Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #1

Title: Beyond The River
Genre: Literary Fiction

1999: Brad Lucas has just made a fortune selling the dot-com he started with his domineering business partner, Dean. As a parting gesture, despite their strained friendship, Dean invites Brad to go on a fly-fishing trip in the wilds of Northern California. When Dean’s elaborate Bigfoot prank turns tragic, Brad must not only save himself, but also decide if Dean is worth saving.

The narrow path led up and away from the rushing water to where the forest thwarted the sun and the river’s hiss diminished until it was no longer heard. Twigs snapped beneath Brad Lucas’ boots. He listened intently for crying birds, foraging squirrels, chirping tree frogs—any sign that everything was okay. As a boy, his father had told him, “When the woods go silent, a predator is on the prowl. Even if you can’t see it.”

Perhaps he was being paranoid. Then again, maybe he wasn’t. Brad parted his lips and whistled sharply.

A few feet ahead, Dean Romans stiffened with surprise and halted in the sun dappled shade. “What the hell was that for?”

“Bears. If they’re around, they’ll move on.”

“Please provide advance warning next time.” Frenzied gnats circled Dean’s head and he swatted at them.
Here it comes, Brad thought. He’s finally going to complain about how stupid it is to be out in the middle of nowhere.
Dean snatched a water bottle from his backpack, drank, and then grinned, his gleaming white teeth contrasting with his swollen black eye. Brad was tired of following Dean—he’d been doing it for too many years now. “How much farther?” he demanded.

“I must tell you,” Dean said, sauntering off. “I haven’t been totally up front with you about this trip.”

Of course, Brad thought. You’ve never been up front about anything. 

“What do you mean?”

Dean glanced back triumphantly. “Patience. It’s all part of the surprise.”


  1. Great writing and description in these opening lines. I'd be interested in reading further. There is one big thing that's throwing me off: you're setting up Dean as the leader and Brad as the follower. When Brad whistles, it sounds like he has more knowledge and power than Dean. Then when the Brad says he's tired of following Dean, the power dynamic completely switches. As a reader I'd like some consistency between these characters when first getting to know them.

  2. I like the story idea but was a little confused by your query. (I had to re-read it.) I also wanted to warn you about using too many adjectives and adverbs (IE. crying birds, foraging squirrels, chirping tree frogs)-I used to do this too until someone told me to ease up and use stronger nouns and verbs to get my point across. I hope this helps!

  3. You have some strong writing and a good opening hook. I think you could get rid of the first sentence, which to me seemed a little overwritten and omniscient POV, and just start with "Twigs snapped beneath Brad Lucas' boots." You did a great job setting up suspense in the 2nd half of that paragraph. Lead with that instead.

    I think your logline could be clearer. The "also decide if Dean is worth saving" seemed vague and maybe unecessary. But overall, I liked this a lot - good job!

  4. The logline turned me off a bit. How horrible is Dean that Brad would even think of leaving him behind? They get along well enough that they are able to celebrate the sale of the business they built with a trip to the wilderness. In the face of grave danger, people drop their anger with each other and rally to work together. So this potential reaction seems extreme to me.
    As for the story, I suggest you begin with "Twigs snapped beneath..." Then continue with the "The narrow path led up..." The imagery is strong and appealing. Lots of sensory description brings the story alive. Keep simple ideas expressed in simple sentences. Try, "Dean swatted the gnats circling his head," or something similar. The dialogue is stilted in several places. Think about how people talk to each other and remember that your characters are really talking to your readers, not to each other. Make the conversation more natural but only write the words that we need to read. "I must tell you" - no one speaks like that anymore. A couple of men out in the wilds are likely to make some unsavory comments with some spicy words. Now, I want to know what the surprise is!