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Excerpt From Redone, A Novel
by Shaun Stevenson
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique


The following is an excerpt from Chapter One of my novel, Redone.


Blood dripped down her arm in a steady trickle. She tried to cry out, but no sound came from her mouth. She tried to wriggle away, but her arms and legs felt frozen.

Darkness covered her eyes. Another prick. More blood. Her mouth fell open in a silent scream.

Maggie Simmons bolted upright in bed, gasping for breath. She reached out to grab the water glass by the bed. She bumped it, and the glass clattered to the carpet.

Fumbling for the lamp switch, Maggie flicked on the light. A puddle of water was on her carpet. Great.

Maggie pushed the covers back and got out of bed. Water was the only way for her to get back to sleep. She had learned that rather quickly ever since the nightmares had started. Every night was the same thing: blood. Not being able to move. Then darkness.

The kitchen floor felt cold and clammy on Maggie’s bare feet. She stuck her glass under the faucet and filled it up. After taking a big gulp, she turned toward the hallway.

She stopped.

There was a slight rap on the kitchen window. Slowly, Maggie turned to face it. She listened. Nothing.

Sheesh. Now I’m hearing things.

Another rap.

Maggie cautiously reached out toward the curtain hanging over the window. She pulled it back.


“Okay…time to get back to sleep.” Maggie walked quickly to her room, set the glass on the nightstand, and turned off the light.

Maggie laid in bed. Sleep wouldn’t come. Something was gnawing at her. She didn’t know if it was the noises she had heard in the kitchen, or something that had happened that day. Maggie and her mom had gotten in another one of their fights.

It had sure been a doozy. It was about the youth group at their local church. The youth group was on Wednesday nights, and that was tomorrow. Mom wanted her to go with her sister. Sam went every week. But then again, Sam and her mom were the more “spiritual” people in the family. Maggie wanted nothing to do with church and all that God stuff.

I wonder what Dad thought about all this kinda junk.

A scratching noise broke her thoughts. Maggie couldn’t move. The noise grew louder. It sounded as though it was right outside her own window now.

A hissing sound.

What in the world? She couldn’t stand it any longer. Throwing back the covers, Maggie hurried over to the window and pulled up the blinds.

It wasn’t fear that made her gasp. It was more shock and surprise. A dark figure was just running away from their house.

Maggie’s eyes focused on her window. The person, whoever it was, had left her a little “gift”. Spray-painted on her window was the word, ONE.

She studied the word. It sent a chill down her back. Something about it felt…strange. Almost familiar.

Maggie wanted a picture of this. She was always taking pictures. She loved photography. One of her hobbies. She had whole photo albums full of random shots, friends, places.

She turned on the light and pulled out her digital camera. Her mom had given it to her for her last birthday. She loved it, took it everywhere.

Maggie snapped a quick picture or two, and then stood by the window, watching.

A thought came to her. “Gregg!” He would be really interested in this. Maggie sat at her desk, and pushed the button on the computer. It fired up with the usual buzzes and beeps, and finally, she reached her desktop. She plugged her digital camera into the computer and uploaded her newest pictures.

Within seconds, the pictures were on her hard drive. Pulling up her e-mail, she sent the pictures off to Gregg. Gregg wasn’t really a friend, more just a guy who had kind of liked her, for some strange reason, back in the fourth grade. He had moved away from Johnson Grove, California a couple years back, and now, he was her official computer junkie and expert. He was also still crazy about her.

Maggie rolled her eyes. Good old Gregg. He was always interested in stuff like this.

There was a tugging at the back of her mind. Something about that word. Something about it just kept bothering her. Come on, Maggie. It’s just a word. Nothing special.

But somehow, it felt as though a long time ago…she had heard that word…

Maggie yawned. Sleep. She powered down the computer and then climbed back into bed.
Copyright 2003 By Shaun Stevenson

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Member Comments
Member Date
Melody Tregear 01 Sep 2003
Well, you know how to capture your reader's attention from the outset - good. I do agree with L.M. though, a prep in that sentence would sound much better. From my side, a couple of suggestions: I feel that you are using Maggie's name too often. The sentence starting 'Fumbling for the light switch' could be part of the previous paragraph and 'she' after switch would sound better. '...clammy on her bare feet.' 'Slowly she turned around.' would also be acceptable here. You have a few short sentences or one word sentences here - so your emphasis is intact. 'Cautiously she reached out...and pulled it back'. Perhaps also, 'She laid in bed'. Well, that's about it. All in all, I think this story has potential of being quite intriguing. Keep up the good work!
Debby Perry 01 Sep 2003
Actually, it should be "Maggie lay in bed." "Lay" is the past tense of "lie," which is the meaning here. Also, you need a comma after California. Otherwise, I agree with the other suggestions, and with the fact that it is indeed intriguing, and makes the reader want more!
L.M. Stephenson Jr. 25 Aug 2003
It was about youth group at their local church.Youth group was on Wednesday nights, [I take it you meant “the youth group” and “The youth group was.” I know there are people experimenting with leaving out the ariticle, but to me it still looks wrong. The article always adds information that clarifies. Removing it reduces the clarification. Other than that, this is publication level work in my opinion. If the rest of your novel is of the same quality, I could easily see myself reading it.]
Brenda Johnson 21 Aug 2003
I saw your request for a review on the bulletin board - This grabbed my interest and kept it - I was a little upset there wasn't more - I found it very interesting.
Mary Elder-Criss 21 Aug 2003
I, too, would enjoy reading more..you did a good job with capturing my attention, and keeping it. ~Mary


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