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Any feedback welcome! 1st draft Thriller-Fiction

by richrowe 

Posted: 27 January 2009
Word Count: 779
Summary: The opening chapter from my new project... It's a work in progress but as stated above, any feedback would be welcome. I think it's important to get input from different people. My target audience is teen-adolescent fiction. Hope you enjoy and thank you for reading!

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Sixty beats-per-minute: the rhythm of tick-tocking lullabies, the stuff that dreams are made of. My head; it’s little more than a metronome. If I listen closely I can hear my heartbeat buzzing through the rust in the springs of my mattress. I can feel the steady pulsing beat through my fingertips. Monotony, I have missed you. I am not dead. Not yet.

If only I had opened my eyes, then and there, I would have understood. Everything would have fallen into place in its own pull-out-your-tongue-and-try-to-scream kind of way. I could have died content. Instead I drifted effortlessly back into my labyrinth where the Minotaur and I take it in turns to chase each other into dead ends.


That day, like any other day I woke with a start, gasping for air, sucking up the heavy hotchpotch of ochre and the stale remnants of half-eaten freezer meals. The post-mirage fuzz curdled into reality. I was awake. That day, unlike any other day there was a reason for waking like this: someone was banging at the door.

For the past two months I have lived with my life in a rucksack. Buried deep at the bottom, encrypted inside a manila envelope lays everything I have tried so hard to figure out. I am no closer now than I was at the start, no closer to discovering the meaning behind everything: the disappearances, the sotto voce whisperers in the dead of night, the men who would rather see me dead than find out what this all really means.

I always sleep fully clothed, ready to leave at a moments notice. I had lingered there too long. Slinging my belongings over my shoulder I made my way to the door and pressed my eye up against the peephole. There was a man outside dressed in a plain-white delivery uniform holding a package, oblivious to the bulging pupil hovering inches from his face. He was shorter and scrawnier than I was, not the kind of guy someone would send to finish a job, more likely the kind of guy who would be sent to start one.

I have a natural gift. I can read people like playing cards. The ones to look out for are the aces, the kings and the queens. I’m the joker in the pack, I bring disorder to the order. That is my purpose. The deliveryman outside the front door? He was barely even a deuce, a low suited one at that, he’d do what he was told by the jacks and the tens, he was not a threat.

I unlatched the door, keeping the chain on the hook. Better to be safe.
‘Mr. Yousef?’
‘No, sorry’ His eyes twitched sporadically, he was nervous, I went to close the door.
‘Could you sign for him?’ He sounded desperate. ‘I’m kind of in a hurry…’
‘Sure.’ I released the chain and scratched a made-up signature next to the X on the electronic strip.
‘Have a good day sir.’ We exchanged the type of smiles reserved for polite one-off meetings as he passed me an in descript package wrapped in brown paper. It was no larger than my fist. I had to leave immediately. Deuces can be made light work of, and there was something in he way he looked over his shoulder as he left, something which told me he’d spill every last detail about me before they’d even begun stretching their surgical gloves.

Rush-hour at Waterloo station; the breading ground of claustrophobia, filled with dead-to-the-world commuters, chewing gum, pigeon shit, “French” pastries. Waterloo station is a vacuum of people, commodities, dead air; the perfect hiding place for the lost.

I have the innate ability to blend into my surroundings: Side parting, five-o-clock shadow, horn-rimmed glasses, suit, Barbour jacket, umbrella in one hand and a newspaper in the other. I had become the people’s schmuck; an identity lost in the sea of indemnity.

As the escalator reached ground level and the sounds of passing sirens lit up like spectres in the rush of the early-evening, it struck me that for the first time in two months I was truly helpless. I was almost out of money, and I dared not return home. My friends, acquaintances, and relatives had all either died or been taken already, and the answers I needed were all in a code that I could not configure on my own. My only lead was stuffed inside a manila envelope: a black-and-white Polaroid of an unknown man wearing a white lab-coat. I didn’t have a name, or even an address for that matter. As far as I knew he could be halfway around the world.

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Comments by other Members

NMott at 19:39 on 27 January 2009  Report this post
Great start. Love the character and love the 'voice'
Especially lined the second paragraph with the minotaur, and the analogy to playing cards. Good set up with the living out of a rucksack
One thing to be careful of, is that character doesn't get too full of himself as you try to describe him from his point of view.

Some punctuation could be tidied up - you have a habit of stringing subclauses together into a long line, punctuated with commas and semicolons. Using it occassionally is fine, but try not to make a habit of it. And beware of the very short sentences. Both things together makes for a very pacy read that can leave the reader out of breath and wondering what they've just read.

I'm not sure if your target audience of teenagers would follow all of it - the teen. age-banding is called 'Young Adult' so that would be 13+. I would see this appealing more to the older teens and twenty somethings - so Adult fiction, maybe Lad-lit, ie, Ben Elton, Nick Hornby, Mark Haddon.

- NaomiM

richrowe at 20:23 on 27 January 2009  Report this post
Thank you so much for your response, I've always had this problem with over doing it with the subclauses and it's something I'll definitely revise with my second draft. I think it was more a case of trying to get the words out for a first draft so I had something to revise- I have a habit of getting bogged down early on with my writing so I find it's sometimes best just to sit down and write.

I was aiming at the 18-20's market really, thanks for the advice on age-banding, again really useful.

As for the character being full of himself I think I know what you're getting at, I'll have a go at changing some of the sentences around, reading it back I definitely know what you mean!

Thank you!

NMott at 20:30 on 27 January 2009  Report this post
trying to get the words out for a first draft so I had something to revise

Oh, absolutely. As the novelist Louise Doughty always says 'If you've written nothing, there's nothing to edit into shape'. Mine go through several edits before I'm halfway happy with it.

- NaomiM

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