Hey there RZ94. This will be a line by line comparison of how your chapter 1 should be written. Obv. you don't have to take all suggestions, but take all the grammatical ones.
|Romney Edwards returned home after a week long engineering conference in Alaska.||Solid opening line. Tells us what he does, where he was, what socioeconomic class he's in, name.|
|The trip was uneventful. It was the middle of the day, Romney expected to see his life partner and children.||"Life partner" is clunky. If you haven't finalised their relationship, call Tim the SO. If they're married, call Tim the husband. Life partner doesn't flow well.|
|Something was off. At first Romney was not overly concerned. He heard the television playing shows from Cartoon Network. Romney's children would watch Cartoon Network often.||Your sentence structures are repetitive. Use punctuation other than a full stop. This is a sign of immature writing but it's okay, you can grow. I would word it something like "At first... concerned: he heard... Network." The colon links those two sentences with a much better flow than a full stop does.|
|He saw an open romance novel on the coffee table, Timothy kept his romance novels on that table.||Comma splice. Comma splices happen when you have two independent clauses that you join together with a comma. Replace with another full stop or (preferably) a semi-colon.|
|Things seemed way off without question.||Delete this. It's boring and juvenile.|
|Romney called out for Timothy or the children. No answer just silence.||Replace 'or' with 'and'. The way it reads right now I don't know who he's calling for. Was it Tim? Or the kids? Your wording is ambiguous. "No answer just silence" is horrendous. It's not even a sentence. It's a fragment. There is no verb. This should read "There was no answer, only silence." 'Just' is a filler word such as 'like' that you should stay away from. In this instance it doesn't matter as much, but in general, stay away from filler words like the plague. If you want a more detailed explanation of this, let me know.|
|They were nowhere to be found. Timothy’s car was still in the driveway and their children's coats were still on the rack. Even their shoes were still in place.||Good. I'd delete the bit about the shoes though. It just feels like a bit much for a novel.|
|Romney knew they were not on a walk, it was the dead of winter and snow covered the ground.||Comma splice. Replace with a semi-colon.|
|Looking around the house Romney found no signs of forced entry.||Rom can't find his kids so his immediate reaction is to look for signs of forced entry? Unrealistic. Besides, Tim was presumably in the house with them and would have protected them. Unless the kidnappers wanted all of them, which I guess is a possibility.|
|In the dining room there was three day old Macaroni and cheese on the table. It was lunch.||Macaroni should not be capitalised. How does he know it's three days old? Take that out. "It was lunch" is so ambiguous that I almost laughed. Was the mac n' cheese Tim et al.s' lunch? Or is it lunchtime in this scene? If it was their lunch, how does Rom know? If it's lunchtime, why does it matter?|
|Something was horribly wrong here.||No shit. Remove.|
|Romney continued to call out their names. Still no response.||Combine this into one sentence. "Still no response" is a fragment but it's important, so combine the two to say something like "Rom continued to call out their names, but no matter how loud or how often he cried out, he still received no response." Subject? Check. Verb? Check.|
|The bedrooms were completely empty.||Presumably. Remove.|
|Romney pulled out his smartphone to call the police.||Does the smartphone matter? Probably not. It's 2018. Everyone has a smartphone. Just say phone. Or mobile. Besides, saying 'smartphone' gives your novel a decidedly narrow time window. By specifying that it's a smartphone, you're telling me that this novel takes place from 2007 onward. You can't try to place it at any early time period than that because 2007 was the year of the LG Prada and the iPhone 1, unless Rom's phone is a Blackberry, but that's not really a smartphone in the commonly held sense.|
|It was simply to mention that he could not find his family.||Way too cool headed for someone who just lost his husband and kids.|
|After the call Romney had to wait 20 minutes for an officer to arrive.||Remove. Don't tell me how long it took and then write exposition on Romney waiting. Telling me how long it took implies that the time has already taken place. For you to tell me the 20 minutes for the officer to arrive are complete then jump backwards 20 minutes to tell me what happened in those 20 minutes is bad writing.|
|In the meantime Romney took some aspirin for a headache he suddenly developed. He figured it was just a tension headache.||Remove "in the meantime". You changed verb tense to past tense when everything else is present. "Rom decided to take" is how I would word this. Otherwise good, but Rom seems markedly un-stressed given the gravitas of the situation.|
|Waiting for the police to show up seemed to take an eternity.||Good.|
|A wave of pain rippled through Romney's head. Every single nerve hurt like crazy. The pain continued.||First sentence is good. Second and third sentences are bad. 'Like crazy' is too colloquial even for a novel. Replace it something interesting. "Every single frayed, pulsing nerve hurt and battered his head" maybe? Remove the third sentence. It's obvious that if the pain happens in the sentence directly before this one, it will have continued over. It's important to note if you go on into another paragraph or a markedly later time and he still has the headache, but if it's .1 second after the headache starts, then yeah, he still has the headache.|
|When the police showed up, Romney let the officers in.||Subtle change in verb tense here. You probably didn't catch it. You switched from the present tense ("Romney pulled out his phone", "pain rippled through Rom's head") to pluperfect tense. It could be that the sentence is simple-past but I'm reading it as a pluperfect. Anyway, I'd word it something like "Rom let the officers inside after they arrived."|
|After introductions the tall Hispanic cop, Officer Elroy Hernandez stated,||Okay okay a lot going on here. We'll go through this one step at a time.|
|After introductions||Give us descriptions of the cops independent of this sentence. You're writing as a third-person narrator, so give us descriptions. "The cops arrived. One was tall, the other was shorter. The tall one was young. The short one was old." That's obvious super choppy and you shouldn't use it. But please, give us descriptions. Otherwise we know nothing about the cops and we can't keep them straight in our heads. We'll just get them mixed up.|
|the tall Hispanic cop, Officer Elroy Hernandez||This is really a stylistic preference choice but I'd put a comma after tall. Does it matter that he's Hispanic? If it doesn't, cut extraneous details. If it does, you'd better explain why, because at this point (presuming you've written descriptions of them into the story before this (see the note above this one)) you needn't add more details. These characters are brand new. Comma needed after "Hernandez". Also I've never met a Hispanic person named Elroy. Consider changing the name.|
|stated,||No. Bad choice of words to get dialogue rolling. "Stated" is flat and cold. Use "said" in this case if you really have to use a verb here. Personally, I'd introduce the dialogue with no marker at all. Let person A talk to Rom, and let Rom identify who's speaking. Make A and B have different speaking styles. It's so much more interesting than reading a variation of "said" 10000000000 times in a book.|
|“You say your husband and four children went missing, yet there is no evidence that they ever left. The car is in the same place. However, we didn't see the coats on the coat rack. The shoes are gone and there were five sets of footprints in the yard that led to the sidewalk. Mister Edwards, there is nothing out of the ordinary”.||It seems here like the officers have just arrived and are now drawing a conclusion. Give them some time to look around. Tell us where they look, what they notice, why they draw this conclusion. An officer can't roll up and 20 seconds later declare that nothing is out of the ordinary. Other than that, the dialogue is clunky. Just work on revising it.|
|The average sized French looking officer, Kyle Le Pine added,||Remove this characterisation. It should have already happened. Comma needed after "Pine". Also, "Le Pine" doesn't even sound remotely French. "Pine" isn't even a French word, unless you went to Google translate, saw "Piner" and thought it would be funny to conjugate it like a verb (which you didn't do right because you added "Le") and use it as a name. But that's not funny. That's something a 12 year old would find funny.|
|“Sir, it seems that you have not slept in days. Have a nice day and get some rest”.||How does Kyle know? "It seems" implies Kyle has knowledge of the situation. Replace with "Sir, you look like you haven't slept in days." The second sentence feels clunky. Replace with something like "Get some sleep, okay?" Quick side note: this is a novel, so use contractions, especially in dialogue. Real people don't talk in an academic way. "Have not" is unrealistic.|
The police left. Romney now had no clue as to his next course of action. Walking through the house he noticed that the coats and shoes were indeed gone. But the footprints in the snow led to the garage and not the sidewalk. This whole thing made no sense. Romney went to his neighbors house to ask if they saw anything. He knocked on the door of Franklin Marshall’s house.
Franklin opened the door and Romney asked,
“Franklin, have you seen my family”?
Confused, Franklin asked Romney,
“What are you talking about? I was over at your house two hours ago. I was fixing your broken water pipe. Then me and Timothy talked about last night's basketball game at Lansing Christian College. Our boys at the Community College beat them”.
Romney said with sheer panic in his voice,
“I cannot find them anywhere. They are gone and the cops told me something completely different”.
With a very heavy sigh Franklin said,
“Your husband and kids are playing outside in the yard right now. I don't know what the Hell you are talking about”.
With that Franklin shut the door. Romney saw the rotting lunch on the dining room table. Going back to the house Romney saw the three day old lunch. That was there for sure. He left everything in place in hopes of figuring this mystery out. Romney was now desperate. Everything contradicted each other.
Around 6:30 p.m. Romney heard some sort of murmur from the kitchen. At least it seemed like the kitchen. In the kitchen Romney heard the murmur again but it the noise now came from the laundry room. He went into the laundry room but the murmur now came from the den. This time Romney was not going to search for the murmur. The headache was not helping.
Back in the living room Romney collapsed onto the sofa. The intense agony robbed him of his energy. Waking up, Romney noticed that the murmur began to sound like a voice of sorts. It didn't sound human. He was not even sure if it was a voice.
Outside the sun rose. Romney had been up for a few hours but unsurprisingly there was still no sign of anybody. The neighbors just left for work. So he could not contact them. Romney was finally out of ideas. Then the murmur came back, moments later it became an articulated voice. This strange voice stated in an insulating manor,
“Your husband, your three girls and boy joined my family. How about you join us? We had some raw dog flesh for breakfast. Yummy”.
Now this was completely absurd. This all had to be one long, night terror. It was the most logical explanation. Yes, it made much more sense. Romney would just have to wake up. As for when he got off the couch, it was a dream within a dream. Not one piece of these events were real.
The voice came back, it was laughing. Romney told the voice,
“I am real. I only am manipulating your reality as part of my plan. That is all I will say about it”.
Romney laughed himself. That voice was not real. He was in a deep sleep. He grabbed a beer and switched the television to the news. The screen flickers until static was on. Nice.
The voice then said,
“Idiot, ignoring me will not make me leave. How about listening to your family”.
A symphony of voices filled Romney's head. It was the voices of Romney's family. The sense of relief was gone. Now panic was back. All the original feelings were back along with panic. Unnatural laughter was everywhere. Romney now was considering whether the voice was or was not paranormal in nature. Again the voice returned,
“Know what you are thinking Romney, and you are on the right track. I am paranormal. Keep guessing. Lets see if you can determine what I am”.
He went to his bedroom, Romney grabbed his crucifix and holy water. Was Romney going completely insane? Anybody's guess. Rushing downstairs Romney crossed himself. Then he shouted,
“Evil spirit! I may not be a priest like dad wanted but fuck it! The power of Christ compels you”!
Romney splashed holy water all over while waving his crucifix. The voice went silent for a moment. He was confident that the holy water was working. Romney shouted about Jesus again. The voice was annoyed,
“Um really? Are you really serious? Priests time and time again tried exorcisms. They don't work. It has been 400 years since last being annoyed by a human. Let alone someone who was not a priest. Okay, you can have your family back”.
Finally the nightmare was over. Everything in the house was back to normal. Timothy and the kids stepped out of the kitchen. Without warning Romney was tackled to the floor. The children were the first to sink their teeth into Romney's flesh. Timothy latched onto Romney's throat.
The last thing Romney thought was,
“Just a nightmare. Tomorrow little Gregory has a dentist appointment”.
The now cannibalistic family consumed a large amount of Romney's flesh. Moments later Romney stood up to join his family. They went out into the daylight seeking people to consume.