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The Visitor (1286 words)

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Old 02-05-2017, 01:11 PM
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Default The Visitor (1286 words)


So here is yet another attempt at improving my novice writing skills. I'm trying to take on board constructive criticism but know it's a very long road ahead. As always, I totally understand my grammar needs work but if you could let me know if the structure of the story is heading in the right direction etc, it would help immensely. Of course all comments and advice is hugely appreciated always.

Thanks all


Chapter One


“What the hell!”

The words were spoken out loud as Lee Anders opened his eyes just in time to see the outline of a white flash of light appear behind the dark drapes of the bedroom window.
He lay for a few seconds holding his breath in anticipation for something to follow the bang he thought had awoken him from slumber. The room remained in dark silence but for a gentle orange glow that emanated from the clock radio on the bedside table succeeding to illuminate the room slightly.

He eased himself up onto his elbows and squinted to see the time.

3.45am.

He listened for a few moments before turning his attention to the woman who lay beside him.

Megan Anders stirred before sighing and shuffling onto her side.

“Meg” he whispered reaching out an arm to shake her shoulder gently, followed with a little more urgency, “Meg!”

A groan escaped her before she rolled onto her back, pulling the night mask she wore to reveal one sleepy eye.

“What the heck Lee?”

“Did you hear that?” he asked.

“Hear what?”

“The bang!”

Megan Anders pulled the mask from her eyes and sighed heavily. “What bang, and what time is it?”

Before she could get an answer, her husband had swung himself out of bed and was standing by the curtains with his face buried into the gap.

“Lee!” she snapped, “What’s going on?”

Her husband didn’t answer.

Megan leant over to peer at the time, before flopping down with exaggerated annoyance.

“Jesus Lee, it’s nearly four in the morning” she complained, “I don’t know what you think you heard but….”

Her words trailed off as her husband shushed her suddenly with an arm held our behind him.

“What is it?” she asked with renewed interest.

The rhythmic sound of helicopter blades cutting through the air could be heard in the distance, growing ever louder, closer.

Lee emerged from the curtains and hurried across the room.

“Something’s happened!” he said as he fumbled in the semi darkness for his jeans.

“Lee! what did you see?”

“It was a bang babe, a flash of light that lit the room!” He replied pulling on the trousers he found, “it woke me straight up”

“Where are you going?” she asked, herself now climbing from the warm confides of the bed.

“I’m going to have a look”

Before Megan could respond, her husband finished pulling a navy sweatshirt over his head and left the room, his heavy footfalls descending the staircase.

Megan Anders shook her head as if this would help to wake her from the sleep she was in only moments before.

The sound of the helicopter was louder now, and she crossed to the window feeling the chill of the night air prick at her arms.

A bright light beamed down from the flying object, scanning the earth below with its eagle eye.

‘Probably searching for joyriders’, she thought.

After all, living in a semi-rural and coastal area such as Rickenham provided them with a perfect playground. She briefly recalled how she herself would venture down here in her teenage years with boys much older than herself, observing with awe as they raced old cars on the empty expanse of sands.

In daylight, you could see the sea from the bedroom window, and on a clear day beautiful mountainous peaks in the distance that would get snow capped in the wintertime.
The view from here was one of the selling points for the house - a sea view to the left, lush green fields directly behind them finished off with a pretty backdrop of the mountains.

The sound of the front door slamming downstairs indicated Lee had left the house, and Megan felt a pang of anxiety as she watched the helicopter continue its scan below.

*******

Lee Anders approached the end of the grey paved driveway and looked left and right, scanning the private road.
Half a dozen houses lined either side, each one different to the next. Most of them were in complete darkness apart from old Joe Swinton’s at number three that burned an orange light from a downstairs window, and a house further up which emanated a dim glow behind the curtains of an upstairs bedroom.

Even though the streetlamps were helping to illuminate the potholed tarmac road, Lee had thought to grab a torch from the hallway on his way out, and plucked it from his pocket.

He pushed the switch and started up the road making his way to the top, which was a dead end for traffic.
Where the tarmac ended, a grassy verge began, parted by concrete path stones that had long since been overgrown with moss and the like.
The stone pathway, which was quaintly covered by a pretty tree archway, led to a small flight of concrete steps leading up to the sea wall.

Lee took a precarious glance over his shoulder before climbing the steps.

He would be able to get a good view of the beach and the surrounding area from here.

The helicopter that had been circling the area was now concentrated over the beach, its bright light beaming eagerly onto the sands.

Anders had just taken a few steps toward the top before he heard the whirring sound of sirens behind him growing closer.

“What the hell is going on?” he muttered as he stopped to listen if the sirens were indeed approaching Sandy Road.

He killed the torchlight and crouched down so he could just see the road under the tree archway.

Three sets of bright headlights with flashing blue lights turned the corner with such speed, Lee was almost sure he heard the screech of tyres.
As the vehicles came closer, he identified them as police patrol cars.

Each car came to a halt about half way up the road, with the leading car being the first to cut the engine and lights.
The second and third car drew in leaving at least two car spaces between one another.

Several officers emerged from the vehicles, some in uniform and some plain clothed.

Lee noticed one of the men, who was not in uniform, looked to be handing out orders so guessed he was in charge.

More house lights were burning now, and curtains started to twitch. Several dogs had begun to bark too, and Lee could just make out a small Jack Russell yapping silently at a downstairs window nearby.

The helicopter was now suspended in the air, hovering like an eagle that’d spied its prey.

Lee observed the helicopter for a second before glancing back to the officers. There was activity now. Residents were stirring, eager to know what the fuss was about. The policemen seemed to be ushering them back inside with haste.

Anders turned back toward the helicopter with its sharp beam of light cutting through the darkness. He wanted to see what it had in its focus.

He turned and started to climb back up the concrete steps. There was a large black, plastic bin near the pathway at the top that was mainly used to dispose of dog poop. It would make a good place to crouch behind to get a look at what was exposed to the light on the beach.

As he neared the top, a scuffle of feet sounded on the steps and a bright light beamed down onto him.

‘Excuse me sir, you need to come with me!’

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Old 02-05-2017, 03:21 PM
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“What the hell!”

The words were spoken out loud as Lee Anders opened his eyes just in time to see the outline of a white flash of light appear behind the dark drapes of the bedroom window.


Cliche and makes it unclear who's speaking.


“Lee!” she snapped, “What’s going on?”

snapped. Or just make it all one sentence.

‘Probably searching for joyriders’, she thought.


Comma should be inside the quote

Anders had just taken a few steps

You call him Lee the rest of the time so do it one way or another

‘Excuse me sir, you need to come with me!’

Double quotes
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Old 02-05-2017, 03:32 PM
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If she is British, quotes would be single for direct speech. If American, then yeah...
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Old 02-05-2017, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
If she is British, quotes would be single for direct speech. If American, then yeah...
The quotes everywhere else are double.
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Old 02-05-2017, 05:27 PM
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Yeah, words like street lamp, torch, bin, and trousers made me think she might not be American.
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Old 02-06-2017, 03:14 AM
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Would it read better if you say

Lee Anderson was woken by a bang and a flash of light from behind the dark drapes of his bedroom window.

"What the hell!" he shouted.

The premise is interesting, but could you say a little about the location of the house a bit earlier? Perhaps do it when Lee first looks outside? Even if its dark he could remember what is out there.
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Old 02-06-2017, 05:18 AM
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Something as:

From behind the bedroom window's dark drapes, a bang and a light jarred Lee Anderson from a sound sleep.

Startled, he quickly turned toward the window, eyes half opened.

_______

I don't know whether my initial reaction would be to shout in that situation. I believe the emphasis should be placed on the eyes rather than the mouth.
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Old 02-06-2017, 01:30 PM
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“Lee!” she snapped, “What’s going on?”

{Her husband} didn’t answer.

Megan leant over to peer at the time, before flopping down with exaggerated annoyance.

{ I think 'he' would work better her after all they are the only two people in the room.}

In daylight, you could see the sea from the bedroom window, and on a clear day beautiful mountainous peaks in the distance that would get snow capped in the wintertime.
The view from here was one of the selling points for the house - a sea view to the left, lush green fields directly behind them finished off with a pretty backdrop of the mountains.

{this is the most obvious example of redundant statements in this piece, although there are several. it and the others should be combined into one sentence that will express the same information.}


its bright light beaming eagerly onto the sands.

{sorry but you will never convince me that a light can beam 'eagerly'}

and last my own personal pet peeve,

and a house further up which emanated a dim glow behind the curtains of an upstairs bedroom.

further is to advance a cause or agenda, farther is a measure of distance.


quote marks, single; is generally used inside a sentence to signify something that was said, and therefore they go before the comma. if double quote marks are used this way - then the same rule applies.

beyond that they can be used interchangeably.

the word tyres threw me for a loop, yes it is correct in the British version, and you can get away with torches and even honour, but you should consider your market and for short words that every reader will recognize try 'tires' i'm sure you'll get similar complaints from British readers for that usage, I do.

now to your question, the story flowed well and I believe said the things you wanted it to say. although often in a very round about way.

I think this piece could be made much better by just reading it over and restating the redundant sentence into one that cover the slight differences between the two.


hope that helps

Max Crash
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if you're writing over your readers head - tum etiam, ut graece scribens --- the secret of success changes;the truth of failure remains constant; if you try to please everyone you will fail.
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Old 02-06-2017, 04:28 PM
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You need to chop and to rearrange. Many unnecessary words and phrases in this piece.

For example, the awkward sentence below hurts the ears.

Megan leant over to peer at the time, before flopping down with exaggerated annoyance.
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Old 02-06-2017, 04:33 PM
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Simple:

Megan glanced at the clock before ....

"flopping down with exaggerated annoyance"

You could do better.
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Old 02-06-2017, 04:57 PM
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Exaggerated annoyance is 'telling.' Don't do that.
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Old 02-07-2017, 05:00 AM
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Megan glanced at the clock before burying her face in the pillow again.

Something as the above ... hash it out till you get the exact image you want to convey to your audience.
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Old 02-07-2017, 01:08 PM
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Guys, thank you so much for the advice. Invaluable as always.

I'm thinking bad habits die hard with me as I can't seem to stop over describing by using unnecessary words!
Obviously the grammar mistakes are no surprise to me and yes, my characters are British so the speech quotes must be incorrect.

Really like the suggestions some of you made so will implement those, thank you.

Like I say this piece was just for practice really, and I very much appreciate all your awesome advice.

I'll keep plugging away

Thanks all xx
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Old 02-08-2017, 06:17 AM
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You'll find that every writer has his own list of dos and don'ts. One of mine his NEVER ever open on dialogue...unless you're Hunter S. Thompson. I've actually this discussion with several different professional editors who agree with me on this. As already mentioned, it lacks clarity, but there's something off-putting about it. It's like when you're out in public and someone just comes up and starts talking to you without introducing themselves first. At least give me your first, then you can tell me about your cat's flea problem.
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by spshane View Post
You'll find that every writer has his own list of dos and don'ts. One of mine his NEVER ever open on dialogue...unless you're Hunter S. Thompson. I've actually this discussion with several different professional editors who agree with me on this. As already mentioned, it lacks clarity, but there's something off-putting about it. It's like when you're out in public and someone just comes up and starts talking to you without introducing themselves first. At least give me your first, then you can tell me about your cat's flea problem.
Give me your what? 😉
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