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Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

Been working on this for a little bit, and it's sitting at around 7k words so far.  It's about a couple of kids living in North Carolina that manage to summon a demon in their home.  This is the first page, ending in a "continue" choice, and now that the back to back contests are over I'll have some time to work on it.  I'd appreciate any sort of feedback, ideas, or advice you guys got!

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"So, all I have to do is lay out the candles?"

"Uhm... yeah. Pig's blood, two pints and paint a star with it. Then the petals from a purple rose, and candles in between the spokes."

"What about the con...duet?"

"Oh, shit, yeah, the conduit."

"Hey! Don't curse, you know He's watching!" I looked up at Andreas just as his pale face peeked over the candle he was holding. His curly brown hair glowed hauntingly as the flame bounced off of it. His small hands trembled while cupping the candle with both hands; it was hard to believe such a skittish kid was my younger brother sometimes.

"You didn't forget what we're doing, did you? I hope He's watching. Now hurry up and get something we can use." He sighed and stood up, running out into rest of the house. As he went, I slid the remaining candle in place and sat back on the pinewood floors, waiting.

The dim candlelight made even the most innocuous thing in our bedroom the stuff of nightmares. Shadows lengthened, details faded, and every peep of red light, like the blinking one from the fire alarm, became a beady eye. I'd taken down the glow-in-the-dark stars that had been on our ceiling earlier, but if I tampered with the fire alarm, I wasn't sure whether my parents would know. Candlelight was supposed to be the only source, so I hoped we'd get a pass on that small infraction. Little footsteps pounded on the wood floors as Andreas returned.

"This is the only thing I could find, Eli. But we can't use it! I think we just might have to wait." He held a small stuffed animal behind his back nervously. I rolled my eyes.

"Andy, hand it over," I said, holding out my hand. "Mom and Dad are only going to be out so long, we don't have time to wait." He reluctantly took his hands out from behind his back, revealing a large, white, stuffed polar bear.

"Okay, but you can't hurt Jerry, alright?"

"Promise."

He placed the bear in the middle of the circle delicately, making sure none of its limbs grazed the fire. His eyes flickered nervously up at me as I reached for the small, leather-bound book laying next to us.

"Who to summon... who to summon," I asked. "What about Beelzebub, lord of the flies?" Andreas stuck out his tongue in disgust and I laughed. "Okay, okay. Uhm... how about Amon?"

"What's he like?"

"Says in here that he 'repairs relationships', he can't be that bad." He nodded his head, and I skimmed through the book until I found the summoning words, and then cleared my throat.

“O Mighty Satan. I beseech thee to inspire Amon to manifest before me that he may give me true and faithful audience, so that I may accomplish my desired end, provided that it is properly bargained. This I respectfully and humbly ask in Your Name, Lord Satan, may you deem me worthy, Father.”

There was a palpable silence, as a gentle breeze wafted through our window and played with the rose petals. They scattered outside the pig's blood and throughout our room. That's when we heard something shatter within the house.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago
Commended by mizal on 1/7/2020 9:40:10 PM
A few quick hit comments.

I'd start a new paragraph for: I looked up at Andreas ... That gave me the impression that I was the speaker of the previous dialogue, which made me even more confused as I read the rest of the paragraph (because it didn't seem right - and it wasn't).

"His small hands trembled while cupping the candle with both hands; it was hard to believe such a skittish kid was my younger brother sometimes." ... For this, I'd cross out "with both hands." It's repetitive.

"The dim candlelight made even the most innocuous thing in our bedroom the stuff of nightmares." ... I'd like you to show me what the innocuous "thing" is - and why it's frightening. I think the following sentence can serve as the meat for that. Then you can talk about the fire alarm in a different sentence and give the alarm's light some more focus; it sounds important. On a similar note, you say "like the blinking one from the fire alarm" - that's suggesting to me that there are other sources of blinking red lights.

"Mom and Dad are only going to be out so long, we don't have time to wait. ... Looks like a comma splice. But maybe he talks like that, without taking the full pause.

"Who to summon... who to summon," I asked. ... Replace the comma with a question mark. This could be construed as a statement I guess, but you're telling us it's a question.

Andreas stuck out his tongue in disgust and I laughed. ... Run on. Needs a comma after disgust. Or remove "and" and add a semicolon.

They scattered outside the pig's blood and throughout our room. ... I would consider rephrasing or clarifying this.

That's when we heard something shatter within the house. ... I think you'll create a bigger impact if you tighten this up. Maybe a new paragraph and a short and sweet ... Something shattered downstairs.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

Hell yeah, thanks Bucky.  Those changes make it flow far more naturally.  I'll have to work on the candlelight paragraph a little more.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago
I can respect getting right to the plothook, but is there going to be some breathing space to get to know the characters? I spent most of this just thinking 'wow what a couple of little retards'. If they go right to being in peril after this, there hasn't been much chance to get attached.

The POV character in particular is not super sympathetic right now, mainly because I figure if you're old enough to read, you're old enough to know not to summon Satan in your living room.

I don't have a lot to say about the actual writing, you're good enough at that part that nothing from my standard advice box applies.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

After this scene of them summoning the demon, there's a few other things that happen that night and then there's a section during the next morning that elaborates more on the boys' lives, and might clear up their personalities a little more.  It's probably one of the longer projects I've attempted, this is just the hook.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago
Commended by mizal on 1/7/2020 9:41:44 PM

>'repairs relationships',

Commas go inside quotation marks.

 

> “O Mighty Satan. I beseech thee to inspire Amon to manifest before me that he may give me true and faithful audience, so that I may accomplish my desired end, provided that it is properly bargained. This I respectfully and humbly ask in Your Name, Lord Satan, may you deem me worthy, Father.”

Are they calling Satan "thou/thee" or "you"?  You switch here.  If you want thou, should be "Thy Name" and "mayst thou" in the last bit.

 

I recommend experimenting with cumulative sentences.  Think how cool it would be if this:

> Shadows lengthened, details faded, and every peep of red light, like the blinking one from the fire alarm, became a beady eye.

became something like this:

Shadows lengthened, detail fading, every peep of red light, like the blinking one from the fire alarm, becoming a beady eye.

 

 

 

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

Just read your article.  I might have to go through what I've already written now, knowing such specific information.  Changed all of them to the "thee" format as well, I didn't even notice that I'd switched.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago
Okay fine, I guess there were things to say about the writing. It was just easier to let other people do it.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago
Commended by mizal on 1/7/2020 9:39:48 PM
First, the disclaimers: this is my review. It is likely not like anyone else’s. In fact, you probably couldn’t find anyone else who completely agrees with what I write here. But it’s my opinion. I’m also writing this as I read through this for the first time. These are my first impressions as I read it. I’m not saying they’re right, just what I’m thinking. I haven’t looked at the other reviews or read anything else about this bit before writing this other bit. This is written in the spirit of helping you see how others (okay, me) see your story and to perhaps give you ideas for improvement, and not to be mean or anything else. Please don’t take it personally. This review is likely worth exactly what you paid for it. Finally, you did ask. Here we go: I always stick on the “lay” word, I blame my mom because she always knew the difference between “lay” and “lie,” and I never did. After that, though, I was picturing the scene and from sentence one to sentence two is jarring: I’m picturing someone with candles asking if they’re supposed to put them out. Then the other person says, yeah, pig’s blood. What the hell? I asked about candles you replied “Pig’s Blood.” That’s like me asking if I should set the oven to 350 and being told, “Banana milkshake.” I mean, I guess I understand what’s going on after I complete reading the sentence, it was just jarring as I read it. I wonder if it might make more sense for the response to be something about having to put the candles in a drawing that contains all that stuff instead of starting out with “Pig’s Blood.” Oh wait, the candles are lit. I didn’t get that. When I pictured “laying” them out, I was thinking on their side. That’s how I’d lay out candles. I think if I wanted them to stand up, I’d “set up” the candles or something. I’m a bit worried about “He” with a capital letter, but I guess that’s appropriate given the subject. Doesn’t seem right to me, though. Okay descriptions slipped in there with the pale face and the haunting, glowing hair. Now I’m really getting stuck on the candle words, but that’s what sticks out to me. The brother was cupping the candle while it was burning and he was trying to lay it down. Oh, in the picture. But when he leaves the room, the other guy slides the candle into place. Do lit candles slide? That sounds dangerous and likely to get wax all over the place. Indeed, this is a minor thing, but all those different words just don’t seem to go with candles as I picture them, especially if they’re lit. I would picture the brother gingerly or carefully holding the candle – and if he was trembling while doing it, I think wax is getting splashed somewhere. I think you could set the candle into place, not slide it. The description of the room was interesting. It seemed like you summed up the description, then provided details. I liked the details, just almost didn’t expect them after reading the first sentence. And lights don’t peep. At least I’ve never seen a light peep. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard light make a noise, myself. Oh wait, was that supposed to be “peek?” No, that probably wouldn’t work well, either. Yeah, just blink, while simple, conveys more accuracy for me. I did like how that paragraph explained the blinking light, though. The sentence where he came back with the stuffed animal seems off – the boy says “This is the only thing I could find…,” but since he’s hiding it behind his back. It would be like he’s saying, “Hey, look at this nothing, isn’t it great?” I get that he’s reluctant to show it, but if he’s going to say “this” it would seem that he would have to have something out there to actually see. Maybe he could have it by his side and slowly move it out of sight? Maybe he could turn slightly after showing it to show that reluctance? The section took an interesting turn there towards the end – it was all very dark and very mysterious. It was sad because I’m pretty sure the boy was going to get his favorite stuffed toy turned into a pile of ash. But quite suddenly it’s laughter and entertainment! “Who to summon...” as if he hadn’t planned this whole thing out and was casually trying to make a decision. And the other kid, who just found out his favorite toy is getting used, sticks his tongue out. It was a very sudden transition there. And then, just ask quickly, it turns to wind and shattering things. Overall, a good read. Thank you for sharing, and I hope my comments and random brain train of thought helps a little!

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

Yeah hah, I might have to rewrite things further now, especially concerning the sudden tone shift you mentioned sensing in your last paragraph, dammit!

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

Is this a homage to the Full Metal Alchemist plot? If not, you might want to be careful with the parallels. Two young brothers doing forbidden magic, carefully citing ingredients and drawing the circle, then accidentally summoning a horrific demon/homunculus into their house....you even have the same name initials, E and A. Admittedly, your boys are trying to summon a demon for reasons unknown, and Ed and Al were trying to resurrect the dead with alchemy, but, otherwise, it's a pretty similar starting point.

Which isn't to say you can't use a similar hook. Just be intentional about whether it is meant to be a homage, parody, fan-fiction, or it's own unique thing entirely.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

Aghhh, you've got to be joking.  I've only heard of Full Metal Alchemist, I had literally zero idea that they mirrored each other like that.  The boys in this story aren't summoning a demon to resurrect the dead, and I'm pretty sure that the similarities would likely end with the beginning scenario, but fuck, that's a little egregious.  I'll have to read a summary.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

Here's the two anime versions of the scene. (It was popular enough they remade it to better fit the manga. I never watched the remake nor have I read the manga, but I did watch the original series and most of the movies.)
 

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

I think changing their names would help, if only to minimize the coincidence, since that was what really jumped out at me.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

Yeah, I agree.  What a weird thing, thanks for calling it out.

Eli: A New Project

2 years ago

Hey, Chef. I'm going to start off by explaining what I really liked about your piece. First of all, the suspense-building in this is fantastic. You did an excellent job of creating a 'hook' that draws the reader into the story. I am intrigued to learn more about what happens to our protagonist and his younger brother. The dialogue in this is also great. It drew me right into the scene and the eerie ritual they were performing. 

I like how Andreas' speech and behavioural patterns convey his age to the reader, as opposed to you simply stating he is younger. I also really like how Andreas admonishes Eli for swearing, insisting that 'He is watching'. This is good foreshadowing that the characters are performing a satanic ritual –more specifically, a demon summoning. 

You included a lot of imagery that really helped me to visualize the scene. (E.g. "The dim candlelight made even the most innocuous thing[s] in our bedroom the stuff of nightmares. Shadows lengthened, details faded..."). It's just all very excellently described. Your writing is very atmospheric. I'm also glad to hear that after this section you plan to give a deeper background for the two brothers, since I'd be interested in learning more about them. 

I will now move on to areas for improvement. I will try not to repeat what any of the other commentators have already mentioned, so I apologize if I missed anything. I would consider rephrasing the end of this sentence: "He sighed and stood up, running out into the rest of the house." 'Out into the rest of' just doesn't parse well.

Secondly, I feel like your second-last paragraph should be split up into more sentences. Consider this excerpt: I beseech thee / to inspire Amon / to manifest before me / that he may give me true and faithful audience / so that I may accomplish my desired end / provided that it is properly bargained. Note that I'm not using the slashes to indicate where commas should be, but simply to show how many different parts there are to this sentence. At the start, you have two adverbial phrases, followed by another three independent clauses connected using the conjunctions 'that', 'so that', and 'provided that'. I feel like the last sentence also drags on a bit long with the three commas, though it's not grammatically incorrect. 

Finally, I second Bucky's recommendation to separate the sentence "That's when we heard something shatter within the house" into its own paragraph. You can explain a bit more about exactly what the boys heard, which will help build the suspense. Moreover, I feel like the satanic ritual here has no final finishing touch. I noticed in the beginning of your story that there are proceeding steps to be followed, so why were the brothers disrupted so early? Or will this be explained later on?

Overall, this is a suspenseful and promising start.