Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #25

TITLE: Meany
GENRE: Horror

Do you ever wonder where the angels go when babies cry alone in the dead of night? Or worse, by the bright light of the first days of summer, when the air is heavy with the smell of fresh cut grass and promise... Where were they when we needed them? Not here, Friend.

This is the real story of what happened to Charles Henry Barnes, who 'disappeared' one night during the summer of 1964. Disappeared? That's what people said. People love to talk, don't they? But I was there and I saw what she done!

Charles was a stern master. The townsfolk sometimes said that Charles tortured his children with electric shocks. Later on they joked that the reason Charles used electricity instead of burning them kids with cigarettes like in the movies, was because he didn't smoke.

On July 30th, 1949, at around noon, Annette Hoyt married Charles Barnes in that little, white church uptown. It was a simple ceremony on a day with nothing but sunshine and birds singing.

At precisely four p.m., on the same day, he had her in the barn helping with the milking. By a quarter after five, he had already slammed her up against a concrete wall for knocking over a five gallon bucket of milk. She rationalized that it was her fault really; she should have been more careful. She was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. By six thirty, I was already falling in love with her.


  1. The first paragraph isn't doing anything for you, and the second, third, and fourth don't help much. The last paragraph was the most interesting of the bunch, especially that last line. Is there any way you could start with that and then fill in the rest of these details later?

    Sorta hooked (by the end, at least), although horror isn't my genre in the slightest.

  2. The answer I gave to your opening rhetorical question was "no." Probably not what you want. :) You don't need that -- cut to the murder.

    Your best paragraph is the last one, and it's a good hook, I think. The rest is interesting, the voice is. I would keep reading for bit to see where it was going.

  3. The beginning is too much "telling"
    Agree the last paragraph is good.

  4. I liked your voice so I keep on reading. agree. The last para is what hooked me.

  5. I agree with Krista- you should lead with the last paragraph. Also getting married on a sunny day when birds are chirping seems rather stereotypical to me.

  6. I disagree, only in that I'd start with the second last paragraph. We don't really need anything that comes before that. If you tell us how horrible Charles is, then what he does to his wife comes as no surprise.

    I'd keep the second last paragraph because it sets up the wedding, and the cliche line of - nothing but sunshine and birds singing - clashes so well with what follows. So while I do think it's cliche, I think it's exactly what you need there.

    I'm not so sure about your last line though. In my mind, what is there for him to fall in love with? What does he see in her? She doesn't show any strong qualities in the little we get to see. But maybe that's explained later?

    So, I would read on with reservations. I'd need a real reason for him to fall in love with her (not pity.) And I'd need for most of horror to be more psychological than slash and gore.

  7. I could see starting this piece with paragraph #4. This typical, happy wedding scene gives the reader a false sense of security that dissolves as we get further into paragraph #5.

    I'm not a fan of the cat and rocking chair analogy. You might try to find another way for her to express her feelings at this point.

    The last sentence was unexpected and grabbed my attention by introducing additional conflict and suspense.

  8. I fully agree with roh morgon on this one. I'm curious how the narrator observed all of this. Is the narrator a ghost? A peeping Tom?

    But if I read another cliche like the long-tailed cat, I'd stop reading immediately.


  9. I disagree. Paragraph 1 lets us know what the book is about. We can see that their are kids in trouble and no one, not even angels, are going to help them. Paragraph 2 tells us there's going to be a murder. Paragraph 3 tells us a little bit about the antagonist but also tells us about the town. Too often, people turn a blind eye and don't want to be involved. Paragraph 4, the wedding is stereotypical but that sets up a great contrast with paragraph 5. Paragraph 5 brings it home. BTW, the cliche, great tool for showing something about the narrator! It puts me in mind of my own grandfather.
    Every paragraph here gives important information, I like this!

  10. Thank you for your comments, everyone. I know EXACTLY how to fix this now. :)

  11. This is really jumpy and disjointed. The first paragraph is so fanciful, with all this about angels and babies and fresh cut grass. Then we hear that Charles disappeared. Is Charles a baby? That’s what I was thinking. No. Charles is a jerk, torturing children and all. But in the next paragraph Charles is getting married, and the sunshine and birds and fanciful imagery from the first paragraph are back again. Then Charles is in the barn, beating his wife. Do you see the problem? Not only are you jumping around in time, but the tone is extremely uneven.

  12. Thank you, Secret Agent. I understand completely, and I'm on it!

  13. food for thought in a novel: never ask a question to your audience. inevitably, you will get either a "no" or a smart alec answer, or worse--they'll put down the book.

    seems too much telling, or info dumping. this is too much story to just dump it on us in 250.