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Thread: Short story about lonely killer

  1. #1
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    Feb 2013

    Short story about lonely killer

    I don’t usually write. In fact, I barely even read books. But I watch a lot of crime shows and I’ve been inspired to write my own crime novel. The following is the beginning part of a short story I’m writing about a guy who kills his high school crush. Please give me honest feedback/advice. Also suggest any books that would help me become a better writer.


    It was a little before 7 pm in Evergreen Views, Washington. The sky was orange and red, and the sun was slowly disappearing behind a few thin clouds. Elisabeth McGuire waited patiently for the evening bus into town, fanning herself with her notebook as she scrolled down her library, looking for something decent to listen to. Her long, silky red hair tumbled down her back and flailed about in the gentle summer breeze. She was blissfully unaware of the shadowy figure watching her through the woods behind her, taking in the beauty of her petite figure as he summoned the courage to do his act.

    He couldn’t help but smile as he viewed Elisabeth from the narrow gap between the two bushes he had positioned himself between. He was pretty sure she couldn’t see him, and it was amusing to him how she just stood there not knowing what he had planned for her. Everything had gone like he thought it would. The bus was not going to arrive for fifteen minutes, nobody was out driving on the lightly used rural road they were on, and Elisabeth had left her apartment like she did every Sunday evening to attend her book club at the library on Main St. Too bad for the ladies at the library, he thought as he carefully wiped a bit of sweat from his forehead.

    Elizabeth didn’t particularly like the book club she went to. The people there were obnoxious and full of themselves, but she enjoyed reading and she made friends with a cute guy who also went there. She felt guilty being attracted to him, since she was married with a deployed husband, but it was strictly platonic she promised herself. She kept glancing at her phone’s clock, it was getting a bit darker and she was tired of standing there. The stupid county metro system couldn’t afford benches for stops outside of downtown.

    Without warning he leapt up. He had planned everything until this point, and now he let his instinct guide him. Within half a minute he was right behind her, and sensing movement behind her she turned around and let out a surprised gasp at the sight of him. Without thought he plunged his knife into her chest. She fell backward and a stream of blood left her body and descended on the grass beside her. He felt himself getting aroused at the sight of her lying there, in a pool of her own blood. . He wondered whether she recognized him the second before he stabbed her? He had been in her Japanese class a few years back at Washington High. But it didn’t matter now, the ***** was dead or soon to be. He grabbed her feet and dragged her back into the woods, a little past the bushes to a small clearing he had scouted before. He probably should have cleaned up the blood on the spot he killed her, but he didn’t give a **** at the moment…he wanted to have his fun before she started rotting.
    Last edited by peaceofearth; 02-11-2013 at 11:21 PM.

  2. #2
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    Feb 2011
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    Welcome to the forum.
    First of all I want to say good for you for starting writing , it is great fun and can be a very rewarding hobby.

    Begining with a genre you enjoy and know a bit about is a good idea but I would say you must start reading crime novels too if you want to write them, you are creating interesting visuals but it is not always coming across , for example -

    I love the last line , it immediately brings a stream of vivid imagery "…he wanted to have his fun before she started rotting."

    Unfortunately the first line does not have the same effect "It was a little before 7 pm in Evergreen Views, Washington." It is a bit too much like a list. Try to weave this sort of information into the story instead of listing it.

    Also try to be careful of repeating words too close together " Within half a minute he was right behind her, and sensing movement behind her she turned.."

    Stuff like that will come in time, just try to read a bit and keep writing, it gets easier as you go

  3. #3
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    Apr 2010
    Welcome indeed.

    I sometimes despair of anyone who says they don't usually write and barely read any books (what a sad confession to make) - especially when they still consider themselves capable of writing their own 'novel (!). As if you can create something entirely off the cuff without any effort or first-hand experience. If only writing a short story (let alone a novel) was as simple as watching TV then writing something down. Trust me, it isn't - and your story proves my point, I'm sorry to say. If you care about becoming a writer you have to read - probably spend 5 times as much time reading as writing. And start small - short stories preferably before embarking on something as ambitious as a novel.

    Normally I wouldn't bother commenting on anything posted by someone who doesn't take their writing seriously, but since this is your first post and you have had the courage to post it here I'll take a look.

    First of all, the opening sentence is crucial. It has to hook the reader - get them interested and wanting to continue reading. Yours begins with a rather bland statement giving the time and location, followed by a weather update. That's not the way to do it.
    You then introduce your main character who is doing something - we're momentarily intrigued. Not sure why we need to know what her hair looks like though.
    Then we finally have something to catch our attention, but it happens so abruptly that it's totally lacking in drama. That's because you're writing an account of what's happening rather than a story - a little like a newspaper report. But in fiction you have to create atmosphere, create characters and situations we can believe in and a plot the reader can escape into. Crime novels are notoriously exciting - keeping the reader desperate to turn the page and continue reading. Your story doesn't manage to do anything of the sort.

    There's also a problem with your viewpoint. We begin with events happening to Elizabeth. You tell us what she's doing and we experience the events from her point of view. She's searching for some 'decent' music - only she knows this so we're firmly fixed on her. You tell us she is 'blissfully unaware' so we're still inside her head as it were. But then you suddenly jump into the stalker's pov - she has no way of knowing he is taking in her beauty or summoning the courage to do anything so we are expected to switch focus mid-sentence from one character to another. You can't do that when writing a story. The reader is invited to engage with one particular character and if you then want them to switch to another there has to be some kind of natural break. At least a new paragraph, but often a spacer like - - - - - or * * * * * also.

    The following paragraph is a little repetitive - and there's lots of awkward exposition where the stalker is reflecting on how his plan is going to work. I'm also unsure how the 'ladies at the library' are going to be involved unless he plans on attacking them as well.

    Then we switch back to Elizabeth - more back-story telling us why she doesn't like the book club. And trivial information about the transport seating arrangements. Where's the story?

    Without warning he leapt up.

    Wow. I almost fell off my chair (not). So abrupt again - without a hint of tension or drama.

    Within half a minute he was right behind her, and sensing movement behind her she turned around and let out a surprised gasp at the sight of him.

    Can you see in this sentence ^^^ how mixing pov's just doesn't work? Who's sensing movement behind her? The nameless attacker (who is right behind her) or Elizabeth? It's a muddle because you're jumping from one character to the other almost at random.

    And again it's completely devoid of drama. You record the attack the same way one might describe a handshake. So flat and lifeless. Then we have more back-story about his Japanese class. . .

    This needs so much work to put right that I suggest you put it down to experience and start again.

    You watch crime stories on TV but although you are able to write, this plot was feeble to say the least. It needs fleshing out if it's to survive as a story. At the moment all you have is a story-board involving two paper-thin characters and an almost non-existent plot.

    If you do indeed aspire to write a story (or novel) you would do well to read as many crime novels as possible first. Then you might see how so far short of the mark this effort was.


  4. #4
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    Apr 2010
    Just noticed your request for suggestions on books about becoming a better writer.

    I would recommend Stephen King's paperback 'On Writing' to begin with. Good luck.


  5. #5
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    Jul 2007
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    this whole thread is hilarious.

  6. #6
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    Jun 2009
    Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, The Middle East, UK, The Philippines & Papua New Guinea.
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    Might I suggest:
    1. Ed McBain for pace.
    2. Raymond Chandler for sophistication.
    3. William Le Quex for perverse humour

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