rewrite now added-Key in the Shadow- wrk title-

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Crystal
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rewrite now added-Key in the Shadow- wrk title-

Post by Crystal » March 15th, 2010, 8:22 am

Please be honest, I can take it. Thanks.

The snow covered streets are practically deserted. Waves of white fell through the night creating a thick blanket on the ground below. I’ve been watching it pile up for hours unable to sleep. The nightmares are haunting and every time I close my eyes I see his shadow coming at me followed by visions of blood, revenge, and hate. It’s been a long stay in the hospital but I’m not looking forward to going home. It’s just my cat Oliver and I and the thought of being alone in that house scares the hell out of me. I may have to get a dog, a big one. Though I’m not sure how Oliver will react to that.

“Angelina, you get to go home today.” The excited voice of a nurse interrupts my thoughts as she bounces through the door. “The doctor says you’re doing better then expected.” Camilla has been my best friend since high school and I was lucky enough to have her as a nurse much of the time I’ve been here, though undoubtedly she made arrangements for that to happen
.
“Thanks Cam,” My voice is weak but I manage to get the words out loud enough for her to hear. “Gregg’s coming to drive me home. Though, I’m really not looking forward to being out in all that snow,” I nod my head toward the window. It has steadily become colder as my stay here progressed. I completely missed the colors of fall. When I arrived the leaves were showing their first signs of change and by the time I was finally able to look out the window again the branches were bare and I was faced with undeniable visions of winter’s arrival. Now, the plow trucks below are working hard to make the roads passable for the commuters who will soon be on their way to work. The pretty layers of white are moved into large piles topped off with a dark layer of mud.

“I think he likes you” A smile sneaks across her face. I’ve often wondered if she is right. Gregg has been my neighbor for the last few years and a daily visitor, I’ve been told, during my stay. He is renting the other half of the duplex I live in and has been very helpful taking care of things for me when he’s in town. But it seems that every time I let myself think that something is happening between us, he pulls away and disappears for awhile.

“I don’t know why he would like me when he could have someone like you.” I say with laugh. Cam’s tall and slender body is complimented by her long dark hair and stunning green eyes. Her creamy olive complexion is flawlessly smooth and she has curves that could compete with Barbie. Even in her nursing scrubs she looks like a super-model. I am more like her opposite, short, or petite as she prefers to call it, with dark eyes and auburn hair that contrast sharply with my pale skin which currently matches the freshly fallen snow.

“You are such a beautiful woman. I wish you could see that.” She says. Her words send a chill up my spine. Beautiful is not a word I could ever use to describe myself.
Last edited by Crystal on March 16th, 2010, 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Working my very first attempt at a mystery novel. 1st draft

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Matthew MacNish
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Re: Key in the Shadow - wrk title- feedback please.

Post by Matthew MacNish » March 15th, 2010, 8:39 am

Hmm. Hi Crystal, I think this is a decent start. I find myself wondering what put Angelina in the hospital. From the nightmares mentioned it sounds like she may have been attacked, which is intriguing. Is this the first page?

Also you note in your sig that you are working on your first project, a mystery. If this is from that same project I would say that from this page I got the feeling it would be a romance, but that doesn't really matter as you've only just begun.

You've got a couple of grammar (punctuation) errors like capitalizing the first word after quoted dialogue when the dialogue does not complete a sentence and then vs. than but I assume this is just a draft so that's not really very important.

The phrase "though undoubtedly she made arrangements for that to happen" sounds clunky at the end of the second paragraph, maybe something like "though I'm sure she influenced the arrangement" would work better. I'm not sure though so wait to see what others think.

Otherwise good start I think. I like the contrast between the MC and her "lovely" friend, though I'm guessing the MC is more attractive than she tells herself. I find myself looking forward to meeting Gregg. Clean up the voice a little and fix some tiny errors but I think you're off to a good start.

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Re: Key in the Shadow - wrk title- feedback please.

Post by gilesth » March 15th, 2010, 9:15 am

It sounds like you have some really solid back-story that makes these characters real people. There are a lot of questions that I want answered, so I would definitely keep reading, based on what you've written.

I got thrown by your change of tense. Juggling between past and presents tenses can be tricky, and in my opinion (and take it as nothing more than opinion :D ), sticking with one tense is the best way to keep from distracting the reader... however, using present-tense to narrate a flashback helps show the reader that something different is happening in the story at the moment.

Your opening paragraph feels a bit too stream-of-consciousness for my taste. It gets some important information across, so please keep it in, but it didn't quite grab my attention AND plunge me into the story right away. I knew I needed to read more to get to the beginning of the story.

Like I said, you have an intriguing story, and I have some other notes, if you want to hear them. I just don't want to weigh you down with a lot right yet :)

One quick tip, though: you said "It's just my cat Oliver and I..." It's a tricky piece of grammar, and the correct phrase would be "It's just my cat, Oliver, and me..." If you take out Oliver, then you end up with "It's just me..." which is correct. After all, you wouldn't say "At my apartment, it's just I living there." I hope that makes sense :)

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Crystal
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Re: Key in the Shadow - wrk title- feedback please.

Post by Crystal » March 15th, 2010, 12:47 pm

I think this is a decent start. I find myself wondering what put Angelina in the hospital. From the nightmares mentioned it sounds like she may have been attacked, which is intriguing. Is this the first page?
This is the first page, and yes she was attacked and you do get the "rest of the story" so to say a little later in this first chapter.
Also you note in your sig that you are working on your first project, a mystery. If this is from that same project I would say that from this page I got the feeling it would be a romance, but that doesn't really matter as you've only just begun.
Yes there is a bit of romance attached to it, but the main chunk of the story is figuring out what happened to her and who did it.

I agree with a lot of your other suggestions too. Thanks for the feedback.
One quick tip, though: you said "It's just my cat Oliver and I..." It's a tricky piece of grammar, and the correct phrase would be "It's just my cat, Oliver, and me..." If you take out Oliver, then you end up with "It's just me..." which is correct. After all, you wouldn't say "At my apartment, it's just I living there." I hope that makes sense :)
That always sounded funny to my and I couldn't figure out why. lol. Thanks for helping me with that.
Like I said, you have an intriguing story, and I have some other notes, if you want to hear them. I just don't want to weigh you down with a lot right yet :)
sure, send them over. I can always use the help.
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Re: Key in the Shadow - wrk title- feedback please.

Post by GeeGee55 » March 16th, 2010, 12:20 am

I'm not sure where you're at with this, how many drafts you've done,etc. So don't know exactly what you want. My first reaction is that the character's voice is quite strong, may need a bit more work, but it seems you know this young woman. And, it is interesting enough to keep me reading.
Crystal wrote:Please be honest, I can take it. Thanks.

The snow covered streets are practically deserted.
  • I wouldn't begin with this sentence, not really different or intriguing in structure or idea, this next is better
Waves of white snow fell through the night, creating a thick blanket on the ground below my hospital window. I suggested this change because it lets me know immediately someone is in a difficult situation I’ve been watching it pile up for hours, unable to sleep. The nightmares are haunting and - cut, tells what you then show every time I close my eyes I see his shadow coming at me, followed by visions of blood, revenge, and hate. It’s been a long stay in the hospital-cut, if you mention above as I suggested but I’m not looking forward to going home. It’s just my cat Oliver and me and the thought of being alone in that house scares the hell out of me. I may have to get a dog, a big one. Though I’m not sure how Oliver will react to that.

“Angelina, you get to go home today.” My friend, Camilla's excited voice interrupts my thoughts as she bounces through the door. “The doctor says you’re doing better then expected.” She has been my best friend since high school and I was lucky enough to have her as a nurse much of the time I’ve been here, though- cut Undoubtedly she made arrangements for that to happen
.
“Thanks Cam,” My voice is weak out loud but I manage to get the words enough for her to hear-cut. “Gregg’s coming to drive me home. Though,-cut I’m really not looking forward to being out in all that snow,” I nod my head toward the window. It - this sounds as if the window has grown colder, say the weather has steadily become colder as my stay here progressed. I completely missed the colors maybe name the colors to make it visual of fall. When I arrived the leaves were showing their first signs of change and by the time I was finally able to look out the window again, the branches were bare and I was faced with undeniable visions of winter’s arrival. Now, the plow trucks below are working hard to make the roads passable for the commuters who will soon be on their way to work. The pretty layers of white are moved into large piles topped off-cut with a dark layer of mud.

“I think he likes you” A smile sneaks across her face. I’ve often wondered if she is right. Gregg has been my neighbor for the last few years and a daily visitor, I’ve been told, during my stay. He is renting the other half of the duplex I live in and has been very helpful taking care of things for me when he’s in town. But it seems that every time I let myself think that something is happening between us, he pulls away and disappears for awhile.

“I don’t know why he would like me when he could have someone like you. not sure this is phrased quite right, it almost makes me think he could have Cam but chose Angelina” I say with laugh. Cam’s tall and slender body is complimented by her long dark hair and stunning green eyes. Her creamy olive complexion is flawlessly smooth and she has curves that could compete with Barbie. Even in her nursing scrubs she looks l ike a super-model. I am more like-cut her opposite, short, or petite as she prefers to call it, with dark eyes and auburn hair that contrast sharply with my pale skin which currently matches the freshly fallen snow.

“You are such a beautiful woman. I wish you could see that.” She says. Her words send a chill up my spine. Beautiful is not a word I could ever use to describe myself.
I'm liking what you have so far, wondering what happened to Angelina, what will happen with Gregg and if she will discover that she is beautiul - a thing I've struggled with myself. Good luck with it.

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Re: Key in the Shadow - wrk title- feedback please.

Post by Ellie G » March 16th, 2010, 6:39 pm

At the scene level, I think it works well; there's a tension that's introduced early (what will happen when she gets home? why is she in the hospital?) that carries the interest through.

On a sentence level, though, it could be smoother and stronger.

P1: This beginning doesn't grab me. Within the first two sentences, you have two different tenses, no sign of the protagonist, and scene-setting (outdoors in the snow) that's completely different from where the rest of the scene takes place. Also, you use a lot of "to be": streets are, I've been, nightmares are, it's been, I'm not, It's just, I'm not. This makes it feel static. Compare (as an example):
All night, I've watched the snow piling up outside my hospital room window. I see his shadow every time I close my eyes, followed by visions of blood, revenge, and hate. I don't want to go home yet. The thought of being alone, with no one but my cat Oliver in the house, scares the hell out of me. I should get a dog, a big one. Though I don't know how Oliver would react to that.

P2: In p1, she's thinking about going home; in p3, she says she already has a ride lined up. This makes "Angelina, you get to go home today" sound like a big "As you know, Bob." Does adding "since high school" to "best friend" give needed information? It's a small point, but it does make a difference. "She's my best friend" keeps the action in the here and now; "best friend since high school" pauses the action ever so briefly to drop in backstory.

Also, we're in a pretty tight third-person POV in Angelina's head; it seems jarring to say "voice of a nurse" when Angelina would know instantly who it was. It's also awkward for her to think "undoubtedly she made arrangements for that to happen." More likely, she'd think something like, "I've been so lucky to have her as my nurse. I can't imagine what strings she pulled to make that happen."

P3: I appreciate the effect you're going for, using the changing seasons to convey how long she's been in the hospital, but I think it's getting lost under too much description. Compare:
I’m really not looking forward to being out in all that snow.” The leaves were just beginning to turn, the day they brought me in. By the time I even felt well enough to look out the window, the branches were bare.

P4: The content is good, intriguing even, but it's almost all "to be": she is, Gregg has been, is renting, has been, when he's in town, is happening. Work to frame it with active words to keep the momentum going: "Gregg rents the other half of my duplex." "He helps out a lot." "But every time I think I feel a spark, he pulls away." Etc.

P5: I feel like I'm losing Angelina's voice in this paragraph. Most people don't look at their friends and think "her creamy olive complexion is flawlessly smooth." They think things like "Even in her nursing scrubs she looks like a supermodel." That gives me a better mental image than "stunning green eyes." Also, the line about her skin feels like stepping out of Cam's head and describing from the outside (an outside observer could look from her face to the snow and back to make the comparison; Cam, unless she is holding a mirror, is not going to do that). Again, most people don't think "I look like the freshly fallen snow," they think "I know I look terrible" or "I probably look like a ghost" or whatever. Angelina's voice is so strong in the first paragraph, with the lines about the dog and Oliver, I want to hear more from her.

On a technical level, study how to properly punctuate dialogue. You're putting commas where you need periods and vice-versa.

It's a good start; it just needs fine-tuning to realize its full potential.

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Crystal
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Re: Key in the Shadow - wrk title- feedback please.

Post by Crystal » March 16th, 2010, 8:06 pm

GeeGee55, thanks for the feedback, it was very helpful.

Ellie G, This is still my first draft and I have yet to work on my grammar. lol. I will save that till way later as I only want to deal with it once. :)
Thank you for pointing out your thoughts on voice. This story is supposed to be her view on things and (as you can tell) I am having a hard time with this POV. I am, however, determined to make it work tough or not. Your tips will definitely help me.

Thanks.
Working my very first attempt at a mystery novel. 1st draft

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Re: Key in the Shadow - wrk title- feedback please.

Post by chomsnumnum » March 16th, 2010, 9:25 pm

I think you have an OK start here for a first draft. I'm interested to find out more about what happened to put her in the hospital, so that's a good start.
The second sentence changed tense so that was confusing right off the bat. And then the tense changes back and forth.
Ellie's comments about craft are excellent and I would take her suggestions.
I'm not a fan of these police blotter character descriptions. I always enjoy it more when as a reader, I'm allowed to come up with my own vision of the character. Also creamy olive makes me think of a sandwhich. Unless there's a good reason to put in all these physical descriptions, I'd leave more to the imagination.
You have a good main character and an interesting question, keep working on your craft and revisions.

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Crystal
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Re: Key in the Shadow - wrk title- feedback please.

Post by Crystal » March 16th, 2010, 10:57 pm

ok I did some reworking and this is what I have come up with. I am sure I still need to work the grammar and punctuation and such. Anyway, here it goes.

I’ve been watching snow create a thick blanket in the streets below my hospital window for hours now. Every time I close my eyes I see his shadow and I’d much rather watch the waves of white then relive the feelings of revenge and hate that accompany the shadowy image.

I’m going home today, and though it’s been a long stay here, I don’t want to. I live with my cat, Oliver, and the thought of being alone in that house scares the hell out of me. I may have to get a dog, a big one. Though I’m not sure how Oliver will react to that.

“Angelina, you’re going home today.” Cam’s excited voice interrupts my thoughts as she bounces through the door. “The doctor told me he’s impressed with all your progress. He wasn’t sure you’d be home before Christmas.” Camilla’s my best friend and a nurse here at Rochester Methodist Hospital. To the best of my knowledge she never worked in this ward before now and I can only assume she flashed her pretty smile and pulled any necessary strings to be here for me.

“Thanks Cam.” I reply. “Gregg’s coming to drive me home. I’m really not looking forward to being out in all that snow though.” I laugh nodding my head toward the window. The day they brought me here the leaves had just begun to change and by the time I was able to look out the window the branches were bare and the first frost had already hit. Now, the plow trucks below are hard at work to make the roads passable for the commuters who will soon be driving on them. The pretty layers of white are moved into large piles topped with a dark layer of mud.

“I think he likes you” a smile sneaks across her face. I’ve often wondered if she’s right. Gregg has been my neighbor for the last few years and a daily visitor, I’ve been told, during my stay. He rents the other half of the duplex I live in and is always good about helping me take care of things when he’s in town. I like him, but it seems that every time I let myself think there might be a spark between us, he pulls away and disappears for awhile.

“I don’t know, I guess I don’t see it like you do.” I say “Besides, I’m sure he could do a lot better then me.” He could have someone more like you. Cam is beautiful, even in her nursing scrubs she looks like a supermodel. I’m more of a plane Jane, you might say, short and pale and my only redeeming feature was lost the day I was arrived at the hospital. My once long auburn hair was shaved off for surgery and has only grown back a few short, spiky inches.

“You are such a beautiful woman. I wish you could see that.” She says. Her words send a chill up my spine. Beautiful is not a word I could ever use to describe myself.
Working my very first attempt at a mystery novel. 1st draft

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Re: rewrite now added-Key in the Shadow- wrk title-

Post by GeeGee55 » March 21st, 2010, 2:42 pm

Everyone works differently, but if you're only on chapter eight of the first draft, I'd advise you to keep getting the story on the page. You can go back and fix later, keep that story rolling along. Meanwhile, study some books on craft, Janet Burroway has a good one, and apply what you learn as you go along. I've found that the further I get into writing the story, the more sure I become about the character's voice. Good luck with it.

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