Twisted Sister Basement

Twisted Sister Basement — Your Help Wanted with Lori’s piece

Image - leftofurban
Image – leftofurban

We got a live one here — Lori’s piece that she’s looking for help and feedback with. (Ed Note — Paragraphs are added here for clarity’s sake, not necessarily formatted as the author intended, so feel free to change things up a bit.)

Quick overview of the rules of engagement – be polite, be respectful, but be honest. If you’re confused, say so, and if it’s not for you, that’s fine too. There is no one-size fits all in the literary world. Give some real feedback, and (hopefully) helpful suggestions.



Looking for ammonites on the beach below the castle, he walks through the labyrinth, holding the red string. He climbs up through the coral curls and the walls sprout sparks around him as he walks. His fingers pry small shells and stones from the wet sand beaten down hard by wave after wave.

Sometimes he looks up at the massive storm-cloud outline of Bamburgh Castle against the sky; sometimes he looks out to the horizon. He thinks, What lies across the channel? The author never lets the string fall from his hand, as he walks the tunnels turning this way and that, climbing up through the cave. Digging into the sand once more, he pries up an encrusted shape the colour of sand, and turns it over in his hand. His thumb traces the ridged curve of a tiny ram’s horn.

A creature once lived in the chambers of this small spiral castle under the ancient ocean. He holds the object loosely in his hand and looks out from Northumbria, across the waves, perhaps toward France. He continues to walk through the labyrinth, leaving a trail of red string, a string of connectivity from chamber to chamber as he moves ever in to the centre. At the heart of the maze is a circular red room.

Sparks fly out from its walls. In the middle of the room, a plinth heaped with dark velvet holds up a velvet-lined tray as if proffering jewels. But instead of a necklace or tiara, he sees displayed a magnificent pair of French flintlock pistols. They are intricately embellished with flowers of silver wire, they are heavily gilt. Is she heavy with guilt, he wonders, or as light as a gull on the wing? He takes one pistol from the tray and holds it with the red string in his hand.

He turns around and she is standing there. The monster, the mystery deep inside his cave, is only this small smiling woman. She is mouthing words to explain, to connect. The author lifts the lovely pistol, and as easily as in a dream, points it at her heart and shoots. A thin red cord springs across the space between them, and connects.

He sets the pistol back in its place. The red cord runs from the centre of the crumpled woman to the tapered muzzle of the French flintlock pistol. Twisting out near the lock-plate, the string meanders off into the depths of the cave. He follows it back down the winding path.

The author has been standing on the beach a long time, looking out at the horizon. Now he swings back his arm, and hurls the ammonite as far as he can. It makes a small splash among the waves and sinks.


All right folks, let the comments fly, and let’s fix’er up.

Are you brave enough to face the basement? Send us your best, send us your worst, and we’ll figure it all out. Submit through good ol’email (Subject — FOR THE BASEMENT) or over here.

And don’t worry, we won’t bite – unless you want us too.


Twisted Sister

Be sure to mind the stairs on your way up.
Be sure to mind the stairs on your way up.



  1. Hello sweetie
    I love the imagery — but I think the point of view is somewhat detached. The action feels like a first person narrative (very close, and nearly stifling & ambiguous) but the voice is very removed — we don’t have much sense of the main character/ ‘author’. Perhaps a name or strong identifier would help.
    Carly Zee

  2. Hi Lori
    I loved the concepts and imagery — BUT —

    As this is written in present tense, the action is immediate, but phrases such as ‘this and that’ start to slow things down and confuse the reader; there really isn’t any internal dialogue and the action is described as distant, so there’s not much reason to keep such a tight point of view.

    It does become claustrophobic, which might be the point, but I still think action needs to be emphasized.

    I’d suggest rewriting as a different version in a simple, past tense (he walked down the beach, he picked up, he wondered about etc…)

    Some parts as heavy with description, and could be better addressed as action (i.e. instead of ‘At the heart of the maze is a circular red room.’ try ‘ he walked in ever tightening circles into it’s depths, and entered it’s heart — a circular red room.) This might not be the best example, but it’s easier to show description by your character interacting with objects and moving through space.

    Hope this helps,

  3. I feel confounded by this piece, the setting is artfully detailed with beautiful imagery yet I am still confused by it. I am left with more questions than answers.

    Unfortunately the lack of emotion or reason for ‘the authors’ actions causes me to loose interest in the story. I am an emotionally driven reader and need to feel connected in that fundamental way.

    However I fell that once the narrative is streamlined, perhaps written in first person, in present tense, this could be quite an engaging story.

    Hope this helps.

    Good Luck with the piece Lori!


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