The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post excerpts from your works in progress and give feedback to your fellow writers.
User avatar
Gina Frost
Posts: 32
Joined: June 4th, 2010, 1:33 pm
Location: Missouri
Contact:

The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Gina Frost » June 6th, 2010, 6:21 pm

Excerpt has been updated. Please refer to Post #16 on Page 2 for the new version. Thank You


This is the first page of a new book I am starting. I have done no editing yet and am hoping for feedback or suggestions before I go too far with this story. I am currently only 7 pages in. I am not certain about the genre-I always have difficulty with that. Perhaps a little help with what category this story might be placed would be helpful as well.

The Last Highway

Chapter 1

I had already been driving too long now. My eyes grew heavy as the lines in the middle of the road began to blur. The ghostly figure in the distance is what finally woke me enough to slam on the brakes and stop just a few feet in front of the apparition.

Not an apparition. I must be dreaming, I thought. This figure standing before me could not possibly be real. He was too beautiful to be real, tall, tan, muscular, with shoulder length sandy blonde hair. His emerald green eyes stared back at me as if he was gazing right into my soul. His smile revealed perfectly white teeth. He seemed harmless enough, but wasn't that how the horror stories always started?

My heart started pounding and my sweaty palms were sliding down the steering wheel as he started my way. The gaze turned into a look of pure evil, as if I were his next meal. I depressed the lock switch and looked behind me, backing up slowly to turn around in the driveway I had passed not too far back. No good, another vehicle was coming up behind me quick. Going around him was out of the question as well. The road, normally completely deserted was now occupied by two other drivers, trapping me where I was.

The horns of both vehicles blared incessantly at me, demanding I make a move out of their way, one way or the other. Did neither of them see the man standing there? I tried waving them on, frantic now as I sat in the car, too stunned to move forward another inch. The vehicle behind me, impatient with my lack of movement, slammed into the back of my car, jerking me forward.

Just one more hour and I would have been home. It didn't look like I would be making it home tonight, if at all. The cars on the road now, almost apparitions themselves, did not want me to move. They were herding me in, blocking my escape. The locks raised and the man that had been standing there in the road was now sitting beside me in the car with a smug look on his face.

The last image I saw on the last highway I drove was his face inches from mine. The low, throaty growl escaped from somewhere deep within him and the beautiful man transformed into the apparition I had first imagined he was just before the blackness took over.

When I awoke, I had no idea where I was or how I had gotten there. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to the blackness. I was tied to a bed, my own clothing removed, dressed now in what appeared to be a strapless leather halter top and skirt, both so short they barely covered me. My body felt like I had been run over by a Mack truck. I couldn't see the bruises but knew they had to be there. My breath came in short, raspy gasps, almost as if I had just been put through some extensive exercise routine.

He appeared beside me as if he had been standing there the whole time, completely invisible until my eyes opened. He seemed to take on an unearthly glow as he brought his hands toward me and ran them slowly over my body. The pain instantly subsided and my breathing regulated. I heard the same growl that he had used in the car just before he took away my consciousness. This time I was left awake to see what it was he had planned for me.
Last edited by Gina Frost on June 23rd, 2010, 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Quill » June 6th, 2010, 7:12 pm

It comes across as horror, though I haven't read a lot of that genre.

Most of it reads like a dream sequence. I kept expecting her to wake up. In fact she does wake up! But not from a dream apparently. It is a bit of an abrupt opening in that we don't get to know the character before heavy action begins. So it is hard to care about the character. Maybe we are not supposed to, but to care more about the situation. Again I haven't read much horror.

Two cars out of nowhere and a cool dude who -- blink -- turns evil, I can't imagine the mechanics of that, even paranormally. What is it, a satanic gang pulling this off from another dimension. Okay, that could work. Main thing is, she didn't have any chance at all. Doesn't action work best when there's a possibility for escape? Maybe the quickness of it, and their overwhelming power, is your setup for the main inciting incident?

I know it's the first draft but watch for cliches like pounding heart, sweaty palms, and feeling like one has been run over by a Mack truck.

It's all very fast.

Serzen
Posts: 139
Joined: February 6th, 2010, 11:42 pm
Location: Upstate NY
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Serzen » June 7th, 2010, 1:07 am

Gina,

At this point, the genre seems to be undefined. It could be horror, or modern (some say urban) fantasy, but not enough detail yet to pinpoint anything. Which is not a bad thing. It's clear you're feeling your way through what's going on, so it might yet come to you.

For general feedback, allow me first to suggest that the second sentence might read better as "My eyes grew heavy, and the lines in the middle of the road began to blur." Chronologically, it makes more sense. Your third sentence shifts tense (from past to present), watch out for that.

The rhetorical questions are a nice touch.

Further down, we have "The low, throaty growl escaped..." Here you've used the wrong article, as the growl in question hasn't been previously identified. "A low, throaty growl" defines the growl, tells us that it's a new sound, which I think is your intent.

When I read the opening paragraphs, it makes me think of The Eagles' song "Hotel California." Later, when I get to the line "...dressed in what appeared to be a strapless..." my mind, inserts the following for your description: "A shirt that doesn't cover what it's supposed to and a skirt that would better serve as a belt." Feel free to use it if you want, but it's the way my mind draws conclusions between things. (Both are related to discussions about music I've had with the same set of friends.)

There is a little cliché, but it's first draft, and some overwroughtness, but, again, first draft, and those are easily cut. There's an interesting story underneath those things, I think, once you find it. It's frequently (for me!) difficult to know what something is when it first presents itself.

If I may observe: When I begin a new project, I'm frequently unaware of where it's going. I find that I write frantically, that I'm constantly brainstorming, but that, when I've figured out where things are going, when I know what the end is, I calm down and write at a comfortable pace. I detect something of that in this, that the premise is begging you to use it, that you have a Great Idea, if only you could nail it down and get it to hold still. I think you will. And, when you do, I'll be glad to read it.

~Serzen
Il en est des livres comme du feu de nos foyers; on va prendre ce feu chez son voisin, on l’allume chez soi, on le communique à d’autres, et il appartient à tous. --Voltaire

lmitchell
Posts: 30
Joined: February 19th, 2010, 6:07 pm
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by lmitchell » June 7th, 2010, 2:45 pm

I agree with Quill’s comment about action working best when there is the possibility of escape. Perhaps give your MC a way to turn the car around or have the MC try to drive around the guy—create a little hope and then crush it.

The following sentences stood out to me:

2nd paragraph
“I must be dreaming, I thought.” Instead say- “I must be dreaming.”

“His emerald green eyes stared back at me as if he was gazing right into my soul.” Try trading that out for a more concrete feeling so it will have more impact and be less cliché. I’d also trim out the words “green” (emerald implies it already) and “back.” Perhaps something like, “His emerald eyes peered at me as if they intended to cut straight through my soul.” (I dunno this may be just a personal preference kind of thing.)

3rd paragraph
“My heart started pounding and my sweaty palms were sliding” Instead- “My heart pounded and my sweaty palms slid”

(The rest of para. 3 and 4 are the ones I would consider revising to incorporate more tension in the attempt to escape.)
I really like this sentence: “Just one more hour and I would have been home.” It would do well as a final sentence in a paragraph concluding your escape description.

Last paragraph
First sentence: “completely invisible until my eyes opened.” (The smart-aleck reader in me immediately thinks, “Duh…everything is completely invisible to me until my eyes are opened.”) You should toss a virtual thesaurus at my snarky proof-reading self and then consider omitting the second half of that sentence. You could restructure it to include a description of his unearthly glow.

Consider being more direct with your phrasing.
Instead of “He seemed to take on an unearthly glow,” use “He took on an unearthly glow.”
“He brought his hands toward me and ran them slowly over my body,” to just “He ran his hands slowly over my body.” (The ‘brought them toward me’ part would be implied.)
“This time I was left awake to see what it was he had planned for me,” to “This time I was left awake to see what he had planned for me.”

I really like the concept of this story. It pulls me in and leaves me wondering where the storyline is headed—fantasy? Horror? Is He an angel or a demon? An alien? Is this about torture or sexual domination? You snagged my interest.

BrokenChain
Posts: 22
Joined: May 24th, 2010, 3:54 pm
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by BrokenChain » June 7th, 2010, 3:40 pm

Cool starting, would love to find out what's next, but oh so wordy!

I think the guys here have dissected it well. There are many awkward sentences and words that are screaming to be cut out. Not to mention the passive voice which could be easily changed.

Examples, some of them already mentioned:

"Emerald Green" (Emerald is a green color, green need not be added)

"The horns blared incessantly at me" (Awkward and the "ly" of the adverb is sticking like a splinter in my eye--needs to be cut or reworded)

"No good, another vehicle was coming up behind me quick." (Unnecessary passive voice. Should read something like: 'No good, another vehicle came up behind me...')

That's just a few things. Altogether this looks quite interesting, and I want to know who this tall emerald-eyed guy is and why he has weird powers.

User avatar
Gina Frost
Posts: 32
Joined: June 4th, 2010, 1:33 pm
Location: Missouri
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Gina Frost » June 7th, 2010, 4:57 pm

Thank you all for your replies so far! I am working on the edits on this and will repost as soon as I get it worked out.

User avatar
Gina Frost
Posts: 32
Joined: June 4th, 2010, 1:33 pm
Location: Missouri
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1 (revised)

Post by Gina Frost » June 8th, 2010, 4:42 pm

I updated, thought a little more about the story, changing things up a bit and making what was originally Chapter One the prologue to the story. It is more a precursor to where I want the story to actually begin. Will post more as soon as I have it, if there is enough interest.

The Last Highway

Prologue

I had already been driving too long now. My eyes grew heavy and the lines in the middle of the road began to blur. I rolled the window down and allowed the cool night air in then turned the volume on the radio up louder. I hoped the cool night air and noise would wake me enough.

It was the ghostly figure in the distance that did it though.

I slammed my foot down on the brakes hard and stopped just a few feet in front of the apparition.

Not an apparition. I must be dreaming. This figure standing before me could not be real. He was too beautiful to be real, tall, tan, muscular, with shoulder length sandy blonde hair. His emerald eyes pierced into my soul. His smile revealed perfect, white teeth. He seemed harmless enough, but wasn't that how the horror stories always started?

As if in answer to my question, his gaze turned into a look of pure evil, as if I were his next meal. I rolled the window up, depressed the lock switch, put the car in reverse and backed away from the evil that stood before me. I backed into the driveway I had passed not too long ago and turned the car around, driving away from the man, if that was what you could call him.

I relaxed when I could no longer see him in my rear view mirror. It was a mistake. How did he get in front of me so fast? I hit the brakes and put the car into reverse again. This time, I kept my eyes on the figure ahead of me as I maneuvered the car into another driveway and turned around, trying to escape from this nightmare.

I was miles now from where I had last seen the beautiful, evil man and I breathed a sigh of relief. Just a hallucination, I thought. After passing the next curve, I had to slow down. No hallucinations this time, just other cars on the road, driving too slow. When they were close enough to pass each other, they stopped. I waited a minute, then two. They didn't budge. I considered backing up again. Another car came up behind me fast on this usually deserted road. Even in the daytime it was rare to see this many vehicles at the same time. I honked my horn, impatient, desperate to be on my way. They didn't budge. They were herding me in. One more hour and I would have been home.

The last image I saw on the last highway I drove was his face inches from mine.

Serzen
Posts: 139
Joined: February 6th, 2010, 11:42 pm
Location: Upstate NY
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Serzen » June 13th, 2010, 12:20 pm

Gina,

I think you've done a good job of condensing the material, and of finding the story that's buried in there, but you're still suffering from a lack of agreement in tenses in several places. I think that some of it must stem from a desire to impart immediacy, but, instead, it's tending to jar me out of the narrative flow.

"I had been driving for too long now." Rather than this, I would either nix the 'now' altogether or use a different temporal marker. "I had been driving for too long when it all began," might work. On an unrelated note, in the third sentence try "...down to allow the cool night air..."

A little further down we get "...I had passed not too long ago..." This could be fixed up by changing it to "...I had passed not long before..."

Then, a few lines further to "I was miles now from where I had last seen the beautiful, evil man and I breathed..." This one that I would likely change into something along the lines of "I was miles from where I had last seen that beautiful, evil man before I breathed..."

And for your final sentence, I think I prefer something such as "The last image I saw on the last highway I would ever drive was..."

These are all things that are easy enough to catch in your next round of edits, but, hopefully, if you're aware of them, you can be more careful, and on the lookout for them when you're writing, resulting in less work when you go back to edit.

HTH,
~Serzen
Il en est des livres comme du feu de nos foyers; on va prendre ce feu chez son voisin, on l’allume chez soi, on le communique à d’autres, et il appartient à tous. --Voltaire

User avatar
Regan Leigh
Posts: 207
Joined: January 15th, 2010, 4:24 am
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Regan Leigh » June 16th, 2010, 5:24 pm

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr I started a crit for you, did some day job stuff and the forum logged me out. I didn't notice until I hit submit for the crit!! I lost it all. Dang. And it was a lot. Sigh. I'll do it again in a bit. :P
Image

User avatar
Regan Leigh
Posts: 207
Joined: January 15th, 2010, 4:24 am
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Regan Leigh » June 16th, 2010, 11:40 pm

OK, trying this again. lol :) I wrote my comments as I read through it the first time, but since those were lost in cyberspace, I'll try to remember them all for this second try. ;) I haven't read any of your other comments so I could give you my gut reaction.
Gina Frost wrote:This is the first page of a new book I am starting. I have done no editing yet and am hoping for feedback or suggestions before I go too far with this story. I am currently only 7 pages in. I am not certain about the genre-I always have difficulty with that. Perhaps a little help with what category this story might be placed would be helpful as well.

The Last Highway

Chapter 1

I had already been driving too long now. My eyes grew heavy as the lines in the middle of the road began to blur. The ghostly figure in the distance is what finally woke me enough to slam on the brakes and stop just a few feet in front of the apparition.

Not an apparition. I must be dreaming, I thought. This figure standing before me could not possibly be real. He was too beautiful to be real, tall, tan, muscular, with shoulder length sandy blonde hair. His emerald green eyes stared back at me as if he was gazing right into my soul. His smile revealed perfectlywhite teeth. He seemed harmless enough, but wasn't that how the horror stories always started?

The tense in the first 5 paras threw me off. I wasn't sure if the MC was reflecting on what happened or if it was real time.

Also, she's driving... the car slams to a stop and a guy is a few feet away... I doubt she could see his eye color even at that proximity and those are a lot of details to include for a very quick moment in time, especially a surprise moment. It doesn't feel realistic. I'd say pick only a couple of features to describe, but be more vague and leave to the imagination there. The above is a very large section for a small for a moment in time you probably want to move faster and with more tension.


My heart started pounding and my sweaty palms were sliding down the steering wheel as he started my way. The gaze turned into a look of pure evil, as if I were his next meal. I depressed the lock switch and looked behind me, backing up slowly to turn around in the driveway *Wait, I thought this was an empty highway in my head. Maybe describe or show the road better before this. I didn't expect there to be a driveway.* I had passed not too far back. No good, another vehicle was coming up behind me quick. Going around him was out of the question as well. The road, normally completely *Awkward phrasing* deserted was now occupied by two other drivers, trapping me where I was.

The horns of both vehicles blared incessantly at me, demanding I make a move out of their way, one way or the other. Did neither of them see the man standing there? I tried waving them on, frantic now as I sat in the car, too stunned to move forward another inch. The vehicle behind me, impatient with my lack of movement, slammed into the back of my car, jerking me forward.

I get where you're going with this (I think) and it's a cool image of the MC blocking the road, but it was confusing to follow. I wasn't sure what was going on and I had to read it more than once.

Just one more hour and I would have been home. It didn't look like I would be making it home tonight, if at all. The cars on the road now, almost apparitions themselves, did not want me to move. They were herding me in, blocking my escape. The locks raised and the man that had been standing there in the road was now sitting beside me in the car with a smug look on his face.

Lost me... Why are they like apparitions? Are they real? Am I about to get annoyed that this set up is all a dream? :)

The last image I saw on the last highway I drove was his face inches from mine. *repeated* The low, throaty growl escaped from somewhere deep within him and the beautiful man transformed into the apparition I had first imagined he was just before the blackness took over.

I don't know what this means...He was a man, then an evil looking man...That's all I got. Was there more I missed? How and what made him look particularly evil?

When I awoke, I had no idea where I was or how I had gotten there. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to the blackness. I was tied to a bed, my own clothing removed, dressed now in what appeared to be a strapless leather halter top and skirt, both so short they barely covered me. My body felt likeI felt like I had been run over by a Mack truck. I couldn't see the bruises but knew they had to be there. My breath came in short, raspy gasps,almost as if I had just been put through some extensive exercise routine. *Unneeded. You describe the breaths already.*

He appeared beside me as if he had been standing there the whole time, completely invisible until my eyes opened. He seemed to take on an unearthly glow as he brought his hands toward me and ran them slowly *sounds contradictory. ran/slowly? And you don't need the adverbs if you choose stronger verbs.* over my body. The pain instantly subsided and my breathing regulated. I heard the same growl that he had used in the car just before he took away my consciousness. *He took it away? I didn't get that. And for all I know she just passed out.* This time I was left awake to see what it was he had planned for me.
I'd suggest a couple of things. This reads as if you were still finding your footing with what was going on in the scene because it comes off very confusing in parts. Try doing some day dreaming where you become the MC and play the scene out in your head. Esp notice the 5 senses... Then try editing it. I think you need to "see" it better, but what do I know? :) Just an idea.

Work on your tenses staying consistent.

Also, watch your adverbs. Use stronger verbs and cut as many adverbs as humanly possible. :D They are awful, vile things. ;)

I think you have an interesting story (though from this I'm not sure if it's sci-fi, paranormal, or fantasy). It just seems you need to tighten (I think you could cut quite a bit) and get us more invested in the scene with easy descriptions of action/setting.

Good luck and keep writing! Post the edited version later for sure. :)

*Hope this helps. I'm no pro, so take what you will.* :)
Image

User avatar
Regan Leigh
Posts: 207
Joined: January 15th, 2010, 4:24 am
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Regan Leigh » June 16th, 2010, 11:46 pm

Ack! Just saw you posted another version. Oh, well...

*To make it more clear, it's usually best to edit your original post at the top in a bright color or bold and tell ppl which post # the latest version is in if you want crits to that one. So ppl like me that read the comments after crits. lol :)*
Image

User avatar
Gina Frost
Posts: 32
Joined: June 4th, 2010, 1:33 pm
Location: Missouri
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Gina Frost » June 17th, 2010, 10:11 am

Regan,

Thank you for the critique and the advice on pointing to the updated version. I will take much of what you said into consideration when I do another edit on this. I hope to post one soon and yes, I will edit the first post to point to the new one, sorry about that.

You were correct on many points, the story is still shaping itself in my head. It seems to be falling into the paranormal genre at the moment. No, this is not a dream sequence. I will try in my next edit to set the scene of the particular highway I have in mind when I wrote this. It is not uncommon to see driveways off the highway, it is uncommon to see someone standing in the middle of it (or even the side-day or night) as it is a dangerous highway to travel. There are too many s-curves and it is not well lit.

User avatar
khanes
Posts: 44
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 6:27 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by khanes » June 17th, 2010, 12:25 pm

Hi Gina! First of all, I think this is an interesting story that really creeped me out (in a good way.) I found this man disturbing, but he also seems really handsome, so a good, creepy combo. I like your writing style, but think you do need to flesh out the story a little more. Maybe more active, intense descriptions that will raise my heart rate? I found that the paragraph where the cars were boxing her in was a little long or passive, or something, and you could probably really up the tension there. I'll put some of my ideas in red . I'm going to ignore the tense issues cause other posters already touched on that.


----------------------
Prologue

I had already been driving too long now. My eyes grew heavy and the lines in the middle of the road began to blur. I rolled the window down and allowed the cool night air in then turned the volume on the radio up louder. I hoped the "cool night air" you said this exact phrase in the last sentence and noise would wake me enough.

It was the ghostly figure in the distance that did it though.I would make this a little more exciting. Why is this so creepy? Maybe cause he's standing, still, in the middle of a deserted highway? Freak factor goes way up here.

I slammed my foot down on the brakes hard and stopped just a few feet in front of the apparition.here I would cut out apparition and just say "the man"color]

I must be dreaming. This figure standing before me could not be real. He was too beautiful to be real:(I added a colon here) tall, tan, muscular, with shoulder length sandy blonde hair. His emerald eyes pierced into my soul. His smile revealed perfect, white teeth. He seemed harmless enough, but wasn't that how the horror stories always started?

As if in answer to my question, his gaze turned into a look of pure evil, as if I were his next meal. I rolled the window up, depressedpushed? the lock switch, put the car in reverse and backed away from the evil that stood before me. I backed into the driveway I had passed not too long ago and turned the car around, driving away from the man, if that was what you could call him.

I relaxed when I could no longer see him in my rear view mirror. It was a mistake. How did he get in front of me so fast? I hit the brakes and put the car into reverse again. This time, I kept my eyes on the figure ahead of me as I maneuvered the car into another driveway and turned around, trying to escape from this nightmare. I found this paragraph confusing. Maybe clarify that he's there again, in front of her, in the middle of the road. If you write this sharply, it could be very frightening.

(I also want to experience more of her emotions.)

I was miles now from where I had last seen the beautiful, evil man and I breathed a sigh of relief. Just a hallucination, I thought. After passing the next curve, I had to slow down. No hallucinations this time, just other cars on the road, driving too slow. When they were close enough to pass each other, they stopped. I waited a minute, then two. They didn't budge. I considered backing up again. Another car came up behind me fast on this usually deserted road. Even in the daytime it was rare to see this many vehicles at the same time. I honked my horn, impatient, desperate to be on my way. They didn't budge. They were herding me in. One more hour and I would have been home. This is the paragraph that I think needs more tactile and visceral sensations. What is she feeling? Just put yourself in her situation, and really imagine what would be happening right now.

The last image I saw on the last highway I drove was his face inches from mine. I thought this part was super creepy and really good. Suddenly, he appears in her car? EEK!!!!

Aimée
Posts: 296
Joined: December 9th, 2009, 1:26 pm
Location: Michigan
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Aimée » June 17th, 2010, 1:22 pm

Other commentors are right, it does sound like horror, even though we don't know what happens next. It's an intriguing start, but it has the feel more like a short story because of how quickly we are sucked right into the action. I did like the second version you posted better, though. But the cars stopping in the middle of the road seemed a little random and confusing to me. Also, I kind of had that vampire impression about the evil guy, which made me groan a little. ha well, it doesn't seem like a vampire novel with the rest of the opening, I guess. It could be suspense genre or thriller or something like that. It makes me interested in knowing what happens next!

User avatar
Gina Frost
Posts: 32
Joined: June 4th, 2010, 1:33 pm
Location: Missouri
Contact:

Re: The Last Highway (working title)-Page 1

Post by Gina Frost » June 22nd, 2010, 5:09 pm

I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their comments so far. I am in the process of adding those extras that everyone is asking for. It is a process.
Aimee-I thought I would take a moment to ease your suspicions some-the creepy guy is NOT a vampire. I love to read stories about vampires but refuse to write them. They have been overdone recently, just looking at the shelves even at Wal-Mart's book section is proof enough of that. I will leave the vampire writing to the experts.

I realize I have tense issues in my writing, I am still trying to figure that one out. I have difficulty when I go through my writing discerning where I am going wrong with it.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest