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Horror Story Intro - Requesting Feedback

2 months ago
The moon casts an eerie, seemingly ethereal glow upon the gently falling onslaught of white that bites at the skin of four lost souls as they brazenly make their way across the slippery, shining street. Through the dark, a panicking, bullheaded boy leads them closer to the side gate of a house that overlooks a cul de sac. Unintentionally, he slams his left shoulder onto the hard, soaked wood as he crouches against one of the tall planks that connects it to both sides of the structure.

Knowing his little accident was both noticed and made considerable noise, he grunts his teeth and slams his head into his palms, a surge of anger quickly washing through him. He curses, mostly regaining his composure, and motions for the following three to take spots along the wall behind him. As they hesitantly act upon his direction, he then gestures for all to stay quiet, one shaking finger put to his gashed lips.

The four teens sit there in silence for fifteen seconds; the established rule everyone must abide by when a considerable noise is made while outside the safehouse.

There is the lonely rattling of a fence, the gentle but unsettling ring of some porch chimes, the chilling wind in their ears, and some creaking from a set of open window shutters somewhere. Other than that, all is appearing well, for now.

With a sigh that is filled with worry and anxiety, the leading kid nods to his ever weary companions, and turns to slowly push open the wooden gate they all face. He carefully checks behind the door and to his left, but sees nothing but the white walls of an abandoned house, the night almost making it gray. He then gazes out through the black and scans what little he can see of the backyard.

Just like it was before, part of the empty sandbox, and there's the tipped over slide next to the ruined kiddy pool. It appears the others are still safe.

“Colter?” The only girl in the group quietly calls.

The boy snaps out of his whirling thoughts and back into reality. Looking back, he replies, “Sorry. Can't be too careful.”

Then, he spins his head back into the direction of their home, and his shaking becomes worse for a second.

“Let's go,” he dreadfully growls.

Overhead, a black drone records four entirely oblivious adolescents making their way to a boarded up house through a smart middle path that cuts through two trap-filled backyards. But wait, there's no light coming from it.

Just a few minutes of watching, and suddenly one comes on inside after the leading boy shines his battered, cracked flashlight towards the house. One two, one two. He's done it countless times at this point, but his stomach still sinks during the wait.

After what seems like an eternity in the cold, the back door opens to reveal another kid, a taller boy brandishing a shotgun, who ushers them in quickly. Him and the one who appears in charge share some muted words, before Shotgun Boy nods almost reluctantly and shoots one last glance out into the night, and the door is shut. Another eternity later, the light goes off, and all is back to silence and stillness.

They were discovered, and so was their base. The drone hovers high above and around the two-story home. All of its windows and doors are completely boarded shut, save that back entrance. That one probably has a laughable set of locks on it, that's what all the waiting may have been for. The two yards they cut through to get here were littered with raised ground and slightly visible wires, as is the front yard of this home. They have a very good system going, and they are well armed and defended.

Seemingly smarter than the others, but it's still not enough.

The drone changes course and does one last quick scan of the house before flying off into the night.

They are coming, now, and the only remaining kids in this entire town aren't ready.

This is their last night.

Horror Story Intro - Requesting Feedback

2 months ago
Commended by mizal on 10/5/2022 10:02:54 AM
As a disclaimer, I hate horror with a passion and therefore don’t read or watch much of the genre, so if something I critique is a time honored tradition among horror authors, forgive my ignorance.

The first thing about this passage that bothered me a little was the fact that it’s in present tense. I really don’t think it adds anything stylistically and just becomes a roadblock unless you’re planning to switch to second person and the protagonist is viewing this. If not, I would personally suggest moving it to past tense to keep everything neat and tidy.

Secondly, there are a few word choice issues throughout. The first is the word “seemingly” modifying “ethereal.” Why can’t it just be ethereal. It weakens your description for no real reason. The second, in the same sentence, is the word “brazenly.” I’m not sure you know what “brazenly” means, but try inserting its synonym “shamelessly” in the same place and see if it still makes sense. The third is the description of Colter. You called him “panicking” and “bullheaded” which is just confusing. You do a good enough job showing us that he’s wary of his situation that you don’t really have to tell us that he’s panicking. As for “bullheaded,” that means that he should hold to his ideas and beliefs stubbornly. That is not shown and also makes no sense paired with “panicking.” The fourth issue is the phrase “Unintentionally, he slams.” Honestly, that kinda cracked me up, but I assume that was not your intention. The adverb probably shouldn’t start the sentence in my opinion. It weakens the action.

I’m going to take the time to mention a plot issue with that sentence though. I can only assume that your idea was that he was panicking to the point of carelessness, but I can’t imagine many people accidentally slamming into a fence sneaking around at night. It might make more sense for him to step on a twig or just trip in the dark.

Anyway, back to word choice. People don’t grunt their teeth. They grit their teeth. This critique is not opinion, but fact. The next one can be ignored depending on backstory, but if Colter’s lips were damaged by the cold, “cracked” would convey that more clearly than “gashed.” The next thing is his “ever weary companions.” This produces the image in my mind that all three of his friends have narcolepsy. If not, you may want to remove “ever.”

Next, and the hardest to explain, “dreadfully growls.” The only way I can think to explain why this doesn’t work is the fact that Colter is the one growling, but the idea that something is dreadful requires the point of view of someone who is the object of the growl. It’s kind of like how I can frighten someone by pushing them, but I can’t push someone frighteningly. I’m sure there’s a better way to explain, but that’s the best I’ve got.

You also describe them taking a “smart path,” and it’s not really clear what “smart” means in that context. My biggest word choice gripe comes next. You are not allowed to talk about a boy holding a shotgun, then have him “shoot” a glance. If I read the word “shotgun”, if the word “shoot” is in the same paragraph (maybe even the same page) something has to be shot, or I am incredibly disappointed.

The remaining issue after word choice is your writing voice. When you switch from focusing on the kids to the drone or just exposition, it’s kind of jarring, and unless the protagonist is the one watching this, it doesn’t help anything. I’m also pretty certain that you need to get rid of the “but wait” thing. It’s too close to breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience.

One last possible critique is that last line: “This is their last night.” Now you’ve set expectations. If everyone dies, I will be disappointed because I knew that was going to happen from the beginning. If anyone survives, I’m going to be angry because you gave me that last line. If you have a plan to handle those expectations, it’s all well and good. If not, I warned you.

I do want to also highlight what you did well. This is genuinely excellent description. You did a great job setting the scene. You also did a pretty good job building the tension that is critical in a horror story. That, I imagine, will only get better as characterization unfolds.

Horror Story Intro - Requesting Feedback

2 months ago
Thank you for this thoughtful feedback.

Horror Story Intro - Requesting Feedback

20 days ago
No sooner did the village gather did the metal rocks burst open, revealing the men of iron inside. They exited their vessels, unfolding slowly and inhumanely, until they stood at least three times the size of a normal man. Some had large swords in place of limbs, others had large arms with holes in place of hands. The village stood in awe and stunned collective silence as red lights were produced by the eyes of the men of iron, enveloping the area.

Horror Story Intro - Requesting Feedback

20 days ago
Leaving this here minus the ad link, this bot tried so hard to be creative like the humans.

Horror Story Intro - Requesting Feedback

20 days ago

I spent too long trying to figure out why this sounded so familiar:

Horror Story Intro - Requesting Feedback

20 days ago
I said it was TRYING to be creative, not that it was any good at it.

Horror Story Intro - Requesting Feedback

one month ago
Commended by mizal on 10/5/2022 6:44:30 PM
There are two things that keep me from enjoying this, the point of view and the quality of the writing. At first I thought this was a third-person omniscient pov, but suddenly, you introduce a drone that changes the pov in the first half to a third-person limited pov. After that the pov gets muddled. If it's a third-person limited pov, why is the drone mentioned? If it's a third-person omniscient pov, why isn't the drone mentioned at the beginning? Honestly, the quality of your writing in this feels like a first draft. First of all, you use too many -ly adverbs. A few every so often is fine, but you're overusing them and it weakens the prose. For example:
“Colter?” The only girl in the group quietly calls.
Why do you need to say the only girl when the girl conveys the same thing? Are you uncertain the reader will understand she's the only girl in the group? It's redundant, imo. Another thing, why quietly calls (when she's asking) instead of whispers, mutters, or murmurs? second example:
Seemingly smarter than the others, but it's still not enough.
Is seemingly really needed here if it doesn't matter if the kids are smarter or not? Ask yourself if a -ly adverb is necessary, if there might be a more accurate word than modifying a word like calls with quietly, or if you can reword a sentence to get rid of a -ly. You can't get rid of them all, but eliminating as many as you can should strengthen your writing. (See: Adverbs Are Killing Your Writing or this.) Next, your first sentence:
The moon casts an eerie, seemingly ethereal glow upon the gently falling onslaught of white that bites at the skin of four lost souls as they brazenly make their way across the slippery, shining street.
I hate this sentence, mostly because it does a disservice to my memories of winter nights on a full moon with a fresh, undisturbed blanket of snow on the ground. The three fucking -lies in this sentence don't help either, and I doubt an onslaught would fall gently. Anyway, I think this sentence should be two independent clauses; it flows awkwardly. You can say snow and, for the sake of conciseness, icy (instead of slippery, shining). (For conciseness, see: this and this.) At a glance, you have five instances of passive voice. The ones that stand out the most are in past tense:
They were discovered, and so was their base.
The two yards they cut through to get here were littered with raised ground and slightly visible wires, as is the front yard of this home.
In the first sentence you're telling the reader something they already know, so you can just delete it. Imo, the second sentence (were littered with) comes from the pov switching and can be fixed by sticking to one pov. In this sentence:
Him and the one who appears in charge share some muted words, before Shotgun Boy nods almost reluctantly and shoots one last glance out into the night, and the door is shut.
You can clarify who shuts the door and rearrange it like so:
and Colter shuts the door.
Passive voice usually happens when the object takes the place of the subject and vice versa (clarity is an issue too, as shown above). There are times when passive voice is okay, like this sentence:
The door is closed.
The door closed.
If you remove is to make the sentence active, it changes the meaning. The first sentence implies the current state of the door while the second implies the door closing has been witnessed in some way. Or something like that. (See: This and this. Yes, the second link is fucking Grammarly, but it's an okay overview of verb tenses since they're mentioned in the comments of the first link.) Your setting has more character than the actual characters. You tell us that Colter is panicking and bullheaded, but you don't show us that. Colter shows the most personality when he gets frustrated with making noise and makes more noise because of it, except that part where anger washes through him. Brazenly doesn't say anything about how the kids get across an icy street. If they're brazenly crossing the street, they're acting like drunk fratboys at a party. Sighs shouldn't be filled with emotions either. Instead of showing us how your characters act when they experience an emotion or how your character is a personality trait, you lazily tell us that they're angry or bullheaded. You could give the girl, for example, more personality by changing this:
“Colter?” The only girl in the group quietly calls.
To something like this:
"Colter!" The girl hisses.
She may still be a nobody, but she's not a faceless token (change only girl to only black boy/girl and think about how it sounds) and she's reacting to the situation. You could even change it to this:
The girl tugs on his shirt. "Colter?" She whispers.
(See: This and this.) Speaking of showing and telling, readers don't need to know Colter's left shoulder hits the fence unless it serves a purpose. If Colter injures his left shoulder and it prevents him from doing something plot changing, then include it. There's this too:
and turns to slowly push open the wooden gate they all face.
They all face is an unnecessary detail. I can tell you're trying to show the reader what's happening in these examples, but too much showing becomes telling. Then you don't show enough here:
Overhead, a black drone records four entirely oblivious adolescents making their way to a boarded up house through a smart middle path that cuts through two trap-filled backyards.
You don't realize how forgettable that sentence is. When I got to the end I couldn't remember the kids crossing two backyards, just a street. I checked again just to make sure I wouldn't have to yell at you for omitting an important detail. Glossing over it like that and introducing the drone to get away with it is just as bad, imo. TL;DR: Unless this is The Exorcist, someone is possessed, or there's a serial killer, heads shouldn't spin. And fix your shit.