First time posting for critique

RightersBlock

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Joined
Jul 22, 2013
Messages
65
#1
This was one of the first stories I wrote after a very long time not writing anything (5+ years >.>). One of the flaws i feel is the POV is clearly not established. I realized that I don't like "queer in peril" horror stories. I edited out a few sentences that vaguely described sexual acts, since that's not allowed. The story is a little less that 960 words:


MARTY & THE SPIDER



There was a very large trapdoor spider in the Jenkins Restoration Woods. She had a manhole sized trapdoor covered with dead branches and leaves. The hinges were made out of very thick spider silk. The spider spied on many things that happened in the Jenkins Woods through her trapdoor. When something got close she would sink below, and lessen the door to only a crack, with only one of her legs remaining outside. Her leg, and her clawed toes, might have looked like a dead branch. When something got close she would grab it, break its legs, and then snatch it down beneath in one swift movement. She wasn’t a picky eater, but she also couldn’t help but prefer the taste of men to any other creature in the woods. Normally it was very rare to see a man this far into the restoration. Even then, the spider knew well enough not to attract too much attention to herself. Once one too many men went missing, more men would come. More men than she could fit into her mouth at once.

Today there were two men approaching. One was named Marty. She knew Marty very well. He was with another man called Gary.

They commenced with their ritual. ~snip~

The ritual ended as it always did, with Marty taking out a carving knife and cutting shapes and names into a tree. It was a heart shape, with the names Marty & Gary inside of it. Gary embraced Marty from behind, with tears streaming from his eyes. Gary kissed his bare shoulder as he did so. There was another tree, a little closer to her place that said Marty & Art. The other trees close to her residence were marked with similar things. Marty dressed Gary and Gary dressed Marty. Marty held Gary by one of his shoulders and he pointed to Her home. Gary screwed up his face and jutted his head forward. His jaw dropped and then he began nodding his head fervently. He smiled at Marty excitedly and Marty smiled at him while slowly nodding his head. Marty and Gary began taking very cautious steps towards the trapdoor spiders door. Marty gradually went from walking alongside Gary to walking behind him. His hand was still on Gary’s shoulder. The trapdoor spider began sinking down. Her body vibrated with excitement. Her legs silently drummed. She wiped the saliva from her mouth-parts repeatedly.

‘Please, please, please.’ She said to God. She could see the night sky through the slit of her door. It was purple and full of tiny yellow dots. One of the stars blinked brightly. A snap of a dead branch attracted her bulging eyes to the men that approached.

The men were standing still now. She could smell fright. It smelled good.

“What is it Marty?” Gary said.

Marty spoke softly in Gary’s ear. “Time to find out.”

“It smells bad.” Gary whispered back.

Marty was standing behind Gary. His hand slid from his shoulder to the small of his back. Marty smiled in the dark. That smile became a grimace as he shoved Gary forward. Gary stumbled forth and then slipped to his rear. Fretted laughter issued out of Gary, who stood up, and asked something like ‘What has gotten into you Marty’. Gary began dusting himself off. He was covered in wet dirt. Marty snickered back. Gary was on his back again within moments. He laughed falsely and said ‘Whats wrong Marty?’. He sounded afraid. Marty shoved him again. Gary fell on his back and the wind was audibly knocked out of him. ‘Why Marty?’ Gary managed to say, on one hand and both of his knees. The other hand searched through the wet dead leaves. He found a very large stick and began swinging it.

Droplets of dew rolled down from the top of her door and onto her eyes. She couldn’t blink. Even if she could, she wouldn’t. Gary was a toe away from her doorstep.

‘Please, please, please.’ She said to God. She didn’t look at the night sky. She was sure it was just as beautiful as it was a moment ago. She was sure there was another star twinkling at her.

Gary’s stick broke very easily. It was wet and rotten. He felt around for another one. He found one. It was strong and covered with darkened moss and forked at the end into shiny hooks the color of fingernails. Those two hooks clasped around Gary’s hand. She twisted Gary’s wrist until it broke. Gary tried to scream, but he couldn’t. Gary’s jaw had dropped indefinitely and his eyes had widened permanently. She didn’t need to break Gary’s legs. He seemed to lose the ability to walk at his second take of her. He seemed to lose the will to survive as soon as he had become aware of the six additional eyes she had studded across her unmoving mazard. Gary was as affable as a rag-doll when she seized him and jerked him down and began to devour him.

She slept for a little while after she ate him. When she awoke she spied from behind the crack of her door. Marty was still there. His elbows were on his knees and his head in his hands. He had found a place to sit and watch among the roots of an ancient tree. Marty stood, regarded her for a while, smiled at her, and then walked away.

END.
 

CTRandall

I have my very own plant pot!
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
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#2
You've got the kernel of a good idea here but, for me, there are a couple of problems.

First, as you're aware, POV. The beginning reads a bit like a fairy tale or fable. With some work, that could actually work, as the almost childish simplicity of the narration contrasts with the violence and malice of the story (just like most fairy tales). It's difficult to pull off, though, and even by the end of the first paragraph it's wearing thin for me. Also, your POV seems to try to shift, sometimes to the spider, sometimes to Marty. You need to decide what POV works best for you and be consistent.

Second, I'm not sure why the "ritual" scene is in here. Even though you edited it out for this forum, it distracts from the jilted-lover-exacts-revenge-with-help-of-giant-spider story. Especially in so short a story, a graphic scene diverts attention away from the central conflict. Dialogue between Gary and Marty and some shows of affection, along with Marty eyeing the carvings on the trees, will establish all we need to know while keeping focus on Marty's true intentions.

Third, there are some awkward bits of language. I'm not sure what "Gary’s jaw had dropped indefinitely" means. I also had to look up "mazard" and, while I'm happy for authors to use obscure terms, the fact that the language in the rest of the story is relatively simple and modern makes this word stand out as odd. It would fit in a medieval fantasy epic. It doesn't really fit here. Also, "affable as a rag-doll"? Seems odd to be friendly when you're being devoured.

After all of that, the symbiotic relationship between murderer and spider makes a good premise for a story. If you can sort out your POV and tighten it up, it could work well.
 

RightersBlock

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2013
Messages
65
#3
You've got the kernel of a good idea here but, for me, there are a couple of problems.

First, as you're aware, POV. The beginning reads a bit like a fairy tale or fable. With some work, that could actually work, as the almost childish simplicity of the narration contrasts with the violence and malice of the story (just like most fairy tales). It's difficult to pull off, though, and even by the end of the first paragraph it's wearing thin for me. Also, your POV seems to try to shift, sometimes to the spider, sometimes to Marty. You need to decide what POV works best for you and be consistent.

Second, I'm not sure why the "ritual" scene is in here. Even though you edited it out for this forum, it distracts from the jilted-lover-exacts-revenge-with-help-of-giant-spider story. Especially in so short a story, a graphic scene diverts attention away from the central conflict. Dialogue between Gary and Marty and some shows of affection, along with Marty eyeing the carvings on the trees, will establish all we need to know while keeping focus on Marty's true intentions.

Third, there are some awkward bits of language. I'm not sure what "Gary’s jaw had dropped indefinitely" means. I also had to look up "mazard" and, while I'm happy for authors to use obscure terms, the fact that the language in the rest of the story is relatively simple and modern makes this word stand out as odd. It would fit in a medieval fantasy epic. It doesn't really fit here. Also, "affable as a rag-doll"? Seems odd to be friendly when you're being devoured.

After all of that, the symbiotic relationship between murderer and spider makes a good premise for a story. If you can sort out your POV and tighten it up, it could work well.
Thank you!

I used to write a lot of medieval fantasy which is why i am used to using words like that.

"Gary’s jaw had dropped indefinitely" = His jaw dropped and he never closed his mouth, due to shock and horror.

"affable as a rag-doll" = Basically he had nearly fainted due to fear so he was very "obliging" prey, unlike someone who might be fighting to survive.
 

Penny

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Joined
Feb 22, 2018
Messages
169
#4
the word you might be after is docile i think. and I would have his jaw "slack with horror" but. i think you should focus more on what the spider might be seeing.

The eyes, wide like a doe, mouth slack with fear, it made her mandibles quiver in anticipation... type thing, have her savour the flesh and really make it sound delicious to highten the ewwww factors.

I would tighten the focus to the spider, you can't describe what the men see, you can describe what the spider sees, you don't know what they feel or why they are close all that matters is that they come closer. but a trapdoor spider is patient, very patient.
 

sozme

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2013
Messages
195
#5
Halfway through the first paragraph I was asking myself why I should care about this spider. Also I don't know if it's written from the spider's POV. Seems to be initially, but then goes off the rails. Because of this POV confusion and using "she" a lot in the mix with "Gary" and "Marty" I'm not sure if Marty is a girl (hence the "she" being referred to) or a guy.
 

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