Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by Seraphina

He hates me, always has and always will. Never resting he torments me, bullies me, and makes my life a living hell. Little did I know that he was actually just the tip of the iceberg.

I just got home, I can hear him in the house and I’m not in the mood to get beaten today. I walk to the far side of the house, staying out of sight of the windows, as I pass under the window that leads to the living room I hear him talking to someone. I can’t make out his words nor the person’s that he was talking to but I can tell he was arguing with a woman. I run around the corner just in time to hear the front door open.

“Cassie! Are you out there? I know that school is out.” I can hear the drunken slur in my father’s voice, he will wonder where I am for an hour then drink some more and pass out, giving me time to sneak in. Most teenagers have to sneak out of their house, not sneak in.

I go to the back of the house and look for the small red shed in the backyard, there in the far corner where it has always sat. I pull off my shoes and pull my brown hair up into a ponytail and run for the shed. The grass is soft and slightly damp under my feet, making the hot sand around the shed stick to the bottom of my feet. I open the door and quickly slipped inside, the strong smell of gas and oil from the lawn mower flood my senses. The shed is dark and the air is sticky, but it is relaxing. I head to the back corner where I had made a small pallet and put a few books.

I sit down and close my eyes, before I know it I am asleep. I awaken to pitch black and the sound of feet moving towards the shed. Oh great, he found me, I can hear the swishing of his jeans and the clinking of his belt buckle. I slightly whimper and curl farther into the corner. His heavy footsteps stop in front of the door, he opens it slightly.

“Cassie, where are you?” his drunken slur is worse, and he sounds angry. I whimper as he spots me. “There you are, what have I told you about not coming home?” he growls out as he grabs the collar of my shirt, pulling me up and out of the shed. He throws me across the yard with a slight grunt.

I hit the hard ground with a loud thud, I land on my right shoulder and slightly slide, causing my shoulder to start stinging. My eyes blur with tears, making it hard to see. I can hear him getting closer, he was yelling at me to get up, but I want to stay on the ground. I close my eyes tightly as I feel my father’s steel-toed boots hit me in my stomach, making me gasp out in pain. When will the beatings ever end?

I feel him kick me a few more times before he stops. I curl in on myself and I can’t stop the steady flow of tears down my face. “It’s time you learned a lesson from all the horrible things you have done! If it wasn’t for you my wife would still be here!” he yells at me, always blaming me for the death of my mother.

I hear the back door open then close, only to be followed by the loud bang of a gun. I look up in time to see the shocked look on my father’s face before he falls. I quickly scramble away only to bump into someone. I look up to see a woman in a white dress. She holds the gun and looks at it with disgust before tossing it away from her. She looks down at me and smiles.

“It’s all ok, it’s going to be fine, it’s all over,” she says softly as she crouches down. I slightly shy away and she gives me a soft smile. “It’s ok you are safe,” she says and holds her hand out. I lightly take it and she pulls me up.

“What is going to happen?” I ask softly as I look up at the woman. She was beautiful, pale skin with midnight black hair and jade green eyes. She has full lips that curved naturally into a soft smile, she has a soft sweet voice that compels me to listen.

“Now I take you home with me, you will be safe with me.” She says smiling “don’t be scared, I will protect you.”

She starts to walk towards the forest that is behind my house and I can’t help but follow her. At one point I lose sight of her but could see flashes of her dress and I run after her. The ground is soft and muddy, and the tree roots are making me stumble. I can hear her laughter and I follow the sound, but the roots are getting thicker and thicker. I finally reach a clearing, the woman is in the center. I walk up to her.

“Now Cassie, don’t be scared, I am here.” She says as she takes my hand. I look up at her, slightly confused trying to get an answer from the expression from her face, but only a soft smirk crosses her face. She throws something on the ground in front of us, it starts to smoke and it sparkes up and it is on fire.

I watch closely and see the ground split open, it slowly grows wider and wider. There are glowing red eyes in the hole, the hole gets wider and the beasts start to climb out of the hole. My heart starts to race and my breathing is ragged from fear.

The beasts are distorted, their bones broken, skin blackened, and sharp teeth dripping black blood. They start to crawl towards me, a scream is ripped from me and I turn and run. The woman laughs and I can hear the beast chasing me. I can see the outline of my house before I trip over a tree root. I look back only to see the red glowing eyes of the beasts. I start to crawl away frantically, but it is useless, the beast grabs me and starts to drag me back. I am screaming and kicking trying to get away, the other beasts are jumping around making a horrible sound that is close to laughter.

I flip over and try to claw at the ground, my face is drenched with tears of fear. It takes me back to the clearing and I can hear the woman laughing as they take me closer to the hole.

“Now Cassie, I told you not to be scared.” The woman says with a laugh as I am dragged under.



© 2019 Seraphina


My Review

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Well, you did ask, and you need to know, so… Take a deep breath, and look at the opening, not as someone who starts reading knowing who we are, where we are, and what’s going on, but as a reader, who has only what the words suggest to them, based on their background, not your intent.

• He hates me, always has and always will.

This is literally meaningless to a reader. The unknown “he” can be of any age and background, live on any planet/society in the universe, and hate the speaker for an infinitely possible number of reasons. You’re giving effect before cause. And that cannot work.

• Never resting he torments me, bullies me, and makes my life a living hell.

Again, meaningless. What is “a living hell to mean to a reader who doesn’t know where we are, who we are, and what’s going on? Is the torment physical or mental? No way to tell. And it matters not at all if you later clarify, because the average reader, and ANY acquiring editor, not knowing if you WILL clarify, will bail right here. As Sol Stein put it: “A novel is like a car—it won’t go anywhere until you turn on the engine. The “engine” of both fiction and nonfiction is the point at which the reader makes the decision not to put the book down. The engine should start in the first three pages, the closer to the top of page one the better.”

Remember, readers are volunteers, not conscripts. So unless you make them WANT to turn the page, or even read on, they won’t. And you must make them want to go on, and CARE what happens next, on every-single-page. And no way in hell can the report writing skills we’re given in our school days do that, because they’re meant to inform, and fiction’s job is to entertain by providing an emotional experience.

During that three page audition Stein talks about: Provide a single line that lacks context; confuse the reader for a line; bore the reader for a line, and the audition is over withot reaching page three. Thousands of other stories are shouting, “Read me, I’m better.” So the reader moves on, until they find a book that does turn on that engine, and doesn’t bore or confuse. So if you want your story to be the one that hooks the reader, you need to know how to bait the hook.

The solution? Simple. Don’t confuse or bore the reader, and be sure you make them say, “Hmmm…tell me more as early as possible.” The question, though, is how, and why’re you not doing that now.

The answer is inherent in a single misunderstanding we ALL leave our school days with. We all learn a skill called writing. As far as we know the skills we learn are the skills there are—In other words, writing-is-writing. So, since the profession is called Fiction-Writing, and the skill is called writing, we assume they’re related.

But they’re not, because there’s another thing we forget: All professions are learned IN ADDITION to what our schooldays give us. And writing is a profession.

Think back to how many reports and essays you were assigned, compared to stories. What that means is that after twelve years of study and practice we’re pretty damn good at writing reports and essays. Stories? Not so much. In fact, not at all. Why?

Nonfiction is designed to inform. It’s fact-based and author-centric. You, the narrator, explain the details and clarify as necessary. And that’s how you’re presenting your stories. Rwemember, only you know how you want the story to be read, and you include no performance notes. So all the reader has is what the words suggest, based on their background not your intent. Because we can’t hear your voice or see your performance, someone with no emotion in their voice, other than what’s suggested by punctuation, is talking ABOUT the events—explaining them—from THEIR viewpoint. So the reader is given an informational experience. But is that what they seek? Is it what you expect when you read fiction? Naaa.

Look at yourself. Suppose you’re reading the story of someone trapped in a house with a maniac who plans to torture them for fun. Do you want to be told that the character did this…followed by that…and then… Or, do you want to be made to feel that YOU’RE in that house, trying to survive, as the protagonist, in real-time? Do you want an avatar, or do you prefer a report on the story progression from someone not in the story or on the scene? The answer is obvious. But…the nonfiction skills we’re given in school can’t handle that task. For fiction, you need the character-centric and emotion-based tools of the fiction writer—the craft of our profession.

It’s not a matter of talent. You may have talent oozing from every pore. But talent is only potential, an ability to master the necessary skills more easily than most people, and to a greater degree. That means that a talented but untrained writer doesn’t write as well as one with small talent who knows the profession.

So through no fault of your own, you’re working at a disadvantage you didn’t know you suffered. As Mark Twain puts it, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” But fix the, “just ain’t so,” issues by digging out the tricks of the trade, and you’re off and running.

So…a few suggestions. For an idea of the breadth of knowledge you need to look into, the articles in my writing blog are aimed at someone in your situation. They won’t teach you the craft, and aren’t meant to do so, only expose you what’s available. After all, you can’t fix the problem you don’t see as being one. Right?

Then, pick up a book like, James Scott Bell’s, Elements of Fiction Writing.
https://www.amazon.com/Elements-Fiction-Writing-Conflict-Suspense-ebook/dp/B006N4DAZE/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Elements+of+Fiction+Writing+james+scott+bell&qid=1563058732&s=digital-text&sr=1-3

Read the excerpt on Amazon and you may find yourself reaching for your wallet.

Another is Dwight Swain’s, Techniques of the Selling writer.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0806111917/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

It’s an older book, and the entire chapter on research can be replaced with “Use Google a lot,” but it’s still the best I’ve found to date.

And finally, there’s a more gentle introduction in Debra Dixon’s, GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict.
https://www.amazon.com/GMC-Motivation-Conflict-Debra-Dixon-ebook/dp/B00DZ01FRY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=X2ANYGIWYARZ&keywords=gmc+goal+motivation+and+conflict&qid=1563333919&s=books&sprefix=gmc%3A+goal%2Cstripbooks%2C129&sr=1-1

It’s a warm easy read, like sitting down with Deb and talking about writing.

They’re all far better then the average, “Here, read this chapter of my work and I’ll tell you why it’s so good.”

But with any book on writing technique you choose, read it slowly. Stop at each introduced point and think about how it relates to or influences your work. Play with the issue and practice working with it, to make it yours. Fail that and two days later you’ll not remember reading it.

And after six months of using what you learned, read it again. This time, knowing where the author is headed, you’ll get as much new as you did the first time.

It won’t make a pro of you, but it will give you the tools and the knowledge to become one if it’s in you, which is all we can ask for.

Just remember, writing is a journey, not a destination—one we travel at our own pace.

So dig in. And while you do, hang in there, and keep on writing

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/the-grumpy-old-writing-coach/

Posted 8 Months Ago


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Added on July 16, 2019
Last Updated on July 16, 2019
Tags: fiction, The Hated, Hell, Cassie, Damon, The Woman in White, action


Author

Seraphina
Seraphina

TX



About
Just trying to share my stories with the world. Let me know what you think of them and any advice is greatly appreciated. I am in the army so I may not be able to update my stories as often as I would.. more..

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