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  • Chapter 23
    As I approached the front door, I noticed my front porch light was out. I’d have to change the bulb tomorrow, as I felt better coming home to a light on outside. I put my house key in the lock and t […]

    • Hi Linda
      I’m guessing this scene don’t follow on the ones from Week 11, as Daniel was on his way to the hospital then. I’m guessing this one happened before the weeds? Also, where I expected your “scene 24” to start you’ve posted scene 23 again, I’m guessing by mistake. 😉

      The bursting lightbulbs is a quite vivid and imaginative scene and I like that it is rich in sounds and sight. I liked the “cascading sound of broken glass,” but perhaps that would do better in just a description. In dialogue it seems a bit awkward and unnatural (although, Daniel is an author 😀 ). The same goes for “enveloped.”

      I liked how his thoughts went to Kate just before he fell asleep, as it is both significant and ironic that she is the last thing he thought about in the day. She contrasts so much with the events of the evening, and she could be another reason for Daniel experiencing frustration with dealing with the house, as the house is essentially keeping him away from Kate. Perhaps this can create a bit more inner conflict, or conflict between them?

      Once again, I enjoy how Alex is the calm stable force in the story that restores the balance!

  • TEARS…SORROW OR SHAME?Moving to an island in September was something Fran used to consider very foolish, but now she couldn’t wait to see the condition of the monstrosity that her grandmother called home. When […]

    • Hi Linda, what an interesting mystery. Definitely could become a longer piece, like a novel. Lots to be curious about and lots of backstory to be discovered. The setting brought the story to life and even made more sense when the window seat discovery happened. Make one curious what else has happened out of the house as well. Good job. Thank you for your story.

      • Thank you for your kind comments. I like the novel idea, and can see a few things that can be expanded on. Stella might have to kill a mistress or two.

    • A great and devious twist and there’s so much to explore in this story. I liked the parallels of the protagonist and her grandmother’s story, and you created a great setting. Well done Linda.

  • Scene 23
     
    Nora’s phone pinged. She and Stella glanced at the message. It was from Amy.
     
    ‘Open it,’ Stella said.
     
    Nora’s hand trembled as tapped the notification. So few words. Such a disaster. She handed the […]

    • Hi Leona! Stella really riled me in these two scenes. I think that is the whole intention with her, no so? She’s pot-stirrer. But there is also a vibe of insincerity coming off her – the repeated “penny for your thoughts” and the other platitudes (“rains but pours”) makes her seem like she’s trying to hide something behind those expressions. I know, of course, from your V1 that she is hiding something and it will end up difficult for Nora and her family.
      Nora of course doesn’t stand up for herself, and Stella exploits that masterfully – yet another reason to be put off by her.
      But I know she’s fighting on the “right” side. Well done!

    • Hi Leona,
      That Stella is such a manipulator. And not a true friend–actually someone willing to sacrifice her friend’s happiness for her own interest. Do we know Stella’s motives? Yes, she’s creating a pathway where she may have leverage over Tom in the future, but why?
      You’d think that if she really believes in selflessness then she would have had a lot of praise for what Barry and Nora did for Nadia.
      It would be great to hear about or from Nadia –this might add even more tension–right now, Nora is regretting giving away some of her points, but if we see how Nadia is using them–this could make the situation even more taut.
      Nora’s insecurity is shown very clearly here and we understand that this is a fundamentaal part of her character.
      Excellent dialogue where we learn so much about both characters. I would watch the dialogue tags–it’s not always clear who is speaking–maybe the spacing got messed up when you posted.
      Great scenes!!

  • Chapter 21
    Someone was knocking on my door at 8am. I looked through the peephole and realized it was the lawn care company I had hired.
    “Good morning, Dan Conway, just wanted to let you know we’re going to sta […]

    • As the house starts to influence more of the space around it, I’m starting to wonder if the “presence” that is haunting the house is in the house at all, or if the house is just in an unlucky location. Kind of like how a tree will slowly envelop a fence post over time. Eventually the fence post is just part of the tree, mostly.

    • Dear Linda
      I am very sorry that I am so late with reading this!

      The roots underneath the weeds are quite intriguing! It is a great touch with so much potential! This had a really great visual quality to it, and perhaps you can even emphasize the creepiness of it all a bit more! After all, that is not something you ever hope to find underneath your house! Perhaps Daniel can wonder whether he imagined seeing some of the roots move?

      I enjoyed the character Greg! Perhaps you can give just a teeny bit of a description or characteristic to make him more vivid.

      I thought Daniel had already had his deadline? Or perhaps you have adjusted your time line. If this is for the new novel about his grandmother’s journal, one week away seems a bit soon. Unless a lot of time has passed in the meantime.

      The way the house makes him type almost uncontrollably is really fascinating! I feel like this is another element you can actually make more of. It must be quite riveting for Daniel to be able to write this fast, and this can become part of his inner conflict. Staying in the house is unsafe and scary – but he doesn’t want to give up the way the house makes him write in an almost supernatural way!

      I don’t have much else to add. This was a fun read! 😀

  • Scene 21

    ‘Let me get this right. You want to link to my points to get the medical treatment you need?’ Sara asked again.

    ‘That’s the crux of it, ’Amy said, the flat tone of her voice suppressing her rising pa […]

    • Bad, bad things happen when good people turn a blind eye or say nothing, that’s for sure. A great instalment, Leona! I particularly loved: “The hill of righteousness is slippery and steep.”
      And yes, “The way The Commission has tied families together feels very creepy.” Damn right it does. This whole system has the climate solution on backwards.
      I’m just wondering whether anything less drastic would work at all?
      Your story is tight – and while I’m reading you, I’m learning so much about how to casually fill in those blank spaces between the scenes, with throw-back references to what has been happening while the reader has been paying attention to another scene.
      Well done!

    • Hi Leona,
      Some tumultuous scenes here as the characters are all pushed out of their comfort zones. One little point. You have Amy lurch onto a couch when she’s with Sara and then a couple of lines later, Sara says, “Stop pacing…” but we never saw Amy do that.
      It seems that people lose points when they give to charity, from what I’m reading but it’s not totally clear. And it’s because the workers’ behavior will affect the points the charity amasses, is that right?
      Perhaps you could clarify that.
      Have we seen Nadia again? Do we know what Barry and Nora have been paying for?
      Very compelling and haunting scenes.

  • Chapter 19
    Walking along the pier and breathing in the fresh salty air, after what I had gone through, helped calm me a little.
    “Daniel.” Alex called coming towards me. “What’s up?”
    “The usual stuff at my house.” […]

    • Dear Linda
      I enjoyed this scene and the bit of family history that came along with it. I felt the information was spread out nicely and naturally throughout the writing – for example, you mention Louise and then a little later you casually include the information that she was Jane’s sister. (I realise now that you’ve said this in an earlier scene, but for forgetful readers like me you’ve clarified this again without sounding repetitive). So there are no awkward explanations about the backstory, but everything still made sense by the end of the scene.
      The sentence “When a reporter asked him ….” left me unsure whether it was referring to Daniel’s father or to John Hollow. I was also curious: If Daniel’s father had sold the house to John Hollow how did Daniel not know anything about it? Did his parents die that long ago or was it deliberately kept secret?
      I’m surprised Daniel didn’t mention Terrence Evermore to Kate? I like how “Evermore” and “Blackmore” have the same endings – it predicts some sinister connection there!
      I don’t really have much else to add. These scenes read coherently and were interesting! Well done, Linda. 🙂

    • I like the idea of building the history of events about and around the house via old newspaper articles. I would suggest using the “actual” articles instead of providing a summary, though. You could then scatter about the articles, and show us the characters reactions. Being interrupted while reading a newspaper article would be a good way of only providing a snippet of the article, etc.

      On a side note, what happened with Daniel’s dog? Maybe I missed it. Even if Alex is keeping the dog, it might be interesting to have it try to warn some of the people that the house is getting ready to do “bad things”.

  • Scene 19

    It was just a spot until it wasn’t. Now, the climate crisis, the anklet and her family paled in importance compared to this one dark brown spot, the size of a flattened sultana, on her chest. Stella h […]

    • Hi Leona!
      Carrying on from where I left off:

      “The eyebrow of disbelief and we’re not done yet,” –— ooh, how I love this! 

      “Thirty seconds and no repeat.” – This little scene at the water fountain is very very effective to show the harrowing effects of a control-and-command system of climate protection.Of course the whole points-for-treatment thing does that on a much larger scale, but we all have been thirsty, so we know what it must feel like to be denied something so basic as a sip of water. I love that you worked this in to the scene where you’re explaining the effect of the lack of points for Amy who needs treatment. It made the whole thing just that much more concrete. Very effective! Something to repeat where possible.

      She wished she’d not blown her stack this morning. – I this is referring to the fight with Tom we saw a couple of submissions back, I think there is a timing issue that needs correcting, because a whole day had passed in-between.

      Martin Place business chic gave way to shabby surrounds of Central Station – (and the rest of that para.) This is what I meant with adding more world description – yes, exactly. It gives us a sense of what places we know look like in your story, with the climate disaster making inroads. These need to pop up every now and again.

      I love this story, Leona!

    • Hi Leona,
      REally emotional scenes which I loved. Amy’s despair when her personal issues arise and she can no longer fully embrace the activist persona for fear of getting sick–this is a fantastic way to show the depth of her character. At the beginning when Stella says that Rose should see the spot–I kept wondering where they were. You mentioned a “servery”–I’m not sure what that is. Perhaps just a little description of the setting where Stella and Amy are and then when Rose shows up would be helpful.

      The water fountain scene, the all stops bus route, the personalized care–all points dependent–very powerful reminders about an overly controlling government that gets to hide behind noble sounding principles like climate protection. And the points for personalized care–let’s face it in countries like the US–it’s true–there is a huge difference in quality of medical care depending on the size of your bank account and your medical insurance. So I liked that chilling slide from health care to ability to get water. Rings true for me.

      The part in the diner–why was Stella there? Did she know about Amy’s dilemma? Last we saw, Rose had said that the lesion was suspicious. Or from the hand signals, does this mean that Nora had told Stella that Amy was very upset?
      The conflicting emotions that Amy feels during all of this, especially when her parents don’t have enough points to help her was described very well and a great cliffhanger.

  • Chapter 17

    Kate and I woke up half an hour later than she needed to for work. So, she rushed to get dressed in her navy-blue suit and light blue blouse and blue heels. I put on my clothes from the night before […]

    • Hi Linda. I liked these scenes; there was quite a lot happening and a lot of pieces put in place. I am quite curious about the book Daniel wrote in that house – I can’t remember if you’ve ever mentioned anything about the storyline other than that it is a crime novel. It might be an interesting opportunity to reinforce a theme, or something like that.
      I enjoyed the introduction of the mysterious Terrence Evermore and his thickening of the plot! The part in the Red Room was also quite intriguing. I like how the mirror acts as a view into the supernatural world and adds to the theme of questioning what is reality.
      I did wonder a bit about the tests done on the skeletons, as I had thought it was only for identification purposes. Not sure if after a 100 years you’d still be able to identify a cause of death that was organ-related? I don’t know much about post-mortems, so perhaps one could! If not and these were mysterious skeletons that were not yet fully decomposed, it might be fun to emphasise the unusual-ness of the skeletons and add some gruesomeness!
      This was a fun read! 😀

    • Good introduction of the new character (Terrance). I suppose now it’s time for the house to get “grumpy”. 🙂

  • Sealed with kissesTeased by a touchAroused with scentsNestled together Duelling with your heartsAlways hiddenNever going beyond theDoor shielding your fate

    • Love how much this says with such extreme concision.

      The metre seems to fumble a little toward the end, after starting so tightly. If it were mine I think I’d be tempted to prune it still furtherz i.e. “duelling hearts” “behind closed doors/shielding fate”

      That’s just stylistic though. It works perfectly well as is.

    • Well done, Linda. I like the way the poem progresses from the initial buzz, to the ambivalance to the reality of their situation. It’s like a well done pencil sketch in its economy of strokes. The title sets the stage.

      Very well done.

      • Thanks for commenting. That buzz of secret lovers doesn’t last long with the reality of your true life outside that door.

        • Many years ago I read a column in Redbook written by Judith Viorst about the downside of having an affair. She’d interviewed several women. They all agreed the the initial buzz was exhilarating. But all of them gave up the affair because it was just too much trouble to fit trysts into their busy lives. One woman described the typical meeting with her lover as “sharing a pizza in a car in the pouring rain.”

    • So evocative and sensual, Secret lovers living for the moment and putting off the truth of what lies beyond that door. Beautiful.

    • Hello Linda,
      You can almost touch the secrecy between these two lovers. I wonder if the poem would gain in intimacy by losing the reference to ‘your’ (e.g. Duelling hearts & Door shielding fate) – it might imply that the narrator is one of the two lovers, rather than an observer. Just a thought. I like the poem.

  • Scene17:

    ‘What’s got you so absorbed?’ Stella’s voice cut through Nora’s concentration.

    ‘Nothing,’ Stella said with the sophistication of an eight-year-old. Stella raised her eyebrow. 

    ‘So. You busted me. I w […]

    • Hi Leona,
      We meet Stella who seems to be the more dominant of the two in her relationship with Nora. She’s single and seems rather judgemental. We learn that maybe there’s something between her and the barista or at least some kind of familiarity. Also, Stella’s a rebel who doesn’t care about penalties from the Commission, she’s interested in helping those off the grid.
      In the second scene, we see Nora slogging home through the heat and humidity as she tries to understand her priorities and how she feels about helping Nadia. I like that she didn’t tell Stella about her–she fears Stella’s judgement and tendency to take over.

      A little thing: you had Stella roll her eyes and and raise her eyebrows at the same time–I kept trying to do it and I couldn’t–I raise my eyebrows first. Anyway, it was a slight distraction.
      It would be great to have some physical descriptions here. What does Stella look like? How does she dress. I imagine her as someone who wears Birkenstocks, flowered flowy clothes hiding a pudgy middle-aged body. But it would be nice to see her from your POV. Same for the cafe.
      In the second scene, Stella predicts that Nora will be helping her in no time because Nora is a follower. Does this bug Nora or does she know this to be true? Perhaps we can see Nora’s reaction to that statement–seems rather smug to me.
      I didn’t understand why Nora would be tipping in the Orange. The second Coffee? Why would that do it? I understand the Uber. But also how she filled the boxes for donations? There was something I missed and I’ve read it a couple of times now. Please explain.
      You’re doing some “world-building” and it’s very effective.

    • Hi dear Leona!
      I’m so sorry I’m late. Work…
      These are two great scenes which gave me a lot of food for thought. Let me dive right in:

      ‘Nothing,’ Stella said with the sophistication of an eight-year-old. Stella raised her eyebrow. 
      ‘So. You busted me. I was checking my ranking. Lost in the rankings.’
      ‘I don’t know why you bother.’ Stella rolled her eyes. 

      • I think some Noras and Stellas got confused in the exchange above.

      exasperation took a seat | Guilt stalked | Loneliness slipped around her heart | Loneliness squeezed – I absolutely love this style of yours, where feelings get personified and take on a life of their own. (Now I can’t help thinking of my own feelings as people surrounding me!) This is extremely effective. And because it is so effective, may I recommend that you limit it to personifying one feeling in a scene? Otherwise it might become a bit overwhelming. In scene 17, the dominant mood seems to be loneliness / isolation – clever to do that while characters are doing a “tend-and-befriend” – the contrast is stark. If you could save personifying exasperation and guilt for other scenes, you could make even more of that loneliness here.  

      Loneliness squeezed a little harder as Nora recognised she didn’t belong to something and was watching those who do from a distance. At school it was being left out of a ball game or, worse, when she watched groups of girls gather under the jacaranda tree in that corner of the school oval. If you could see them, you weren’t one of them. That much she knew. – LOVE this. Simply love it.

      Where Stella went, she knew Nora would, eventually, follow. She’d always been one step ahead in their friendship. – Bit of a head-hop here. But you could shift back easily by just making it ‘Nora knew that Stella knew’ or something suchlike.

      • shadows cast by a blue-sky day. (love this image!)
      • white hot glare of the sun bouncing off the pavement and bleeding around the edges of the heat blinds.
      • the direct gaze of the sun and the radiant heat coming off the bitumen,

      Descriptions such as these above are excellent to keep the reader reminded of what they’re busy reading about. I think you can play that up even more. Maybe in the next revision go through all the similes and metaphors and see if you can slip in even more climate-related imagery. (I recently finished Jodi Picoult’s “Book of Two Ways” and was so smitten by how every tiny detail in her writing pointed to the big picture – for that story it was about death and life-changing decisions).

      The tents up at the church would be plastic ovens. – I recall that you did a bit of a bigger description about the displaced people and the tented settlements when you were busy with Sarah’s house and garden. But I think it would be warranted to have a descriptive paragraph every now and again to create an image of the world your characters inhabit. So I think you can develop these kinds of references even further.

      dipping into the orange with boxes she’d filled – This I didn’t get. Why is she losing marks for giving stuff away?

      softened around some old hardened kernels of disappointment – WOW. Just WOW. So beautiful. What’s going on with Nora and Barry? Is this something we’ll be seeing more of as the story progresses? Barry’s character hitherto has been outlined, but not coloured yet, as all the others have been. Is that deliberate?

  • Once when our elderly Aunt Mary-Jane was babysitting. We knew she wouldn’t come out and check on us, so the boys decided to climb a tree. If they could do it, so could I, besides they were younger and shorter than […]

    • This is a cute story. It sounds like something that actually happened. You’ve told it well – very clear, action progresses, and I picked up a bit of the desire to not be called “chicken”. I do wonder, though, whether or not the narrator ever challenged herself to overcome difficult obstacles again.

      Thanks for sharing your writing.

    • Hi Linda, a very sweet story of courage. Although I do wish the narrator had climbed a tree again! I liked how you showed the sibling rivalry pushed her further.

    • Hi Linda

      This is a nice compelling scene where we get a good feel for your MC’s character and her relationships with the other players. I like how you set the scene up and then the valuable outcome message.

      A good job!

      Martin

    • Hello Linda,
      I quite enjoy how you take such little elements and are able to make them in such filled up with meaning and emotion, and also make the reader think and reach some kind of conclusion.
      Thank you for keeping on sharing! 🙂

  • Walls

    Twisting the blue pen cap around and around continuously, Nathan remained staring fixedly at the bare cement wall facing him. The square sparsely furnished room continued darkening, as the sun descended […]

    • Holly replied 1 month ago

      Love the build up. Fact or fiction? Memory or dream? Interested reading more.

    • Linda replied 1 month ago

      Thank you for reading my story. It is fiction. Glad you liked it. The original was slightly longer and I would like to make it longer in rewrite.

    • Emmm, could be in prison but not in a prison uniform like they do in South America, impoverished student or someone mentally ill, very curious, challenges the imagination. Thank you for the puzzle.

    • Wow, nice twist 🙂
      Nice shot about a writer’s life 😉
      I would have probably liked it betted longer, so that there is more real action than fiction within fiction, but hey, the assignment was for short one, so nice idea.

  • Chapter 15
    I awoke to the sound of a baby crying loudly. There on the table in front of me was the doll with one eye and one leg I had found under the weeds in the front yard on my first day here. I wanted to look […]

    • Hi Linda. I loved the creepy doll crying them awake! I especially liked the way she stopped crying when picked up; this was fun to picture! I was almost a bit disappointed that they moved on from her so soon, there is always a lot of fun to be had with a “baby” around! 😀 The sentence “I can’t hear it crying anymore” tripped me a bit, as I thought the doll had gone quiet. Perhaps “I can’t listen to it crying anymore” will be clearer?

      I did feel like parts of your dialogue might have a little too much unnecessary details which doesn’t really add anything to the story. I don’t think it’s always wrong to have bits that are solely there for atmosphere and pacing, but perhaps you could consider shortening those bits or scattering them more? For example, the whole passage from “I have an extra new toothbrush” up to “just wine and yourselves.” seems to be mostly decorative. It might be useful to mark that section in case you ever need to cut down on your wordcount, or want to speed up the pace a bit. Another idea which might be fun if you want to keep some of your “decorative” dialogue is to make it serve one of your subplots, so for example in the dialogue/descriptions during the dinner at Alex and Vanya’s place you might use it to move along Daniel and Kate’s relationship or stir some conflict between them.

      I like the foreshadowing of Daniel and Kate’s trip to Italy; it definitely shows that their relationship is progressing, and especially since they are put side by side with a couple who has such a successful relationship, the upcoming trip almost seems to serve as a sort of a “test” for their new relationship.

      I don’t have much else to add, except that you can maybe revise your adverbs and adjectives. Those words tend to draw attention, so make sure you know where you want the attention to go. For example, your reader might not really care that Daniel is wearing a brown belt, but it would be quite interesting to know what the creepy crying doll was wearing! 😀
      Looking forward to finding out more about the skeletons! 😉

    • Interesting scene! I think adding some dialogue about the pictures could maybe be a place to insert some images of some of the ghostly figures in the house, which clearly don’t belong in the images, and so on.

  • Natasja and Profile picture of C AlexisC Alexis are now friends 1 month ago

  • Scene 15  

    wrap up for chapter 5
     

    Sara stood in front of Tom’s computer. Had the time come to find out more about his work? She felt disloyal even thinking about it. Her stomach turned again and roiled aro […]

    • Hi Leona!
      This filled in a lot about Nora that was missing in version 1 – her whole thought process that had her ending up in that protest. It’s fascinating to see the progression in her thoughts, and you conceal the fact that she’s really alone with her thoughts by putting Tony there and lacing it with backstory in direct speech and all of that.
      There were a few typos that wobbled, but for now not even worth paying any attention to – what matters is all this new substance you’re adding.
      I was quite surprised that goodie-two-shoes Sara had originally been Tom’s “side-chick” as they call it here by us. That’s a great motive for her to be suspicious and to be desperately holding on to a life she probably at some deep subconscious level thinks she doesn’t deserve.
      I think also the Big Idea coming from both of these scenes is that no one is beyond reproach. We all make choices we assume are for the best, but that turn out to be bad for us personally, or for those around us. Helluva dilemma. (I’m really looking forward to seeing how you develop that theme..)
      These two scenes did a good job of tying together several of your subplots too – Nadia, Stella, the pregnancy, the protests…
      you’re a master!
      <3 H

    • Hi Leona,
      Finally catching up!! It’s hard to do! So my feedback on your scenes. These are very dialogue heavy scenes. I love reading dialogue but I would say that a little bit of action, just as a breather would be nice–a routine task, Sara stroking Tom’s arm or putting her arm around Nora’s shoulder for example. The intense “inactivist discussion” and the passion that Amy has shown for her point of view is very compelling. Yet I don’t think I’ve read backstory on why Amy has this reaction to the governmental policies. That would be interesting to explore.
      Sara’s inner monologue with self-questioning about why she strives to be such a peacemaker is quite compelling. Perhaps there too, we could see an example from her childhood which shows she is still that same person.
      Also, I was confused here: “ Sara walked out into the yard and leaned into Tom.” I imagined that she walked out of the kitchen to have a personal moment with Tom. But then Nora starts speaking to him about the decree. Possibly a line explaining where people are or just describing their actions would help.
      For Scene 14–
      it’s very interesting that Sara finds herself suggesting a link up that she doesn’t really believe. And she knows that Tom doesn’t agree by picking up on his “tell”. I hope we learn in future scenes why Sara is compelled to say things that she doesn’t want to do–why her need to be a peacemaker is so overwhelming for her.
      You have a lot of information and background here which is very absorbing.

      • Sorry Leona, This is my critique for last week. It’s there but also here. I will delete it when I can see it on my page.

    • hi Leona,
      For scene 15: I loved how quickly yet how completely you told the story of how Sara met Tom and how she knows his “tell” when he is lying. She knows his password, yet she is afraid to snoop on him. The passion she felt for Tom was described really well–you could see that she was ready to abandon her reason to be with him.
      So showing us that they started their relationship with a lie is a great way to show us possibly some of Sara’s reasons for feeling guilty about things.
      For Scene 16: We’re getting a little back story on Nora and also, some history about how the world and government ended up where they were. We see that Nora is also very much a “do–gooder” and doesn’t feel like she has done enough. She’s a “paralysis of analysis” type of person which is a great set up for what’s to come for her later in the story. And the ending was great. Despite Mrs Vijay Singh’s self sacrifice, was that enough to keep her in the green? Did it count for anything? (not sure if you wanted to be really traditional with the name: Vijay is a man’s name and she could be Mrs. Vijay Singh because she’s married to Vijay. If you want the feminine form of the name it’s ‘Vijaya’)
      Great scenes.

  • Chapter 13
    After a long night without much sleep, due to Kate’s nightmares, I decided to return Alex’s call.

    Alex answered her phone, “Hey, Daniel, is Kate still with you?”
    “No, I slept at her place, and she h […]

    • Can’t have a good haunting without some skeletons! 🙂 The journal sections were interesting, though I’m not sure the idea of a “heart attack” was a thing, outside of rarified circles, in 1907. Roughing up the language a bit, to be a little less precise, might help to better root the pages into the distant past.

    • Hi Linda
      I like how you are building on the hide-and-seek metaphor and the way it matches the play theme you have running through your story. The shadow was also a really nice and creepy touch here, especially the part where it stood next to his desk!
      Content-wise this was a very exciting and informative scene with plenty happening and plenty of backstory; it sped up the pace nicely and kept my attention throughout! I especially enjoyed the part where Daniel was transported through the mirror.
      I’m guessing the house’s secrets are unfolding a little bit at a time, like the pieces of a puzzle, but for not-so-bright readers (like me) you can perhaps try to connect the puzzle pieces a bit clearer. For example, did this evil entity enter the house through Agatha Hollow’s husband because he had something evil attached to him, or did the evil thing choose to attach to him because he was being connected to a medium in a house were something evil had opened up due to the 1906/06/06 date on which the house was finished? (Or perhaps this will still become clear and I’m just being too impatient! 😀 ).
      Loved the skeletons at the end! Hope some more gory details of their decayed flesh will follow! 😀

  • Scene 13:

    Sara wasn’t expecting her mum but her she was, already through the back gate, leaning her bike against the fence. No doubt this early morning visit would be all about the decree. Thank god Amy had n […]

    • Hahaha – “rebellious old women becoming an interest group” – that’s just like them! Gives new meaning to the term “busybody”.
      These are good scenes, Leona. Also almost 100% new if I’m not mistaken! You’re really hard at work.
      There’s an angle to this whole decree and familial coersion thing that’s sitting there just under the surface, waiting to be explored: To what extent will this decree break up families, and what is that going to do to social cohesion? One thought here: In more indigent societies, the gender-based and domestic violence prevalence is higher. SA is a real-life example here. Covid lockdowns forced families together that should much rather have had room to breathe. A lot of displacement happened around that – people lost their security because of having to face new levels of violence within cooped-up families.
      What this decree of the Commission could unleash, is that kind of social dysfunctionality: for families teetering on the brink of being “point-poor”, if you will. It may provide some backstory to the stray teen girl in Nora/Barry’s flat. And another compelling reason not to just focus on self-preservation.
      I’m reading your story, Leona, and sitting in heated academic discussions about fossil fuel reduction, and I’m thinking, no matter what we do, we’re going to be screwed, sooner or later. It’s paralysing…

    • Hi Leona,
      Finally catching up!! It’s hard to do! So my feedback on your scenes. These are very dialogue heavy scenes. I love reading dialogue but I would say that a little bit of action, just as a breather would be nice–a routine task, Sara stroking Tom’s arm or putting her arm around Nora’s shoulder for example. The intense “inactivist discussion” and the passion that Amy has shown for her point of view is very compelling. Yet I don’t think I’ve read backstory on why Amy has this reaction to the governmental policies. That would be interesting to explore.
      Sara’s inner monologue with self-questioning about why she strives to be such a peacemaker is quite compelling. Perhaps there too, we could see an example from her childhood which shows she is still that same person.
      Also, I was confused here: “ Sara walked out into the yard and leaned into Tom.” I imagined that she walked out of the kitchen to have a personal moment with Tom. But then Nora starts speaking to him about the decree. Possibly a line explaining where people are or just describing their actions would help.
      For Scene 14–
      it’s very interesting that Sara finds herself suggesting a link up that she doesn’t really believe. And she knows that Tom doesn’t agree by picking up on his “tell”. I hope we learn in future scenes why Sara is compelled to say things that she doesn’t want to do–why her need to be a peacemaker is so overwhelming for her.
      You have a lot of information and background here which is very absorbing.

  • Chapter 11
    I sneezed from the dust surrounding me in the attic, as I sat on the floor by the trunk of books. Once I reached into the trunk and picked up the journal, it opened where the curl of hair must have been […]

    • It’s definitely clear that the house itself is the antagonist here. I do wonder if the various apparitions are actually part of the thing that has become the house, or if they are separate entities that are just drawn to it, and ultimately trapped, kind of like what seems to be happening to Daniel.

      One side note about formatting. You might want to add line spaces between paragraphs, as that helps cut down on the “wall of text” effect. 🙂

    • Hi Linda
      It was exciting to read Kate’s first experience of being in the house and I liked how once again her reaction contrasts with that of calm caring Alex. I think you’ve got this scene laid out pretty well, although I would have liked to have an even stronger reaction from Kate – perhaps at least a shriek or a panicky rant about the ridiculously creepy place he lives in! 😀 I enjoyed this scene particularly because it has some conflict between Daniel and Kate, which I think if used more frequently can be very effective!
      The phone call from John Hollow was a really nice touch. The angry crackling voice here was a surprise and so effective! Perhaps Daniel can here too show some emotion – confusion or anger maybe – or perhaps have some questions for John Hollow. I’m guessing now, that John Hollow is probably also dead? I like the mystery that surrounds his character and that the reader is left to wonder about him.
      I know formatting with these posts is a challenge, but here and there I felt like the change was too abrupt, for example between the diary reading and Daniel’s thoughts, and also between Daniel and Kate falling asleep and him being awoken the next morning. If not with a paragraph break like Sean suggested perhaps with some other sort of indicator can you make the reader aware of the shift or time lapse.
      Here and there I felt there were perhaps too much detail (we didn’t need to know, for example that it was a “medium” pizza – unless that was some wordplay 😀 ) but other than that and the possible need for paragraph breaks these two scenes read comfortably and coherently.
      I liked the red hearts! How’d you do that? 😀

  • Scene 11

    Amy paced back and forth in her room. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Sara caved in. Again. As usual. What’s it going to take for her to see the truth of what’s going on? Convenience is all they want. Comfort and con […]

    • Hi Leona – this is real good writing. And as far as I can remember, about 80% of this is new! You’ve been hard at work, dear friend. Here are some of my favourite lines:

      • Amy gathered her fraying fears and sinking desolation into a hard ball of tightness and tucked it under her diaphragm. 
      • his snore fluttering in and out over his top lip

      I love how Nora’s character is being coloured in. And I had to wonder what went through poor Barry’s head when Nora blamed “men” for the whole mess.

      Your book title: have you considered calling that “a choice in time” – it has a really nice ring to it (the Commission has some good PR people, it seems). But it also alludes to the choices that are to be made by several of the characters in the course of the story.

      Now the part you’re not going to like. It’s been mulling for me for a while, but I’m just going to put it out there now: I think your story should start with the decree being released. The anniversary dinner is lovely for introducing the characters, but I don’t think you need such a long lead-in. In any event, bringing the decree forward to scene 4 or 5, I think, would set the right tone. Maybe let this be released just after Amy has shown up at the house, and before Nora and Barry arrive. Then there’s an altercation with Tom right away, and the doorbell rings, and it is the parents, and they ask “oh God, Amy, what are you going to do”. The anniversary dinner then becomes this thing where they have the actual argument about whether to pool points. Lekker conflict potential there.

      I’m aware that as reader, one gets invested in the story, and being a commentator, one might feel even more of a vested interest. So if I am overstepping the bounds here, please forgive me! It’s just because I like your story so much.

    • Hi Leona,
      The writing is very tight and moves along briskly. You answer questions as they arise in my mind. From Amy’s POV, it’s interesting that when Tom smiles at her it sends a shudder through her body. It’s a little sinister which is good. I know you want to surprise us about Tom. We got a little bit of his backstory. But perhaps we get to see sides of him that raise our suspicions but not those of the characters in the book?
      I don’t quite understand why Amy has to live with Tom and Sara or with her parents. What type of punishment has she been given? Amy is so angry and sort of dismissive of Sara that I don’t understand why Sara says she can stay there. We see Sara is a good person, devoted to her family etc, but I don’t understand why Amy is homeless or isn’t expected by her family members to find a place to live on her own.
      Does Amy’s anger affect her sister or her other family members? She seems to be perpetually angry about the Commission but not appreciative of her sister ad BIL taking her in. Her idea to ingratiate herself with Tom is good–it makes for a fun inquiry from the readers POV.
      The second scene is very engaging about Nora. Nadia is still a mystery and Nora and Barry seem like good people who want their privacy as much as anyone else. I didn’t understand whether Nora’s donation to the Refugee center helped her or hurt her with her points.
      The tightening rules of the commission is coming out insidiously slow and it is keeping my horrified.
      Great scenes.

  • Note: The first two scenes here will belong after Marcum walks out of the house in the rain. I’m trying to focus on the areas where I need to change things for my first scene each week and to bring over one that […]

    • Hi Maria. I can really “feel” the warm atmosphere you’ve created in the Landau and the beautiful colours, playfulness and safety. I also like the mentor personality Alvina takes on, yet in such a playful manner. I’m curious to see how she will “guide” him as the story continues.
      I absolutely loved this sentence: “He let his hands trail over the grainy tops of the ripe grass, letting it tickle his palms.” So beautiful and vivid! I also really liked the part where Marcum scratched Alvina’s head – I could just see the look of enjoyment on her face!
      I liked how you bring the childlikeness into his body language, for example the way he wrapped his arms around his shins. This sentence I had to reread two or three times to understand it: He sat up, a sudden movement of a small child and reminded Marcum that he inhabited the body of a much younger boy now. I think it is just the word order that threw me, because it makes sense. 😉
      I have to admit, although I’m starting to understand the flashbacks, I still find myself taking a while to wrap my head about the flow between the present and the past scenarios – but perhaps that is because you’ve changed their order (I think that’s what you’ve meant in your comment at the start).
      Anyway, I’m finding the Landau more and more intriguing and I’m very excited to read more about what adventure Marcum and Alvina will get into! I don’t really have any other suggestions, your writing reads comfortably and pleasantly and feels vivid! Well done! 🙂

    • Hi, Maria! I’m not entirely sure I understood what you said you were doing with your scenes, so I’ll comment on them on their own with no context. I’ll admit to feeling a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I love the idea of an older Marcum being back in the body of a younger one. But on the other hand, I like the idea of an older Marcum revisiting the Landau in an older body. I know these scenes aren’t necessarily in order, but I feel like I need some context of where we are in time. Maybe telling us exactly how old Marcum is. Something like, “although he was 14, he was in his 8-year-old body again.” And maybe also remind us of what was happening in his life when was here at that younger age. What was the incident that caused him to catapult into the Landau. I think I would also like to experience the transition more. You start with him being there and then reflect on how he thinks he got there. Maybe do it the other way around? Starting with the experience of the strange light on the porch. He doesn’t seem to be too phased by the strangeness either but just rolls with it. I’d love to know how he’s making sense of it at different ages. I’m also not sure why everyone felt nervous about the plane flying overhead. Beautiful imagery here all throughout, from the light and warmth of the sun, to the memories of the show about Australia and Daddy’s specific comic books.

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Riana N

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