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Danger Club

The horses would not stop screaming.
At first Adeline thought it was the thunder and lightning that was upsetting them, but the further they traveled into the forest the more frightened the horses became. She could hear them now through the carriage wall, even over the roar of the torrential rain, and she tried to push the terrible sound out of her mind.
She peered through the fogged carriage window and saw nothing but darkness. Then a sudden flash of lightning sliced through the sky and cut twisted figures out of the surrounding shadows.
They’re merely trees, Adeline told herself, but she could not shake the feeling that there was something outside slinking through the blackness, watching her. Even brave old Ivan, the carriage driver, huddled beneath his oilskin, sounded nervous as he urged the horses forward with shouts and stinging whips.
“Ee-yah!” he cried. “Eee-yah, girls, yah!”
The horses screamed in answer and clomped along faster and faster.


Marcy Doyle's picture

This is a solid opening, and I liked it, and I would certainly read on. Having said that, I will now pick it apart :)

1) First sentence: the way you worded it, it makes it seem that the horses had reason to stop screaming at some point (lightening and thunder stopped?). What do you think about, "The horses were screaming."

2) Second sentence: gives the impression that going deeper into the forest should somehow make the horses less frightened. Also, how does she know the horses were more frightened - did they scream louder or more frequently?

3) Third sentence: I would remove "now" and "even".

4) Fourth sentence: I would remove "...but darkness".

5) Fifth sentence: I would remove "Then". I really liked the rest of the sentence.

6) Last sentence: I think replacing "screamed" with another word would be better, since the reader now associates it with fright, unless you meant to imply that the horses are frightened by Ivan's command.

Michael Phillis's picture

Thank you so much for your comment, Marcy! I love feedback like this and I really appreciate the time and attention to detail in all of your comments.

Excellent. Loved it. My only question would be "clomped" - it doesn't sound quick to me. It sounds more like plodding. A different word might suggest more action and make that last sentence more exciting. Brilliant opening though. Can't wait to read the full story.

Michael Phillis's picture

This is great feedback, AJ. Thank you so much for the comment, I really appreciate it!

I liked this a lot, except for the title :-) The title doesn't seem to fit the opening, but of course we haven't seen the rest of the story.

Michael Phillis's picture

Thank you for the comment! This opening is from the prologue of the story, which is set 100 years in the past. Chapter 1 begins in present day and involves a group of teens dealing with the events that begin here. They are the "Danger Club" from the title ;)

Nice, action packed opening. I would definitely want to read on.

The first sentence is an attention grabber, but I had a hard time understanding what a horse's scream sounds like and how it differs from whinnying (spelling might be wrong). I also have to agree with the previous commenters about "Then" and the last sentence.

Michael Phillis's picture

Thank you for the feedback, Steven! I appreciate your comments and I've gotten similar feedback from other folks about using the word "screaming" in relation to horses. I chose to keep it because it grabs attention, but later in the chapter I provide more description of the actual sound.

Hi Michael -
You have such a beautiful talent! I love how you put us right into the action of the story. I have a MINOR suggestion: remove Then in "Then a sudden flash of lightning sliced through the sky and cut twisted figures out of the surrounding shadows." I feel like the word then gives us an unnecessary pause...xoxoxo

Michael Phillis's picture

Thank you so much for the comment! I really appreciate the feedback and suggestion.

And I LOVED your opening for "Princess of Mythric." I can't wait to read more!