy for what his wife went through?  Or is he using this as an excuse to go kick some ass?  I honestly don't know.  Because while I looked for him remembering tender moments that made him love his wife so much in life, and be hurt so much by her former pain and now death, instead I found him saying things like how he carried his gun snug in his pocket, where "she" was just waiting to come out and play.  Play?

I guess the thing that really made me queasy had nothing to do with the horror, the disturbing reason for his trek down the bayou, or the gore and violence that ensues.  But you had this guy, avenging the ultimate hate crime toward women, calling every woman a bitch and beating them.  Not only beating them, but enjoying it.  Where was the stepdad?  Oh, this extra guy who was somewhat invincible.  Where were the "three hot guys" from the barn scene? Oh, who knows?  Where was Uncle Randy, who ran his fingers up her prepuescent thighs?  I don't know.  If you're going to make a rape revenge, get the revenge on the people who did it, not the "bitches" who may or may not have had anything to do with the horrors the poor girl went through.

So, to make this better (in my feminist viewpoint), give the guy some emotions and some compassion.  Don't make him swear like a kid sitting at Dennys ranting about how Clerks is the be-all, end-all of cinema.  Give us a reason to root for him.  Don't make him a (more-) robotic Rambo.  Make us, the readers, feel like he's doing the right thing, knowing that killing is never right, but maybe sometimes justified.  And really think about the final scene.  I understand from your comment to previous criticism that this is something that scares you, and I agree.  But, if nothing else, if you insist on having him fuck his daughter at the end, at least make us think that he doesn't know what he's doing, or better show us that his mind and body are working in two different directions, or something.  

I'm not trying to insult you or be mean, but like I said before, when you read something that makes you angry, it's really easy to point out what you don't like.  I haven't read anything else by you, and maybe it's great.  I'd honestly love to read something else, get a feel for your work.  I'd give it a chance without question.  In fact, if you re-wrote this, I'd try and be one of the first to read it and be more than happy to take time and tell you how I feel about a revision.      If you want to message me, I'd be more than happy to continue talking to you about this, or whatever, you're probably a good guy.  But I'm just having a really hard time with this one.

wickedvoodoo's picture
wickedvoodoo from Mansfield, England is reading stuff. July 20, 2012 - 7:05pm

That was pretty interesting and I think some of it holds true.

The thing is, would a guy that is able to adopt a more feminist and compassionate attitude actually be capable of commiting the actions required to cue the second major element of the story (the attention of the Flamen)?

This character needs to be a bit of a damaged, one-track mind. He isn't emotionally fluid, he is emotionally stunted and he is blinkered by what happened to his wife. So whilst I agree there are some things that could be expanded upon, such as giving us more reason why this particuler moment is the moment he snaps, I also think going too far would risk undermining what this character needs to be be - which is a person quick to violence and violent thought.

A good critique though. Great discussion points you raise, and I look forward to seeing what Nathan thinks.

But, if nothing else, if you insist on having him fuck his daughter at the end, at least make us think that he doesn't know what he's doing, or better show us that his mind and body are working in two different directions, or something.

hmm, this would go against what is previously established, that is, the overpowering and undefeatable nature of the Flamen's influnce.

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read July 20, 2012 - 7:54pm

@Sean of the dead: Thank you for such a well-thought out and written critique. No worries about sounding mean. Doesn't come across that way at all, and both your time and your feedback are much appreciated.

Yeah you raise some great points, the most important in my mind being that where you say his mind and his body need to be working in different directions for that closing scene. I agree a hundred percent and thought I had written in that way, where he's crying and screaming inside as he's commiting the unthinkable, but yeah I can see based on feedback in general that I need to clear this up and spell it out a little more. Definitely.

I'll work on the main character as well. You offer some great suggestions. This main character of mine, though, you have to remember he's from the Bayou. He's a Hunter. And a bit of a pyromaniac as we find out. He's all Macho like those guys are, right or wrong. He's supposed to be tough, and a little too tough for his own good. So while maybe he doesn’t need to be full-on Rambo, we need him to be a little Rambo. I’ll find the balance for the revision. And I think you got it right where he's blinded by himself and his rage or his hate vs. having a grasp on the empathy and healthy outlook that he should have. I do attempt to show how he learns that fact about himself, at the point when he realizes that he's gone too far after killing an innocent person, but yeah I'll work on that too.

I also attempt to show his humanity a bit when he sheds a tear in the beginning of the story, but yeah I can see he doesn't need to drop the F bomb so much. That Denny’s comment spells it out clearly for me ;) They just curse left and right down there. Off in their boats. Fuck this fuck that. And I guess it's off-putting in the case of this story and character.

Martin, you seem to pick up on this character or what I’m trying to do with him, but I do appreciate your criticism as well. Will definitely tighten up the dialogue for the revision and work on the things you’ve both pointed out. You’re right, Martin. You know my process by now and I know you’re super busy with things, so your time and input with this are very much appreciated. Will keep you posted on progress.

Those kids in the barn, I mean they’re long gone. They’re from years ago. Uncle Randy I imagine ended up in jail for something or another. I could mention that. But this guy, her husband, knows where her parents live, and her parents watched and did nothing as the journal reveals. Just like this guy can do nothing, helpless, not even able to understand the minds of those who abused her. Think he’s mad at himself and the world for this fact, just waiting to take it out on someone now that she’s gone (revealed she wouldn’t let him when she was alive), but Right: When exactly did she die and how? Her death means his freedom to lash out, but yeah why not reveal how fresh her death is and the cause?

I’ll work on it. Again thank you both so much for helping me to get this where it needs to go. I appreciate your feedback and criticisms more than you know.