Kelly initially submitted this piece for Friday Feedback in March. Here’s the link.
I made some suggestions and this is Kelly’s revised version of the excerpt. Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions.
The essence that was Terry stirred in the darkness, hovering in the rafters, still connected to his corpse by a thick silver cord. He was between the worlds, literally, one foot in, and one foot out. His thoughts were scattered, but his mind was still aware, and he was waking. It was because of her. He could sense she was drawing near. He willed himself to become more present in the here and now. Images of his death kept pounding in on him, but he pushed them away, and instead focused on the girl.
He could see his body lying in the room below, the skin marbled in death, the blood pooling under the stillness of his limbs. A sharp pain of disappointment flared through him at the thought of all he had lost. He tried to shrug it away, and focus instead on what he could have.
I feel a lot more connected to Terry, Kelly. I’m getting more of a sense of how he feels being in the situation he’s in. I like the way you focus on him and explore his character and situation before bringing Shelley into it.
I love your first line. It’s so intriguing and compels the reader to keep reading.
Apart from willing himself to be more present, what does he do to try and make it happen, how does he try to fight his current situation. I think there is more room to develop the action and tension here.
I still felt like I wanted to know more about Terry and what’s going on. How has he ended up in this situation? How does he know he is between two worlds? How does he feel about it? Is his death a recent thing?
When you say things like ‘images of his death’, give the reader more. Give them some hint of how he died. Was it gruesome, painful, surprising, accidental, deliberate? If this is a horror story, then there’s plenty of room for horror here.
I know you might not want to give away too much just yet, but even just a couple of images would give us a better idea of who Terry is and the kind of person he is/was. For example, if his death was a clumsy accident, the reader will feel very differently about him than if it was a revenge killing. What’s motivating Terry? What does he want at this point? We know he has lost something, but we don’t know what. I still think that you could be more specific here. The clearer an understanding the reader has of how bad this situation is for Terry, the more they are likely to care about him and want to follow his journey.
And what is his essence actually doing? Is it trying to break free from his body? At the moment I’m getting a strange picture of him. He is hovering and he has one foot in each world. What does this mean visually for a reader? It sounds a bit like he’s doing the ‘splits’ in space.
I know it’s hard when you can only submit a limited number of words, but the first page of a book has to work hard. I usually end up rewriting mine at least thirty times, sometimes more. Even if it reads well, that’s not enough. It has to engage the reader, connect them to the main character and compel them to keep reading.
I hope you find my suggestions helpful, Kelly. As I’ve said before, you write very well and this sounds like an intriguing story. Good luck with your rewrites.
If you’d like to submit your 150 words for Friday Feedback, please email to Dee*at*Deescribe*dot*com*dot*au
Feel free to mention if you have a particular problem or question with the piece you have sent. Can you also please include age of intended readership and approximate word count of intended manuscript and put FRIDAY FEEDBACK in the subject line of your email.