This isn't really a draft or anything, just what I have so far of a story that I'm working on. I'm expecting this to take a good chunk of time, particularly since it's just a free-time activity. Basically, I want to know what the community thinks with regard to the style of writing I'm using, rather than the story at this point. Is it too much, too flowery, too embellishing? Does it distract from the plot? Or am I just worried about nothing? Cursious to get feedback on this, especially since this isn't really the type of question conventionally asked here XD. But I trust this community to be discerning and honest in any case, so here it is.
Driving wordlessly along the interstate with only the hum of the engine and the haze of sunlight in the road for company, Carol's gaze once again caught the file folder peeking out of her old leather briefcase in the passenger seat. She couldn't help but wonder whether she would find what she was seeking on this trip. By all accounts, the building was simple enough to locate. It was merely the first step of a long journey that she had already emboldened herself to undertake. Questions yet swam circles in her head, however, with regard to the mechanics by which it was all to work. She could grasp the principles, but nothing more, and perhaps that was what fed her intrigue. Turning her attention back to the road, her eye caught a slender, upright sign which read 'Mile 21'.
"Almost there." she thought aloud. "I'm almost there, Mason."
It wasn't long before the outcropping came into view along the side of the freeway. A small, semicircular clearing adorned with native buttercups and nettled brush branched to a winding hiking trail that disappeared into the treeline. This was the only such path she had seen along the way, and accompanied by the matching location and flora, Carol was certain that she was on the right track. She pulled her silver, two-door sedan to the shoulder of the road, retrieved her satchel from its place beside her, and tried to convince herself that the car would still be there when she returned. The heat wave of Summer was in full effect: The breeze did little to counteract the humid pressure in the air. As she approached the weald's edge, the windswept forests of Ambrose, Carol pulled her coat tight around her shoulders.
Somewhere within this grove lies the old manor house, she thought, marching forth through the bramble.
Carol followed the path until the towering oaks surrounded on every side. The wind began picking up, lightly cooling the skin of her face and hands. The change was welcome, a respite from the scorching warmth of the season. She continued onward, enjoying the vibrant verdant hue of oak leaves, firmly rooted to their long supple branches. The droning buzz of what must have been hundreds of cicadas drowned out anything that wasn't directly the result of Carol's own actions. The brush naturally thinned as she walked, revealing the greenery of the grass beneath. What few petaled flowers poked through the earth seemed so fragile; Carol stepped with precision to avoid trampling them as she went. Tiny, dainty petals of baby blue, powder pink, and rosy red all strained up out of the dirt to liven the forest floor. She knelt carefully before one particularly bright bud, taking hold of its stem and, with the slightest effort, plucking it free of its roots. Lifting the flower to her nose, she caught the slightest whiff of lavender from its petals.
The grass pressed inward on the trail which thinned ever so slightly as she ventured on, a phenomenon to which she was blissfully unaware as curiosity and wonderment kept her attention. She had, however, come to notice her growing inability to hear the ambient buzzing of the insects, as the whistling breeze grew in strength. A sudden crunch beneath her boot snapped her mind from its distraction, and Carol found her foot half an inch deep in discarded leaves, a carpet of which stretched further in. Glancing up to determine the source of the leaves, she discovered thousands of gnarled black limbs reaching skyward. Before her, dead scarlet foliage fluttered down from every branch of every oak, smothering the delicate flowers upon which the tumbled until she was left with only darkened, rotting trunks in their place. A shiver ran down her spine as she glanced backward, only to find more of the same. The shrill cooling breeze intensified as the entire forest exuded a numbing chill.
In moments, frigid air nipped and snapped at Carol's fingers and toes like a protective hound. The decision to dress in layers mattered little as the winds shorn through the porous fabrics and cut to the bone. A respectable gale howled through the barren trees that stood dead and trembling in the breeze. Any semblance of a path had been lost to eyes that teared in the stinging wind. Instead, fallen oak leaves crunched beneath her every strained step and whipped up into the air to strike at her exposed flesh. Her mind wandered to minutes before, when the shining Sun beat down upon her face with feverish fervor and the trees stood tall and supple. What had happened to the warmth from before? The grove that surrounded her at the outset had been rent away and left standing as petrified shells. The Sun still shone above her, but it was as though the light could no longer brave the winds to strike at her. It seemed little more than a decoration, a star in the sky with no more influence than any nightly speck in the blackness of space.
Awareness returned to her before she even realized it had lapsed, and Carol found herself not in a dense thicket of rotted trees, but instead crunching gravel stones beneath her thick-heeled boots. The clearing of gravel around her was vast, such that she found it impossible for her to have wandered to its center without realizing, though her senses would seem to indicate otherwise. The wind slowly settled, carrying not the stinging cold from before, but instead the light scent of freshly cut grass. The surrounding clippings that invaded the fringes of the gravel road supported this finding. The lawn from which they originated was neat and uniform, surrounding the circular drive-up with pristine alternating bands of light and dark green left behind by the mower. She turned to follow the gravel road, but found that it wound seemingly endlessly into the distance, weaving through the trees up to and beyond the horizon. As she looked closer, she could swear the petrified trees became significantly more populous further down the road, dense to the point of overtaking it before it ever got that far. A coincidence, perhaps, though the idea came with more than a little doubt. Her curiosity then led her to search in the direction from which she had come, back beyond the standing oak stones. There was no highway in sight, no shining silver sedan, no blazing Sun, no bramble or buttercups.
The implication of their absence took her aback. Certainly, I couldn't have walked that far. Carol's memory seemed to betray her as she failed to recall her hike being so extensive. For confirmation, she turned to the cosmic clock in the sky and then to the mechanical one upon her own wrist, the final somber gift of her late mother. The two gave no conflicting information, and were in agreeance with her mind rather than her senses. She'd not walked more than three minutes from her vehicle and the interstate upon which it rest, and yet neither gave any hint of existence, leaving her with only the silent forest and gravel road. Then the stories must have been true, she concluded with an about-face, setting her sights on the goal she had sought.
I don't think there's a huge issue with overly ornate literature, this is a horror literature site after all where many people have written flowery and descriptive works (myself included). It just doesn't necessarily get viewed the same way as standard flash fiction does where the writer tries to get forth their story as quickly and brutalistically as possible. I think it starts to become an issue where it pads out the length of the story and leaves in useless details that could be implied or are already stated in prior portions, so that a story that can be told in a few sentences ends up taking several paragraphs, y'know?
For example, I read "The brush naturally thinned as she walked, revealing the greenery of the grass beneath. What few petaled flowers poked through the earth seemed so fragile; Carol stepped with precision to avoid trampling them as she went." - and I think 'This is pretty, but where is this going?' It's not inherently bad, its just sure to bore some readers while they're anticipating world building or tension build up.
I see what ya mean. More or less, I wanted to test the waters before I go headlong into this project. I have no idea how extensive this will end up being, but I'm imagining very and I'd rather not have to reformat everything later because that sounds like a massive pain.
I also like to put a lot of sensory details into my things. I like when I can feel like I'm there. More or less, that's where a lot of this passage comes from; just adding more sensory details. Hopefully they aren't bogging it down too much. I want it to be an experience, but if it's a slog then that's no fun.
I don’t see anything wrong with this at all. I tend to prefer elegant prose even if it has, in some sense fallen out of style. Like others have said, as long as it has purpose it’s fine. The only minor thing I caught was in the sentence,
“In moments, frigid air nipped and snapped at Carol's fingers and toes like a protective hound.”
I think, and this is just my opinion, you could do without the “in moments” because it’s implied. Better to simply write “Frigid air nipped and snapped at Carol's fingers and toes like a protective hound.”
Also the sentence,
“The wind began picking up, lightly cooling the skin of her face and hands.” Could just be, “The wind began picking up, lightly cooling her.” I feel like it’s implied that it cools her skin in some fashion. What else would it be cooling?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Definitely keep up the good work, I’ll want to know what happens!
I'm glad you like it. I think you're right about that first line; the 'in moments' is unnecessary. The second one I feel adds more specific sensory input, so I'll probably keep that one. Thanks a ton for the feedback, it's greatly appreciated.