Welcome to day six of After the Madness Workshop! Shelley Watters, Erica Chapman, the writers at YAtopia, and myself will critique the first 250 words of two brave writers’ manuscripts per day for the next seven to eight days. There are four blogs joining in to offer up suggestions. Click on my partners’ sites in my sidebar to view the other critiques.
B-11 Lisa Huber
The punch of the icy, cold steel evaporated the beads of sweat dripping down the back of his neck. It shouldn’t have, but it felt good. A groan escaped Vander’s lips as he began to regain consciousness. Confusion? Pain? Fear? All of the above. A ding echoed in his ears. The steel behind his head vibrated. Vander’s eyes labored open searching for answers, however found only darkness. The darkness was manufactured: a thick cloud tugged and tied tightly around his over-heating face.
B’s notes: I’m not hooked with this beginning. I’d just say … ‘Vander groaned as he regained consciousness’. Simple clear sentences work best at inciting images in your readers’ minds. That first sentence is sort of a tongue tie and I’m not sure what’s going on. How is the steel punching? And how can it evaporate the beads of sweat? Also, I don’t know if it happened during the email transmission, but only use one space between sentences.
Reality came flooding back and the groggy haze vanished instantly while each sense shifted into overdrive. His heavy breath mimicked the rapid rise and fall of his chest, blasting stale breath into his nose as it ricocheted off his head-covering.
B’s notes: I’d rework the first sentence of this paragraph. Like … ‘As his groggy haze vanished, reality hit him and his senses heightened.’ Or something like it. I’m sure you can do better. Just something less clunky.
It smelled like sweat and onions. B’s notes: What does ‘it’ refer to?
“Hello?” Vander choked, his fingers struggling with the noose-like knot around his neck. Luckily, the rope peeled off easier than expected.
B’s notes: Maybe change peeled to a different verb? I’m picturing a rotting rope peeling away.
Vander ripped off what turned out to be a dirty burlap sack. The outside read scallions with a capital R in red letters scrawled beneath it.
B’s notes: Is there a reason we need to know what’s on the outside of the sack? If not, I’d lose it to keep the scene flowing.
No wonder it smelled like onions, Vander thought
B’s notes: If he’s thinking, it’s to himself.
Although the scallion helmet had been removed, little light entered the space. A single, urine-colored bulb hung by a straggly wire five feet away; his eyes struggled to make out the shadows on the perimeter of the room. All he could establish for certain was the concrete floor branded by random splotches of white paint and haphazardly placed chinks as if someone had chased a crab across the floor with an ice-pick.
B’s notes: I’d rework the first sentence on the above paragraph to avoid the past perfect here. Maybe an action instead? Like… ‘Vander squinted, searching the dimly lit space.’ Or something like it, but better.
I’m not sure this is where your story starts. I’m not completely hooked yet. I am curious as to why Vander is in this predicament, though. What did he do to get into this situation? Maybe, that’s where your story starts?
I hope this helps!
Remember this is subjective and others’ may feel differently. So I’ll now pass it on to the readers to critique. Please leave your comments, and remember the rules of critiquing … be nice, which I’m sure you all will be, but I have to say it … you know.