Friday, March 29, 2013

March Test Run #4

TITLE: The Untimely Death of Jennifer Norwood
GENRE: Young Adult Paranormal Thriller

Jennifer Norwood still dreamt of her father’s head rolling down the
windshield. It left a blotchy red trail of blood and thunked against
the hood of the car. Jennifer knew the eyes had been closed and the
mouth silent, but at night her father’s dead eyes stared as his head
rolled away and he gurgled her name from the forest floor. She woke up
sweaty and bound in bed sheets, arms flailing for the seatbelt
release. There was no blood in her bedroom, no voice in the dark.

Reality didn’t help. Jennifer didn’t sleep anymore, but her
psychiatrist was all smiles and hopeful eyes.

“No more nightmares,” Jennifer said. Her hands clenched her sweater
sleeves. Thin white scars stretched tightly over her knuckles.

It wasn’t a lie. It was a kindness. Dr. Moran was a slight woman with
dark, smooth skin and a penchant for floral sundresses. She kept fresh
cut tulips around her office and served homemade lemonade on days when
Jennifer didn’t want to talk. Jennifer couldn’t bear bringing blood
and severed heads into the airy room that made her feel safe. Moran’s
sunny yellow dress and wide, unassuming brown eyes were bright and
cheerful. The ceiling fan circled slowly over head, ruffling
Jennifer’s hair. She hid behind a fringe of black bangs.

“Are you sure?” Moran asked.

Jennifer swallowed and nodded. “Sometimes I wake up and I don’t know
where I am, but I don’t remember dreaming.”

“That’s good,” Moran said. Her eyes glanced to the side.


  1. Fantastic! It's clear that you are in control of your writing and of the story. Amazing job with this opening.

    Truthfully, there's very little for me to critique here. But in the spirit of the game, here are some suggestions based on my personal preferences:

    Consider eliminating the last sentence of the first paragraph ("There was no blood in the bedroom...")? This imagery is repeats what has been said earlier in the paragraph and hides your wonderful "flailing for the seatbelt release" information.

    I did a double-take on the "didn't sleep anymore" sentence because the opening paragraph describes Jennifer's dreams. She must be sleeping at least a little bit. It's just a very unpleasant sleep.

    When I read "...into the airy room that made her feel safe." I wondered how? Jennifer is not telling Dr. Moran the truth. She doesn't seem at ease in the office. Those clues are at odds with feeling safe.

    Wonderful job with this! It was great fun to read.

  2. Very intriguing. I actually wonder about starting things off with, 'Jennifer didn't sleep any more...' might be more powerful. Just throwing it out there as an idea. Personally, I would prefer the info about her father's rolling image to be released a little more gradually, but it's just a personal preference.

    Best of luck!

  3. The title had me wondering if she actually was dead and this was going to be like 6th Sense.

    I agree with umeboshi about the dream being worked in later. I also had issue with the line saying she didn't sleep anymore after just being given a very gory, vivid dream...which would imply she did actually sleep, just not well.

    Also agree with Jean about the feeling safe in Dr. Moran's room but not feeling safe enough to tell the truth...conflicting.

    It's interesting but I'm not sure I'm hooked enough to read on.

    Thanks for sharing and best wishes on your road to publication!

  4. I agree with the others commentary. I agree with the others about working that dream in later. Maybe it could come right where you left us. Or you could give us glimpses of what she saw...just ideas.

    Overall, well written. Good Luck