The SERIOUS BUSINESS Critique Thread:
- some proofreading issues here, words missing that kind of stuff, reread and make sure all your sentences are grammatically correct, don't have typos, that kind of stuff.
- Pop culture references get dated very quickly. Not to mention that entire section where they talk about movies feels very much 20MinutesWithJerks. Remember your readers want a zombie story and characterisation can be done better than simply having them discuss some movies they like.
- the stuff about not using the Z-word feels a bit like Shaun of the Dead, if you're going for a shout out try to make that more apparent, otherwise it'll just feel like you're taking that joke from them.
- Finally, your Prologue starts with "Thump Thump Thump". Ask yourself if you really want to start your book with Thump Thump Thump. Keep it more varied, use better onomatopoeia and just make those scenes faster and more suspense building than that.
- It's got a kind of Troperiffic feel to it. Like it knows it's a typical zombie story and isn't afraid to admit it and have fun with the conventions and the like.
- The writing style and dialogue is fairly casual, which in this case is appropriate to the story. Jessi's characterisation has come out fairly well so I'd recommend bringing the others into the spotlight to let them develop.
edited 20th Sep '10 8:56:34 PM by ShadowScythe
edited 20th Sep '10 10:56:38 PM by Five_X
edited 21st Sep '10 10:55:59 AM by callsignecho
edited 22nd Sep '10 6:09:58 AM by ShadowScythe
edited 1st Oct '10 7:27:00 PM by Latia
edited 7th Oct '10 1:20:50 AM by TomoeMichieru
edited 8th Oct '10 6:52:44 PM by AtomJames
Chapter 1: Death of mother, death of father Most people would have greatly appreciated the scenery before her, verdant and fresh. Most people would have at least passively enjoyed the warm, pleasant day, the clear skies, blue as ocean; if not actively marveling at the beauty of nature as they passed through that forest. They might have remarked with excitement at the wheeling motions of a massive eagle, not far distant, briefly pausing to imagine gracefully swooping through the sky. They might, too, have noticed it falling from the sky with a piercing cry of dismay, transfixed by an arrow shaft. But a moments glance would make known that she was no ordinary person. She was dirty and bedraggled, her shoulder length black hair covered in dirt and blood. Her ragged clothes were plastered against her tall, slender frame. Even her eyes told a story of someone who no longer cared, who could no longer care, eyes bloodshot and infinitely distant. And yet, there was still something in the back of that remote gaze, something in her posture and bearing that suggested an iron will, an unshakeable determination born of infinite confidence. The last few days had stolen much from her, but that they had been unable to take. Forward she marched, looking neither left nor right as her path led her out of the woods and up the slope of a grassy hill, stepping unfalteringly over a small stream that ran to her right, back into the curving stretch of forest. Every movement was deliberate, a step towards her destination. Cresting that same hill, her eyes were met with a horrific scene. Scores of monstrosities arose from their places of concealment, hideous forms wrapped in black armor that seemed to pull in the surrounding light. Behind her a similar group had arisen, and the hill was soon an island amid a raging sea of darkness, the light paling to twilight, an unnatural murky gloom that served only to further distort their twisted features. And what twisted features, indeed: here a claw, there a fang; bodies of animals and men twisted together in unnatural forms, bound by their own internal devilry. There was something that resembled a cross between a dog and a bear, with a heaping portion of low cunning. There was a long, spindly…human? animal?- it was wholly neither and perhaps closer to a tall, limber orangutan; it too seemed possessed of malefic artifice. And there, far to the rear, was one with the head of a tiger and fierce, deformed rams' horns, it's tightly muscled human midsection eventually fading away to a silvery wisp at a point still yet several inches above the ground. This, however, had nothing to do with the horror and revulsion she'd felt, because her eyes were fixed on another sight in the middle of the field, oblivious to the tides of darkness washing around her. There, bound to a post, covered in scars and injuries, chest struggling to rise and fall, was a man she'd never thought to see again. A torrent of emotions welled through her, ranging from relief to self-admonishment at her own stupidity. Without so much as examining the body she'd left him there at the base of the cliff, unable to bear the sight. Another problem she'd merely run from, and now look what it had caused. Overcome with sadness and joy, she drew her sword from her back, a keen, eighty centimeter-blade katana; it's sides reflecting a swirl of blue and yellow to be found nowhere in the surrounding scenery. Leaning heavily on it's weight, she sunk to her knees as the blade slid easily into the ground. Slowly, the horde of darkness advanced up the hill. Several minutes previously, the orangutan creature had arisen from its cover, bow in hand, intent on having a little fun. Aiming its sights carefully on an eagle gliding above, he let fly, yelping with success when the target was struck. Its cry was soon turned to dismay when the slain eagle was snapped up by the bear-dog as it fell, shredding it apart and flinging pieces everywhere. This food, was in turn, snapped up by other varieties of creature, some more human, some more animal, and some so hideous or corporeal and radiating of evil that they were clearly neither. It was then further turned to grief by the admonishing grunts and wails of the tiger-ram. Thoroughly chastised by its superior for breaking cover, it was given the task of checking on their prisoner. He was still securely bound to the post they had set in the middle of the field, injuries from their latest round of entertainment still fresh and raw. But he was more than their cure for boredom-he was the ticket to their success. And what a success it had been, the tiger-ram thought. Everything had gone exactly according to the master's plan- she had arrived, seen the prisoner, and collapsed into a useless heap. The sheer brilliance of the plan resolved it to never to questioning the master or scheme against him again. An instant later it forgot even the memory of such a virtuous thought, as wicked things do. He urged his command onward, seeing their hesitation, their fear that perhaps it was a ploy, a trap. But she remained kneeling, sobbing, and her apparent obliviousness of their approach emboldened them. They approached faster and faster, their vile faces alight with twisted joy at the prospect of the kill. They soon stood atop the hill, within a meter of her, cackling and growling with evil delight as they advanced towards the seemingly defenseless woman. Then, puzzlingly, the ones leading the charge slowed to a stop. The ghastly tiger-ram furiously clawed his way through the confused throng to reach the woman. He had it in mind that he would finish the job himself, and have the master slay this wretched mob of cowardly, incompetent morons as his first reward. When he reached the front, he found her still kneeling before her buried sword, now silent. Eager to finish the job, he rushed forward, hand outstretched...but a flash of the same instinctual fear that had caused the horde to stop brought him up short. Another moment allowed him to identify what was wrong: she was no longer adrift in a confusing torrent of emotion. The burning heat of an incredible fury was emanating from every pore of her body. For the first time in several days, her eyes became clear and focused, drifting upwards as she slowly rose from her position. Settling on the tiger-ram, her gaze narrowed to an intensity that could almost be felt. He flinched for a second under the terrible gaze, then grinned wickedly as he pulled out his own horrible scimitar. Unlike her sword, it was crude and unfinished, with many rough edges, and possessed a shadowed color not unlike the hordes behind him, or his own black heart. He grinned again and said a low muttering of words in a nasty tone, half growled and half spiteful. Her response was a lightning-fast swing of her katana, the surface of which had retained not a speck of dirt and now seemed to be reflecting the red in her eyes. The fluid motion swept through both blade and wielder in one fell stroke. The former exploded into a thousand black shards of twisting anger, disintegrating in the heat from her blade. The latter screamed in anger and then agony as the blade cut through him, staring upwards at his own body in disbelief for an instant before death. Her eyes, fixed on the halved tiger-ram, suddenly snapped up on the rest of the crowd, burning red and more fearsome than the eyes of the terrible creatures all around her. The creatures all took a step back, many feeling the instinctual fear that had first stopped them growing by the second. The limber orangutan creature, who had hung back in the charge, reluctantly began to walk towards the prisoner. After seeing how easily she'd dispatched of their leader, it was sure that she was going to murder them all, plan or no. The first phase of disarming her via the sight of the prisoner had failed, and it doubted that continuing would bring it anything but pain. Nevertheless, he pressed through the agitated mob, which was whirling around in a disorganized frenzy in response to their leader’s death. The ambitious ones were slowly advancing in the hopes of taking the commander’s position, their arrogance brought to the forefront by his death; the craven retreated hastily, terrified of the woman’s fury. The orangutan was doing neither. As the lieutenant, it had been given orders for the second phase in the event that the first did not afford them a chance to kill the victim, and it intended to carry them out. It began to remove a shimmering cloak from beneath the folds of its own. This cloak was truly unique in that it possessed no singular appearance, but rather shifted from angle to moment, a confusing phantasm that nevertheless retained its basic shape. From one momentary view it appeared to be made of scales, from another, feathers, from another fur, from another skin, from another angle it appeared to be nothing more than air-passing through a dozen other less identifiable forms each time. The orangutan continued to move steadily towards the prisoner, never pausing to watch the raging battle, detached from the deaths of those attempting to fight the woman. As it reached the prisoner, it swept the cloak around and draped it over his back. Instantly the cloak began to bond to the prisoners skin, smothering his senses and drowning his hapless cries. The cloak folded itself over every inch of his skin, oblivious to his pain, sinking through his clothing and skin, until it was a part of him. Slowly it began to resume its original, unaltered appearance, forcibly twisting his body beneath its morphing shape. Eventually it resumed the form it had chosen, and he appeared as its original wearer had upon its first creation. He appeared, in other words, as a skinwalker. A morphling, αλλαγή δαίμονας, Allaciġ Damiouŝ. Change demon. The woman, effortlessly disposing all those who dared attack her, had been slowly advancing down the hill, eyes locked on the prisoner. She had to know everything, and there were only two ways to do so. She could take him with her, watching, asking, examining and re-examining, working at him constantly until she could piece together what she felt was the truth. The other option, although both faster and more reliable, required a sacrifice of some magnitude… Then she turned her eyes from him for a second to run her sword through a foolish Burk that tried to charge her. In that moment, the orangutan threw the change demon’s skin over the prisoner. When she turned back, the prisoner was writhing as though his insides were trying to exit his skin, and he underwent the slow transformation to the appearance of a change demon. She screamed in revulsion at this sight, denying it with unintelligible screams, willing it to be gone. Heedless of the danger all around, she cried with pain and shame, tears reflected in the blades mirrored surface. She doubled up over the handle to throw up, sick to her very core. The blade seemed now dark as the field itself, and the grass nearby began to wither and die. One of the creatures, the bear-dog that had challenged the orangutan’s authority by eating his kill, decided to kill her now and claim the captinancy, and have that idiotic monkey slain for fleeing from this pathetic woman. It slunk closer, reaching out its razor sharp claws towards the back of her neck. One tiny slice… but when it got within mere centimeters of her neck, it realized what the tiger-ram had. She had worked past mere sadness. It swore under his breath and tried to back away, but it was too late. A sphere of flame erupted around her, the burning glare reflected in her maddened eyes and the surface of her blade, incinerating the bear-dog instantly. She became more and more angry, losing her well-practiced control, and as she did, streams of fire broke out of the sphere, incinerating all they touched. The fire circled around and around the prisoner in ever more violent and random patterns, darting closer and closer to him with each pass. Those monstrosities remaining in the field were consumed by the raging infernos until none but the orangutan and the prisoner remained. The orangutan tried to run. A hundred lances of fire burst out of the sphere and struck the orangutan, exploding into a thousand charred fragments of bone and flesh. Her attention turned to the prisoner, eyes red as the burning fires. Moving closer to him he fell within the sphere of fire, now expanded to almost half the field. It didn’t burn him-rather it welcomed him inside like the embrace of a mother. Standing before him, she saw him as anyone would have then, a change demon, most heinous of evils. Perhaps, had she followed her original plan, the time consuming, painful and difficult one, she might have found the cloak embedded within him, and still averted her fate. But anger's demands are immediate and powerful, and she was buried under its heady sway. Still she hesitated, eyes lost once more in their past, the fire fading around her. Before she could regain her composure, however, he spoke, the darkness in the cloak compelling him to speak as it would, uttering words of ultimate cruelty. “Your son………will be......…DEMONSPAWN!” Her eyes blazed again as she put the point of her sword on his chest. Fire burst out from his body, consuming him instantly. And then she saw the truth, for this was the fast and clear method for her to learn it. She screamed in denial, then sadness and pain beyond that of any mere physical wounds, her mind broken. Now, with her practiced control totally lost, she could do nothing about her own anger towards herself. The prophecy was fulfilled. The fire burst out of her sword and consumed her. Somewhere, miles away, her child awoke from a terrible nightmare and began to cry. The field and hill, once filled with springtime’s promise of life and rebirth, was now charred and barren. The stream that ran down the hill now swam with poisonous ashes and fumes, spitting death into the forest beyond. Every living thing in the field was totally and utterly dead, save one. A small flower had started to sprout during the woman’s remorse, above the body of the man she had killed. As the fire had consumed her, the flower had quickly grown, and, despite the hot charcoal and deadly gasses, was already in full bloom. Her sword was nowhere to be found. The mastermind behind the entire scene in the field, miles away, laughed maniacally. Its plan had worked perfectly, down to the last detail. It had deceived those simpletons into thinking their objective was to capture the woman, when in reality they had been sent to their deaths-the tiger-ram for his treacherous scheming and the most of the rest for gross incompetence. The monkey had been sent because someone reliable was necessary to ensure everything went according to plan-but he was replaceable, along with the others. They had done what they had been sent to do. They had succeeded in turning her weapon against her, and now it would be his. Its thoughts turned back to the field, seeking the blade in the images rolling through the mirrors before it. It screamed in utter disbelief. The sword was nowhere to be found! It paced the length of the chamber of mirrors, locked in thought. Pouring over the events leading up to her death, but nothing he saw gave any indication of where the sword might have gone. He screamed again. Power, such power, and it had slipped right through his hands! He was so angry, he missed the image of the flower passing along the mirrors.
edited 8th Oct '10 2:45:02 PM by deathjavu
edited 8th Oct '10 5:52:50 PM by snowfoxofdeath
edited 8th Oct '10 6:01:49 PM by deathjavu
edited 21st Dec '10 6:42:27 PM by snowfoxofdeath
edited 21st Mar '11 11:27:22 AM by Wheezy
You need to Get Known to get one of those.