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I liked that this was confidently written. I think you knew that your concept was a little out there, but you played it straight, and I think this worked. The whimsical picture at the outset is an obvious clue to your attitude with this, and I have taken a similar approach in the past -- knowing that some would frown on it -- but not really caring too much either.
You packed a good bit of story into a few pages, with several characters developed well enough to carry this fairly complex tale. That is not easy to do.
I think the angle with the doctor discussing fame and fortune is a bit superfluous here, and the story works equally well without that -- and perhaps a bit better -- keeping things tight and intimate in the woods.
I am also not sure what the story is trying to say with the death of Josephine. The other deaths, particularly those of the generic parents (a nice touch if intentional), fit with the general theme. Ending like we did with Josephine, however, keeps this from being a fully satisfying tale.
If you could cook up something different for her in these final pages, I think this story (that is already good) could be improved to something special.
This was well written. Some "we see" running around here but it doesn't really bother me.
I dig the opening. I was definitely hooked after that, really made me want to read on.
Damn, things just get worse and worse for poor Benjamin. I liked the story here, thought you did a good job with the page limit.
But, it got a little confusing. The character motivations weren't clear. Why does Yarrow let him get stung by bees for six months? I guess she knows it'll "cure" him, but it just seems a little random and I don't really see any motivation.
And why do Benjamin's parents leave him in the woods in the first place, only to feel bad about it and pick him back up? Maybe I missed something.
Lastly, I'm still not entirely sure what happened to Benjamin. He's filled with bees or something? Why does he suddenly turn into a brain dead serial killer? And how do the bees even cure him, anyway?
Pg. 10: "fowl language" should be "foul".
Overall an intriguing entry, and I liked the story even if I didn't quite get it.
Excellent opening. Strong visuals, well-written and sets a visceral tone that had me looking forward to the rest. Unfortunately it went downhill from there.
The dialogue is stilted and felt forced. The motives are unclear; why the parent abandon the child the way they do, why Yarrow "saves" him the way she does (and why she's interested in the fame and fortune), why Benjamin kills Yarrow (seems harsh and out of character, did the bees change him?), why the parents try to "right a wrong" (have they even been looking for Benjamin? Has Josephine?). The pacing is off, jumping six months later robs all of the tension and Benjamin changes too much during that time for us to miss out on it so the before and after character is a jarring contrast. And there's no sense of where the story goes from here, or why this hasn't happened before if it's so simple to turn someone into a living beehive. There's also no sense of Benjamin trying to stop from killing Josephine, the one person he should have made an effort for. "Can't hold them back" doesn't suffice, we need to see some effort to get away from her or warn her to get away, anything to show he doesn't want to kill her but can't stop the bees. I started to care about Benjamin until he flipped into a comic book villain and felt robbed of my protagonist, and the only other sympathetic character (Josephine) ends up senselessly killed.
This seems to be written by a skilled writer who maybe didn't have enough time to do better. The concept is really cool, both for the curative properties of the bees and the transformation of Benjamin into bee boy. The writing, other than the dialogue, is solid and engaging. Some structure and a better ending would improve this greatly, and I think it's worth the effort to get right. Too many unanswered questions right now.
Good effort, not one of my favourites but it has the potential to be really good.
First off, I don’t think that title is doing you any favors.
Great creepy opening! Really tantalizing set up.
I understand the quote's relation to your theme, but it seems unnecessary (or at least misplaced).
Yeah, it’s not normal for 40 year-old African Americans from the Pacific Northwest to sound like this. I liked Josephine’s character in this, but not-so-much her characterizations.
So what the parents are doing here is pretty monstrous, and I like that you show them struggling with it, but I think we need more. Not a lot more, but something. Some sort of added pressure (like drug addiction maybe) that would explain how they got so mixed as to think this is ok.
I do think that abandonment scene is effective though.
Some explanation of ‘The Bee Method’, even folklorish background, would help me suspend disbelief in what Yarrow does.
What the doctor says about being famous I don’t buy. Lots of people go into remission inexplicably. And maybe I’m wrong, but I think doctors who treat cancer generally look down on homeopathic medicine (and is this even that)?
I’m not liking that fact that the two most effective Bee Boy kill scenes are the ones where he’s turning on the people who helped him. I understand he doesn’t have complete control of it, but he doesn’t seem to care very much either. I guess it’s hard for me to tell exactly what kind of character Benjamin’s turned into.
Overall I enjoyed this though. It is was an easy read for me with a lot of good visuals. I just think you should restrict the killings to the characters that deserve it, the parents
Oh, and minor criteria gripe… The boy doesn’t really discover anything. Everything is just sort of thrust upon him. I think Ben dragging himself by bloodied fingertips to Yarrows cabin would do the trick nicely, and give the hint that there’s more to him than just a sick, weak kid.
I like the bee story for what it is. Josephine's dialogue didn't bother me. In fact, I had a nanny, Alma, growing up and she spoke just like that. It didn't say in the script if the nanny was from the pacific northwest or from Savannah Georgia so it wasn't a problem for me.
Great opener. Lots of atmosphere on display. Despite a couple of weaker scenes among the mix I’d say this is one of my favourites so far.
The scene with the parents leaving Ben in the forest was grim (in a good way). Though perhaps we could stand to see a little more of what was driving them to such a desperate act, it worked well to pull me into the story.
The scene with the doctor felt too forced for my liking. Wouldn’t a doctor know/require a patient’s name and details before treatment? Yet here he already has results that say Benjamin’s in remission... His dialogue regarding the ‘fame’ was a strange angle for a doctor to take.
Some pretty memorable characters -- writing this from memory a day after reading I can pretty much remember them all. That’s more about the writing than my memory so kudos on that.
Think we could have done with a better understanding of Yarrow. It was never revealed as to why she was ‘helping’ Ben and I think this lets the story down somewhat.
I’m not against killing off poor old Josephine -- unfair for sure, but I think it fit quite well with the tone and gave us an understanding than Ben couldn’t really control the bees. Though perhaps a hint at where he goes from there would have made for a better ending.
p.8 ‘I call him bee boy’. As much as I liked this line it felt awkward given what had been a pretty dark tale up until now -- legally I’m guessing a doctor would need more than that.
Not sure how the parents knew where to find him.
Wouldn’t the doctor have noticed the kid’s full of bees at some point?
Anyway, I enjoyed this. A nice take on the challenge, even if it didn't quite fit the criteria -- not that mine did...
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Have to agree with the other reviewers and say that I really liked the opening scene. Great visuals. Nicely written throughout. Pulled at the ol' heart strings when Mama and Daddy left Benjamin in woods to die. I also have to agree and say that I didn't care for Josephine dying. She was the only one that cared for the boy and to see her go out at the end left a bad taste in my mouth.
Overall, it was a solid effort. Congrats on finishing the OWC.
This has some great visuals and a strong origin story for a fun mythology. I love the drama of his parents abandoning him.
I guess I’d have like to have seen the kid do something a bit more interesting with his power, instead of it being a series of deserved or undeserved poor outcomes for other people. Specifically, it felt a bit odd for Yarrow to end up as she did since she created him, so why’d she do it?
Also, the scene with the Doctor felt a bit odd since without knowing the kid’s name he’d have no access to his prior history, so there’s no reason why the Doctor would so readily declare a miracle.
This story has some interesting elements, as well as some confounding issues. I like the opening scene and think it could tie in with your last scene. The dialogue at times was wacky. What (words) comes out of Benjamin's mouth at times buzzes with comedic overtones — such as his ramblings in the woods, and his first meeting with Yarrow. The setting seemed more like the smoky mountains of Tennessee.
What if you leave the boy's illness a mystery? Indicate that he has very little time to live. I thought the way his parents abandon him in the woods was hilarious. Sorry, but it struck me funny that he isn't even drugged. They just wheel him in the forest and bid him farewell. Initially I thought there was an arrangement between the parents and Yarrow. But obviously this wasn't the case. I just don't understand the motivations of some characters. What was Yarrow after? Why would the parents want to reunite with Benjamin after dumping him? Because now he's "all better"?
Yeah, the doctor scene didn't make sense. Why would Yarrow bother to take Benjamin to see a conventional doctor? And shouldn't Yarrow be the focus of the miracle cure and any fame to follow?
What if Benjamin is actually a girl? The new queen of this deadly swarm.
In the opening scene, there is an unseen person in the rocker. Observing the death of another unidentifiable person, who is buried under a swarm of bees. I initially thought the observer was Yarrow. Maybe it's Benjamin. Instead of closing with Josephine's death, it could be Yarrow. This would be an indication that Benjamin's use of the power would be for evil. Just a thought.
Don't kill off Josephine. But on the other hand, why didn't she bother to keep in contact with Benjamin? Wasn't she told that he was shipped off to relatives?
I like your concept here. Tweak it so it makes more sense. It was a fun read, and the dialogue did get a few laughs out of me. Not sure if that was your intention. Good job for one week.
The opening scene here was awesome. So visual and horrifying.
The story though, I had an easier time believe someone could turn into a bee boy than I did with the parents dumping their kid in the woods to die. It made me hate the parents so I was glad when they died but still...wasn't buying it. I think an over the top, drastic action like that needs more set up.
This was a cool idea though. Just think it needs more character development.
This was written very well, your opening scene in particular. The only real gripe I have with this story is in Benjamin's downward spiral.
Early on in the story, after your opening scene, we got a glimpse of who Benjamin was-a somewhat somber, sad character with a glimmer of light in Josephine. At the end, he's this homicidal, supernatural force full of hate. I would have liked to see that transformation illustrated a bit more.
You touched up on it through your montage but for me it wasn't enough. Having the opportunity to reunite with Josephine again could be seen as the spark which set him off but without that build up, it didn't pack as much of a punch.
It may be my personal preference but that "brewing storm" leading up to the climax can be much more rewarding than the actual climax itself. At the bottom of the spiral, we know he's gonna take out those six months of built up aggression but it didn't seem loaded so to speak from what I read. Yarrow I would place on the antagonist side and I think you could have used her to push Benjamin down to his darker side as I think she didn't live up to her potential as a catalyst for Benjamin's breakdown.
All in all though a good story. It kept me reading to the end so good job.
Without reading prior comments, my review follows:
First off, opening image: Vividly disturbing.
Lots of "We" in the opening. May want to avoid that for future reference.
On page 5 I grew rather shocked at what happened. Kinda unexpected. Rather intense.
Page 7, now she's a real biznatch too! What the hell is going on?
Page 8, nice twist.
On page 11 there's a "frig", should be "fridge".
Well, this was a very disturbing, vividly realistic tale of revenge. I felt bad for Benjamin, I really did, however, after the "Bees" he really wasn't Benjamin anymore. He was more... demonic, if that makes sense, as if he was something rather than someone.
Whatever that thing was inside of him certainly brought out raw anger. I liked how it came full circle with Yarrow and the Rocking Chair. All in all, well written.
This was a cute read, in the vein of Tales From The Darkside.
I think the dialog needs punching up. It seemed very forced and phony, particularly on page three when Benjamin explains the story to us while talking to Josephine. You just threw all the info we needed to know in a few lines of dialog.
I thought the following:
SUPER: THE TREATMENT CONTINUES OVER SIX MONTHS
was extremely lazy writing. You can show time passing in more visual ways than this. You're in the forest! Use it! Show trees blooming and the leaves turning brown later on. Show the same deer drinking from a stream and have it grow in a series of shot.
I think you need to explain Yarrow a little more. Is she some crazy mountain woman? Is she a witch?
Expanding on this script would do wonders for it. I know you had page limits for it but, now that the challenge is over, you can rewrite it.