?

Log in

No account? Create an account
andrea smile

blythe025


Joyful Girl

Andrea Blythe's blog about writing, reading, and everything else


Previous Entry Share Flag Next Entry
Brigit's Flame: Smashing Pumkins
brigits flame
blythe025
TITLE: haven't thought of one yet
PROMPT: Smashing Pumpkins
WORD COUNT: 1,637
NOTES: This is my week two entry for January's brigits_flame. This is a continuation of last week's story, so you might want to read that first before reading this one. Be prepared for some violence and swearing, if you don't like that sort of thin.


* * * *

 This wolf was not her father.

Her father's fur when he changed was a tawny brown. This werewolf had dark muddy brown fur that was matted and standing on end. It looked back at her with its bloodshot yellow eyes, and suddenly all of Claire's training and preparations seemed ridiculously naive. She had learned to use the whip; she had learned to use the dagger, but all based on the theory that the wolf she may eventually have to face would be her father and that he might hold back. Claire doubted that she could take on a very large, very angry werewolf.

But she could see Jason, still clamped into the werewolf's mouth.Jason hung awkwardly limp in it's mouth.

Claire was gripping the whip too tight. Her knuckles were white with fear. She forced herself to relax her grip, her fingers aching, she began rolling the whip back and forth.

The wolf responded by growling and it coiled up it's muscles in defense. Jason's shoe's dragged across the floor as the wolf moved. Claire heard the snap of one's Jason's bones breaking as the wolf's tightened its grip.

Claire brought the whip expertly forward and cracked it directly in the wolf's face. The silver sliced into the wolf's muzzle and it howled in pain and rage. Jason's body dropped with a thud to the floor.

She bolted down the hall, sure that the wolf would come after her. Second's later, the wolf launched into the spot where she was standing. With too much momentum it smashed into the tall bookcase beside the fireplace. Shards of her mother's favorite pumpkin colored vase flew in all directions and the entire bookcase itself toppled on top of the wolf.

Down the hall, she could see Althea poking her head out into the hall.

"Close the door!" shouted Claire as she tried to make the turn into the kitchen. But the rug skidded out from underneath her and she went down hard onto the wood floor.

Althea was by her side a second later. "Are you alright?"

Claire took a hold of Althea's hand and pulled herself to her feet and then dragged Althea along with her into the kitchen to the door along the backwall. She pulled the chain out from under her shirt. It held two keys. One to the basement door. One to the steel padlock on her father's cage. She knew them by heart, but her fingers fumbled through the two keys. In the living room, she could hear the wolf manically trying to extract itself from the bookcase.

Eventually, she managed to get a hold of the right key. Claire slide it into the deadbolt and turned the lock. Then she yanked the key free and flung the door open, launched herself down the stairs and dragging a stumbling Althea after her. Althea almost tripped on the last three stairs, but managed to grab along of the banister and keep from landing on her face. She half fell, half stumbled after Claire.

Her father was slamming against the sides of the steel cage. His muzzle was foaming with furry and he was frantically tearing at the bars to get out. Claire had never seen her father react this way as a werewolf.

Althea froze at the sight of him. "What the fuck!"

Claire didn't know how far the other wolf was behind her as she set to work opening the padlock on the door, but she felt that any moment she would feel its teeth on the back of her neck. It was difficult to remove the lock with her father raging just on the other side of the bars, afraid as she was that he might accidentally slice into her with one of his claws in his trying to get out.

The padlocked clicked open. She removed it and tossed it aside, and then turned to Althea. "Get into the corner. Now!"

Althea did as she was told. Hoping she wouldn't regret this later, Claire slide the bolt on the door open. Her father slammed against the door a second later, and Claire was thrown backward.

The two werewolves smashed into each other half way up the stairs and became a single, slashing, biting ball of rage. Claire couldn't distinguish one from another as they rolled with in inches of her. One swiped out with its claw and nearly tore into Claire's flesh. Although neither of the wolves was focused on her, her situation had not become any safer.

The dark furred wolf pinned  her father to the floor and was trying to tear at its belly with it rear claws, while her father kept trying to go for the other wolf's throat with its teeth. Her father roared in pain as his stomach opened in vicious wounds.

"Maybe we should get into the cage."

"What?" Claire turned to Althea, who was crouched behind a cardboard box that offered zero protection.

"The cage. It might be safer in the cage."

It took a second for Claire's mind to click into place, and she finally said, "Yes."

She and Althea jumped into the cage and pulled the door closed behind them just as Claire's father kicked his attacker off of him. The other wolf fell back into the door of the cage, making the whole structure rattle. It was quickly followed by her father, who stood up to its full height and began to slash out with his claws. Flecks of blood flew about, splattering Claire and Althea.

The other wolf threw itself forward at Claire's father and bit down into his shoulder. Her father yelped and then wrestled himself free, before fleeing up the stairs with the other wolf in fast pursuit.

Claire and Althea's rapid breaths were loud in the quiet left behind in the basement. Several minutes went by with both girls straining to listen to anything other than the sound of their own breathing.

"Do you think they're gone?"

"I have no idea," said Claire.

Both girls kept their eyes glued to the stairwell. Several more minutes past.

Claire took a slow step toward the door of the cage and began to open it. Althea took a hold of her arm.

"What the hell is going on? Why do you have a cage in your basement? I mean, I know why you have a cage in your basement. It's obvious I guess, but you know what I mean." Althea didn't look angry; she just looked stunned and scared. Her curls looked even more like a lion's man than usual, wild and chaotic.

Claire took a slow, ragged breath. "I'll tell you later. I promise. But we have to check on Jason. And ... and Sam, too."

Althea let go of her arm, and Claire opened the cage. The door opened with a low, metallic squeal. They both stood there, feeling very exposed, then Claire stepped out of the cage and Althea followed.

They had to stepped over the bottom two steps of the stairs, which were badly smashed. They climbed slowly up the stairs, pausing at every creak in the wood, jumping at every unusual sound. At the top, they paused in the open doorway, looking for any sign of the wolfs. The room was quiet, but before Claire left the basement, she pulled the silver dagger from the scaffold at her hip. She closed the basement door behind her, and went to lock it out of habit. But she didn't have the key, and it was probably a good thing, since they may need to get back down there in a hurry.

They walked through the kitchen to the living room. Claire opened the living room door, but could see no sign of the wolves. They must have left the house to continue their fight in the woods. Clair hoped her father was alright, that he would pull through this night, and that he wouldn't hate her for letting him out.

Jason lay unmoving in the disaster of the living room. Althea gasped and held her hand to her mouth when she saw them. Claire went to kneel beside him, not caring that she was kneeling on splintered wood and broken glass. She picked piece of pumpkin colored glass off of Jason's cheek. He looked glassy-eyes and pale. Blood bubbled up through his lips. Blood saturated the carpet and his clothing, and it was difficult for Claire to tell just where his wounds were and how many. She took offer her sweater and tried to press down with it on the spot where she thought the worst of the bleeding was coming from.

Althea kneeled down beside her. "Oh, my god," she said, "Oh. My. God."

From somewhere far off, Claire could hear the sound of sirens. Someone from the party must have called the police, and Claire breathed a sigh of relief. Then another thought struck her and she grabbed a hold of Althea's wrist. 

"Althea, you have to promise me you won't tell them about the basement."

Althea stared at her blankly, then her face hardened. She pulled herself free of Claire's grip. "What?"

"Please, Althea. I'll explain, I promise. Just don't tell them. Please." Claire looked at her, pleading. "Please," she said again, so softly she wasn't even sure Althea heard it.

Althea was rigid, but then seemed to crumple, her body collapsing in on herself. She dropped her head into hands. "Alright," she said, "Alright."

Claire turned her attention back to Jason. His life was ruined. Whether he lived or died, his life was ruined. If he lived, he would become a wolf, forced to hide like her father. If he died, well, that was a tragedy, too, though perhaps the better one. All Claire knew, as the sirens came closer, was that his life was ruined, and it was her fault.



I may or may not continue the story from here. This is about as far as I've thought it through. I have some thoughts for the next few scenes, but I need to figure out the overall structure of the much larger story.


  • 1
I vote for continuing! It feels like there's a lot more story to tell to me.

Thanks! And I will work on that. :D

:D
Thank you! I have to say, it means a lot that you're enjoying my story. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

There is definitely more story to tell, and as I continue writing it, I'm starting to get a sense of the larger structure, which is a huge relief.

It would be interesting to see what you do with the story from here. So far there has been a lot of action, which has worked well, but a turn in the narrative would require some emotional depth. See where the muse takes you, but I think you have something started here that would make for a neat tale. In the meantime, good luck in the pools this week (and nice use working the prompt in)!

Thank you. Things will definitely tone down after this. There's a lot of dealing with the repercussions of the event that needs to happen. I'm not entirely sure where the whole of the storyline is going to go, but I'm having fun getting there.

You definitely have a handle on the young adult fantasy genre -- I feel like a lot of young girls would LOVE to read this story (or ... book, as it seems that it's turning into something much longer). I'm intrigued to see what is going to happen with Claire's secret, and if Jason will turn into a wolf, or what'll happen with the strange wolf. I'm also interested in knowing about more of this world -- what other creatures are there?

Thank you. It is indeed turning into something much larger, which is leaving me scratching my head as I work out the details. I'm not entirely sure where it's going to go at this point, but it's fun discovering it as I write. :)

This is nice and bloody. :-)

Hello! Some editing for you!

First off, the two parts of this story we've gotten so far are great, and they feel like they're a snapshot into a much bigger picture. You've got yourself the beginning of what could turn into an awesome young adult novel. With all the action in the two parts so far there hasn't been much room for background and character development, but in a longer work I think you'd be able to build Claire into a very strong character, especially by working with what it was like for her growing up with a werewolf as her father.

Some grammar corrections and suggestions:

1) "She had learned to use the whip, she had learned to use the dagger, but..."

The punctuation in this sentence might need some reworking. I'm thinking possibly semicolons after "whip" and "dagger". The sentence does make sense to the reader as it is, though, so this might just be nitpicking.

2) "the wolf may" should probably be "the wolf might".

3) In the line that starts with "But she could see Jason..." the words "Jason" and "mouth" are used twice in two sentences. They could probably be combined into one sentence: "She could see Jason, still clamped in the wolf's mouth, hanging awkwardly limp."

4) "gripping the whip too tight" should be "too tightly".

5) "She forced herself to relax her grip, her fingers aching, began rolling..."

This sentence needs a minor adjustment; the simplest way might be to just put an "and" before "rolling". You could also break it into two sentences.

6) "The wolf responded by growling and it coiled up it's muscles in defense"... the "it" before coiled probably isn't necessary, and the "it's" should be "its".

7) "shoe's" should be "shoes" and, in the next sentence, "one's" should just be "one" and "wolf's" should just be "wolf".

8) "Second's later..." should be "Seconds later".

Please don't let all this get you down! These are all very minor, easy fixes and not major writing flaws!

Okay... onward (like I said, don't get discouraged!)...

1) "Down the hall... poking her head out into the hall." Using the same word twice in one sentence can be distracting.

2) "tried to make the turn into the kitchen. But the rug...." I think this would be better if you either changed the period to a comma after "kitchen" or left them as separate sentences and removed the "but".

3) "Claire took a hold of Althea's hand and pulled herself to her feet and then dragged Althea along with her..." I'm thinking that it should just be "took hold", and there should be a comma: "pulled herself to her feet, then dragged Althea..."

4) "fumbled through the two keys"... maybe "fumbled with the two keys"?

5) "flung the door open, launched herself..." should probably be "flung the door open, launching herself..."

6) "managed to grab along of the banister" might sound better as just "managed to grab the banister".

7) "didn't know how far the other wolf was behind her" isn't incorrect, but might sound better as "didn't know how far behind her the other wolf was".

8) "padlocked" should just be "padlock".

9) "Several more minutes past" should be "minutes passed".

10) "looking for any sign of the wolfs" should be "of the wolves".

11) I think instead of "scaffold" you might have meant "scabbard".

12) "may need to" should probably be "might need to".

13) When they see Jason, they just see "him", not "them".

14) "Blood bubbled up through his lips. Blood saturated the carpet and his clothing," might be a little overuse of the word "blood". Maybe "Blood bubbled up through his lips, saturating the carpet and his clothing".

15) "She took offer her sweater" should just be "took off"

Okay! Sorry about all that! But like I said, these are all easily fixable errors and not major flaws in the story. The plot is very solid and the story is intriguing. Keep working on it! I think it could easily become a novel.

Thank you for all your thorough edits and for your encouragement. I'm not discouraged at all. In fact, I would say that you edits encourage me to keep on working with the story.

ETA: And perhaps to proofread before I post. ;)

Edited at 2011-01-21 10:34 pm (UTC)

But when you've finally finished working on something and you're under time pressure for a contest, it's so great to be done and so satisfying to hit that "post" button! :)

One might say there's too much post-twilight werewolf literature out there, but I like this take on it! It's refreshing to have a main character who isn't a werewolf (or about to become one in a predicable fashion).

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I never really though about doing a werewolf story until this idea popped into my head. Werewolves are, like you say, generally overplayed. I'm thrilled that you feel my story is a unique take on it. :)

Hey, blythe! I’m coming in a little late on the editing game, but it’s better than never. I hope.

Anyway, let’s get down to business:

This wolf was not her father.

Love this opening line! I really like a well placed, isolated phrase. It gives the reader immediate insight while being short enough to make them ask questions. Great work!

Her father's fur when he changed was a tawny brown. This werewolf had dark muddy brown fur that was matted and standing on end.

A very minor thing here: “brown” is repeated a little too closely together between these two sentences. It actually makes this read a fraction awkward – kinda like my word choice there. *grins* Anyway, since “tawny” suggests a lighter goldish-brown color already, I’d suggest cutting the use of brown there to smooth things out.

She had learned to use the whip; she had learned to use the dagger, but all based on the theory that the wolf she may eventually have to face would be her father and that he might hold back.

I really like the elusion to outside events and possible personal struggles. For this sentence alone, I vote expand this story outward as far as you can. You have the makings of something that could possibly be very awesome.

But she could see Jason, still clamped into the werewolf's mouth.Jason hung awkwardly limp in it's mouth.

These two lines are EXTREMELY awkward to read. First off, I feel that “still clamped into” just reads oddly. I keep wanting to cut it to “still clamped in” instead. Second, there needs to be a space (or two, if you’re old school like me) after the period. Third, that second sentence, while nicely graphic description, is just THERE. The description supports the sentence prior, but the repetition of “mouth” at the end of each makes it read very off. Lastly, “it’s” in this case needs to be “its” – possessive, not contraction.

Claire was gripping the whip too tight. Her knuckles were white with fear. She forced herself to relax her grip, her fingers aching, she began rolling the whip back and forth.

Hmm… normally, I’m all for short, clipped sentences and structure to relay fear and tension, but here I feel like that middle sentence doesn’t really work. I kind of like the idea of her realizing she’s gripping the whip too tight followed up by her forcing herself to relax. If you want to keep the knuckles sentence, try seeing how it works at the end of this part. Also, I feel like the part starting with “her fingers aching” should be turned into a new sentence. As is, the comma after “grip” reads misplaced.

Jason's shoe's dragged across the floor as the wolf moved. Claire heard the snap of one's Jason's bones breaking as the wolf's tightened its grip.

*shivers* Very visceral! I like it! *grins* Tiny thing here though: “wolf’s” should be “wolf”.

Claire brought the whip expertly forward and cracked it directly in the wolf's face. The silver sliced into the wolf's muzzle and it howled in pain and rage.

Okay, so far a running issue is a LOT of word repetition in close proximity. Once you determine what subject is being discussed, it’s not necessary to keep referring to the subject by name. In this case, the second “wolf’s” would read a little better if you wrote “its” instead.

Second's later, the wolf launched into the spot where she was standing.

Hmm… there also seems to be a running issue with apostrophe use. I don’t mean this rudely, but I feel like you maybe were a little rushed in writing this one. You’re usual an INCREDIBLY clean writer, like to the point where I’d eat off your work. Er… yeah. Anyway, here the apostrophe in “second’s” isn’t needed.

Shards of her mother's favorite pumpkin colored vase flew in all directions and the entire bookcase itself toppled on top of the wolf.

I LOVE the description of the vase here! That is awesome!

Down the hall, she could see Althea poking her head out into the hall.

Oh, no! Another one! You’re doing a wonderful job with the suspense, both building and maintaining it. There is a tiny bit of repetition here though, but it’s easy to fix.

Claire took a hold of Althea's hand and pulled herself to her feet and then dragged Althea along with her into the kitchen to the door along the backwall.

A couple tiny things here. The double use of “and” makes this read a little stilted, like “this happened and then this and then this”. Consider substituting a comma for the first one and placing another after “feet”. The last thing is that “backwall” should be two words. That was more than likely just a finger slip though, so no worries.

It held two keys. One to the basement door. One to the steel padlock on her father's cage.

Here I’d like to suggest a little restructuring. As is, this works fine for emphasizing the importance of the second key, but think about turning the period after “keys” into a colon and combining the last two sentences. The reason for this is that, technically speaking, neither of the last two sentences are complete enough to function on their own. Since they share a common subject with the first, it makes sense join them. Another reason is that, while to the reader the idea of a cage key is unfamiliar and strange, to Claire it isn’t. Sometimes, downplaying the significance of an item not only demonstrates that it’s familiar to the character but also increases the reader’s, “Whoa, whoa… what?!” response.

She knew them by heart, but her fingers fumbled through the two keys.

Love this one and everything it conveys.

Claire slide it into the deadbolt and turned the lock.

Whoops, there’s a tense shift in there! “Slide” should be “slid”

Then she yanked the key free and flung the door open, launched herself down the stairs and dragging a stumbling Althea after her.

I don’t really think “then” is needed at the start of this sentence. It reads more urgent without it, in fact. Also, pay attention to verb formatting after the comma. With some exception, it reads better to have the same conjugation used when the actions are working together. In this case, “launch” and “drag” are happening simultaneously, therefore they should either both be “-ed” or “ing”. In this case, I’d recommend “-ed” since “stumbling” also makes an appearance, but as more of a descriptive word.

She half fell, half stumbled after Claire.

Two sentences before this, you mentioned she was stumbling. After this I won’t point it out, but you really need to watch word usage.

His muzzle was foaming with furry and he was frantically tearing at the bars to get out. Claire had never seen her father react this way as a werewolf.

I think instead of “furry” you meant “fury”. *grins* Bit of a difference there, though either would be applicable to a werewolf.

It was difficult to remove the lock with her father raging just on the other side of the bars, afraid as she was that he might accidentally slice into her with one of his claws in his trying to get out.

Since it’s been established that he’s the one trying to get free, it isn’t necessary to say “in HIS trying to get out”. You can just say “in trying to get out”.

The padlocked clicked open. She removed it and tossed it aside, and then turned to Althea.

Here, the “and” in “and then” isn’t really needed. Looking for little words and bits like this to chop can really help cut your word count down.

Hoping she wouldn't regret this later, Claire slide the bolt on the door open.

Again, “slide” should be “slid”. Be careful of your tensing.

The two werewolves smashed into each other half way up the stairs and became a single, slashing, biting ball of rage.

NICE action description! And that is totally what a dog fight is right there. It’s a scary thing to behold, even when they’re just little wiener dogs. *nods*

EDITOR: Part Three (For REAL Part Three, Not That Fake One Above)

Claire couldn't distinguish one from another as they rolled with in inches of her.

Very small thing here: “with in” is actually one word. Within. It’s one of those weird ones that gets all smooshed together.

The dark furred wolf pinned her father to the floor and was trying to tear at its belly with it rear claws, while her father kept trying to go for the other wolf's throat with its teeth.

There’s an extra space between “pinned her”. Also, the last “its” should probably be “his” since it’s referring to her father. I don’t think any kid, even if their dad turned into a rabid beast, would ever refer to their dad as a thing.

It was quickly followed by her father, who stood up to its full height and began to slash out with his claws.

“up to its full height” should be “up to his full height”.

They had to stepped over the bottom two steps of the stairs, which were badly smashed.

In its unconjugated form, verbs are “to ___”. Here you have “to stepped”, which isn’t correct because once a verb is conjugated the “to” portion falls off.

I really don’t think this was a deliberate error on your part. This reads like maybe you’d written “they stepped”, decided against it, and meant to write “to step” instead.

At the top, they paused in the open doorway, looking for any sign of the wolfs.

“Wolfs” needs to be “wolves”.

The room was quiet, but before Claire left the basement, she pulled the silver dagger from the scaffold at her hip.

Okay, this here I’m not 100% sure of, but I’ll mention it anyway just in case. I don’t think a scaffold is something she’d have on her hip. I think scaffolds are those structures you see for doing high rise construction and such. I think you meant scabbard instead … but again, I’m not positive about that. It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything using blades. *grins*

She closed the basement door behind her, and went to lock it out of habit.

Okay, a comma is NOT needed every time “and” is used. If there are only two clauses and they share the same subject, a comma is not needed. Here, the subject is the door and the joint actions are her closing it and her going to lock it.

Althea gasped and held her hand to her mouth when she saw them.

Did you mean him instead of “them”?

She picked piece of pumpkin colored glass off of Jason's cheek.

You’re missing a letter here. It either needs to be “picked a piece” or “picked pieces”.

"Alright," she said, "Alright."

A word here about commas and dialogue. The second comma you used, after “said” only works if the statement following is a continuation of the dialogue that appears BEFORE the tag. If that’s the case, whatever word follows that second comma (unless it’s a proper name) is lowercased. So… the second alright needs to be lowercased or that second comma needs to become a period.

Overall Impressions:

I really, REALLY liked how you did this story! It was interesting, fast paced without feeling sparse, nicely detailed, and definitely well told. If you were to continue this into something larger, I’d definitely be interested in reading it.

I think the biggest issues in this piece were all the little details. There were a lot of tiny grammar and punctuation errors scattered all over this, a few of which would have been caught by a spell check. Blythe, I know your work. You’re one of those writers I ALWAYS keep an eye on in the polls because you are consistent in turning out solid, clean writing every time. It’s because of this that I get the feeling you were really rushing to push this piece out. I KNOW you have stronger technical skills. I’m not trying to be harsh with this, but it was very surprising to me that there were so many tiny, consistent errors.

Regardless of that, I truly enjoyed reading this. I think it worked very well as a standalone project just as it does a continuation of your week one piece. You did an excellent job maintaining the tension throughout without it becoming old and stale, which is a VERY tough thing to pull off.

Great job this week and I look forward to seeing you in week three!

Re: EDITOR: Part Three (For REAL Part Three, Not That Fake One Above)

Thank you for all of your great edits (and you're right, it's a scabbard not a scaffold *headdesk*). I'm a little embarrassed to see all the mistakes, because I don't like to let that many slide through. You are absolutely right in guessing that I was rushed with this one. I threw it together in a few hours just before my time ran out to turn it in, so I didn't spell check or read through it before submitting. Guess I'll have to work through that with my revisions.

Again, I really appreciate your taking the time to point all this out. It's really helpful. :)

  • 1