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mattymillard's picture

An Incy Wincy Holocaust

By mattymillard in Teleport Us

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Description

Living in a world of desolation and fear, my family has done everything it can to survive. But now I have a plan, something which will provide for us all for years. Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

 

Hope you enjoy it - feedback would be much appreciated!!

Comments

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. February 3, 2013 - 9:26pm

Ouch, I couldn't finish this one. It needs a good round of editing. The random bolding of text throughout really distracted me. It might just be my viewer, not sure. Don't give up though! Just keep working on it!

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar February 4, 2013 - 12:36am

Oh well, thanks for trying! There shouldn't be any random bolding - I checked it on two devices before I uploaded and it was fine! Hope no-one else has this issue...

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. February 4, 2013 - 6:34am

I looked closer and hour right, it's not bolding. It looks like you might have edit on one machine in Arial and on another in Times New Roman...whatever it was, definitely a sans serif font for the majority and a serif font for the remainder. The serif font is a little thicker which is what made it look bold.

PS: If it helps I was last reading with the kindle app on an Android phone.  

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar February 4, 2013 - 3:34pm

Thanks for that, I will have to find a friend with an android phone! I've done another round of edits and have cleared all formats and reformatted - hopefully it has worked. I actually started writing this in OpenOffice, before that computer broke and I got a copy of Word with the new one! I wonder if this has caused the problem?!

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. February 4, 2013 - 4:09pm

Maybe, I believe they do have different default fonts, though that's not a problem I would have expected to see. I'll give it a re-read tonight!

Sound's picture
Sound from Azusa, CA is reading Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt February 4, 2013 - 9:56am

I think overall, this could use some editing and a lot of tightening up. Get those sentences concise. The core concept and bare bones are all there, so future drafts have some potential. Keep at it!

Matt

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar February 4, 2013 - 3:37pm

Thanks for your advice - I think I see what you mean. I had a lot of sentences which were different but kind of repeated previous points. I've given it another edit and tried to be brutal, hopefully it's an improvement :-)

Matty

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. February 4, 2013 - 8:33pm

This story probably needs to sit in a drawer for a month or two and then be pulled out again for another few rounds of edits.  I'm still seeing problems with formatting when looking at the most recent version on my phone but it seems to look fine when I pull it up on my laptop.

On the other hand, a friend of mine pushed me to give this a second read and I have to say, that is one hell of a trick you pulled there.  Right up until the Grandmother giving birth I had no clue what was going on there until the end.  It was enough for me to flip my vote on it even with the other problems.

Whatever you do, don't stop writing!  Keep practicing :)

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar February 5, 2013 - 11:58am

I think you're right - I know it too well to be editing it right now! Thanks so much for the re-read, and I'm glad you liked the twist. I just hope the opening is enough to get people that far... I'll work on it again when I've forgotten what happens!

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. February 5, 2013 - 1:01pm

If you haven't read it, I'd suggest: On Writing by Stephen King  It was suggested to me a while back and I found it quite helpful.  The first half is a decent read on it's own if nothing else.

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar February 6, 2013 - 1:42pm

I saw that the other day strangely enough and thought it sounded interesting! Will give it a go :-)

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep February 4, 2013 - 9:08pm

**SPOILER WARNING**

Ok, I'm not exactly sure where to begin, but to say "WOW!!!" You pulled off one of the biggest magic tricks I've seen, and you did it with such deftness that my jaw just about hit the floor when you finally revealed what was really going on. I was seriously in shock. I immediately went back and re-read the beginning, and was in awe at how much sense it all made.

All the clues were there--even the title of the story--and I still let my assumptions carry me through the story. I'm so jealous that you were able to pull this off so easily.

Your story is phenomenal. Your world building is very complete and interesting.

Now for what needs improved in your story. Honestly, if anybody doesn't like this story, it's going to be because of your prose (or because they weren't patient enough to read to the end), since your story idea is uniquely awesome. In the beginning, I was convinced that your sentences were too simplistic and general in nature. I suspect you did this on purpose as to hide the true nature of the main character. So really, the main recommendation I'd have is to show us more than tell us.

The opening scene was so surreal in nature, that is almost put me off the story--things were happening that just don't happen in real life! Of course, that opening totally makes sense after reading the ending.

I suspect the General Kring section can be trimmed a bit. Take a hard look at anything that seems like commentary, such as "would have beheaded their own mothers’ without hesitation." That sort of thing.

You have a lot to be proud of here. You're a master magician in my book. Please do not stop writing. This is my favorite story of the challenge. I'm putting you on my shelf, right next to The Trial of Sparkle Bear.

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar February 5, 2013 - 12:10pm

Ethan,

Thank you so much! That completes a real mixed bag of reviews! All useful though. I'm glad you enjoyed it, I was hoping for a "Wow!" and some advice from this contest :-) You're right in that I kind of hid focus in the first section - it's definitely something to work on if it doesn't quite hold attention. Happy to be sitting on your shelf although it doesn't sound like a very safe place if I'm next to Sparkle Bear. I've just read it - was really good!!

Matt

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday February 5, 2013 - 5:44pm

That was a nice twist. I'm afraid I don't have any advice that hasn't already been covered in the comments above.  Good idea. 

JC Piech's picture
JC Piech from England is reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest February 17, 2013 - 2:35pm

Very cool. I liked this a lot! As other people have mentioned, it does need some tightening. I felt you spent a bit too much time saying how terrible it was that the characters ancestors were forced into cannibalism and incest - I think you made the original point very well and then repeated it too much. 

I could see there was going to be a twist when I read 'Twenty years ago my great great great great grandmother...' I was thinking maybe it was bacteria of some kind. But I was surprised by your twist all the same! :)

Good work!

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar February 18, 2013 - 1:02am

Hey!

Thanks for the advice - glad you liked it :-)

Matty

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland February 17, 2013 - 2:54pm

Matty,

I'll start by saying I liked it. I do think you need to keep the prose simple. It is the point of veiw of the spider after all, but I still think the prose is just full of alot of mistakes that new writers(including myself) often make. You said you joined the workshop right? I was going to do an lbl for you but I couldn't manipulate the text in the format you uploaded it in. If you decide to throw this in the workshop and upload it as a Microsoft Word .doc I can give you a thourough review and I can show you some craft essays on the site and general tips that can take this story from just being good to being really riveting.

It was bogged down with a whole lot of passive voice, and while I think some is necesary for a story like this I still feel it can be strengthened to eleminate alot of it. Also, you have many great opportunities to show more action to really paint a picture and it falls a little flat with all the "telling" instead.

The story as a whole was reallly good. I didn't expect the twist and it was a pleasant and refreshing surprise. I think if you work on the delivery and the crafting of the story a little more this story could be really something. You got my thumbs up!!!

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar February 18, 2013 - 1:07am

Hey Jonathan,

That would be brilliant, thanks a lot for the offer! I shall go and investigate the workshops later!

Matty

dufrescm's picture
dufrescm from Wisconsin is reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep February 18, 2013 - 1:50pm

Matty - 

Good concept!  But I think Jonathan hit the nail on the head about the "telling" - I felt like the whole time I was being told a story, rather than painted a picture.  

Start by going through the whole story and crossing out every instance of "were" (or really any variant of "is") and replace it with action - I want to see characters doing things, not "being" things.

Second, fill out the details. Show me places - the unique details that make a place special and stand out. For example - Is there dirt in the corners? Are there broken windows? Can we see sky?  Use those kinds of details to make your places feel real, especially in a world destroyed by nuclear holocaust.

Third - focus on the characters.  Show me their body language, their quirks, the way they see the world. But try to avoid "thought" statements - just show me their perspective through the way they interact with others and with the world around them.

 

If you have a workshop membership now, you should spend some time reading the crafting essays that it unlocks, especially Chuck Palahniuk's essays.  They are amazing resources to help you fine-tune your storytelling skills.

 

Keep up the good work, and good luck in editing!

--Christa

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar March 3, 2013 - 2:52pm

Thanks Christa,

Some helpful stuff in there. I was a little cautious with my description as I didn't want to give the twist away. You're right though, there is so much in the world I can explore without endangering that! I will look up the craft essays - thanks foe the tip!

Matty

Shane Berryhill's picture
Shane Berryhill February 18, 2013 - 3:08pm

Matty, bravo on having the stones to place your story out in the world. I like your concept, but I think your execution could be improved. I suggest taking a look at THE ELEMENTS OF STYLES By EB White and William J Strunk. It's long been considered the writer's bible.

Cheers,

Shane Berryhill

In a society where owning books makes you an outlaw, literature is kept alive by "burners," those who wage war for books by reciting their pages in rap-style battles called "burns." BURN by Shane Berryhill features "Reader" on the night of the biggest burn in his life. Reader must face off against "Shakespeare" for the title of "Librarian" while the Tolstoys, the Austens, the Wells, the Vernes, and all the other burner gangs look on. BURN is a tribute to the work of Ray Bradbury and a love letter to the written word.

Read, rate, and review BURN here: http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/burn
 

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar March 3, 2013 - 2:56pm

Thanks shane. I've just started reading Stephen King's on writing, and he concurs on the bible :-) I'll give it a look!

Matty

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 28, 2013 - 2:40am

A good twist makes you want to go back and re-read, and this did that to me.  It was nice to be able to re-evaluate the piece based on that.  It’s a neat trick, and I like the way you pull the rug out from under our feet.  You play with perception, and you do it well.
 

There is a danger of tilting the entire story on a twist though.  The rest of it has to work, and I’m not sure it does here.  The entire first sequence is written in a way that feels rushed and off-hand, and it did almost lose my attention.  I think your revelation does make sense of some of it, but I don’t see why Zarchius wouldn’t be wary given his rival’s newly evolved advantages.  In a dog eat dog world where the one with the biggest teeth wins, your protag has an advantage that is not used or even hinted at.


What you have here is the bones of a very good twisted little tale.  You start not with exposition, but with a fight sequence, and that is a good choice, it’s just over a little too quickly.  You build the background well, and if you don’t provide a lot of colour to the world, that’s understandable when you don’t want to give away the twist.  I notice Arlane Enalra suggested coming back to this a little way down the line, and that’s not a bad idea.  It is such a good idea for a story, I’d love to see it developed further.  You also have one of my favourite lines from the entire competition, that is so ridiculous and yet perfect – “If you’re aiming to wipe all life forms from the face of the Earth, it is important to check that my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother isn’t hiding in the corner.”

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar March 3, 2013 - 2:48pm

Hey Adam! Thanks so much for the read and the constructive criticism! Its my first time sharing writing with other writers so your advice is much appreciated! I will definitely be revisiting this piece some time down the line, it seems that people do like the concept so it'll be worth putting some more effort into it. Glad you like the line, I usually write humour and I can't resist a little bit of quirk even in a more sensible piece!!
Thanks, matty

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations March 2, 2013 - 10:48am

(SPOILERS)

Hi Matty,

Read your story mainly because of the intriguing title, and then umm-ed and ahh-ed over my vote, before weighing it on the positive side because ultimately, it's fun!

I'd recommend some fairly major surgery, though, because the knowledge of your narrator makes it less credible. Think about what that great-great... (etc) relative would know, and what she would pass onto her offspring, and then down the line. Allow for chinese whispers. Would she know Kring's reasons? (Do we? Do we belive this meglamania actually chose to wipe out all but himself?) Would she know what "Neo-communism" is? The date? If so, how?

Whether you need the "plugged in" clones or not is a mute point. The spiders could still wreck revenge as long as the humans are living in the bunker. Or even not - if they humans begin to emerge once again, the spiders can go hunting! What you have created is a world with only two lifeforms - for there to be a LOT of spiders, would require them to somehow have sustained themselves - perhaps they have been taking blood from the humans all along? (While they sleep - or are plugged in, if you keep that idea)

I'd like a little more on the spider evolution as well - obviously, 20 years of fighting should select for certain types - so that the narrator is half the size of the "bully" seems odd. Maybe some of that venom could have been developing all along? Maybe they don't taste so good! I do love the idea of the "accidental passenger" on the ark, the best laid plans falling foul of that beast lurking in the corner...

Watch out for hero narrators (it's always tempting, but...) - the fact this is the first - the ONLY venomous spider - is strange. (And not really the way we expect evolution to work - though there is always that background radiation...) There could be more - a generation or two, but maybe they've been keeping it quiet, until there's enough of them. You don't necessarily need Cortis to be the hero, and you don't strictly need the revenge to start "tomorrow".

Liam

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar March 3, 2013 - 3:03pm

Hi Liam,

Thanks for your feedback and the benefit of the doubt on the vote :-) You've made some good suggestions and asked some useful questions, you're not the first to doubt the narrators credibility so I definitely need to think about that!

Matty

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff March 5, 2013 - 6:10am

Hi Matty,

Nice concept and all, but as it is the story reads halfway between a synopsis and a probably longer story than just 4000 words. I get you're new here, so I suggest you read the very awesome essays on writing in the workshop. It's not just wonderful words of advice from great writers, they also form a shared vocabulary of literary concepts that we all refer to here.

So, the first thing I noticed is you have to unpack. It's a basic tool we use in order to show vs tell. So, when you say people is having a great time at the party, you must describe as much as you can so that the reader can draw a mental image from your words. Use as many specific verbs as you can. Describe the setting, the jokes attendees are making, the stuff they're drinking and its effects. That will establish a mood, and once a mood is established it can be more effectively destroyed by the enemy coming to ruin the party.

About Zarchius, for example, the battle should be showing longer and more difficult. It's not enough to say that he's very dangerous if you don't show that it takes days to kill him, or an army, or an extremely clever trick. We don't believe you, you see, you have to convince us. Unpacking like hell.

Another thing I noted, you call the new way people sustain themselves by the general name of "technology". See, I would never call my telephone "this here technology". I call it "my telephone", or "this iphone", or so. Give that technology a specific name, it will strengthen the authority of you narration.

I would have done a LBL had your file been not read-only, but you have enough to work with for the moment anyway. 

Cheers,
C

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar March 5, 2013 - 11:43am

Hey!

Thanks a lot for the advice - the naming of technology is a brand new one and is definitely a good idea! You're right too, I've had lots of comments and advice. I think that in a few weeks time I'll give it a rewrite and get it up in the workshops once its had a revamp.

Cheers!!

Matty

Kate Bosco's picture
Kate Bosco from Natick, MA is reading The Passage by Justin Cronin March 14, 2013 - 2:52pm

*SPOILERS*

A terrific twist! I actually kind of glad that, were this to happen, I wouldn't survive to welcome our spider overlords. I also think that the whole "bringing all humans to the same level" scheme was pretty inventive.
But the beginning is *rough*. The fight scene was too fast and it turned me off initially. You might lose readers before they get to the meaty bits. Spend some more time at the party and on the showdown. It will probably be difficult to do without giving away the twist, but general adjectives (like athletic, hairy, enormous, etc) can be used to great effect. Show some more interaction between the protagonist and the other guests in addition to the (first) villain.  Also, might I suggest putting the party scene in present tense? It might go over better when its in a more active voice.
Just curious: how big are these spiders anyway? I assume the grandmother was smaller since she was able to give birth to so many, but how much have they grown in the course of their evolution?

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar March 20, 2013 - 10:37am

Hi Kate!

Thanks a lot for the comment and advice. I will definitely think along the ambiguous adjectives line when im updating! The present tense is an interesting thought too. I think i focused on the twist so much that i automatically thought of everything as past tense! So many good suggestions from here, its going to be a tricky edit!!

i didn't actually think of the spiders as being huge myself as i saw one human as being a big prize for the whole family. I guess it could work either way. I quite like to let the reader fill in gaps like that with their own imagination too

Cheers again,

Matt

Maria Stanislav's picture
Maria Stanislav from the UK is reading ALL the submissions! March 20, 2013 - 9:56am

It sure took me a long time to get to this story - but I'm so glad I did, in the end. I loved the trick you pulled here. A lot of the technical side has been commented on. I'm on board with the 'tightening' comments, but not the 'unpacking' ones. I think the simple prose you use works well for your narrator - to someone who has no clue who/what he is, the first scene reads as being told by a barbarian. If you introduce extra details there in order to paint the scene better, I'd err on the side of under-telling, just to be sure you don't spoil things too early. Agree with Kate's 'present tense' suggestion - it creates more immediacy.

I'd say that the trickiest bit to work on is the exposition dump on humanity. This is where your choice of narrator makes telling things exceedingly difficult, because you have to constantly question exactly how much a spider would know and understand, what words it would use to describe things, etc. - while at the same time telling enough for the reader to understand (in my own story, I settled for describing nuclear explosions in terms of clouds, and received some complaints about ambiguity - and that's even with my narrator being humanoid).

Adam's choice of the favourite line from the story, ("If you’re aiming to wipe all life forms from the face of the Earth, it is important to check that my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother isn’t hiding in the corner") would have to be my favourite as well. In one sentence, you infuse your narrator with so much personality - awesomely done!

As a whole, I loved it, and I tip my hat to you for pulling this not-quite-bunny out of your hat. Thanks for posting this!

Maria

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar March 20, 2013 - 10:55am

Hey Maria,

Thanks a lot for the review and the helpful comments! I think I agree with them all to be honest! I'm going to add some detail, but you're right - I still need to undertell for the sake of the twist.

Glad you enjoyed it!

Matty

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar March 23, 2013 - 11:13am

Hey everyone! Just incase you're interested, I've taken much of the advice I've received here, revamped this and put it in the workshops. Further advice would be much appreciated. Hopefully it's an improvement!

http://litreactor.com/workshop/sub/an-incy-wincy-holocaust-2600-words

Cheers

Matty