First Chapter CURSED YA paranormal thriller

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bighockeyhair
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First Chapter CURSED YA paranormal thriller

Post by bighockeyhair » June 3rd, 2011, 7:17 pm

This is the first chapter of my novel CURSED. Of course this is the one I'll be sending to most agents (whether they like it or not), so I wanted to make sure it was as good as it can be. Any comments (good or bad) are very welcome. As far as formatting, if it looks weird it's because I've tried to make it readable by spacing it out.




Chapter 1

The stranger's face looked like a skull.

"Go on Lysander," his father, Glenn, scolded. "Shake the man's hand."

Lysander Shore hesitated as long as he could before finally submitting. The cold and bony hand that slid into his a second later made Lysander's stomach turn. His father must have noticed, because his face flushed with embarrassment. At least for once it wasn't about Lysander's black nail polish or matching combat boots.

A pin on the lapel of the man's suit jacket read “Peter Hume” and below that “Zellermann’s.”

He was probably an insurance guy, here about the fire that had destroyed their old house in Hayward.

But even though the Shores hadn’t been in town longer than a week, Lysander was sure he had met this man somewhere before. Filling bags at the grocery store or delivering mail down the street.

The two men spoke about how the house was a complete write-off, his father running through a list of things that were destroyed, when Peter Hume peered up at him. The odd glint in his eye instantly made Lysander uneasy.

“Do you have any pictures?” Hume asked Glenn. “So we can take inventory of what you lost.”

“Yeah,” Glenn said, looking at his watch. “You need those now? I gotta leave for work...”
Hume smiled apologetically.

Glenn sighed, as he always did when asked to do something menial but necessary, and headed for the kitchen. “You want something to drink?”

“Earl Grey would be nice.”

"Yeah that's the only tea we have," Glenn said, almost in a daze. "You must be a mind reader."

Hume chuckled.

His father disappeared into the kitchen and now Lysander and Peter Hume were alone and the air in the room suddenly seemed to drop ten degrees. The smile disappeared from Hume's face.

“You were warned not to come here.” The flesh on his face was so tight now, Lysander could see where the plates of his skull joined together.

Lysander felt the muscles in his chest knot with fear.

“He knows. Knows you’re here, Lysander. He knew the minute you arrived. Felt you crossing the town line, just like I did...”
Lysander's mouth was frozen open in disbelief. Is this really happening? Please let me be upstairs in my bed, sleeping through my alarm.

And Lysander suddenly knew where he had seen this man before. Glaring back at him from the old weathered placard that greeted visitors. The one they had passed on their way into town. And below Hume's hollow face were crooked red letters, scratched in a child’s hand:

STAY AWAY

But at the time Lysander was sure his mind had been playing tricks on him, because when he passed that same weathered sign on the town line again, everything had changed. This time Hume's face was gone, and in its place was a beaming, happy-looking family.

The words on the sign had also changed.

WELCOME TO MILLINGHAM!

That was when Lysander knew this wasn't just a strange dream that had somehow gone horribly wrong. This was real.
Run Lysander! Turn your ass around and RUN!

A tiny dent appeared in Hume’s forehead, and from it a thick drop of blood rolled down his face. The man's eyes were receding toward the back of his head. A noise came from the kitchen and his cavernous eyes darted over Lysander’s shoulder. The fear bubbling in Hume's voice was palpable. “He hasn’t found me, not yet. But you. You, he’ll know right away.”

Lysander tried to say something, anything, but all that came out was a moan.

“He could be any one of them. They all look so innocent, don’t they? With their little white houses and their hybrid SUV’s. Hard to imagine there’s a monster coiled somewhere in all that.” Hume’s eyes--black bottomless chasms now--rose to meet Lysander’s, and when he did the expression on his face fell flat. “You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you? You haven’t remembered yet.”

Lysander staggered back and nearly tripped over his mother's leg rest.

“He’s come to finish it, Lysander.” Hume didn’t look human anymore. The structure of his face was coming undone. Blood flowed freely from his forehead. Into his mouth. Drenching the dark fabric of his suit and the upholstery of the couch.

Lysander could see bits of splintered bone and flaps of dangling flesh. It looked like someone had redecorated his face with a tire iron. “That’s why he’s here.” Hume was gurgling on the blood. “To finish it…”

Hume was about to say something else when Glenn appeared. He had a cup of tea and a photo album. “Mr. Hume?”
Hume’s face rose. Tight and skull-like, but gone was the monstrosity from a moment before.

“I wasn’t really expecting you till tonight, so I hope we can make this fast.”

“I'm only trying to ensure your well being.” Hume's dark eyes were firmly locked on Lysander.

That was when Lysander split. He had to steady his hand to reach for the door handle. He still didn't have a clue what had just happened back there or whether in his mad dash to escape he had even closed the door behind him? On the long walk to school, he kept recalling the way that stranger’s face had dissolved before his very eyes. Lysander had caught a glimmer of desperation in Hume's face, before it began to look like raw hamburger meat. No, more than that. Hume was scared.

That made two of them.
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My debut novel Malice is now available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Malice-ebook/dp/B005QCC122

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Re: First Chapter CURSED YA paranormal thriller

Post by acbc7681 » June 5th, 2011, 12:21 pm

I really like what you have here. It is really well written and made me want to read more. I'm not sure I'm te absolute best critic since I am a new writer working on my first book, but I really like it. The story sounds interesting and the characters really form an image in your head.

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Re: First Chapter CURSED YA paranormal thriller

Post by bighockeyhair » June 5th, 2011, 7:29 pm

Great! Thanks so much for taking a look and leaving a comment. I'd worried a bit it was too gory for a YA novel, but we'll see. I also wanted to make sure that if my query letter managed to get an agent's attention that this first chapter would keep them wanting more.
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My debut novel Malice is now available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Malice-ebook/dp/B005QCC122

AllieS
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Re: First Chapter CURSED YA paranormal thriller

Post by AllieS » June 5th, 2011, 7:41 pm

The stranger's face looked like a skull I like the idea, but I feel as though you could spice this up with a little more detail. Maybe if you said "the stranger's sunken cheeks and bone-white skin make his face look like a skull." Just anything to really grab me.

"Go on Lysander," his father, Glenn, scolded. "Shake the man's hand."

Lysander Shore hesitated as long as he could before finally submitting. The cold and bony hand that slid into his a second later made Lysander's stomach turn. His father must have noticed, because his face flushed with embarrassment. At least for once it wasn't about Lysander's black nail polish or matching combat boots. Good paragraph

A pin on the lapel of the man's suit jacket read “Peter Hume” and below that “Zellermann’s.”

He was probably an insurance guy, here about the fire that had destroyed their old house in Hayward.
These could be in the same paragraph.

But even though the Shores Lysander's family hadn’t been in town longer than a week, Lysander he was sure he had met this man somewhere before. Filling bags at the grocery store or delivering mail down the street. (Don't have to make those changes, they just looked more natural to me.)

The two men spoke about how the house was a complete write-off, his Lysander's father running through a list of things that were destroyed, when Peter Hume peered up at him. Is Hume really short? The odd glint in his eye instantly made Lysander uneasy.

“Do you have any pictures?” Hume asked Glenn. “So we can take inventory of what you lost.”

“Yeah,” Glenn said, looking at his watch. “You need those now? I gotta leave for work...”
Hume smiled apologetically.

Glenn sighed, as he always did when asked to do something menial but necessary, and headed for the kitchen. “You want something to drink?”

“Earl Grey would be nice.”

"Yeah that's the only tea we have," Glenn said, almost in a daze I don't understand why he'd be in a daze. And also, aren't we supposed to be in Lysander's head? You could say "Glenn said, seemingly in a daze," and that way you wouldn't be switching minds. "You must be a mind reader."

Hume chuckled.

His Lysander's (Be careful about making sure the reader knows who you're talking about. Putting "his" right after you say "Hume chuckled" makes me want to think it's Hume you're talking about. father disappeared into the kitchen and now Lysander and Peter Hume were alone and the air in the room suddenly seemed to drop ten degrees. This should be a separate sentence. The smile disappeared from Hume's face.

“You were warned not to come here.” The flesh on his face was so tight now, Lysander could see where the plates of his skull joined together.

Lysander felt the muscles in his chest knot with fear.

“He knows. Knows you’re here, Lysander. He knew the minute you arrived. Felt you crossing the town line, just like I did...”
Lysander's mouth was frozen open in disbelief. Is this really happening? Please let me be upstairs in my bed, sleeping through my alarm. Don't think you need this.

And Lysander suddenly knew where he had seen this man before. Glaring back at him from the old weathered placard that greeted visitors greeted visitors where?. The one they had passed on their way into town. Oh, never mind. You could combine those two sentences to eliminate confusion. And below Hume's hollow face were crooked red letters, scratched in a child’s hand:

STAY AWAY

But at the time Lysander was sure his mind had been playing tricks on him, because when he passed that same weathered sign on the town line again, everything had changed. This time Hume's face was gone, and in its place was a beaming, happy-looking family.

The words on the sign had also changed.

WELCOME TO MILLINGHAM!

That was when Lysander knew this wasn't just a strange dream that had somehow gone horribly wrong. This was real.
Run Lysander! Turn your ass around and RUN!
I'm having trouble understanding Lysander's reaction, because as much as I can tell this guy's face is turning more skull-like, and there was a scary picture of him in a placard. Does Lysander know the "he" Hume is talking about? Why would he know about Lysander? At this point, I don't know what Lysander can do, but you probably include that later, so that's alright. It just leaves me a little confused.

A tiny dent I don't think "dent" is the work you're looking for. Dented things aren't punctured. Actually, puncture might be a more fitting word for here. appeared in Hume’s forehead, and from it a thick drop of blood rolled down his face. The man's His eyes were receding toward into the back of his head. A noise came from the kitchen and his Hume's cavernous eyes darted over Lysander’s shoulder. The fear bubbling in Hume's voice was palpable. “He hasn’t found me, not yet. But you. You, he’ll know right away.”

Lysander tried to say something, anything, but all that came out was a moan.

“He could be any one of them. They all look so innocent, don’t they? With their little white houses and their hybrid SUV’s. Hard to imagine there’s a monster coiled somewhere in all that.” Hume’s eyes--black bottomless chasms now--rose to meet Lysander’s, and when he did the expression on his face fell flat. “You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you? You haven’t remembered yet.”

Lysander staggered back and nearly tripped over his mother's is it important that it's his mother's leg rest? leg rest.

“He’s come to finish it, Lysander.” Hume didn’t look human anymore. The structure of his face was coming undone. Blood flowed freely from his forehead. Into his mouth. Drenching the dark fabric of his suit and the upholstery of the couch.

Lysander could see bits of splintered bone and flaps of dangling flesh. It looked like someone had redecorated his face with a tire iron. “That’s why he’s here.” Hume was gurgling on the blood. “To finish it…”

Hume was about to say something else when Glenn appeared. He had a cup of tea and a photo album. “Mr. Hume?”
Hume’s face rose. Tight and skull-like, but gone was the monstrosity from a moment before.

“I wasn’t really expecting you till tonight, so I hope we can make this fast.”

“I'm only trying to ensure your well being.” Hume's dark eyes were firmly locked on Lysander.

That was when Don't think you need this Lysander split. He had to steady his hand to reach for the door handle. He still didn't have a clue what had just happened back there or whether in his mad dash to escape he had even closed the door behind him? On the long walk to school Wait, he's going to school now? That seems like a big jump from what happened. Maybe mention at the beginning that he needed to leave for school soon?, he kept recalling the way that stranger’s face had dissolved before his very eyes. Lysander had caught a glimmer of desperation in Hume's face, before it began to look like raw hamburger meat. No, more than that desperation. Hume was scared.

That made two of them.

This sounds pretty good!

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Re: First Chapter CURSED YA paranormal thriller

Post by Aurlumen » June 7th, 2011, 1:05 am

I agree with everything AllieS said. Just a few other things.

The stranger's face looked like a skull.

"Go on Lysander," his father Maybe this is irrelevant, but the first time I read this I assumed you meant the stranger's father. Maybe you could add first that Lysander was looking at him or something.. I don't know just a thought., Glenn, scolded. "Shake the man's hand."

Lysander Shore hesitated as long as he could before finally submitting. The cold and bony hand that slid into his a second later made Lysander's stomach turn. His father must have noticed, because his face flushed with embarrassment.Whose face is flushed? The way it's written makes me think it was Glenn's face (if so, why? The stranger shows no reaction to the handshake). I'll assume it was Lysander but what exactly is he embarrassed about? A cold and bony hand? I don't get it. I don't see anything happening that could cause embarrassment. Regardless I think it would eliminate confusion if you changed it to 'His father must have noticed his face flush with embarrassment'. At least for once it Again, it WHAT and why? I feel like I'm missing something here. wasn't about Lysander's black nail polish or matching combat boots.

A pin on the lapel of the man's suit jacket read “Peter Hume” and below that “Zellermann’s.” He was probably an insurance guy, here about the fire that had destroyed their old house in Hayward. At this point I'm thinking that they're not in this destroyed house, but I don't know where they are right now. They could be in their new house or out on a street corner or in an office. I would suggest you mention earlier on that they've moved or something. Or maybe say that they're new to the town or something. And also their setting so we can picture the scene better.

But even though the Shores hadn’t been in town longer than a week, Lysander was sure he had met this man somewhere before. Filling bags at the grocery store or delivering mail down the street.This last sentence is incomplete. Maybe you could add in "Perhaps he had seen him filling bags...." Also I think these few sentences would fit better after the first 'paragraph' after his father tells him to shake the guys hand. Not only does this man look creepy, but the fact that they're strangers and yet Lysander thinks he's seen him before adds onto this man's suspiciousness. And then we'll better understand his hesitancy. Another reason to mention that they're new to the area earlier on.

The two men spoke about how the house was a complete write-off, his father running through a list of things that were destroyed, when Peter Hume peered up at him. The odd glint in his eye instantly made Lysander uneasy.

“Do you have any pictures?” Hume asked Glenn. “So we can take inventory of what you lost.”

“Yeah,” Glenn said, looking at his watch. “You need those now? I gotta leave for work...”

Hume smiled apologetically. I kind of think it would be better if he also verbally confirmed that he needs the pictures.

Glenn sighed, as he always did when asked to do something menial but necessary, and headed for the kitchen. “You want something to drink?”...So is he gonna get the pictures or what?

“Earl Grey would be nice.”

"Yeah that's the only tea we have," Glenn said, almost in a daze. "You must be a mind reader."

Hume chuckled. His father disappeared into the kitchen and now Lysander and Peter Hume were alone and the air in the room suddenly seemed to drop ten degrees. The smile disappeared from Hume's face.

“You were warned not to come here.” The flesh on his face was so tight now, Lysander could see where the plates of his skull joined together. Since his face looks all creepy, well creepier, I think it'd also be better if his voice changed as well. Just a thought.

Lysander felt the muscles in his chest knot with fear.

“He knows.Let us know right away who's talking. Since there are two people we'll assume it's a dialogue and that the next line would be spoken by Lysander. After the stranger says 'he knows' you can put something like 'he knows,' he went on, 'and so on.' Knows you’re here, Lysander. He knew the minute you arrived. Felt you crossing the town line, just like I did...”

Lysander's mouth was frozen open in disbelief. Is this really happening? Please let me be upstairs in my bed, sleeping through my alarm.Alarm. We don't know why you said that. If he's on his way to school mention that earlier on otherwise we assume it's in the middle of the day or something. Plus why does he need his alarm if he's already awake? And I would italicize his thought's because otherwise you're switching from third-person to first. Also, I'm not sure I believe his reaction right here. We assume that Lysander has no idea what this man's talking about. I'd like to see a reaction to the man's changing face: horror, disgust, or something. And also if someone was saying this to me I'd be thinking "what the hell is he talking about?" or maybe "he must have the wrong person." Or maybe "who are you talking about and how does he know I'm here?" Basically show confusion because that's what he should be feeling (besides wanting to run away) considering that he doesn't know what this guy's talking about.

And Lysander suddenly knew where he had seen this man before. Glaring back at him from the old weathered placard that greeted visitors.Another incomplete sentence. Maybe "it was his face he had seen glaring back at him, etcetcetc" The one they had passed on their way into town.I would combine those two sentences as well. "It was his face he'd seen glaring back at him from the old weathered placard that greeted visitors on their way into town." And below Hume's hollow face were crooked red letters, scratched in a child’s handHe doesn't know that. "As if scratched in a child's hand" Also that wording sounds weird and literal. Scratched in a child's handwriting?:

STAY AWAY

But At the time Lysander was sure his mind had been playing tricks on him, because when he passed that same weathered sign on the town line againWhy did they pass the sign again? Did they make a u-turn for some reason?, everything had changed. This time Hume's face was gone, and in its place was a beaming, happy-looking family.

The words on the sign had also changed. We got that when you said 'everything had changed'. You could say 'instead of the previous message, the sign then read....."

WELCOME TO MILLINGHAM!

That was when Lysander knew this wasn't just a strange dream that had somehow gone horribly wrong. This was real. Run Lysander! Turn your ass around and RUN! Again italicize his thoughts.

A tiny dent appeared in Hume’s forehead, and from it a thick drop of blood rolled down his face. The man's eyes were receding toward the back of his head. Why is this happening? It seems like he's going to kick the bucket or something but then when Glenn re-enters the room he is fine... confusion. Also was this scary transformation something he's in control of? It seems silly to go and change his face when Glenn is in the same area. He could like walk in on them. And if it's not something he can control then is his scary face something that only Lysander can see? If so why change back, if not ..why change back? I don't get what the point of his face-changing was. A noise came from the kitchen and his cavernous eyes darted over Lysander’s shoulder. The fear bubbling in Hume's voice was palpable. “He hasn’t found me, not yet. But you. You, he’ll know right away.” Until this point I thought that this Hume guy was on the bad side.. Now it turns out he's being hunted too? Now I'm thinking that Lysander is the same kind of creature Hume is.. is this so?

Lysander tried to say something, anything, but all that came out was a moan.

“He could be any one of them. They all look so innocent, don’t they? With their little white houses and their hybrid SUV’s. Hard to imagine there’s a monster coiled somewhere in all that.” Hume’s eyes--black bottomless chasms now--rose to meet Lysander’s, and when he did the expression on his face fell flat. “You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you? You haven’t remembered yet.”

Lysander staggered back and nearly tripped over his mother's leg rest.

“He’s come to finish it, Lysander.” Hume didn’t look human anymore. The structure of his face was coming undone. Blood flowed freely from his forehead. Into his mouth. Drenching the dark fabric of his suit and the upholstery of the couch.Is he standing by the couch or sitting on it?

Lysander could see bits of splintered bone and flaps of dangling flesh. It looked like someone had redecorated his face with a tire iron. “That’s why he’s here.” Hume was gurgling on the blood. “To finish it…”

Hume was about to say something else when Glenn appeared. He had a cup of tea and a photo album. “Mr. Hume?” Hume’s face rose. Tight and skull-like, but gone was the monstrosity from a moment before. This sentence seems all backwards and confusing. "His face was still tight and skull-like, but the monstrosity from the moment before was gone."

“I wasn’t really expecting you till tonight, so I hope we can make this fast.” I forgot what the father had left to do. Get the drink so show him handing it to Hume or something. Was he getting pictures or were they just going to talk about something?

“I'm only trying to ensure your well being.” Hume's dark eyes were firmly locked on Lysander.

That was when Lysander split. He had to steady his hand to reach for the door handle. Saying he split makes me think he ran. If not I would consider another word.He still didn't have a clue what had just happened back there or whether in his mad dash to escapeWe know he was desperate to leave. You don't have to add in all these words in he had even closed the door behind him?. On the long walk to school, he kept recalling the way that stranger’s face had dissolved before his very eyesI'd also mention the crazy nonsense he was talking about. That would be disturbing too. Lysander had caught a glimmer of desperationHow come you didn't mention that then? It seems almost like an afterthought when you mention it after the fact. in Hume's face, before it began to look like raw hamburger meat. No, more than that. Hume was scared.

That made two of them.

Overall I'm intrigued and I'd read more to find out what's going on. You just have to tighten up a bit.

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bighockeyhair
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Re: First Chapter CURSED YA paranormal thriller

Post by bighockeyhair » June 7th, 2011, 1:58 pm

Thanks AllieS and Aurlumen! I've taken your suggestions to heart, incorporated most of them and I can already see the first chapter getting strong and stronger.
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My debut novel Malice is now available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Malice-ebook/dp/B005QCC122

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