I'm reviewing "Who's Out There?" as a Graduate member of " The Rockin' Review Academy "
For some reason I feel more creeped out by this "story" you've "got off your chest" here, than if you'd thrust it in my face and aggresively claimed IT'S TRUE!. I've written a similar "tale" or fiction story, see
| ||I'm so scared! (13+)|
If no one believes you, then the only outlet for your experience is to write it as fiction
#1920245 by Sparky
that I felt I couldn't just bluntly declare it to be true. I mean, plenty of true stories are put across as fiction surely, as well as the other way around. There are the famous fishermen's stories of how big their fish was, and of course the one that got away.
If you try to search for something really "juicy" on YouTube about Ghosts, some decent footage, I mean, there must be SOMETHING surely? YouTube is world wide and if there was even ONE video with real true unedited video capture of a spirit or ghost, then that's where it would be right? Well, there's not one, that I've ever found.
So, I have to say, that your story here, short as it is, and you haven't been a member for long on this site (not that that has much to do with being a skillful writer I suppose) your story put the wind up me.
And that takes some doing. I never did believe in Ghosts as such, although there were a couple of times as a kid growing up that I had my moments, waking from dreams with what sounded like the chant of a bunch of monks. That dream was so real I sat up in my bed from a dead sleep, still hearing their loud noises disappear up into the ceiling above my bed. The voices weren't just in my dream. They were in our house.
If that's halucination then so be it. Sounded prrrretty real to me. Enough to remember it forty odd years later and still feel spooky. Still feel that...maybe ghosts are real, even if they are invisible.
I confess, I do believe what it says in the Bible, that there are spirits. But I feel that really, it's common sense. No one has seen one, because that would be ridiculous and false. They are spirits. Not visible, just the part of people, a soul if you like, that exists when there's no body anymore.
In summary of this overview, I think your little "yarn" (Aussie word for story told between just a few people, probably around a campfire or at smoko time) is extremely good. You have a way of telling it that is, in my opinion, just right.
Nevermind the getting it off your chest bit.
Please, write more and let us read it! Otherwise your future, and lack of more of your stories, is going to haunt me for the rest of my life...
Title & Blurb:
The title is perfect and brings to my skin that anxious cold sweat of the unknown, the barrier of something that is hopefully thick and unpenatratable between me and whatever the heck it is, and perhaps a second exit soemwhere, an able pair of legs whereby I might hopefully put to good, yes illogical, use and run the blue blazes away.
But then, that's how it is isn't it? It's what you don't say. Oh I'm onto your tricks Mr Author Man, and right now just read what you have on the front of your portfolio, ie no bio set up at this time. I might have known you are a seasoned writer and know how to pull the psychological strings. It definitely shows.
Please, keep your writing away from me, before bedtime!
Your blurb reflects just enough of the story to intrigue with elements of insecurity (a lone), mystery (baffled) , a promise of conflict, and those neck hair raisers (strange sounds).
Ambiguity at its finest, and fair smack in the middle of the valley of brain confusion. What can we trust, is it safe or is it not? Well, let's be safe in our cerebral decision and say it's far from safe.
Yes, the best advice here is to RUN!
You start off in a reflective mood and set the tone, as you've already done in the blurb with the word night. You add a little bit of subtlety to this uncertain blindness by then stating that you've been on the road seven years, and that your wife died.
This makes you sound like a seasoned veteran, but struggling to control whatever it is, an inner compulsion, and then you casually mention death. Gotta read on! It's what you aren't saying, and that's skilful from what I've seen of this type of fiction.
Your plot, while it may be a cliched typical ghost story, you've made it photographically real. Each paragraph just brings us closer to something brimming with dread. Even the ending doesn't let us off that narrative hook. You aren't forcing anyone to beleive anything. You've put it across with a clever angle; us, the readers, doing you a favour reading it. This makes it sound much more plausible. You aren't begging us to read it for the spookiness factor but to help you unburden yourself.
Don't, whatever you do, be frightened. Just help this man to feel better, to feel relief from his terrible experience.
The story wasn't written to scare you. See? This won't hurt a bit. Trust me...
Scenery / setting:
The scenery is cunningly crafted, because while it sounds all normal and, you know, safe your wording brings to mind tactility and shapes I'd rather not think about, particularly while with you on a lonely road, hearing your writer's voice in my ear, telling me that someone is crying, or is it someone or something?
Perhaps in the back of all our minds is that deep down feeling of travelling, searching for that deeper meaning, escaping the walls that are "closing in", especially when there's that disconnected feeling when someone close passes away.
Linking / Flow:
Your story flows as a stream of water affected by gravity, no question. It takes its natural course, and me? I'm just a hapless leaf that's falled off a long dead, spindly tree in the dead zone, in the no mans land where nightmares are real, and where I'm probably the last dry leaf to fall into the strong currents of your narrative, swept along on the top, only held up and kept alive by that very thin layer of surface tension.
Tension is what links your story from the ending of reverse psychological release of tension - which is anything but this - back in my mind; its rewound to the start again, even back through the blurb of that night to the Title once more.
Who's out there? Well might we ask.
Point Of View:
First person point of view is so vivid that I feel like I'm in your head watching a movie.
And the first build up of the story, with all the background, examples: "I lost my wife" & "Been on the road 7 years", have a documentary interview / voice dub over feel to it that blends excellently with the whole; this happened to me theme.
Well thought out and living, breathing, emotional, life goal oriented and beleivable.
A character that I empathised with immediately, and more importantly with this sort of story, trusted. He just told me his wife had passed away, that he was restless, and that her name (what sounded like an intimate family version) was Gracie.
The story therefore = True and I want to help this guy by letting him tell me.
I felt your use of the storm brought the ending to a well timed crashing climax, and the illusion of a warm and sunny dawn was a nice touch to end, a trailing off of the searching still going on, looking for that voice, that cry that he / you heard.
Shoulder shrugging frankness that is used to good effect, drawing the reader in and making your story feel completely true:
"The real reason I’m writing this is because I had something happen awhile back that just seems to need telling"
Accurate, but understated detail gives an authentic feel to this, a casualness that says "look, I don't care if you beleive this or not, ok?". This does far more to raise the hackles than if you had a signed petition from the town saying YES, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED and was published in Wrigley's Believe it or Not.
The only real suggestion I felt needed to be said, as in improvement, not criticism, is mentioning the lights in your camper, or Winebago. While a reader would surely have to assume that you had the light on to read, I feel it really does need saying.
You mention the angryness of the storm, evening closing in, closing down of "everything" in your vehicle, and then have dinner, newspaper, read a book, then watch the lightning flashes outside. No mention of lights at all. This may be a useful contrast to create a false sense of security here.
Then there is the raincoat and grabbing a torch scene, and you've just been lying reading yourself to sleep, but like, where's the lights? Yes, you are in a camper, yes it's normal to have 12v or whatever lighting, solar panels and all that, but just a couple of words would "enlighten" the reader to this small detail.
Nothing much really, I mean hey, I'm really scratching here to find anything wrong.
Could I strongly ask too, that you please write more, or put it on WDC (Writing Dot Com) for us to read and enjoy.
Your stuff is brilliant.
And another thing, perhaps this could become a chapter of a novel where it doesn't just finish at the cross, but goes on to a fulfilling future of either pleasantness, or far worse horror.
Punctuation, Spelling & Grammar:
I had no more luck finding errors of this nature than your character had of finding the voice / crying source, that was put to such terrifying and skin crawling effect.
Here I have one suggestion that is minor but I should say it.
You've seperated out one climactic moment here.
And that was when I heard it.
But there is a second one that you could alter so it was separated into it's own nasty little paraphrase.
I found one of those highway crosses.
Rating: I rated this less than perfect, only because of the light issue. It's really not worth half a point taken off. Seriously this is perfect far as I'm concerned. I'm being a bit harsh here, veteran journalist writer and all.
I'll hapilly re rate and re visit this piece should you want to make any changes. I'd be honoured to read it again.
Many thanks for sharing your work and your valuable efforts writing this piece. My comments and suggestions are only intended to help you grow as a writer so please use them as you wish.
As I look back over "Who's Out There?" , brin I wonder if I come across as too critical, in my efforts to advise? Please accept my apologies if you feel that way about this review.
Please note that my spelling is Australian (if it's not misspelt that is, in case you wonder why I write "colour" instead of "color" for example.
I'm still learning to do this stuff, just the same as all of us. With that in mind, let's go forward into the future together as a team.
THE PDG Rockin Reviewers Group
"When you write in prose, you cook the rice. When you write poetry, you turn rice into rice wine. Cooked rice doesn't change its shape, but rice wine changes both in quality and shape. Cooked rice makes one full so one can live out one's life span . . . wine, on the other hand, makes one drunk, makes the sad happy, and the happy sad. Its effect is sublimely beyond explanation." - Wu Qiao