Checkpoint page
Your replies on this page can be graded by your teacher

Let's put everything together in a checkpoint piece. Here's the original snippet:

Bathilda was tottering around the place lighting candles, but it was still very dark, not to mention extremely dirty. Thick dust crunched beneath their feet and Harry's nose detected, underneath the dank and mildewed smell, something worse, like meat gone bad. He wondered when was the last time anyone had been inside Bathilda's house to check whether she was coping. She seemed to have forgotten that she could do magic too, for she lit the candles clumsily by hand, her trailing lace cuff in constant danger of catching fire.

'Let me do that,' offered Harry, and he took the matches from her. She stood watching him as he finished lighting the candle stubs that stood on saucers around the room, perched precariously on stacks of books and on side tables crammed with cracked and mouldy cups.

Here are the examples we've been building:

Salzman was staggering around the apartment flicking light switches, but it was still very gloomy, not to mention extremely hot. Yellowed newspapers scrunched beneath his feet and Gabriela heard, somewhere within the damp and peeling walls, something alive, like writhing worms. She wondered how long it had been since Salzman had last cleaned inside his apartment to make it fit for guests. There must have been something wrong with the electricity, because the lights flickered momentarily overhead, the bright yellow filaments fluttering and dying like burning moths.

“How about my phone?” suggested Gabriela, as she took it from her back pocket. Salzman stared at her as she tapped her phone and then waved a bright white light to reveal a mat of rubbish spread over the floor, piled onto the sofa and table, and heaped in the doorway to the stinking and unlit bathroom.

Admiral Lavinia lurched across the deck calling her crew, but it was still deathly silent, and bitterly cold. Glowing sails flapped above their heads and Nelson’s eyes caught, in the sickly green moonlight, a glimpse of something black, like the wing of a giant bat. He wondered whether or not Admiral Lavinia had ever bargained with the specters to secure a safe passage. She seemed to be under the impression that the crew were asleep, for she continued to call loudly for their help, her desperate voice echoing off the empty decks.

“It would be wiser to go below decks, ma’am,” said Nelson, and he turned to the stairs. She turned sharply towards him as he cried out in fright seeing the doorway was now filled with an inky blackness, spreading like oil over the deck and running up the masts and the sails.

The man with the party hat was leaning against the rail wiping up his vomit, but his friends had wandered far away, and well past earshot. Freight trains rumbled in the nearby yard and I sensed, in the shadowy corner of the station, someone sitting, like a pile of rags on a bench. I imagined how I might get the drunken man to move along without waking the scarecrow-like figure in the shadows. He appeared to be disoriented, looking around in a daze for his friends, who had long since disappeared into the concrete tunnel at the end of the platform.

“Let me help you,” I whispered, and I took the man’s elbow. The man leant against me, putting one hand on my shoulder and coughing, while I looked over his shoulder and saw the rag-doll figure lurch to its feet and stand there, hunched, hovering and swaying back and forth. 

And below is your version, joined together. You will need to delete the excess paragraph breaks.

Is there anything you want to edit? This is your last chance to make improvements before we conclude the lesson:

  • Imagine your main character has followed someone into a place, and they’re now starting to realize how creepy both the place and the person are.
  • Use dark words to create a sense of decay.
  • Use smell and sound as well as sight.
  • Focus on details and then expand.
  • Have the main character speculate about the situation.
  • Have the main character offer help and take action.
  • Have that action reveal even more worrying details.
Delete excess paragraph breaks and polish your scene.