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The Last Meal

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Old 10-31-2006, 04:42 PM
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When they hear a truck stop in front of their house all are as silent as a thought. It is not the sound of the door being smashed in but the flash of sunlight that shocks their senses. They had boarded up all the windows and have lived in total darkness for the last month and a half. The soldiers line them up against the wall. The boy holds a small potato in his hand, which the Captain of the guards sees.

“What is this”? The Captain demands as he twists the little boy’s hand until the potato drops to the floor. The Captain stomps on the potato and than commands his men to drag the family outside.

"Where is the food? You know you have not met your quota. This food you fill your bellies with belongs to the people. Where is the food?" the officer screams.

Before Balkie can speak a word the Captain fires his pistol into his face. As he falls to the ground he hears his wife and children scream. His heart breaks from failing to protect what he loves; yet as his last breath slowly takes away his life he feels relief in knowing that he is escaping this nightmare.

It has been a month since Balkie’s wife has lost her mind, but the motherly instinct makes her hold her children close. The Captain from Moscow looks at one of the soldiers and nods toward the woman. The soldier steps forward and smashes her in the head with the butt of his rifle, there was no need for questions, this was a team that is very experienced in brutalizing the helpless. She falls down in a puddle of her husband's blood. It takes a few seconds but she manages to struggle to her hands and knees. She looks up to see the Captain holding a gun to her three-year-olds head. For the first time in a month her thoughts are perfectly clear. She prayed for her mind to go back to the empty void that had protected her, but this is far too horrible to be blocked out.

"Where is the food?" Tell me woman, or I will kill her right now." The Captain shoves the barrel of his revolver against the little girl's head making her scream in agony.

"No, no, please I beg you not to hurt my baby. I will show where the food is hidden." She struggles to get up as one of the soldiers grabs her arm.

One of the soldiers stay outside with the children as she, the Captain, and the other soldier goes inside the cottage. When she pulls up a loose board in the floor and reaches inside the Captain kicks her out of the way. He pulls out the sack that holds a couple pounds of potato at best, and heads out the door, with the soldier dragging her by the hair.

Once outside she looks at her children. The soldiers seem to no longer exist. It is as if they are mere phantoms moving in slow motion on the outskirts of her world. She remembers giving birth to them both and the laughter and good times of days so long ago. Her last look at their faces, twisted by the terror that grips them is more painful than the bullet that now is ripping through her brain.

The two little children clutch each other tight and scream. They can't look away from their parents who now lay in the snow on what looks like bright red blankets made from their own blood. It is the five year old who first realizes that they are next. He grabs onto his little sister's hand and takes off up the road. As they slip and fall on the ice and snow he gets up and pulls his little sister to her feet and tries again. The Captain and the soldiers laugh at what is nothing more then a sweet pathetic attempt at life. Before the little ones can round the corner the soldiers take aim.

"No, do not shot them. Let them go. They will learn that there are things far worst then us lurking within the darkness." The Captain tells the soldiers, who then throw the bodies of Balkie and his wife into the back of the truck.

The children run until they can't take another step. The little girl sobs between gasping for air. The little boy, who just turned five, tries to come up with ideas on what to do next. What is that? the boy thinks. Again, a sound frightens the boy that his heart almost stops beating. He squeezes his little sister and places his hand over her mouth, to stay alive they must be silent.

They swoop in from out of the darkness from both sides. There are two of them. They are dressed in rags with hoods covering their heads. Their faces are white and covered with black scabs. Their teeth are just rotted black stumps. The children desperately try to hold on to each other, as if it is their last and only hope. They are no match for the two that must have come directly from hell. When they pull the children apart, hands with twisted fingers are clasped over the little ones mouths. The muffled screams of the two little children fade away into the shadows of the night.





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Old 10-31-2006, 08:26 PM
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It would be helpful to know what the specifics of the rating system are. Does it start at 1, being topnotch, to 5, being 'needs lots of work'?
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Old 10-31-2006, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by luv2write55 View Post
It would be helpful to know what the specifics of the rating system are. Does it start at 1, being topnotch, to 5, being 'needs lots of work'?
How do I separate the section I have a comment about and enter my critique about it?
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:57 AM
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When they hear a truck stop in front of their house all are as silent as a thought.

[You'll want to first identify the subject of the sentence rather than saying “they” or “all.” Try, “The family is silent when the truck stops in front of their house.”]

It is not the sound of the door being smashed in but the flash of sunlight that shocks their senses. They had boarded up all the windows and have lived in total darkness for the last month and a half.

[First, as an author, tell the reader what is, not what isn't. If it's not the sound of the door being smashed in that scares them, then don't say, “It's not this happened, but this instead!” However, I imagine that the startling sound of a door being kicked in would be just as shocking as adjusting to light. Yet you have to establish that they're living in darkness, which you write after the fact. You'll want to invert the sentences so that living in darkness is presented before the blinding light. “They had boarded up all the windows and lived in total darkness for the last month. When the soldiers smashed in the door, sunlight burst through shocking the family's senses.”]

The soldiers line them up against the wall. The boy holds a small potato in his hand, which the Captain of the guards sees.

[Soldiers or guards? There's a difference. Since you have identified that the intruders are soldiers, simply “Captain” will do. Also, you can combine the two sentences: “As the soldiers lined them up against the wall, the Captain saw the young boy with a potato in his hand.]

What is this”? The Captain demands as he twists the little boy’s hand until the potato drops to the floor.


[Question mark inside the quotes. Also, be careful with present tense. Most fiction is written in past tense utilizing third person narrative. Try “What is this?” the Captain demanded, twisting the young boy’s hand until the potato dropped to the floor.”]

The Captain stomps on the potato and than commands his men to drag the family outside.

[Tense. Switch to past tense.]

"Where is the food? You know you have not met your quota. This food you fill your bellies with belongs to the people. Where is the food?" the officer screams.


[Tense. Switch to past tense. “The officer screamed.”]

Before Balkie can speak a word the Captain fires his pistol into his face.


[Tense. Switch to past tense. “Before Balkie could speak a word, the Captain fired his pistol into his face.”]

As he falls to the ground he hears his wife and children scream. His heart breaks from failing to protect what he loves; yet as his last breath slowly takes away his life he feels relief in knowing that he is escaping this nightmare.

[Nope. This won't do. Delete this paragraph. Why? Being shot in the face by a pistol at point-blank range doesn't produce a prolonged death; it's instant death. Therefore, Balkie is not thinking any thoughts because his brain, which is the organ used in thinking and perception, is plastered on the wall behind him. All Balkie can do is die, so have him drop to the floor in one large movement.]

It has been a month since Balkie’s wife has lost her mind, but the motherly instinct makes her hold her children close. The Captain from Moscow looks at one of the soldiers and nods toward the woman.


[Wait a second, this is confusing. I'm assuming Balkie was killed now, but his wife lost her mind a month ago? If she lost her mind for other reasons, say what those reasons are. As it's written now, I'm relating her mental instability to the fact that her husband just lost his head... literally, which happened a few seconds ago and not a month earlier.]

The soldier steps forward and smashes her in the head with the butt of his rifle, there was no need for questions, this was a team that is very experienced in brutalizing the helpless. She falls down in a puddle of her husband's blood. It takes a few seconds but she manages to struggle to her hands and knees. She looks up to see the Captain holding a gun to her three-year-olds head. For the first time in a month her thoughts are perfectly clear. She prayed for her mind to go back to the empty void that had protected her, but this is far too horrible to be blocked out.

[Delete “but this is far too horrible to be blocked out.” You see, I know this is a horrible situation already because I'm reading the story. The reader doesn't need reinforcement from the author in a type of, “Hey! See this is horrible!”]

"Where is the food?" Tell me woman, or I will kill her right now."


[Delete quotation mark after “food.”]

The Captain shoves the barrel of his revolver against the little girl's head making her scream in agony.

[I'm not sure if agony is the right word here. I usually associate the word “agony” with physical pain, but no physical pain has happened yet. There is mental anguish, I understand that, but this is more like fright than agony.]

One of the soldiers stay outside with the children as she, the Captain, and the other soldier goes inside the cottage.


[Tense! Tense! Tense! Try “One of the soldiers stayed outside with the children as the mother lead the rest of them inside the cottage.”

When she pulls up a loose board in the floor and reaches inside the Captain kicks her out of the way. He pulls out the sack that holds a couple pounds of potato at best, and heads out the door, with the soldier dragging her by the hair.

[Delete “at best.” This is an unnecessary qualifier. I know how much a couple of pounds ways. If it's less than a couple of pounds you would need a new way to describe it. But really, we're talking about potatoes here so say “holds a couple pounds of potatoes, and heads out the door...”

Once outside she looks at her children. The soldiers seem to no longer exist. It is as if they are mere phantoms moving in slow motion on the outskirts of her world. She remembers giving birth to them both and the laughter and good times of days so long ago. Her last look at their faces is more painful than the bullet that now is ripping through her brain.


[The way this is worded it sounds like the mother gave birth to the soldiers and this is due to the sentence order. Try “Once outside, she looks at her children. She remembers giving birth to them both and the laughter and good times of days so long ago. The soldiers who were terrorizing them seem to no longer exist. It is as if they are mere phantoms moving in slow motion on the outskirts of her world.”]

It is the five year old who first realizes that they are next.


[five year old should be “It is the five-year-old boy who first realizes that they are next.”]

He grabs onto his little sister's hand and takes off up the road. As they slip and fall on the ice and snow he gets up and pulls his little sister to her feet and tries again.

[Try, “He grabs onto his little sister's hand and leads her running off into the distance, slipping and falling on the ice and snow.”]

"No, do not shot them. Let them go. They will learn that there are things far worst then us lurking within the darkness."


[“shot” should be “shoot.”]

The children run until they can't take another step. The little girl sobs between gasping for air. The little boy, who just turned five, tries to come up with ideas on what to do next.

[Three consecutive sentences with the word “The.” That's a no-no. Try rewording.]

What is that? the boy thinks.

[Often, when a character thinks to himself, the author will italicize the thought.]

Again, a sound frightens the boy that his heart almost stops beating.

[Doubtful. You're using exaggeration to make a point that the boy is frightened more than usual. It's phrases like this that cause the reader not to trust you. You'll want to eliminate “his heart almost stops beating.”]

He squeezes his little sister and places his hand over her mouth, to stay alive they must be silent.

[Two sentences.]

They swoop in from out of the darkness from both sides.


[Who swoops in? Parachuting soldiers? Demonic bats or birds? Monkey's in the trees? You have to tell the reader who it is or they'll be like I am: confused.]

There are two of them. They are dressed in rags with hoods covering their heads. Their faces are white and covered with black scabs. Their teeth are just rotted black stumps. The children desperately try to hold on to each other, as if it is their last and only hope. They are no match for the two that must have come directly from hell. When they pull the children apart, hands with twisted fingers are clasped over the little ones mouths. The muffled screams of the two little children fade away into the shadows of the night.

[Look at the first word of each sentence of this paragraph: There, They, Their, The, They, The. The exception is “When.” Try rewording the sentences so that the paragraph is more aesthetically appealing. Delete the word “just.” Also, did the beings come from hell or not. If they did, say they did, but you're saying “must have,” which leads doubt in the reader's mind that even you know what they are. But, you're the author, so you have to know.

Summary:
I don't like stories written in present tense, which you use throughout. Most fiction is past tense, and the story is skillfully told so that the reader feels he's experiencing it in the present. However, you're trying to use present tense to achieve the same effect. Tense can never take the place of skillful writing. Therefore, change the story to past tense and and work on drawing the reader into the story like he's living it.

Character development was brief and sketchy. All I know is there's a family yet know nothing about where they live, what the children's names are, etc.

Theme: The soldiers seem scarier than the hell-beings, if they are hell-beings. You seem unsure of their nature, so I am too.

Grade: D+ (I'll move you to a C- if you change the tense.)


Official Writer's Beat Critique by xfacktor

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Old 11-02-2006, 02:26 PM
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Thanks X the tense are helpful. Again this is just a couple of thousand words in six thousand word chapter. This is why you seemed so confused. Alot of your points were great. I can never be a real writer for I lack the tech skills. I am just a dreamer that is not worried about putting himself out there.
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Old 11-02-2006, 02:52 PM
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My friend, write until your heart's content. As long as you have a vision and your imagination is in full swing, the rest of us can help iron out the technicalities.
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