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  1. #1
    Thomas Rayne

    Thought I would get your critique...

    I thought I would bite the bullet and get the boards critique of a scene from the book I’m currently working on. This is my first book, I have written a few short stories. I like to use a lot of dialogue in my stories. I don’t know how that will be received. For me, I like a lot of dialogue; it seems to make the story go by faster and helps build a little suspense. This book will be action/suspense with just a touch of horror. I still have a lot of editing and rewriting to do, so this is very ruff.


    “Hey Clara,” Edward said while setting down at the counter. “Coffee please.”

    “Coming right up Edward,” she said pulling a black mug from under the counter.

    “Anything new?”

    “Did you see the big fire at the old croc farm?”

    “No, I just got off work.”

    “It has been on the news for the last couple of hours,” turning the volume up a little on the television. “It is real bad, they can’t get close to the old farm, and the brush and trees are burning around it. They said the heat is so intense that they have to fight it from a distance. They aren’t expecting anything to be left, everything is already considered lost, they are just keeping it from spreading.”

    “Was anyone in there?”

    “Don’t know, if they were it doesn’t matter now.”

    “What about Hank?”

    “No, he wasn’t there. Been back there in the corner for a couple of hours now,” looking back at a man slumped over asleep at the far corner booth. “He came in and ordered a bowl of soup, said he didn’t feel well. Thought he had the flu or something. By the time I got his order to him, he was asleep; I just didn’t have the heart to wake him. You know.”

    Taking a sip of his coffee, “I hope it isn’t the flu. I don’t need to get sick now.”

    “That is right when do you leave on your cruise?”

    “In about twelve hours. I have to be in Miami at seven o’clock in the morning,” he said with a big smile on his face. “I need a vacation, seven days of doing nothing.”

    “Twelve hours? What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be home packing, sleeping or something?” while refilling his coffee.

    “I have you know I have been packed for two days and I will sleep when I am on the cruise ship,” he said with a laugh under his voice while looking back up at the television. “Hey turn that up a little more.”

    “This is live coverage from the massive fire at the former Frog City Croc Farm located about 7 miles from the small township of Frog City. Everything is considered lost and the Fire Chief has said he will not risk any of his fire fighters,” the television blared.

    “Ain’t that just awful,” Clara said turning the volume back down as the bell dings on the font door. “Good evening deputy.”

    “Hope you doing well Clara,” the deputy said while placing his hat on the counter and nodding at Edward, “You doing ok?”

    “Sure am, just counting down my time before my cruise,” Edward said.

    Clara pulls another black mug out from under the counter and starts pouring another cup of coffee, “So deputy anything exciting going on?”

    “Well, you didn’t hear this from me, but there are a couple of MPs running around town looking for someone.”

    “MPs?” Edward snapped around.

    “Military Police,” the deputy said while taking another sip of his coffee.

    “Why would MPs be here in town? We don’t have any bases around here,” Clara injected.

    They all three look around as the bell dinged again and a man and woman walked in wearing camouflage. They both scanned the room then walked over to the deputy, “We are looking for Hank McCurry.”

    “Hank?” Clara said setting the coffee pot down hard.

    “Do you know where Mr. McCurry is, mam,” the male MP stepped closer.

    Standing up and in between the MP and Clara, “Whoa, fella.

    What do you want with Hank?”

    “If you know where Mr. McCurry is you need to tell us now. We have orders to bring him in”

    Stepping closer to the MP, the deputy puts his hat on and looks him in the eye, “Hank is a friend of ours and until you tell us what you want with him you ain’t finding anything out.”

    Grabbing the deputy across the throat and forcing him backwards over the counter knocking the coffee pot off, the MP pulled his gun and bored the barrel under the deputy’s chin, “Let me ask you again. Where is Hank McCurry?”

    Edward stood up and reached for the male MP, only to stop by the pressure of cold metal pushing on the back of his neck. “I wouldn’t get involved if I was you,” the female MP said as Edward turned around to look down the barrel at her.

    Tightening his grip around the deputy’s throat, “Again where is Hank McCurry?” the male MP yelled.

    “Are you crazy? I am the deputy.”

    “We are under executive orders to bring Hank McCurry in for questions. Do you understand what executive orders mean?”

    “Yes I do, I was in the military.”

    “Good, now where is he?” retracting his hand and stepping back.

    “Clara,” the deputy glanced over his shoulder at her.


    “Do you know where Hank is?”


    “Clara, do you know where Hank is?”

    “He is back there,” pointing at the man still slumped over at the booth. “He has been here for a couple of hours now, said he wasn’t feeling well. He fell asleep and I didn’t want to bother him.”

    “He wasn’t feeling well,” both MPs said while looking at each other.

    “Call our location in, I will get Mr. McCurry,” the male MP said. The female MP moved closer to the door as she drew her radio and the male MP approached the rear corner booth.

    “Hank McCurry, you must come with us.” Hank did not move. The MP stepped closer and reached his hand out, placing it on the Hank’s shoulder. “Hank McCurry, you must come with us,” the male MP said with authority.

    Hank jumped out of the booth forcing the MP to the floor. Hank hung over the MP with his mouth open trying to bite the MP in the face, but the MP resisted by pushing on Hank’s throat. Drool dripped over the MP’s face. Trying to put some distance between them he moves is hand to Hank’s face and pushes. Hank bites down on the MP’s fingers forcing him to let out a deafening scream.

    The female MP comes running to the assistance of her partner. Pulling her gun she zeros in on Hanks head, “Let him go now."

    Hank bites down harder, severing the male MP’s fingers as he stands up to face the female MP.

    “Get down now,” she yells while showing a small tremble in her gun.

    Hank spits the severed fingers at the female MP’s face forcing her to take her eyes off of him. She looks back in time to see Hank leaping for her throat, pushing her to the floor and gnawing into her throat. She tries to yell out but the only noise she can make is gurgling.

    Then there is a shot fired. Hank stands up slowly and turns around to face the male MP. Hank starred him down as he held the hand with the severed fingers close and the other a smoking gun. Hank charges latching onto the man's nose, biting it off, then snapping his neck.

    “Hank,” the deputy yelled. “Hank, you need to get down on the floor so we can work this out.”

    Hank let go of the MP’s body letting it slide to the floor. He turned around and started walking toward the deputy, slow at first then faster and faster.

    “Hank no. I will fire. I will”

    Hank continued his advancement toward the deputy grabbing and bending him backwards over the counter. The deputy fired his gun just as Hank sank his teeth into the deputy’s throat. Ripping at the flesh on the deputy’s throat, the only sound the deputy could muster was a drowning, “Help.”

    Edward grabbed Hank’s arms from behind pulling him off the deputy. “Clara, help me.”

    Clara looked over the counter, “What do I do?”

    “I don’t know, hit him or something,” Edward said while continuing his struggle with Hank.

    Clara looked around for something to use. Looking down she spots a shard of glass from the coffee pot. Picking it up, she looks at Hank. “I’m sorry,” she said with tears in her eyes. Then she reaches across the counter, stabbing him in the neck with the glass. She hit the artery with shard causing Hank to spew blood all over the diner.

    Edward let go and stepped back, watching Hank bleed out. Before Hank dies he has one good squirt of blood that hits Edward in the eyes, then Hank fell to the floor and didn’t move.

    Clara slowly came out from behind the counter and ran over to Edward. “Are you ok?”

    “I think so, I just got some blood in my eyes.”

    Pulling a towel from her apron and wiping Edward’s eyes, “What happened to him?”

    “I don’t know.”

  2. #2
    Debbi Voisey

    Re: Thought I would get your critique...

    The first thing I noticed is that you are mixing your tenses. It jumps frequently from present tense to past tense. You need to look at that. Choose one or the other.


  3. #3
    Jean Bonifacios

    Re: Thought I would get your critique...

    JMO, feel free to ignore

    I had trouble figuring out who was talking much of the time. And don't overdo it but I need a little more action/description accompanied with all the dialogue. Feels like it's written like a screenplay. Don't be afraid to put more "he said" or "she said" in it. It's more annoying when it isn't included.

    And yes, present and past flipping is my speciality too. Figure out how you're telling the story. You may just need to fix that in your 1st of 3 edits. I'm on my 3rd edit and I'm still finding the flips.

    Good Luck!

  4. #4
    Joe Zeff

    Re: Thought I would get your critique...

    One thing I found distracting: a lack of common contractions in your dialog; too much "it is" instead of "it's." Unless your speakers have a reason to use very formal grammar, use contractions wherever you'd use them yourself. (Many people recommend reading your work out loud. This is one place where it's especially effective, because you'll find that the dialog just doesn't "feel right" in some places, and those are the ones you need to work on.)

  5. #5

    Re: Thought I would get your critique...

    Whoa, where to begin.

    The first half is all telling and information dump disguised as dialog, most of which is of the "As you know, Bob," variety. We are told there's a fire at the croc farm, we are told Hank is ill, we are told Edward is going on a cruise.

    The latter half contains action sequences that are so abrupt and unlikely as to verge on the ludicrous. It's unlikely that Military Police would arrive in town without checking in with the local law--particularly if they're hunting someone. It's unlikely that MPs would attack a deputy as suddenly and viciously as do these two. And your descriptions of Hank's carnage (fingers being bitten off? gimme a break) and the concurrent dialog ("Hank, you need to get down on the floor so we can work this out.”) reads like a parody.

    The piece is rife with punctuation and grammatical errors (which tend to center on missing commas and participles with no subject), and I agree with the comments about wandering POV and verb tense. Please don't trot out the excuse that this is "ruff". Even in draft mode, good writers basically employ the King's English. POV may wander, syntax may falter, and the structure may sag; but the grammatical and story-telling errors in your excerpt indicate to me a serious need for instruction, practice, and more critiquing.

    My opinion.

  6. #6
    Keith .

    Re: Thought I would get your critique...

    “Hey Clara,” Edward said while setting down at the counter. “Coffee please.”

    1st sentence. Is he sitting down at or placing something down on? Maybe a typo for settling down? I saw it as misuse of sit/set and stopped reading.

  7. #7
    Paul Harris

    Re: Thought I would get your critique...

    Not to pile on but real people don't talk like these characters unless they're of the "take me to your leader" variety.

  8. #8
    Thomas Rayne

    Re: Thought I would get your critique...

    To everyone that responded, I do thank you. I see I have a lot of work ahead of me. This is my first attempt and I did not expect to be some genius at writing, but I do enjoy writing and I will practice and take to heart the points that everyone has brought to my attention. Again thank you.

  9. #9
    nancy drew

    Re: Thought I would get your critique...

    Graceful response to some good advice, Thomas.

  10. #10
    Nan Hammond

    Re: Thought I would get your critique...


    If Edward knows Clara and Clara knows Edward it would seem strange for her to call him Edward. Does anyone call him that? I imagine it like: "Hey Clara, coffee please."
    "Hey ED here ya go" Edward is too long between friends...

    and MPs don't behave or talk like that.

    "Hope you doing well Clara,” the deputy said while placing his hat on the counter and nodding at Edward, “You doing ok?----> why... did something happen?

    its so...staged.

    I don't think it would be so formal.

    maybe something like.
    "How you folks doing'" the deputy said while placing his hat on the counter and nodding at Edward.

    When I ask most of my friends how they are often they don't even reply and move on to a different topic. Its like a greeting almost to show you care so that if you do have a problem you can share it but otherwise move on to interesting stuff. ... I don't know if that makes sense to anyone other than myself

    And who cares about the cruise???

    hey clara coffee
    hey ed what's up
    me and my cruise!
    hey deputy
    hey all how's things?
    I goin' on a cruise...
    yeah i know you told the whole town....

    To be horribly honest I stopped reading after they started drawing guns on each other as per no military protocol in the world,and grabbing throats which as a gun wielder would put YOU at risk, as you now have both hands occupied while the guy you are assulting and could lay charges against you is within reach of your gun.

    I'm sorry if I sound abrupt/rude/bitchy, but "Hank McCurry, you must come with us" ... really???.... really???

    ----> pls substitute the words 'you must' with 'please'

    It think it has serious potential but its... like you said, rough.

    PS I scrolled to the end

    Hank starred him down as he held the hand with the severed fingers close and the other a smoking gun. Hank charges latching onto the man's nose, biting it off, then snapping his neck.

    “Hank,” the deputy yelled. “Hank, you need to get down on the floor so we can work this out.”

    why would he say that... At this point it is clear that there is no working this out... the man has bitten off fingers noses and broken necks... honestly shoot him now.

    Edward grabbed Hank’s arms from behind pulling him off the deputy. “Clara, help me.” (As if he needs help move a heavy box)

    Clara looked over the counter, “What do I do?” (Like she was busy putting away dishes and has been asked to fold napkins)

    “I don’t know, hit him or something (or try to make a dive for at least one of the 3 handguns lying all over the place. But if not, sure, grab the sledgehammer, baseballbat or chainsaw from behind the counter and hit him),” Edward said while continuing his struggle with Hank

    As always feel free to ignore and I could be horribly wrong, but those are my oppinions.Keep writing keep practicing and you could have a great story. I think it helps with dialogue so say things out loud to see if they sound believable or not. Give it a try.
    Good Luck

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