Fear in Writing: Hook, Line, & Sinker Blogfest Entry...better late than never!

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hook, Line, & Sinker Blogfest Entry...better late than never!

*The writing sample appearing here involves some graphic subject matter.  It is not a study in gore, but rather a topic that might bother some.  Please skip if this describes you.*

Today's post is a part of Monday's Hook, Line, and Sinker Blogfest, hosted by Justin Parente at In My Write Mind.  I missed the deadline, but thought I'd participate anyway.  If you have a chance, read through the entries--some really great hooks (lines and sinkers)!

This is from a possible crime description in my Nashville/Det. Ryan Bell series.  It is merely a WIP.  Go ahead, tear it apart!

   Hell's Half Acre has come a long way.
   Where prostitutes and bootleggers once plied their trade, rarely does a footstep now press the grass.  Where low-rent apartments and outdoor privies once squatted, now stand fringed chestnuts and budding pear trees.  Gambling, drinking, and whoring were once the nature of this slope.   Now the lawn stretches from the Tennessee Capitol to the edge of James Robertson Boulevard, with nary a non-political crime to break up its gentle roll.
   Until now.
   Where drunken johns and thieves once strolled, where Union troops before them camped mid-march, where reknowned architect William Strickland watched the cornerstone of his last design laid, today the tiny body of a child lies, somehow more dead than all the long-decayed historical figures who came before her.
   It is not a gruesome sight at first glance.  She lies curled on her left side, dimpled arms fold under her chin.  Mahogany locks fall down her jawline, framing the plump face.  Pristine garments wrap the little body: a high-necked gown more fitting to the nineteenth century than the twenty-first, dress slippers as thin as ballet shoes.
   Neither is the sight angelic.  Though the killer may have wished it, the child's face does not appear in repose, but rather stricken with illness.  Her skin is greyish next to the ivory lace gown.  Bruises show on her once-rosy cheeks, beneath shadowed eyes and a forehead marred by one, long beaded trail of dry blood.
   She rests on the lawn in full display to drivers on James Robertson.  If she were alive, her view of the Bicentennial Mall would be spectacular.


  1. Michele - What a haunting description! You use adjectives so effectively, and your story gives a powerful sense of place. I'm impressed!

  2. Michele: This is really good. Beautiful and disturbing. This line in particular, "somehow more dead than all the long-decayed historical figures who came before her" stood out to me as brilliant.

    I think you would benefit from trimming back some excess words. I'm also not sure if the repetition helps in the early paragraphs, or if it's too much. Your first line is wonderful, but I think I'd trim down how much repeition I'd use for the backstory. Pick the best phrases, go with them.

    Just some advice. You've got a wonderful writing style and I, for one, would love to read more.

  3. Michele- this is all very well written. The description is haunting and beautiful at the same time. It reminds me of how Melvile mixed beauty and terror in Moby Dick (though I only read part of the longest book in history, haha).

    I'm hooked, but left wanting one thing if this is the opening to the novel. Who is describing the scene? Whose Point of View is this all from? A detective? A bird soaring over the scene? Right now it feels like the bird.

    Those are my thoughts.

    Thanks for the read.


  4. I really enjoyed this - it made me want to read more.

  5. Ooh. Isn't that brave territory: murder of young children? Still, you got me hooked! Love the beautiful yet haunting descriptions, although I agree with Mesmerix that perhaps paragraph 2 and the start of paragraph 4 could be pared down slightly. Would really pull me in had you mentioned the body earlier!

  6. Margot- Thanks. I often trim a bunch of adjectives, as too many is frustrating to read in a work.

    Mesmerix- Thank you! I really appreciate the crit! And I completely agree. I think when I wrote this originally, I was putting everything in with the intention of taking some out, and just haven't done so. Thank you!

    Jodi- Interesting. I never really think about who is writing when I'm doing it from third person omnipotent. Great comments!

    Belle- I hope I can produce more!

    J.C.- I know, right? And I have kids, so it's strange to me. Thanks for the criticism. I like bodies early, but don't want them to take over. But I will think about how to move it up...if I even stay with this!

  7. Wow! Great use of description, Michele. This is from the crime scene in your WiP? Great job.

  8. I LIKE it! Very realistic descriptiveness, my kind of writing. Good 'better late than never' entry, for sure, Michelle.

    Hey, I'm still waiting on your Q's for our interview you want to post on the (already started) Hugs Therapy Virtual Tour 2010. Toss 'em my way soon, ok?