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OtisTheBulldog's picture

Tsula's Return

By OtisTheBulldog in Scare Us

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A legendary creature not seen in generations, embedded in local mythology, lore and pop culture, marks it's return.


David Ireland's picture
David Ireland from London is reading Confessions of an English Opium-Eater July 31, 2012 - 7:15am

Hi Otis,

I think you've created a rich environment which feels very real. The introduction of the Tsula into it is more effective for that. So it's a thumbs up from me.

My constructive feedback almost counters that point, and I'm not really sure how to reconcile that, so I'll just say what I thought. While the world seemed very real, as a result of the depth of your description and picture building, I also felt that it held the action back somewhat. It almost feels that, with a second edit, if you could pare it back slightly, while maintaining some of what makes it 'real' you could add some urgency to the situation.

A smaller comment is that I found it a bit diorientating when the POV jumped from character to character at times.

Overall I enjoyed the story - thank you very much!


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 - 7:30am

Fun story! I love it when stories like this ground us in reality by populating them with lots and lots of real stuff. I believe in every single gun and canned good and bullet-proof vest because you name them. And so, by extension, I start to believe in the entire plot. You are great at this. You also have a wonderful way with words. "Pleathernecks" is definitely my favorite.

A few questions/reservations, though:

1. I think we need more preparation before we can see the sheriff of the town (police chief?) as evil enough to use Brett and Gwen as Kong-bait. I think you DO prep us for this by establishing that the town is in a deep-dyed, long-term state of paranoia, one that might just breed people like the chief. A case in point: the father of the family we see in part one of the story. He has spent his whole life training himself and his family for this menace, which has got to create a mindset in the same spectrum as the chief's.

2. How is it that Brett has escaped this mindset? I'm perfectly prepared to believe it, but I'd like more character development.

3. You don't have the space for that character development because you have spent the entire first part of the story developing characters who go nowhere. Even the survivor is just a background player after that first part. I'm thinking (I struggled with this in my own entry, too) this story's scope is too big for the word limit. I'd love to read a longer version.

4. AND. . . I'm probably thick-headed, but I didn't understand the ending. I understood the gist of it, but I didn't understand about the red light, etc. Does this mean that after the Code Red has finally been called, it's too little, too late for the nation/world? Or is this purely a local phenomenon? Or what? I need to see that scene more clearly.

5. ok, one last question. Were there really Cherokees that far north? I'm actually ignorant on this point. I know the Cherokee nation was pretty much concentrated much further south, but that might have happened much later in the history of the U.S., for all I know. Connected with that: I don't really associate gator-type critters with this area of the country. That sort of nagged at me, distracting me from the fictional reality you're trying to establish. Call me literal minded!

I don't mean to suggest with all these comments/questions that I don't like your story or was on the fence about it. I really did like it. It was great. Thanks for posting it.

OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz July 31, 2012 - 8:08am

Hey David & Jane - thank you so much for reading and comentary (Jane, I will get to yours today/tonight/SOON!) 

Yeah, given the word limit, I realized what I was trying to accomplish was to big a scope for the limit. I could've probably edited some of those scenes out and maybe just focused more on one or two scenes. But I really wanted to give the reader a view of this world where we a) know mythological creatures exist and b) have the town & lore play a bigger role. 

My issue is that I simply don't have time for the character development I'd like.

Here's what I really want to do - I want to hit on these themes: governing by fear, homogenization of my hometown with PetSmarts & Walmarts, small town politics, pop culture, misinformation, etc - so really just kind of a microcosm of our regular world. I just don't have the space. But the great thing is this little LitReactor exercise has sparked in me what may become source material for a novella, as I potentially have a lot to work with.

In the meantime, I needed some exposition to paint the picture. And the ending is showing that there's much more going to happen. But earlier in the story, I said that the Code Red calls in the Feds and the town goes under Marshal Law. The fact that there's more than 1 and now the military is about to roll in presents a whole new story (such as survivors trying to get out of the town as it becomes quarantined).  But I was hoping in 4K that I can give the reader the sense that this story existed long before they got a hold of it and will go on long after the final scene. 

I agree that I could've done a better job of character development and I had to sacrifice that (I made the word count by 15 words!) Some of the sacrifices I made were to give the reader a sense that there's something much bigger going on.

As far as the Cherokee - I read there was some presence in PA. And yeah, Gators obviously don't make it up that far. That's the whole misinformation thing. This creature is based on a lot of bullshit information and it's just taken as gospel. When you finally do see it, it's nothing like it's been described over the generations. Again, with a lot more room, I can really work this.

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 - 8:21am

Wonderful! you are using the contest to sketch out the longer project. I want to read it! I love all those themes, and I do think you have some great characters to work with.

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce August 1, 2012 - 2:37pm

Hey Jason,

I read my story and made comments in your document, and then I read everyone else's comments before typing a short blurb in here. I am very pleased this is a draft of sorts for a novel, because I was going to say to you I think it would work perfectly as a monster/disaster novel!

You have a great writing style. Easy to read, and the pace moves nicely. A disaster/monster story would not be my usual pick, but your style is wonderfully engaging. It's always nice to be surprised when you read something outside your usual genre and enjoy it :)

I've attached some comments in the body of your document for you.



sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres August 11, 2012 - 3:33pm

Quite a bit of what I was going to say appears to have already been said for me, thanks Jess & Jane...

Please do turn this into a novel/novella.  I love stories involving urban legends, and the problem with the rules in this challenge is that they limit this story into a fragment of what I can definitely see it becoming.  I loved the fact that, when the creature is finally revealed, it looks so much different than what I would have expected.  There is a great environment set up for us, and good tension.  I like that it starts with the family, shows us their catastrophe, then moves on, leaving them as an excellent introduction to the bigger story.  

A couple things: check the dates you put in there.  It's July when the family gets attacked, then June when the rest of the story continues.  Unless I missed that the 2nd part is a flashback, which I don't believe it is.  Also, I love the scene at the end, where it's shown that there are many, many creatures now on the loose, but is there a better way to show this?  I like it seen through the camera, so maybe just drop the "epilogue" statement?

Please write this out as a longer piece.  I'd love to read it.  Thumbs up from me!

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 11, 2012 - 4:27pm

I'm not used to seeing a prolouge in a short story which i think should be the first indicator that this is so much more than a "short story" you mentioned novella, Jess mentioned novel. I'm thinking "Trilogy" It's that good.

The prologue hooked me. The opening scene with the marginal charachter's was a great build for the atmospherre you were going for. This was exceptionally well thought out and written.

If it were a "trilogy of screenplays" The first movie would be "folklore" followed by this tell. The sequel would be the spread and mass hysteria. and then your prequil could start back when they first appeared and kind of show were the first misconception was created because i would asume by that tale's end there wouldn't be a living survivor of it's first emergence. I don't expect you to write three novels or screenplays lol. But if you did I would definately buy those books or watch those movies.Would love to read as much as this story as you are willing to write. Excelent job!!!


Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson August 16, 2012 - 9:07am

I really like the background given, and how it's been so long since an attack that people are making light of it through jokes and merchandise. When it does come, they're caught off-guard, even when they're prepared. The IM conversation on page six is a perfect example of this, and chilling.

Although the story is told through a couple of viewpoints and there is a lot of information, it's not crowded and neither is it lacking. I felt well informed on the situation, and you leave enough out to make it enticing (are there Tsulas in other places, as the Seminoles seem to indicate?). Each of the characters feels whole.

Great ending!