Has anyone had a chance to read The Cat House or The Lake By Wendy Holler? They're the first stories I've submited to the site. I'm just a bit curious as to how other people took them and what they thought. Thanks a lot!
I read both stories and liked ‘Cat House’ much better than ‘The Lake’. I’ll start with ‘The Lake’, first off all I had a hard time getting into the story. I felt like I was listening to someone “tell” me about a scene from one of any number of horror/B-movies and right away I new everyone was going to die. When the old man says:
"Oh, just checking to make sure there aren’t anymore leftovers from the victims. You kids be careful. There are some strange things here. I should probably come back tomorrow to make sure you kids aren’t its next victims. Take care."
It is a dead giveaway to what is going to happen. Maybe have the old man hint at some strange things happening, but not tell too much. Also, try to be more descriptive about the lake and the area surrounding it. You might be able to add some eeriness to the story through showing the reader what the campground looks like. That’s just my humble opinion.
Now on to ‘Cat House’, this story was more original than the lake story and easier to read all the way through. As soon as Renee fell, I wanted to know if she was going to make it out ok. You also did a better job being descriptive in this story and that helped keep my interest. I had fun reading this story.
I wish I was more adept at critiquing, maybe some else will be kind enough to give their 2 cents worth.
February 23rd, 2004, 05:53 PM
The Cat House's very good but could use the addition of more detail to help round it out, possibly a scene with the ambulance - you see an old woman's face in a window, does either friend mention it to the EMTs or the ambulance crew?
The Lake's what I'd have to say is a condensed story, packing a hard punch quickly but lacking substance. You need to add filling material, fully exploring the story and the people in it.
February 23rd, 2004, 08:35 PM
I read "The Lake" and here are my thoughts on it, since you asked.
Overall I think it was really good. You have a lot of potential as a writer. You have a pretty basic "monster kills unsuspecting youths" horror plot to begin with. It's been done to death, but the trick to being a good writer is to take a story that people are familiar with, and make it unique. Something that I felt was a little neat was that everyone of the main characters dies. (Usually one person ends up escaping. These days it may not always be the one you would think, but there's ususally someone.)
If you're looking for areas to improve in, here are some thoughts - specifically on building the suspence. You open by talking about how secluded the lake is, but you paint that picture as a good thing. In an age of cell phones and radios and text messaging, a lot of people have a fear of being alone and removed from "civilisation." You have the perfect opportunity to play on this here. Because this is reasonably short, I would stick with a single point of view. (As it is this shifts through the story, and while it isn't horribly comfusing, it keeps the reader from connecting to a specific character.) Typically this would be the last person to die, but it could be whomever. I would focus on Anne maybe. Talk about how she's nervous about being so far away from a phone, or whatever. Then give her a reason to need a phone. Maybe she's just waiting to hear about an acceptance letter to college. Maybe she needs medication.
Then you talk about the rough road - great! Play this up. What happens if they get stuck? You could even have them get stuck once - it plants a seed in the back of the reader's mind that if they have to race out of there, they're going to have a hard time.
It sounds like you're characters are drinking and driving in the beginning as well. As a result, I'm actually glad they get eaten by a lake monster.
Then you have the old man. "Oh, just checking to make sure there aren’t anymore leftovers from the victims. You kids be careful. There are some strange things here. I should probably come back tomorrow to make sure you kids aren’t its next victims. Take care." - Sometimes it's what you don't say that's the most frightening. Be a little more subtle with the hint that something's not right up there. For example, the old man could be up there alone, but what if there were two cars? Where are the other people? And why does the old man shove a brand new engagement ring into his shirt pocket?