An Awesome Contest

Let the fun begin – Thanks to Shelley Watters for this contest:  Read and destroy – if you so choose.

Title: The Devil’s Gate

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Word Count: 140,000

Chapter 1

Jet opened his eyes, gulped, and was convinced that this was the end of everything he knew. He was overwhelmed despite the calmness of the early morning. The warmth of the fire escaping the room next door did nothing to stop the chill as it passed through him. Something was in the air; a change on the horizon. He’d hoped to enjoy this holiday season despite all the inner turmoil, but, any reprieve from his dark thoughts were now washed away as sands from the beach just a few miles away.

Suddenly the air exploded just outside his window. Jet sprang out of his bed and bounded over and looked outside. At first he saw nothing; then he glimpsed a reddish-brown bird twitching on the ground. He wondered if it somehow lost control and smashed into the glass.

He peered around his backyard and was amazed to find a thick fog suffocating the air. It was deep blue and unnerving, signifying the terror he felt inside. A cracking sound, as if a bone snapped in half filled his ears. He looked around for the source of the sound, it wasn’t hard to find. Twenty feet behind a small pond was the edge of the forest and six broad trees had been shattered, like toothpicks in a tornado.

Thanks for taking the time to read and critique!

About earthsdivide

Learning something new can be hard to do. But why not! I love what I do and what I am trying to do. It hasn't been easy but writing is fun to do. To tell a good story takes hard work and a lot of effort, hopefully, I can do both. But if I can't it will still be a great time.
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14 Responses to An Awesome Contest

  1. Jen says:

    I get a little lost in your descriptions. I think if you tightened up the descriptions and added a little more of the action you’d be on track.

    Good luck.

  2. Jennie B says:

    Really great, you have my interest! I would tighten up two sentences “and was amazed…” That doesn’t sound in the moment. I would just cut those words.
    Also the description “He looked around for the source of the sound, it wasn’t hard to find. Twenty feet behind a small pond was the edge of the forest and six broad trees had been shattered, like toothpicks in a tornado.” is way too long it takes us out of the story. I would say something more like “He whipped around to see six broad trees snapped like toothpicks in a tornado.”

    But it’s your story, so you’re the only who knows how it should really go. Good luck with the contest!

  3. Lissa says:

    I think your opening sentence could have even more of a bang if you reduced it to “Jet was convinced that this was the end of everything he knew.”

    “The warmth of the fire escaping the room next door” made me think the house was on fire. I had to reread it a few times before I figured out it must be in a fireplace. You’ve written it as the fire was escaping the room next door, not the warmth.

    First sentence of the second paragraph: too many ‘and’s.

    “signifying the terror he felt inside.” Connecting his terror to the fog is ambiguous – he has no reason to be afraid yet, and we haven’t been told that he is already afraid before he identifies what makes him afraid.

    Good luck with your entry! I do want to know what broke the trees in half, and I’m interested in that blue mist.

  4. Jessica says:

    I want to read on but for the wrong reason. I need more of the character. What holiday season? What inner turmoil? I get the tense atmosphere but I don’t get why. I also don’t have any connection to Jet to understand why it is so tense. The description is wonderful but maybe a little over done. Good luck on the contest!

  5. i certainly agree with the other comments. your description is good, but almost over the top for the beginning when i just want to be swept into the story. however your word count is 140k so i am guessing you have a style that showcases your descriptions and wordplay which is cool too…i myself am just not that smart, clever, or patient 🙂

    douglas esper

  6. Kaleen says:

    “the fire escaping the room next door” -I thought the room was on fire
    “sands of a beach washed away” didn’t fit in this scene. You could take this comparison right out.
    I think this could be tightened up. Also, watch your punctuation. “A cracking sound, as if a bone snapped in half(,) filled his ears.” without the comma I thought he had snapped bones in his ears, and had to read it twice.

    “He looked around for the source of the sound” He’s looking out a window, but I imagined him looking around himself. If he’s looking out a window, then he can only be looking straight ahead. Maybe say: the source of the sound wasn’t hard to find… or something along those lines.

  7. Julie Daines says:

    I’m very intrigued by what I’ve read. I want to read on and find out what all this is about. It’s hard to get a clear picture from so few words!

    I’m not sure what to add to what has already been said. Maybe just watch out for naming emotions–it usually indicates telling. Terror, overwhelmed… that kind of thing.

    And easy on the similes. Less is more!

  8. Jody says:

    Visual writing! That’s hard to do but I think you’re on the right track. Beginnings are so difficult because you have to balance action with setting description.
    Be careful with lines like this “washed away as sands from the beach just a few miles away.” You’ve set up a tense environment/situation for the protagonist and references to a beach rip the reader out of the moment because beaches are generally associated with calmness.
    I think you just have a few lines too many setting this up. He’s watching everything around him (even the dying bird) and trying to plan his next move. Maybe he should be doing something right from the second paragraph.
    I’ve read many times that editors despise the word “suddenly.” I don’t know exactly why but I suspect it’s because it’s widely overused and there are other more interesting words to convey a quick change in pace/situation.
    I love “like toothpicks in a tornado” line.
    Thanks for sharing! Good luck!

  9. Nicole says:

    Happy Sunday!

    Interesting opening. You could tighten up that first sentence a bit, something like: Jet opened his eyes and gulped, convinced the end of everything he knew had come.

    I dunno — just playing around to get rid of the two occurences of “was” in your opening sentence.

  10. Definitely an interesting read.

    I would agree with a few of the other comments about your opening. Changing up your first sentence slightly, would make this much stronger:

    “Jet was convinced this was the end of everything he knew.”

    “As he opened his eyes and gulped, he was overwhelmed despite the calmness of the early morning…”

    As well, I need just a tad more insight as to where he’s looking in your last paragraph, because the pond comes out of nowhere – and it could be as simple as:

    “Just beyond our yard and past a small pond, was the edge of the forest. Or what should’ve been the forest, as six broad trees had been shattered, like toothpicks in a tornado.”

    Also, if there’s this thick fog suffocating the air, while it wouldn’t necessarily be hard to see the bird that hit his window (since it’s right in front of him), he may have a harder time seeing the forest so far away? Might need to say something about how the fog curled and hugged the ground, so it gives the impression that it’s low – or maybe he’s looking out from a second story window and can see out and above it? Something you may already explain as you get into the next few paragraphs, not sure. But just food for thought as I try to envision your scene in my head.

    Just a few small tweaks, but otherwise, I’m interested to read more and find out what’s coming. Cause I know something is!

    Good submit – and best of luck in the contest!

  11. You do a really great job of describing the physical world. I would scratch the signifying the terror bit. I guess I just don’t like the word signifying there. I would eliminate the sentence about the fire in the other room not because it is bad (because I actually like it) but because I don’t think it’s that important and I would rather you spend some of your words making me care about Jet. I think we are sufficiently forboded (probably not a real word LOL) without that sentence and it’s long so you have a lot of words to play with in crafting something new. I love the description of the trees knocked over! You have a talent for description that would make me keep reading.
    Good luck!

  12. sonia says:

    This line: “warmth of the fire escaping the room next door” made me think the house was on fire and than I was wondering why he wasn’t running. Like the imagery of the broken trees, but maybe it would be best to say the were broken at the edge of the forest?

  13. Liana Brooks says:

    I want to like this, but it’s reading too rough right now. It reads like the directions for a movie. You’re telling me what Jet is doing, but I’m not getting in his head. It’s a stylistic thing, but I’d rather be in his thoughts, not just watching his narrated actions.

    Does that make sense?

  14. S.A. Hussey says:

    A little too descriptive with comparisons. I’m thinking with a bit more tightening (as the others suggested) there’s a great story here. I want to like Jet and get to know his world, but it’s hidden. Will be looking to see your finalized version.


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