Nov 14 2011

Cypress’ Review Forum

Published by at 7:33 pm under Review Forums

I’m currently working on a novel for the first time. I’m not looking to get published anytime soon, but I’ll take anything you can throw at me to improve my writing.

 

My story plot is a little vague right now since I’m still trying to figure out where I want the story to go so…

 

My novel’s focus is on Christena, she is about 25 years old and works as a secretary for the boss of a small mafia. She’s having issues coping with her life in the mafia after spending most of her time in a vigilante group that went after criminals who escaped justice. The story starts a year and a half after the death of the three other girls in her group that were like her sisters. Christena is both physically and mentally scarred from the bombing that kill her sisters, and is also forced to deal with an obsessed psychopath that she works for.

 

The story is currently being told in the POVs of Christena and her boss with a prologue that is two years before the story starts.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Cypress’ Review Forum”

  1. Cypresson 23 Nov 2011 at 8:03 am

    This isn’t as organized as I would like it to be, and I have it set up differently on Word, but it didn’t copy over the same and I have no idea how to change this.

    This is the prologue for my novel and starts two years before the first chapter. All input is welcome, but please be constructive. I’ve never done well with- it sucks, I don’t like it.

    My target audience is probably 16-30 mostly female I think

    ——————————

    Two Years Ago

    Some cities are known for their food, their entertainment, or achievements that have made their way into history books. Then there are the other cities, the ones where citizens avoid walking the streets at night in fear that they’ll be the next body found in a dumpster, where there’s a horror story lurking in every alley way if you’re only brave enough to look, and where there’s not a single thing done about it.

    Guatemala City was one of those places. It was home to some of the highest violent crime rates in North America. The police departments were practically non-existent, and almost all of the ones that were there were riddled with double agents and bribes. Hundreds of well known criminals walked the streets in broad daylight and nothing was done… until they came.

    It started simple–threats written on alley walls in red paint–and criminals told themselves it was a gang, trying a scare tactic to get themselves more land. There were no worries–at least none spoken out loud.

    Then a few rapists and murderers started disappearing for days at a time and reappearing on the front steps of the only police departments in the city begging to be taken in and thrown in a cell for the rest of their miserable lives.

    One of the more notable incidents was a forty-five year old male that went by the name of Chainsaw. He was a well known serial killer (had been for fifteen years) that targeted young unmarried women in their twenties. He would use chainsaws to kill the women usually leaving what was left of the victims in their own home.

    It had been six weeks since the first red paint threats when chainsaw appeared on the steps of the most notable station in the city, the only one in fact that ever really went after criminals. He was curled in fetal position, terrified out of his wits. When someone came out to see what was going on, Chainsaw begged to be put in a cell where he would be safe. He was handcuffed and led to smallest dirtiest cell they had.

    For three days and nights he lay in bed flinching at every shadow and curling up at every footfall. Then, after the third night he was found dead in his cell where he had hung himself using his belt.

    No one really cared that he was gone, but people wondered what had traumatized the killer so much that he finally just broke. Only other criminals who saw the threats written in paint or had similar experiences knew the truth, and average citizens continued to wonder what Chainsaw saw.

    For all of their imaginings and all of their discussions no one could imagine the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Only Chainsaw knew everything and as he hung himself in that dirty little cell the truth was what he saw, the first time he saw them and the last time his real name was used.

    He had walked into that alleyway–one he frequently traveled looking for new prey– not expecting anything out of the ordinary. Then he saw her.

    She was a rare beauty. Long luxurious black hair, thin slender legs, and a slight aristocratic look that made her appear as if she was above those around her. Her red party dress rippled as she seemingly flowed towards him, when she was no longer partly in the shadows and the fading light fell upon her face he saw she couldn’t be older than 20 years, just his type of prey.

    He smiled at her and whispered in a secretive way, “What is a beauty like you doing in an alley like this? Please, allow me to walk you home.” He smirked and took a step towards her. With a slight laugh, like wind chimes in a summer breeze, she raised her tiny, delicate hand as if to stop him from approaching. Her red nails glinted in the last light of dusk and he paused when she opened her blood red lips.

    “I don’t think so Chainsaw. You won’t be going anywhere with anyone tonight.” She smiled as if she had just whispered a secret into an old friends ear, and had not given a slight threat to one of the most dangerous men in Guatemala.

    “And who do you think you are little girl. To order me around like I’m nothing more than some little toy of yours.” Chainsaw puffed up his chest and took another step forward as he spoke.

    “Stop.” Chainsaw jumped when she spoke again. Gone was the innocent little girl playing a game. This was something new. Her voice was like steel and her eyes glinted with a strange emotion. “This is the end of the line Chainsaw. You’ve gotten away with so much already, I think it’s time for you to get your due. No more of your evil will be allowed in this city.”

    Chainsaw shifted to his other foot, a bit unnerved by what she said, her tone, and the expression on her previously tranquil face as she stared straight at him. He tried to laugh it off and then intimidate her. “You’re a stupid little girl sweetheart. You’re just the kind I like to go after best. Don’t worry though I’ll make it slow just for you. I might even use my favorite saw.”

    Suddenly he heard a few more of those tinkling laughs and out of the shadows stepped three more girls. There were two blonds, but the third girl had a head full of shocking red hair. They were the ones that were laughing gently along with the first.

    “You really should be more careful Chainsaw. You never know how others will react to your words.” The redhead winked at Chainsaw as she spoke. Her every move just screamed mischievous.

    “Listen here ladies, I sure am glad more of you want to join the party, but I’m feeling a little run down and want to head home.” He took a step back unnerved by these young ladies that acted as if they were at the top and he was just a little bug beneath their stiletto heels. He had no idea who they were, and even though he was tough man he couldn’t help but think about those red threats written with a slight cursive slant, like a woman’s handwriting.

    “Of course you do Chainsaw and you will go home, but you’ll always be looking behind just in case. We are the ones that light the match, but your mind is the one that shall go up in flames like a wooden paper factory.” The blond girls smiled at Chainsaw after they finished speaking, like they had just told him he won the lottery.

    Then they all spoke together the first girl obviously taking the lead of their group, “Beware Jonathan Smith, for your judgment day is approaching, and we hold the gavel.”

    The crime rate in Guatemala City had a record breaking drop in the next six months. Violent crimes dropped so much that experts from around the world was baffled, but no one was talking. The ladies mysteriously disappeared from the city leaving criminals alone, but crime rates stayed at an all time low. It might have been the message they left behind, but we who knows it could be anything.

    We will always know
    ~XXXX~
    ———————-

    ~Cypress~

  2. B. McKenzieon 30 Nov 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I like leading with a desolate city in the opening paragraph, but I feel that this paragraph could be more distinctive/stylish. For example, if I could play with the narrator’s voice without any idea of what comes after, I might try something like: “Some cities are special because of their food, their entertainment and historic achievements. Take Guatemala City, for example. Any resident could identify at least three street corners where notable murders had taken place. Its food was not generally poisonous, although it was generally believed that most street vendors kept “special sauces” for whenever they were forced to prepare a free meal at gunpoint. And Guatemala City yielded to no one in cockfighting, peeling-paint strip joints and bombed-out crackhouses with a horror story behind every door. Everybody—especially its survivors—knew it was a very special city indeed.” I added some more unusual details to establish how seedy the city is and I made a stylistic shift towards a city that is not only hyper-seedy, but distinguished by its hyper-seediness. I also tried transitioning more quickly to people/characters (with “especially its survivors”).

    Minor geographic detail: Is Guatemala City in Guatemala? If so, I would recommend changing North America to South America.

    “…for the rest of their miserable lives…” Is this phrase consistent with the narrator’s voice? (Personally, I felt that the narrator had previously stayed away from inserting his/her opinions).

    “Then a few rapists and murderers started disappearing for days at a time and reappearing on the front steps of the only police departments in the city begging to be taken in and thrown in a cell for the rest of their miserable lives.” I like the detail that they are begging to be incarcerated. However, it might be even more interesting if they come to the police of their own volition (rather than just appearing there, presumably left by the vigilante). It might help to work in some speed/activity there (like showing them racing into the police station) to show how scared they are of whatever it is that they were fleeing.

    “It had been six weeks since the first red paint threats when chainsaw appeared on the steps of the most notable station in the city, the only one in fact that ever really went after criminals.” I would recommend fleshing out that a bit. Why is this precinct the only one that cares?

    “He was handcuffed and led to smallest dirtiest cell they had.” Two things. First, I think “the” is missing here. Second, when there are two adjectives in a row, I would generally recommend putting a comma between the two.

    On one hand, I’m not 100% amped that the introduction of the woman focuses so much on what she’s wearing and what she looks like. On the other hand, I think that the previous description of what eventually happens to Chainsaw does create some characterization. I’d sort of like to see a bit more there than just how beautiful she is, though. Every superheroine is beautiful. Her party dress feels more interesting to me because it feels really out of place in an alley with a serial rapist. It’s an unusual enough choice that it helps develop her.

    I’d like a sharper/more creative/more individualized response to his lines than “I don’t think so, Chainsaw. You won’t be going anywhere with anyone tonight.” If this lady is supposed to be terrifying, I’d like something that gives me chills. For example, maybe something that suggests that instead of him finding her, she has finally found him.


    “Gone was the innocent little girl playing a game.” If she was supposed to sound like an innocent girl before, I would recommend revising “I don’t think so, Chainsaw. You won’t be going anywhere with anyone tonight.” She sounds pretty assertive there.

    It feels strange to me that Chainsaw has several lines of conversation with these women but doesn’t actually try to get physical with them. He’s a serial rapist, right? He goes from “I might even use my favorite saw” to “I’m feeling a little run down and want to head home” very, very quickly. Is he really THAT unnerved by a few women standing up to him? There seems to me to be some discrepancies on the question of whether he’s a coward or not. Getting unnerved by a few women standing up to him is cowardly and suggests he’s scared of a fight. But the way he’s going about finding victims seems extremely likely to lead to a fight. (E.g. I would expect a cowardly rapist to strike a victim unconscious from behind or use drugs/sedatives, but he’s surprisingly open about his plans to saw her open. What is he expecting BUT her to fight for her life?) Also, is he a recognizable figure? (He doesn’t seem to be surprised that she knows who he is). If he’s recognizable, then it seems to me like it’d be even more important for him to try to catch a victim unawares.

    “We are the ones that light the match, but your mind is the one that shall go up in smoke.” Is this a magical incantation? If not, why is he so unnerved by this? It might help if they actually do something to him rather than just letting him walk away. For example, maybe mind-games or a down-payment on an ass-kicking? Addressing him by his given name is an okay start on mind games—it suggests that they know a lot about him, and he might be worried about that. Perhaps they cause him to snap by letting him go because they claim he’s harmless—maybe a rapist would snap if he realized that he was so powerless that he wasn’t even brave enough to attack a few women in an alley, even after they called him out.

  3. Cypresson 10 Dec 2011 at 10:07 am

    Alright, so I just revised until right before the flashback. I know for a fact that it’s going to take a lot more work to fix that. I hope you don’t mind that I used some of the beginning paragraph you wrote. It was just perfect.

    Two things that I was wondering if you or anyone could help me on. First of all, I have no clue how to write fight scenes or mind games. I’m completely clueless. Secondly, I was wondering about something that I’m writing in later chapters. The first chapter is from Christena’s point of view. The second is from her bosses. I’ve have it set up right now so that for part of the bosses chapter it retells what happened in Christena’s. it’s written differently, and I really like the two points of view, but is that something that is not recommended?

    One more thing Christena’s boss is referred to as The Boss. I was reading somewhere that you shouldn’t make extra capitalization like that. should I take it out?

    On with the story.

    ———————————————————————————-

    Some cities are known for their food, their entertainment, or achievements that have made their way into history books. Then there are the other cities, the ones where citizens avoid walking the streets at night in fear that they’ll be the next body found in a dumpster, where there’s a horror story lurking in every alley way, bombed-out crack house, and strip joint if you’re only brave enough to look. Places like these, where there’s nothing done about it.

    Take Guatemala City, best known for its high violent crime rates. Any citizen could identify at least three street corners where a notable murder had taken place. Its food was not generally poisonous, although it was generally believed that most street vendors kept “special sauces” for whenever they were forced to prepare a free meal at gunpoint. Everybody—especially its survivors—knew it was a very special city indeed. The police departments were practically non-existent, and almost all of the ones that were there were riddled with double agents and bribes. Hundreds of well known criminals walked the streets in broad daylight and nothing was done… until they came.

    It started simple–threats written on alley walls in red paint–and criminals told themselves it was a gang, trying a scare tactic to get themselves more land. There were no worries–at least none spoken out loud.

    Then a few rapists and murderers started disappearing for days at a time before suddenly returning to the public world, only to barge their way into the only police departments in the city hysterically yelling that they had be taken in and thrown in a cell where they would be safe. They would admit to crimes not yet committed, or give information on any cases the cops wanted. Criminals started getting nervous.

    One of the more notable incidents was a forty-five year old male that went by the name of Chainsaw. He was a well known serial killer (had been for fifteen years) that targeted young unmarried women in their twenties. Although there was very little left when he was done with them, it was assumed that chainsaw drugged the women while at whorehouses and bars. He would then take them back to their homes and use his chainsaws to kill the victims after raping them.

    It had been six weeks since the first red paint threats when chainsaw appeared on the steps of the most notable station in the city, the only one in fact that ever really went after criminals. Run by the victims of the city’s worst criminals they took the city’s crime personally, and were hell bent on getting revenge.

    It was about six in the morning when Chainsaw was found slamming his fist on the locked door of the station. When someone came out to see what was going on, Chainsaw begged to be put in a cell where he too would be safe like the other criminals in jail. He was handcuffed and led to the smallest, dirtiest cell they had.

    For three days and nights he lay in bed flinching at every shadow and curling up at every footfall. Then, after the third night he was found dead in his cell where he had hung himself using his belt.

    No one really cared that he was gone, but people wondered what had traumatized the killer so much that he finally just broke. Only other criminals who saw the threats written in paint or had similar experiences knew the truth, and average citizens continued to wonder what Chainsaw saw.

    For all of their imaginings and all of their discussions no one could imagine the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Only Chainsaw knew everything and as he hung himself in that dirty little cell the truth was what he saw, the first time he saw them and the last time his real name was used.

    —————————————————-

    Just something I’d like to say, I love getting input on my writing, and I’m still way away from anything professional. I won’t be able to write much right now, but I’m trying. Truthfully this is the first time I’ve gotten to touch my writing in about two months.
    I’ve got my first semester exams ever coming up and will be studying like crazy. I am only 14 years old, so I’ve got a long way to go.

    ~Cypress~

  4. Cypresson 10 Dec 2011 at 10:09 am

    I just noticed as I was rereading that post that there is some capitalization problems when I was writing Chainsaw, sorry about that.

    ~Cypress~

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