Author Topic: Hold nose and jump!  (Read 2050 times)

Offline peter.boxall

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Hold nose and jump!
« on: January 24, 2006, 11:37:05 AM »
Here goes then, the first five hundred or so words of my 82,000 word, comedy, mystery, thriller novel:

“Come on you poxy thing, I’ve got thoroughbreds to deal with” said the tall ‘Popeye’ Embers to himself, pulling down and attempting to fasten a full-length red blind. Having previouslychecked that his glass front door was locked. His bungling efforts prompted the dulled brass bell above him to ring out. The fact that the blind had been faulty for many months was ignored and this charade was a daily occurrence.

“Finally. Good, no prying eyes,” said Popeye pulling himself up to his full height, as the blind remained in place. “Right you gee-gees stand by your beds, it’s your turn.”

 Popeye grabbed his crumpled apron from the counter and made for a concealed back room. He flicked the switch that prompted a fluorescent light to splutter into life. Securing the ties of the grubby bloodstained apron behind his back as he moved to a large wooden chopping block.

“Ip, dip, dog… yep you’ll do the job today,” said Popeye pointing his finger along a line of cutting instruments, before removing a shiny chrome cleaver from its housing.***


 
***”Excellent,” said Miles Harrington to himself as the brass runners, screwed firmly to the floor, enabled an antique pine wardrobe to slide easily along to cover a small doorway. With the door out of sight, there was a small click as the sturdy piece of furniture locked into place.

“We’re back in business Embo old boy,” continued the stoutly built thirty-eight years old who had assisted the wardrobe’s journey. He greeted the click with a gentle pat on its side as if to congratulate it on the completion of its task. An expression of smugness filled his face as he crouched and flicked back a section of green carpet to cover the tracking. “This is spot on.”

Without prior knowledge, Harrington believed that it would be impossible to detect his secreted room. The eclectic configuration of his new home, Herbaceous Cottage, provided Harrington with the confidence that his first floor storeroom would remain a secret.

Since his move ten days previous, Harrington had spent the majority of his time making specific alterations in order to suit his own particular needs. Although he did not intend to ever invite anyone around socially, he wanted to be sure that his business dealings remained private. This first floor study provided him with that assurance. He was aware from his past that unwanted visitors had a nasty habit of turning up when least expected.

He choose Herbaceous Cottage in the idyllic west Country village Craig Dell after one visit. The estate agent’s spiel and accompanying photograph gave a clue to the beauty he would find. Harrington was delighted that he was not disappointed.

He purchased the cottage in the name of ‘C.P.R.O. Enterprises’ and chose not to meet with its octogenarian owners, the Edwards. The building dated back to 1780, originally the stable block for the Manor House. This impressive building remainedl inhabited a hundred yards or so to the rear of the cottage.
 
“Now let’s go and see who’s who in Craig Dell,” said Harrington in the direction of his computer screen as he logged off and tidied a few papers. He glanced at the large ‘antique’ wine-makers clock on the wall. At just before eight in the evening, the final piece of his personal short-term renovation of the cottage was now complete. "Right, I reckon it’s time for that first, well deserved pint at the Idle,”
« Last Edit: January 25, 2006, 02:31:46 PM by peter.boxall »

Offline Linda Aitchison

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Re: Hold nose and jump!
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2006, 03:26:17 PM »
Hello

Looks like me and you have joined around the same time. Scary isn't it?!

Many congrats on finding the courage to share your work - that's the first hurdle over.

If you are anything like me you will have been waiting with bated breath for some feedback.

Here's mine:

Overall you really got my attention and I wanted to know more about the two characters. Some lovely nuances showing their own 'thoroughbred' status! And I'd want to know what happened next. You can tell the prose has been lovingly crafted.

Now here's what I wasn't sure about..


Not sure about use of 'poxy' - would 'rotten' be better?

On the whole the intro seems over long to me - hard to follow - could be simplified.

I personally prefer the use of a more straightforward tense - easier on the eye - less 'having checked' 'was ignored' etc - make it as simple and active as possible.

Small point but you can cut down on words by avoiding saying 'in order to': Why not just 'to'?

Why call someone the 'tall man'? That's confusing to the reader, (well this one anyway) making me wonder wonder if this is someone new.

I also think there is an amount of unecessary repetition - esp re Craig Dell

You also swap between styles of addressing your characters - nickname for one and surname for the other.

I do hope that the moderators will be along to add their wise words, these are just the ramblings of one reader. I personally believe copy should be as accessible and easy to read as possible - so would be stumped by some very great works of fiction.

Good luck
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Offline mary

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Re: Hold nose and jump!
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2006, 08:27:25 PM »
Hi Peter,
Glad you liked the term Teddy-Daddy.   Hmmm... I liked your writing and here are my humble comments. I'm a reader in America and I can tell your story is very British, maybe a little too British for me to follow easily due to the terms you use for common stuff. For example I know what a pint is but "a beer" is our term and maybe a more common term such as ale or draft might do well to "cross the pond" for other readers and not loose heritage. I liked that your character was rummaging around in new digs and was in the process of personalizing his new living quarters. Made me want to know why he moved there in the first place and what was wrong with where he came from that he would move away. Didn't get the part about thouroghbreds though. I was raised on a large farm with anywhere from 30-80 horses but could'nt understand what the horse connection was in the story. Was your character planning on going to the horse races? If I picked up your book in a bookstore and randomly opened and read this passage I would definitly be interested enough to take this home for "fun reading" if it was a paperback.

Your bravery gives me more confidence, thanks for the boost. Hope I get to read more. :) mary

Offline peter.boxall

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Re: Hold nose and jump!
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2006, 05:24:10 AM »
Thank you to Old Hack and Mary.
Old Hack: I take on board your thoughts and will take another look. I think one of the problems may be that I've looked at it too much, losing some of the flow in the process.
Mary: Oh, how I wish it was in paperback in the local bookshop! I will probably publish more on a blog...details to follow.
Thanks again to you both.
Peter

Offline Symphony

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Re: Hold nose and jump!
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2006, 08:48:59 AM »
Hello there,

A brave move posting your work here, so well done! It's quite scary the first few times. Just remember that comments are only our subjective opinions and should be treated as you see fit. Don't feel pressured to change anything you don't entirely agree with - and feel free (in my case, at least) to bin the lot!! This is your baby and you have every right to protect it!

Lots of potential for this story. Like the style and it moves along quickly.

My comments are as follows:

Whilst the pace is fast, the lengthy sentences and complex structures make it difficult to follow and I had to read several passages twice. I would particularly watch your opening paragraph, which needs to be spot on to grab the reader.

Quote
“Come on you poxy thing, I’ve got thoroughbreds to deal with” said the tall, agitated, ‘Popeye’ Embers to himself, pulling down and attempting to fasten a full-length red blind having checked that his glass front door was locked. The fact that the blind had been faulty for many months was ignored and this charade was a daily occurrence.


I've heard one should try and avoid opening any story with dialogue - I'm sure that's very debatable but it does tend to work! 'Tall, agitated, Popeye Embers' is quite a mouthful. The name enough is quite a surprise. I would have cut out the adjectives and 'shown' them somewhere else. For example, the manner in which he's speaking has already shown us that he's agitated so there's no point telling us as well! I think there should be a full stop after 'full-length red blind'. This construction 'having checked' is quite clumsy at the best of times and doesn't help things along. You could even begin the story with that fact: 'Popeye Embers checked and checked again that the glass front door was locked.' Is this making any sense?

Quote
His bungling efforts prompted the dulled brass bell above the entrance to ring out like a school bell.
The repetition of 'bell' is a little awkward he - and it's not quite clear why it shouldn't have sounded like a school bell anyway. I wondered if it might help to say exactly what sound we should have been expecting. Either that or change the word - 'the dulled brass bell ........ like a school gong' - something like that.

Quote
He flicked the switch that spurred a fluorescent light to splutter into life then secured the ties of the grubby bloodstained apron behind his back.

Here's another long sentence which could easily be split into two, making it easier to follow the action. I'm unsure about that verb 'spur' - or perhaps it's the fact that you're giving life to an inanimate object (a bug of mine - sorry!).

Quote
a small click emanated as the sturdy piece of furniture locked into place.

not sure about the click 'emanating'. I get the feeling as I'm reading that you're trying hard to use 'different' verbs and add 'freshness' whereas sometimes it's more effective to keep it simple e.g. 'a small click signalled that the sturdy piece of furniture was firmly locked into place.'

Quote
He purchased the cottage, which dated back to 1780, originally the stable block for the Manor House, an impressive building that was still inhabited a hundred yards or so to the rear, in the name of ‘C.P.R.O. Enterprises’.

Don't know about anyone else, but I'd actually like a nice description of the cottage here. For example, 'He purchased the cottage in the name of ........... It dated back all the way to 1780 - and the X thought the bathroom looked as though it hadn't been cleaned since then! Originally the stable block for the Manor House, it was an impressive building ............ etc. etc.' Perfect opportunity for a nice description of the cottage we're about to walk into ...

Quote
A meeting with its previous owners, the Edwards, both octogenarians, deemed unnecessary.
Are the Edwards going to come into the story later? Do you need them? If not, this sentence seems superfluous. Why would we need to know about a meeting that never took place?

Quote
“Right, I reckon it’s time for that first, well deserved pint at the Idle,” said Harrington to himself as he tidied a few papers in his study and glanced at the large ‘antique’ wine-makers clock on the wall. At just before eight in the evening, the final piece of his personal short-term renovation of the cottage was now complete. “Now let’s go and see who’s who in Craig Dell.”

Two things here. Firstly, you now have two people talking to themselves and we're still on the first page. No problem with that, only that perhaps you could re-word it slightly so that you don't have a second 'said X to himself'. Maybe this one could be 'said X to no-one in particular' - or he could talk to the old picture of his late wife or something?? Or a bird that's just alighted on the windowsill? You know, something to increase the interest.
The other thing: the dialogue doesn't quite follow. Even talking to himself, the two sentences don't flow smoothly from one to the other. "Right, I reckon it's time for that first, well-deserved pint at the Idle. Now, let's go and see who's who in Craig Dell." If I was thinking like that, I'm sure the second thought would come first. Wouldn't he decide to go and find out who's who - and opt for a pint at the Idle as the perfect place to get started? Something like ... 'Right, I reckon it's time for that first ....... Idle. Good place to find out who's who ...'

Have I made any sense? (don't be afraid to reply 'No, none at all - I'm used to it!!!!!')  ;D

These are just things that jumped out at me on first reading - I hope you don't think I've been too harsh. I didn't mean to be harsh at all. I will always say what I think of a piece but I repeat - feel free to ignore the lot!!

Looking forward to reading more. I think you're going to find a nice 'home' here at MWC

Symphony
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Offline peter.boxall

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Re: Hold nose and jump!
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2006, 09:43:37 AM »
Synphony,
Thank you.
It all makes sense. Take on board most. Greater description of cottage? I'm not so sure, had it in at one stage then removed it. Our 80 years old couple do figure later. I try to ensure that everything and everyone has a point, however small.
Back to the drawing board.
Thanks again,
Peter

Offline peter.boxall

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Re: Hold nose and jump!
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2006, 02:35:55 PM »
Just to let every one know, I've revised my 500 words, taking into account the comments received to date. I hope it has improved it.
Once again thank you to all who have contributed, it is very much appreciated. I now need to go through the remaing 80,000 words to spot similar areas to ammend!
Peter

Offline SheWritesRight

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Re: Hold nose and jump!
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2006, 02:54:52 PM »
I love reviewing other people's work and I know how scary it is waiting for others to comment.

Well I read your story and the other comments which I all thought valid.

Your story idea is great but it doesn't flow very well.  Probably too many adjectives.  Also some of the sentences aren't actually sentences, for instance in the first paragraph you've put
Quote
Having previously checked that the glass front door was locked.
  See what I mean?

Anyway I think it's a brave first effort and I wish you all the luck in the world.  You're certainly on the right (write?) track.

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