Monday, February 15, 2010

Entry 9


In this filthy alley, just over three years ago, I died...

The alley was dimly lit by the natural light of the near-full moon.  The graffiti-marked, brick-faced walls of the tall buildings that lined either side of the alley created an environment that bore wickedness.  The smell of urine and stale beer hung heavily in the air mixing unnaturally with the scented steam from a laundry room dryer exhaust tube.  Used syringes, fragments of balloons with drug residue, and broken glass were laying on the wet, maintenance-neglected asphalt near overflowing dumpsters.

I remember thinking that the radio call was a domestic dispute of some sort.  I parked our police car just south of the hotel and Kyle and I exited the car quietly.  The streets were alive that night as we cautiously approached.  The piercing screams of a woman sliced through me.  I radioed into dispatch, relaying what we heard.

I was jolted by the sense of urgency portrayed in her pleas for help.  Without waiting for backup, we entered the alley and were enveloped by darkness.

Her screams stopped and I felt a sudden and powerful anticipatory fear; a very bad omen.


  1. Setting a scene is one thing, but economize on your descriptives a bit. Too many and it chokes out the narrative.

  2. First sentence: Got me!

    First paragraph: I kinda got a little iffy with the opening, but when you got to the descriptions, you won me back.. BTW. THANK YOU for the scent descriptions! I love multi-sensory description!

    The rest of it, I felt cooled off a bit.. I bet it could be livened up just a touch with some more activity in the verb choice and some more familiarity with the narration. I.E. Parked our cruiser ... (obvious last name) and I... Demonstrate this character is a cop by having him think in a cop's terms (or, perhaps what the audience would expect from a cop)

    Finally, a LOT seems to happen in a very few words. We get a great opening description, and then things just happen one on top of each other. You establish a descriptive pace in the first paragraph, and then change it completely in the next.

    Also, I wanna know more about him (her?) being dead!! Please please please give us a hint! :) Does the world SMELL different? Does it LOOK different?

  3. Good opening sentence! You definitely paint a vivid picture of the alley and therefore letting the reader know it's not a very nice area. I just don't know if it's a bit too much or not.

  4. It was a little bit much for me - I just want to get on to the point of s/he dying and why s/he's now telling the story, after the fact. Because obviously something is still happening.

    But it definitely hooked me.

  5. I like "a bit much." I'm one of those people (and writers) who likes to build up to the action with description, so it didn't feel too over the top to me. I have only a few issues with word choice, but that is more MY subjective preference than anything. I say, well done!

  6. I loved your description. I could see the alley clearly as you described it. I was hooked and would want to read more. Good Job! :)

  7. On one hand: like the set up.

    Other hand: tighten it up.

    "The alley was dimly lit by the natural light of the near-full moon."

    passive voice. make it active.

    "The natural light of a near-full moon cast the length of the alley in a preternatural glow."

    Ok, I added a couple of words but give it something to do instead of just laying there.

    "were laying"

    try: "laid strewn"

    Remember Stephen King's admonition on adverbs.

    But you've probably hooked me. I'm not gonna put it down for at least another page or two.

  8. Just a thought: you've got a great opening line, followed by very vivid detail, and lots of it. But I, too, was so hooked by the first line I was impatient to get through the description to find out what happened.
    I would tighten and cut some of your (well-done) description for the sake of pacing.

    Also, it might just be me, but are a lot of stories being narrated by dead people these days? Is the entire book a flashback or is the character going to be interacting as a dead person?

    Good writing!

  9. Although you have an interesting plot and have chosen strong, descriptive words, I'm not hooked. I felt like an outsider. Too much telling felt like an info dump.

    But your writing ability is truly amazing!


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