“So, I know you asked about Maverick. He’s not been doing very well, talking about ‘that thing’ being back. I don’t know much about what’s been going on with him, but I do know he hasn’t been the same ever since that girl turned up dead with those cuts. Still can’t believe they chalked it up to suicide. Last time he visited he asked me if we could head out to the forest on April, 23. I said yes, obviously, maybe that way he’d be happier. I still have an unshakable feeling something bad’ll happen.”
“Wow, you’re really curious about Mav and that girl huh? He had a thing for her back in high school. That was before he started talking about a ‘thing in the forest’ One day, they went to the park and the poor girl went missing. Maverick was never the same, especially after they recovered her body in the forest. He still thinks it was ‘that thing’ that killed her. Everyone thinks he’s just covering up that he did it. I know he wouldn’t have.”
“I’m about to head out. He said I need a knife and flashlight before we can leave. I really hope he’s just being paranoid like always. I really hope I’m just being paranoid.”
“Frank, that thing he keeps talking about is real. It’s fucking real. It doesn’t even look like a person I mean it’s got horns like a ram and the body of a human and really really long fingers. But it doesn’t have legs. And its eyes just glow in this putrid crimson-red. We made it out of the forest. It just stopped. Watching. I asked Mav if we could go back tomorrow. He’s still not sure.”
“Mav said that we could go, but we needed proper preparation. He told me those super bright clip-on flashlights you’ll find at the gas station. He also told me to buy a box of Pop-Its. We set out in two days.”
“I don’t know why, but Mav just sorta suddenly decided to skip out on me today. I’m not going without him. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, not without him anyways.”
“Hey, uh Frank? Did you see anything about it stalking people during your research?”
“Yeah, uh while I was driving through one of the state parks over here I saw it. Hold up, I took a picture.”
“Yeah, and I also saw it for like a split-second while looking out my window. After I blinked it was gone though, I don’t think it wanted to be seen. That time, at least.”
“Hey Frank, can you run me by that info you said you found?”
“Mav finally agreed to go back with me as long as I buy him a new watch. Man, what I’d do for the sake of exploring some probably haunted woods with my brother, huh? I’ll get him one a few days after we go.”
“He said he wouldn’t go unless I got him one before we went. I guess it does make sense. What if we get separated or something and don’t see each other for a bit?”
“So we’re about to head out again. We’ve got a bag full of shit each. One handheld flashlight, one clip on, A pocket knife, a phone, and a stainless steel watch. He made me buy one for both of us… I really don’t know what that’s all about. Kinda weird. And those Pop-Its.”
“Ok, we found it and it ran off after one of the Pop-Its Maverick threw. He told me to put on my watch and a clip-on flashlight. I’m really glad that I waited for him to set out. He really seems to know what he’s doing.”
“Shit shit shit he spotted me, dammit I shouldn’t have had my phone’s ringer on. I’m gonna have to cancel transmissions for now. See ya.”
“Okay we made it out of the forest and we’re hiding in the car. It took Mav throwing the whole box of Pop-Its to deter the thing, and it’s still watching from just in that forest.”
“Maverick said we should go back. I don’t know why he’s so eager to go back. He told me that I’d better keep my phone off unless we get separated, and to “keep that damn ringer off!” Fair enough, honestly, I almost did get us killed. So this’ll be my last email for a while. If I don’t get back to you on May, 1 then assume I’ve died. Don’t go looking for me. That forest is dangerous.”
“Frank, I’m only really talking to you because I don’t want you thinking I’ve up and fucking died. Can’t really speak for Maverick though. You know he’s always been slow. And I think I figured out what the watches were for, too. It’s really unfortunate that his fell off. They’ll probably say he committed suicide too. Maybe at least nobody will go back to that forest. I need some time to rest.”
This story is lacking in horror. Most of it is just exposition through diary entries and e-mails which doesn't really tell the reader anything interesting enough to keep them reading. The closest thing we get to any actual horror is the murder-suicide, and even then it is brief.
It's confusing in its current form. Try putting dates and a to and from address (even if it is just the characters names) as, without them, we are left to assume they are one giant e-mail until we come to the conclusion otherwise.
The quotation marks blend the dialogue and the narration together which also makes it slightly confusing.
The pacing is a bit too fast. We hear more about the preparation than we do the monster himself, who is supposed to be the thing that keeps the reader interested.
In its present form, the story has too much exposition, and we are indirectly told things.
Okay, thank you! I guess my main weak point is too much exposition! I’ll definitely work on that and dates. I’ll probably just let it sit here for a bit though, while I exercise, well, not going so far into random shit so much-
turned up dead with those cuts >> turned up dead, covered in cuts (better syntax)
April, 23rd >> April 23rd
Same as what Ned said, I think the main issue here is that all the progression is told via exposition (ie: characters explaining what happened as opposed to simply experiencing it). It may work for weekly television where random viewers are tuning into an episode of Doctor Who for ex, but in stories the reader is better off reading the events themselves leading up to a point. We don't need characters to explain context unless they're explicitly bringing another character up to speed.
While this could work for a Dionaea House style/epistolary story, here there is no context why its being told this way, and no format to back it up. It reads as a series of disconnected dialogue, especially when the 'characters' (voices) seemlessly transition into the forest setting.
Ultimately what I suggest is writing a barebones skeleton of the major events that occur and detail the transition between them via a narrator, First or Third person.
Hook line: character describing themselves or what their proclivities include. Its okay to have them not know everything in the beginning or just think to themselves too. Ideally you WANT the reader to be in the dark like the character but also make their own conclusions based on events presented.
Describe what series of events or choices led to their encounter with the creature. The narrator can describe virtually everything for the characters so long as they aren't simply talking AT eachother/the viewer, as opposed to LIVING in the world they're in.
As for creature and horror design, I feel ambivalent. It's a slender-clone more or less, but demonic in nature so you can pull it off feasibly. Scariness comes from characters being uncertain or vulnerable in some instances: here, they seem fairly non-plussed, being able to deter the being with Popits, and having a clear enough view of it early on. Even if you have a clear vision of the monster, its okay to leave some details out: perhaps it could only ever be visible half submerged in darkness so the viewer doesn't know if it's a floating torso or simply hiding constantly.
I’m working pretty hard at fixing it. I decided it would be more like a journal he’s keeping for himself. I’m just kinda working on balancing the whole “journals are for yourself” and also not going too into exposition in the first entry. It’s really a delicate balance but if I get it right I think I can make something good!
Update: rough draft is finished, and I am currently working on adding more clarity and sense to the story. Less random plot contrivances, and maybe omit certain things that don’t need to be in there. Next time I share this I want it to be the best it can be, and then after you guys’ critique I’ll make it even better!