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DOGGONE VOICE: SHE CAME FROM THE HILL

Friday, 29 June 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake
 
Title: SHE CAME FROM THE HILL
Genre: YA Gothic Fantasy

Nothing thrived at the far end of the park. Even laughter died at the first stunted tree. Clay could have skipped the shortcut had Alex, who had the communication skills of a bad WIFI connection, called an hour earlier. Proper packing takes time. He tightened the straps on his overnight pack and pedaled up the dead forest path.

Dread pressed in around him. Clay took a deep breath and filled his lungs with dusty air. There had to be a logical explanation for the creepiness of the dead forest, like buried electrical lines. He pedaled faster, but only because he was late, and left the park behind in record time.

An orange car rocketed down the street. Clay made a mental note to avoid orange cars when he got his license in a few months. That guy was going to kill someone. He coasted past the exhaust trail and skidded to a stop in Alex’s driveway. His friends were scattered around the yard, none of them in uniform. He straightened his scout shirt. They needed to take scouting more seriously.

Alex aimed a small camcorder at him and pushed a button. Light flashed in Clay’s eyes, blinding him.

Clay blocked the light with his hands. “Alex!”

“The enhanced light works!” Alex switched the light off, leaving Clay seeing spots.

“What’s the camera for?” Clay got off his bike and dropped his pack at his feet.

Alex shut the tiny screen, leaned forward, and whispered, “The camera sees what we can’t.”

Filed: Misc, Workshops

5 Comments
  • Leigh Ann says:

    Hm. There’s a good bit of disconnection for me with this voice, but I can’t really put my finger on what it is, exactly. I really liked the descriptions of filling his lungs with air – maybe put us more physically in the moment with him?

    Like, when he says, “There had to be a logical explanation for the creepiness of the forest, like electrical lines.” Maybe break that up a bit? “There had to be a logical explanation for the creepiness of this forest. Buried electrical lines, maybe.”

    Another sentence that gave me pause was “He madea mental note to avoid orange cars.” The phrase “he made a mental note” is not what he would think, right? Like would you think to yourself, “I’m making a mental note?” No. You’d say, “I’ve gotta avoid orange cars.” So, even though it’s just a nitpicky tweak, I think it can make a big difference.

    I will say, I like this character. It’s like he’s critical of everything, but in an endearing way. Nice work!

  • Marieke says:

    You’re off to a FANTASTIC start. The first two sentences are absolutely spot on. They create an atmospheric voice that’s perfect for gothic fantasy.

    Unfortunately, I think from there it starts to unravel a bit. Most importantly, I think, because the focus seems to be off. The comment about the orange cars is cute, but it isn’t completely logical to me. He should stay away from orange cars because… they’re ugly? That one driver might kill someone? At the same time, you overexplain a little (“but only because he was late”).

    One other point–in the last couple of paragraphs you repeat the word “light” four times. Not only does it sound repetitive, it’s a missed opportunity to make your voice shine through more. Think about it this way, how would your character describe it? What different ways are there? I’m not suggesting you crack open a thesaurus and use every single synonym known to mankind, but there are plenty of opporunities to make it more your own 🙂

    Your last sentence is fantastically ominous though. Great job there! 🙂

  • This is fabulous feedback. Thank you ladies. The orange car actually plays an important role later on but that line bugs me too. It doesn’t need to appear so soon. Here’s my revision.

    Nothing thrived at the far end of the park. Even laughter died at the first stunted tree. Clay could have skipped the shortcut had Alex, who had the communication skills of a bad WIFI connection, called an hour earlier. Proper packing takes time. In five months he’d get his license and could drive around the park. Five months never felt so far away.

    Clay tightened the straps on his heavy overnight pack and pedaled up the dead forest path. His tires kicked up dirt, making the air thick with dust. Something about the place felt off, like evil was watching him from behind the brittle trees. It was completely irrational. There had to be electrical power lines buried nearby. He pedaled faster anyway and left the park behind in record time.

    He coasted down the road and skidded to a stop in Alex’s driveway. His friends were scattered around the yard, none of them in uniform. Clay straightened his scout shirt. They needed to take scouting more seriously.

    Alex aimed a small camcorder at him and pushed a button. Light flashed in Clay’s eyes, blinding him.

    Clay shaded his eyes with his hands. “Alex!”

    “The enhanced light works!” Alex turned it off, leaving Clay seeing spots.

    “What’s the camera for?” Clay got off his bike and dropped his pack at his feet.

    Alex shut the tiny screen, leaned forward, and whispered, “The camera sees what we can’t.”

  • callmebecks says:

    There are some great hints at your MC and his voice/perspective. His critical eye. His need for preparation. His detail-orientation. It’s a good start, but it’s not quite there yet, and I think it’s still the first two paragraphs for me. I feel like they’re too short to give us creepy atmosphere at the moment – they’re sort of over before they’ve fulfilled any real purpose. I’d say either make them a big longer and let us settle into this freaky forest or cut them and bring us straight to Clay pulling up to his friends.

    IN-LINE CRITS

    Nothing thrived at the far end of the park. Even laughter died at the first stunted tree. Clay could have skipped the shortcut had Alex, who had the communication skills of a bad WIFI connection, called an hour earlier. Proper packing takes time. (This is a great line that says a lot about Clay. Organized, a little too uptight.) In five months he’d get his license and could drive around the park. Five months never felt so far away.

    Clay tightened the straps on his heavy overnight pack and pedaled up the dead forest path. His tires kicked up dirt, making the air thick with dust. (Good description.) Something about the place felt off, like evil was watching him from behind the brittle trees. It was completely irrational. There had to be electrical power lines buried nearby. He pedaled faster anyway and left the park behind in record time.

    He coasted down the road and skidded to a stop in Alex’s driveway. His friends were scattered around the yard, none of them in uniform. Clay straightened his scout shirt. They needed to take scouting more seriously. (Good.)

    Alex aimed a small camcorder at him and pushed a button. Light flashed in Clay’s eyes, blinding him.

    Clay shaded his eyes with his hands. “Alex!”

    “The enhanced light works!” Alex turned it off, leaving Clay seeing spots.

    “What’s the camera for?” Clay got off his bike and dropped his pack at his feet.

    Alex shut the tiny screen, leaned forward, and whispered, “The camera sees what we can’t.” (Nice. I like this ending.)

  • Brenda Drake says:

    This voice is actually reading Upper MG to me (except for the part about getting his license).

    I love this line, “Clay could have skipped the shortcut had Alex, who had the communication skills of a bad WIFI connection, called an hour earlier.”

    Is there something in the forest that will be brought out later? If so, I’d elaborate on it for the creep factor as Becks suggested.

    This line is off for me, “There had to be electrical power lines buried nearby.” Why does he think this? Does he hear a humming?

    Show us he’s afraid – heart quickens, darting glances, looking over his shoulder, seeing suspicious shadows, gulping. What does he hear? Smell? Bring us into his world through his senses. By giving us his senses, you’ll bring out his voice more.

    I’m very intrigued by this opening. I had to Google Gothic Fantasy – sounds like a cool genre!

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