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  1. #1
    Junior Member Kelouise's Avatar
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    Post Don't Open The Bathroom Door

    OK, here is a writing sample for you guys. Please be honest, I'm totally open. Let me know what you think!

    ***


    “No matter what happens, do not open the downstairs bathroom door.”

    Lonan looked up at his best friend, Colby Devin Smith, his face beaded with sweat and his thick black bangs hanging wet in his face.

    “What?” Was all Lonan could think to say.

    “I said, don’t open the bathroom door downstairs.”

    Lonan stared at his friend for a moment, perplexed, and finally asked, “What the hell Colby, what’s going on?”

    Something about his friend’s face seemed terribly wrong. He was white and his whole body was trembling.

    A loud ‘thump’ came from downstairs and then a crash. Whatever had been locked in the bathroom was now roaming free.

    Colby turned towards the door and stared down the hallways to the stairs. They were both on the second floor, in the room at the front of the house. He reached over and slammed the bedroom door. It didn't have a lock, so he pulled the computer desk away from the wall and shoved it in front of the door as a barricade. Lonan’s monitor and speakers were on the desk, but their cords weren't long enough for the journey and went crashing down onto the floor.

    “Colby!” Lonan stood up. He had been reclining on his bed to read Dracula, which he should have finished over Christmas break. Colby ignored him and piled a few textbooks onto the desk for added weight.

    “We have to go.” Colby said.

    “What? Colby, you’re not making any sense.”

    The dark-haired boy reached out and grabbed Lonan by the collar of his fancy, white button-up shirt and leaned in close, “Trust me Lonan, we have to leave. Now.” His voice was flat, but his eyes were wide and shining. He was beyond serious. He was resolute. There was nothing that could change his mind right now, Lonan knew. His eyes were wide with what Lonan would have normally interpreted to be fear, but Colby was never afraid of anything, so it couldn't be.

    Colby ran to the other side of the room and pulled a couple of coats out of Lonan’s closet. As he threw them to Lonan, he moved across the room to the bed and lifted the mattress. He snorted, and fell down against the floor to look underneath it.

    “Where do you keep your gun?” Colby asked.

    “My what?” Lonan picked up the coats because he had no idea what else to do.

    “Where’s your gun, Lo.”

    “I don’t have it here. It’s in my truck.”

    “OK.” Colby ran a hand through his black bangs and they fell back into his face, “That’s OK.” he walked to the middle of the room, his face blank as he thought. He pointed at the window, “We don’t have time to get anything else. Take those coats and get in your truck.”

    “Wait, what? Out the window?” Lonan stared out. It wasn't really dangerous, since they were only on the second story. But his mother had always yelled at him for going on the roof and he hadn't been out there since middle school.

    “Yes.” Was all Colby answered. They listened as the heavy steps of whatever had been downstairs made it’s way up the squeaky stairs to the second floor.

    “What the hell is that Colby?” Lonan walked over and sat on the window seal.

    “I’ll tell you when we’re on our way out. Now get the hell to your truck!” Lonan could only remember two instances where Colby had ever yelled. Obviously this was serious. So he obeyed and crawled out the window onto the roof. As he scrambled, he checked his pockets for his wallet and cell phone. They were basically his life, and leaving them behind would be a horrible mistake. Luckily, they were both there, so he moved on.

    The roof led around to the back of the house where his white, all American pickup truck was parked beside his mother’s Lincoln. The roof hung over his truck, so he jumped on top of it and down onto the gravel driveway. As he ripped open the driver’s side door, he shoved the coats into the back seat. Were they seriously leaving? Why didn't they just call the cops? And what did they need coats for?

    Usually Lonan left his keys in the sun visor on the passenger’s side, but just as he pulled the visor down, he remembered that he had left his key inside, on the kitchen table, for his father. Dad had promised him a clean truck and a full tank by the end of the day if he could borrow it. The truck was clean, but the key wasn't there, so Dad must have left it in the kitchen.

    “Damn.” Lonan whispered to himself. Colby had been very serious getting out of the house. But they couldn't leave without the keys.

    So he decided to go inside.

    Panic was beginning to set in and he was shaking with adrenaline. He reached under the seat to pull out his double-barrel shotgun and jerked open the glove compartment for the box of shells. As he ripped into the flimsy box, shells dropped and scattered all over the floor of the truck. He picked them up and slammed them into his gun with shaking hands, and shoved a couple more into his dress pants pockets, just in case. This certainly wasn't the kind of after prom he had been expecting.

    “Just go inside... and get the damned keys.” He whispered to himself and took a moment to breathe. They were right inside the back door, on the table across the kitchen. Run in and run out; easy peasy.

    Lonan readied his shotgun, the stock pressed against his shoulder and his head tilted for quick aim, just in case. Hopefully he wouldn't have to shoot. Mother would be furious about holes in the house, even if he was protecting himself from some crazy... thing.

    Where were his parents anyway?

    Lonan's stomach lurched as he realized they were still inside.



  2. #2
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
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    Liked this scene quite a bit, good tension. Had me wanting to read more.

  3. #3
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    The first sentence rang horribly false to me. Would anyone say that, or would they say "Let's get outta here!" or "Run!"? Also a lot of fluff and clutter fights the suspense, slows the action, and strains credibility. Read it cut by over 40% and tell me if it reads better:


    “We gotta get outta here.”

    Lonan looked up at his best friend, Colby Devin Smith. His ashen face beaded with sweat and his thick black bangs were plastered to his forehead.

    “What?”

    “We gotta get OUTTA here.”

    “What the hell Colby, what’s going on?”

    Colby’s whole body trembled. A loud ‘thump’ from downstairs and then a crash shook the house.

    Lonan stood from his bed. “What the hell was THAT? What’s going on?”

    Colby slammed the bedroom door and shoved the computer desk in front of it as a barricade. Lonan’s monitor and speakers were on the desk, but they crashed to the floor.

    “Colby!”

    “Let’s go.”

    “What? Colby, you’re not making any sense.”

    Colby grabbed Lonan by the collar and leaned in close. “Trust me, Lonan. We need to leave. NOW.” His voice was flat, but his wide eyes shined with fear…and Colby was never afraid of anything.

    He pulled out a couple of coats from Lonan’s closet. As he threw them to Lonan, he lifted the bed mattress, and not finding what he hoped, began to search beneath the bed.

    “Where’s your gun, Lo?”

    “What? It’s in my truck. Why? What’s…”

    “OK.” Colby ran a hand through his hair. “That’s OK.” He pointed at the window, “No time to get anything else. Take those coats, and get in your truck.”

    “What? Out the window?” It wasn't dangerous. They were only on the second story.

    “Yes.” The sound of heavy footsteps creaked up the squeaky stairs.

    “What the hell is that?” said Lonan as he sat on the window seal.

    “I’ll tell you later. Now get the hell to your truck!”

    Lonan crawled out the window onto the roof. As he scrambled, he checked his pockets for his wallet and cell phone, relieved to find them.

    The roof ran to the back of the house where his pickup sat beside his mother’s Lincoln. The roof ran near his truck, so he jumped on top of it and down onto the gravel driveway. As he got behind the wheel, he threw the coats in the back seat. Were they seriously leaving? Why didn't they just call the cops? And why did they need coats?

    Usually, Lonan left his keys in the passenger side visor, but just as he pulled it down, he remembered he left his keys on the kitchen table for his father. Dad promised him a clean truck and a full tank by the end of the day if he could borrow it. The truck was clean, but no keys, so Dad probably left them in the kitchen.

    “Damn.”

    He decided to get the keys as he shook with adrenaline. He pulled out his double-barrel shotgun from under the seat and jerked open the glove compartment for a box of shells. As he ripped open the box, shells scattered all over. He slammed two into his gun with shaking hands, and shoved more into his pockets, just in case. This certainly wasn't the kind of after-prom he expected.

    “Just get the damn keys,” he whispered to himself. “In the back door, across the kitchen, to the table. Run in, run out. Easy peasy.”

    Lonan readied his shotgun, the stock pressed against his shoulder and his head tilted for quick aim, just in case. Hopefully, he wouldn't need to shoot.

    Why didn’t Dad leave the keys in the visor? Where were his parents anyway?

    Lonan's stomach lurched when he realized they were inside.



    If you want to know why I changed anything in particular, ask away.

  4. #4
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    I liked it. Made me want to read more. I think you get a little sloppy in the last part, but you'll probably catch what you need to edit as you live with it. I would delete the explanation of why he checks for the wallet and cell phone-- we know why. Also its (possessive) does not have an apostrophe. "It is" (contraction) does. I like the "worrying about" kid stuff-- getting on the roof, shooting holes in the house-- maintains the reality of the character. And sets us up for Mom and Dad to be left behind in the house. My only biggish problem is at the end-- Colby is nowhere in sight, and Lonan is not wondering about him...?

  5. #5
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Yeah, I wondered about Colby not following Lonan, but figured there's more to the story. I also wondered about the parents inside the house, but then thought maybe they're already dead or dying. Maybe Colby stumbled upon their corpses and somehow locked whatever the thing is in the bathroom and ran upstairs to Lonan. In short, lots of questions unanswered, but I figured this was a excerpt, and a lot of those questions will be or were answered in the story surrounding the excerpt.

  6. #6
    Junior Member Kelouise's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    Oh, thank you guys so much for the critique! I really appreciate it.

    John, I totally agree that it can be cut A LOT. Your version is so much more compelling, I think. I even felt a little scared reading it. There were a couple of things, here and there, that I wouldn't have cut for reasons of character expression, but I do think that if I want to make it more thrilling, I need shorter sentences with less detail.

    And yes, the first line ("Don't open the bathroom door") does seem a little out of place, now that I think about it. I started this with that as my writing prompt, but for it to really make sense I agree that Colby wouldn't be saying that.

    And yes, Lonan should be wondering where Colby is, and he does on the very next line. I couldn't put it in, because of the word count. Maybe I'll post more later.

    I'm glad you guys liked it, I hope I can learn from this and write with more purpose.
    Last edited by Kelouise; 10-22-2012 at 10:42 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
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    Kelouise, one bit of advice that I can give with complete confidence is this: You don't get paid by the word, you get paid for each copy of your story that is purchased.

  8. #8
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Kelouise,

    Great. That's exactly what I wanted you to see - that there's a lot of unnecessary detail and some false notes. Remove all that crap, and it starts sounding a lot more real.

  9. #9
    Junior Member Kelouise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lea Zalas View Post
    Kelouise, one bit of advice that I can give with complete confidence is this: You don't get paid by the word, you get paid for each copy of your story that is purchased.
    So true Lea! I'll try and stay concise.


    Quote Originally Posted by John Oberon View Post
    Great. That's exactly what I wanted you to see - that there's a lot of unnecessary detail and some false notes. Remove all that crap, and it starts sounding a lot more real.
    I'll work on it! Thank you.

  10. #10
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    John. Good edit!!!

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