Welcome to Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group and the third novel extract for critique on this blog. This 1,353-word extract (the prologue) is from a fantasy novel by Heather Lawson.
Please do comment in the section below telling us what you liked about this extract and, what if anything, the author could do to improve upon it. Thank you – it’s very much appreciated! I will chip in but I’ll let others have a go first. 🙂
Heather would specifically like feedback on general grammar, sentence structure
and whether she has used good imagery / descriptions.
Synopsis of novel ‘Hunted’
The world is on the brink of war.
Vampires roam the streets at night, preying on the not so innocent souls that inhabit the cities. Hunters have replaced the army, the humans no longer fighting themselves with the new threat of the immortal.
But they’re not immortal and Talik knows why. A survival enthusiast from one of many civilian safe sites, Talik has searched for a glimpse of the vampires since he heard of their existence. But when he discovers the truth behind their immortality, only one person can save him. Someone he never thought he’d see again.
Something foul poisoned the air; a rusty metallic smell, mixed with something rotting. Each footstep squelched underfoot as they trekked across the bog. Swirls of mist rose through the air, clouding their visions as they crouched low. Bodies littered the ground, half submerged in the sludge. Reese stepped over one carefully, pulling her thick boots from the mud with a schlopping that echoed around them. She was at the head of the group; six of them in total. Her AK was slung over one shoulder; a glock in her right hand and a Bowie knife in her left. She always came prepared. Her companions had various weapons, most of them salvaged from the army surplus they’d discovered not two days ago. The army, she scoffed as she thought about it. It was a joke really, one she had to laugh at or she’d spiral into despair. It had only been three years, yet it was as though the army had never existed; save for what they left behind.
The wind howled around them, whipping strands of dark hair around her face. She pulled them to one side and turned to look at those behind her. She patted the air, pointed at two of them and motioned left, then another two and motioned right. The last one stayed with her. Survey and report, those were her orders. She never put much stock in orders, especially when there was no fighting involved, but she’d been given a group this time so she would obey. This once anyway. Stepping over another body she checked that the young boy was still following her. His face was a whitewash of fear. She shook her head. Cowards; they’d recruit anybody it seemed.
“What do you suppose happened here?” The boy had crept closer to her, pulling on the tail of her jacket like some five year old trying to get the attention of his mummy.
“A battle,” she replied, jerking out of his reach. “A good one.”
“Is there such a thing?”
She ignored his comment and crouched over the nearest body. Motioning the boy forward, she rolled the corpse over to show the face. The dead man had been handsome once, she decided, before the maggots got to him.
“What’s your name soldier?” she asked as the boy crouched beside her.
“Well Thomas, is this your first time out of camp?”
She nodded, she had figured as much. “Have you even seen a vampire before?”
“No, but I’ve heard the stories.”
“Stories. Do you believe everything you hear from a story? Do you think that witches and wizards exist? That happily ever afters always happen? Prince Charmings riding in to save the day?”
“No, no of course not!” Thomas seemed taken aback by her questions. “I’m not a child.”
“You look it,” she said sharply. “Look here.”
She reached over to the dead man’s face and pulled what was left of his mouth open. She caught Thomas recoiling but grabbed his shoulder and turned him back to the corpse.
“Was this man a vampire?”
“No … he doesn’t have fangs.”
“Fangs? You think that vampires just walk around with their fangs out all day?”
“I heard that when they die, the fangs are always visible.”
“You really do believe in everything you hear from stories. Look.”
She pushed hard against the gums. A set of sharp fangs slid out of the flesh, layering themselves over the man’s human teeth.
“Not everything is as it seems, Thomas. You’d best learn that,” she said, releasing the gum and watching the teeth sink back again.
“But there were more than two fangs there,” Thomas spluttered. “Is he a mutant vampire?”
“There’s no such thing. There’s only them.”
“Then why do they have so many fangs?”
“Because this is not a story. This is real life. Things in books are not reality, this is!”
She threw her arms out. If there was a good place to bring new recruits and show them the harsh realities ahead of them, she would definitely pick this spot. Bodies were littered everywhere, and it wasn’t easy to tell which was vampire and which was human.
“I just don’t understand how so many of the stories could be wr-”
Reese covered his mouth with her hand. She could hear someone moving close to them. It wasn’t her team, she had sent them further afield. She slowly lowered her hand from Thomas’ mouth and clicked the safety off her gun. Holding a finger to her lips, she pointed at Thomas and then the ground. Stay here and don’t die, she thought. If you die kid, it’ll be my head.
She moved a few paces away from Thomas and listened again. Whoever, or whatever, was coming their way somewhere to the right. She turned to look, hoping to catch a glimpse of them but finding nothing. The sky had darkened. Night was falling. She had kept the team out too late. Something ran close by on her left. She swivelled where she was, remaining low and trying to see what it was. Her head twisted as she heard a twang; someone had fired an arrow, she recognised the sound of the bow. The pain didn’t register at first. The impact of the arrow through her arm sent her to the ground, her backside sinking into the cold mud. She cried out as the agony set in.
“Are you hurt?” She heard Thomas shout to her. She turned to his position, saw him stand.
She was too late. Three arrows pierced through Thomas like he was made of paper. She noted the stunned look on his face as he looked down at his torso. She could only imagine what was going through his head. It was his first time out of camp, he should never have set foot in the wild. She wrapped a hand around her own arrow and pulled it from her bicep. A fresh stream of blood flowed from her arm. Gritting her teeth she tore off the bottom of her shirt and wrapped it around her arm, keeping her eyes open for anymore movement. They had hit her, she didn’t know what they were waiting for.
“Come and get me!” she screamed, tying off her bandage. “I’m right here! Don’t hide behind your bows all night!”
She stood to her feet, her heart trying to push its way through her chest to freedom. Taking a deep breath she calmed herself. This was just like any other night. She had faced the vampires before.
“We come only for our dead.”
A smooth voice behind her made her jump. She cursed herself as she turned round to face them. Vampires always seemed tall to her; like some ethereal beings. The one that stood before her was a good foot taller than she was; he had velvet locks that framed his face perfectly and blue eyes that sparkled in the moonlight. She narrowed her eyes.
“So did we, look where that got us.”
“You were mistreating our dead.”
“I was showing a rookie how to spot you abominations.”
“And now that rookie is dead. Perhaps you should be teaching your children something else.”
“Perhaps you should all shrivel up and die!”
She lifted her right arm, aimed the glock and took the shot. She found her mark, he was standing just a few feet away. A tiny trickle fell down the man’s face from the red hole in the centre of his forehead. He blinked and curled the edge of his lips.
“A little thing like a bullet will not kill me.”
“No, but a distraction will.”
Before the vampire could reply, Reese nodded to her team. One of the men ran up behind the vampire and brought his machete up to meet the vampire’s neck. A puff of red spray erupted into the air as the head landed in front of her feet. She kicked it over so that the vampire’s dead eyes met hers.
“They think they’re immortal,” she said, giving the head another kick so it splashed into the bog. “Until they die.”
Thank you, Heather.
If you’d like to see my notes, click on the links below but please give your comments to Heather here first. That way you won’t be influenced by my feedback, and we can see if we think alike. Thank you.
Heather Lawson has been creating stories ever since she learned how to read, preferring her make believe worlds to the real world. At the age of nine, she wrote her first ‘novel’ and was bitten with the writing bug. In 2007, after learning about National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), Heather completed her first, full length novel and has since written three more, as well as two novellas and several short stories.
Heather currently lives in a small town in Fife, Scotland, with her parents. She works part-time at a Cash & Carry but dreams of seeing one of her novels in print one day. Heather’s website is: www.heatherlawsonwrites.com
If you’d like to (family-friendly) submit your 5,000-word max synopsis / extract for this blog, see the Submissions page.
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback privately, take a look at my main blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words). Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 3,000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online on the Red Pen Critique posts, or posted for others to critique (up to 5,000 words) on the new Morgen’s Short Story Writing Group) then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.
My online writing blog / Facebook groups are:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Thank you for reading this and we look forward to your comments.