Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

How's the novel going?

Recommended Posts

So I got my first rejection letter on Friday, only took them five months and an email nudge to get round to me.

My feedback?

"No Thanks" scribbled on my covering letter...

ho-hum, I know you're supposed to keep plugging away but I feel like just whacking it on Amazon and being done with it.

does anyone know of a similar shop to Amazon that sells ePub fornat?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Have no fear, you'll get a million more. Everyone does. I'm of the firm opinion that agents haven't got a clue.

I hope you don't put that in your covering letters. ;)

I understand why from a writer's perspective agents and publishers can be a great source of irritation. They say they work to a six week turnaround which without fail stretches out to at least three months and then the reply is curt and impersonal (and in truth the manuscript has probably never got passed their assistant). Then there are the hundreds of stories of successful writers/artists that were turned down along the way because of a short sighted agent or publisher. But none of these writer bugbears are necessarily down to bad or clueless agents.

Think about the size of the slush piles every single agent has to get through. The best will not accept unsolicited material but even then the sheer volume will still be massive so just think about the poor bastards who accept samples from any mental off the street. The number of good manuscripts that will get passed over just because of this is probably sizeable. Then you have the issue that your manuscript maybe good, maybe even of a publishable standard, but you've sent it to the wrong type of agent, or the agent already has a number of similar writers on their books, the type of novel is on the wane in the publishing world or is so different that it may find an audience or it may not. In hindsight it is easy to see that the Harry Potter series was going to be a runaway success but that clearly wasn't the case at the time. You could say that those who turned it down were clueless but predicting what will and won't sell is far from an exact science (you just have to look at the number of good books that fail and the bad books that succeed for that).

An agent can have a pretty sizeable client list which will be time consuming to maintain so they have to be extremely keen on a manuscript or the potential of its writer to take somebody else on. They are going to have to feel that they can make money from you and/or the book. Being turned down is not always a sign that the agent doesn't like your book or think it is of a standard to be published which is something I think is easy to forget (especially when another rejection letter pops through the letter box).

Whilst I'm typing this I just want to say congratulations to Argh, I intend to buy Z14 next week but unfortunately I won't be able to read it (reading a novel on a laptop isn't a pleasant experience) but it has been interesting reading how you have gone about promoting yourself and the novel and I hope it works out for you.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Every rejection hurts, but that one's particularly callous. Particularly demoralising for a first rejection. Back on your feet, soldier. Get five more sent out via email. I don't believe in the "courtesy" of exclusivity when they (for whatever reason, valid or not) make you wait so long. Our time is a precious as theirs.

Don't go self-pub straight away Dan, give yourself every shot at doing it the traditional way. My venture is going pretty well, so far, but I spend every spare minute (mostly) fruitlessly banging on about it in forums, and trying to make every post about my book different, unique and amusing. You still have to promote yourself when "proper" published but I hope you'd have more support and help than us cheating self-pubbers get.

Lordcookie: Aww, thanks man, that's kind of you. But please, don't waste your money if you can't read it. If I had a paper copy lying around, I'd send it to you. It might be an idea for me to have a printed copy anyway, one I could loan out to people like yourself. Shame you can't stomach laptop-screen reading, though I do understand because I'd value your feedback.

As for my promotion efforts (sorry, I'll go back to my own thread in a minute! I will not spam the forum)... I basically tied a blindfold around my head and have spent two weeks running into lampposts :) I'm learning, and I've been lucky to find some "fans" on the goodreads site who've taken up my banner on the Amazon forums and netted me some sales. I was going to do a Twitter account as my main character, but I just don't have the energy. (It's something I might do just before the sequel comes out, to help revitalise interest).

I might look at doing a very limited print run of Z14 if it does much better than it has done so far. It'd sure be nice to have a copy on my bookcase.

(Got two sales today, as opposed to 8 yesterday...and one of today's was my mum!)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

If there's a "Bleakest Opening Section Of A Humorous Novel" award then I'm going to be a shoe in at this year's ceremony. Unless this is going to turn out far more serious then I was envisaging...

Pogo, what are you writing? Do show? I like humour! I try to write it myself...had you noticed? :)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It got back onto the humour track after a paramedic blasted a woman's head off with a NHS-issue surgical shotgun. Nothing like a bit of comic relief to lift the tension.

As far as I can tell it's a unique take on the zombie genre, so I don't want to go into too many details (although I've only ever got round to finishing one book - and that was 15 year ago - so the odds of this actually being completed aren't good!). I had noticed your attempts ( :P), and think we actually have a very similar style. Same sort of "analytical narrator who considers himself the lone sane man in a cast of mentalists" main character in a lot of my stuff, although mine are usually more of a 'regular Joe who gets caught up in the grand adventure by accident' type, rather than Z14's ultimate predator!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


I might look at doing a very limited print run of Z14 if it does much better than it has done so far. It'd sure be nice to have a copy on my bookcase.

Don't forget the print on demand services like Lulu.com if you just want something for your bookcase. The postage prices are a bit steep (£2.99 for a single book), but you can still get yourself a copy in "proper book" form for less than a tenner.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I'm upto page 120 out of 190 in the editting process and I've managed to kill a few logic killers/ plot holes. Nothing too major. Once fully editted I need to correct the novel which will take a couple of hours for a few days. Then it'll be ready. It's a big beast mind you.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The agent hunt is a bit of a crapshoot, to be sure, but good agents definitely "have a clue". The odds are stacked against you. But there is an easy solution: write a fucking amazing book and you'll eventually get signed. :D

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Argh has written a really good book but, like, had no success with agents. He's had good reviews for it as well. It's far better than most of the shit that gets printed. Oh and slowly slowy sorty booky.At current rate I'll be done with editting by the end of next week. Release should be towards the end of March. I'll try to stick by this date.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's very nice of you to say, Pulse, thanks! I think it is better than a lot of the shit that gets released (which is endemic with e-self-publishing), but there's a fuck load of good, proper books (including Indie e-pubbed ones) out there that put mine firmly in its place, too!

To be fair, I didn't try very hard with agents. 6 years ago I tried a half-finished novel with about 6 agents...which was just stupid. Then I tried a scrappy, almost first draft attempt at a kid's book with 2 agents....then Z14 with 4 agents that accepted email submissions. after that, I gave up and e-pubbed it myself. Just got my 70th sale in three weeks. I'm very pleased. (I'd convinced myself just like my historical fiction humour novel attempt, that got very encouraging feedback, even while being knocked back, that there were just no publishers buying humorous sci-fi at the moment).

Looking forward to your release Pulse! The self-marketing is a constant, horrendous pain, but I'm making a few friends along the way, too. Learning a shitload as well!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

After a long period of not-much happening, things are finally moving for me again. My manuscript is now with an actual publisher (having been edited and redrafted with assistance from the Gaelic Books Council) and I'm waiting to hear back from them about it. They seemed very positive, though, so fingers crossed.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all,

I'm in need of a creative project, and I've always considered writing a novel. I used to love writing as a kid, though I haven't done much creative writing in years.

I got started a bit last year, just wrote some stuff (quite aimlessly) just to try to get a feel for it again, but I got distracted and didn't follow through. Now I really want to give it a go again, with the intent (over the next 5-10 years) of actually trying to get a novel published.

Whilst I know that the key thing to do, in writing a book, is to actually sit down and plan, then write one (!) I thought I'd ask, whilst I'm in this particular stage, if there is any good advice people have. I'm aware there's no real "formula" for success when writing fiction, I'd still be interested in reading a little bit about how other people go about it.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

While I cannot speak for others I went about things in the following way.

1. Wanted to write something. There's wanting to write something and really wanting to write something. Most people say they want to write and then make a start but soon the realisation hits them that writing something takes a long time and very often a distraction will come along and the drive to write more is gone. I really wanted to see if I could do it and I set out a path of doing it. I would spend an hour a night writing. You soon find out just how much you like it.

2. Had an idea. For me it was a question "Could you justify to yourself the murder of a few if it meant the possible saving of many?". I like asking those moral questions of the reader. The second book asks the question "Could you force yourself to live a mundane life if you were sent back in time?" a slightly odd question I'll grant you.

3. Didn't let others tell me otherwise. If you want to write a book then just write it. Don't try to convince others that you will do it, just do it. If they say your mad for trying to do so then ignore them. It can be done.

4. Had a picture in my mind. It was the start of imagining this made up universe for me. It was the image of a enormous futuristic building crashing down onto an old city below. I pictured it from the point of view of someone standing in a dirty old alleyway. After that it was a series of more images that I based the story around. The ending of the book takes place on a beach, the reason for this is simply down to me having gone to the beach a few days before and thinking it was a good place for people to have a nice talk over things. Just lazing about on a couple of deck chairs with a some orange juice. It seemed like a nice relaxing juxtaposition compared to the heavy and dark things that had happened in previous chapters. One of the chapters in my new book uses something I saw while on a trip to the local marina.

5. Set aside the time. Generally an hour a day is more than enough for me to type out about 1000 words. Do that over a week and you get roughly a chapter a week. Do it over 100 days and you have 100,000 words which is a nice amount. A hundred days may seem quite a bit of time but it'll fly by.

6. Always intended to go back. One of the worst things you can do is make the book very rigid. Don't do that. Instead just let the narrative of the book flow and if you find yourself putting in small plot holes or making the odd mistake then always say to yourself "I'll make it right in editing". You can do this quite easily and it seems to work for me.

7. Never thought it would be perfect. It's not and it was never meant to be. You cannot write the perfect book, there are always things that will irritate you about it, but just accept it! Think of it as your ugly child. You may see his flaws but you still love him.

8. Think things over. If your bored in work then don't daydream about humping the wife or scretary just daydream about your character and how he would react if you palced him in a situation. You'll be surprised how quickly you manage to flesh him out. Put yourself in his place with his attitude and just imagine how he would react.

9. Knew I'd never make money out of it. For every pile of excrement that is fifty shades of grey there are a million books better. Sadly very few of them make money. So don't write for the money (unless you manage to get an agent or a publisher) Just write because you like it. You'll be much happier.

10. Realised I wasn't Dickens. You're not going to be the best writer ever, accept that fact and move on. But don't feel bad about that because you can improve. Writing is like weight training, the more you do it the stronger you get. As your novel progresses then you find it easier and easier to put on the page what you want. Like I said above you can always go back and make it better anyway so just get to it!

As for agents and publisher well that another thing entirely. Let's just say they are a funny lot. I hope this helps!

  • Upvote 5

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

+1 to Pulse, all right.

Another thing I'd add, is don't let anyone read it until you've finished your first draft. This is purely my own thoughts, but I'd rather not have others cloud my judgement about things (rightly or wrongly) until I've completed the story.

Then always try and get someone else to read it before you publish, preferably someone who will give good constructive feedback, someone who won't mind bruising your ego for the sake of a better novel. I was lucky enough to have a good friend who was more than happy to rip me a new one, which made all the difference.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Does this place not have the short story month thing any more?

I ventured here as I'll beginning my own attempt at a novel soon. I've always written purely from memory (I can't stand having stuff written down as notes and such) and having wrote a fair few short stories which have gotten pretty positive feedback, I thought it was worth a shot. Its something I've been pondering for a long time and I have the story and every major arc committed up top, its just getting it down now. One thing that will help, I believe, is once I start writing I struggle to stop. We'll see, its not like I don't have the spare time.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Does this place not have the short story month thing any more?

I ventured here as I'll beginning my own attempt at a novel soon. I've always written purely from memory (I can't stand having stuff written down as notes and such) and having wrote a fair few short stories which have gotten pretty positive feedback, I thought it was worth a shot. Its something I've been pondering for a long time and I have the story and every major arc committed up top, its just getting it down now. One thing that will help, I believe, is once I start writing I struggle to stop. We'll see, its not like I don't have the spare time.

Get going man. You can do it!

  • Upvote 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It needs tightening up/the end being added to (I rushed that bit, its about time I went back to it). Kinda a phone booth/mysterious stranger vibe:

Bacon and eggs, his favourite. His wife had made it him that morning, along with the packed lunch he was now tucking into. Sat alone in this quiet park, it'd always been his lunch ritual. On the same bench each day, surrounded by tranquility, he felt calm and clear. Spreading out the crusts from his sandwich so the pigeons could dine, seeing them flock, hunger overloading their sense. The gentle rustle of Nature as a slight breeze flows by, and in a minute, hell, he may even crack open that new novel he picked up yesterday. The stress of life and work was obsolete to him at this very moment. He reached into his bag, searching for that book he'd heard so much about, when his phone rang, the ringtone cute, albeit shrill. He hated it, but his wife loved it, and every minute that she smiled was worth any and all inconveniance. Despite the screen saying caller unknown, he took the call.


Absolute silence on the line.

"Hello? Anyone there?"

"Do you value your life, Andrew?"

"Pardon? Who is this?"

"Your life, Andrew. What is its value to you? Happiness, a family? Love? Money?"

"I...I don't really get what...Who is this?"

"That is none of you concern. If you must, consider me your guardian angel, Andrew. I' here to offer you a way out of the life you quite clearly hate"

"Who is...What do you know about my life?"

"Everything, Andrew. I know that you ruffled your son's hair before you left this morning. I know last night you were in The Colliers Arms. Double whiskey, yes? I also know you were in there to wash the scent of that whore's pussy out of your mouth, the very same mouth that then went home and kissed your doting wife..."

"What...How...How do you fucking know this? Who the fuck are you?"

"If you ever want to see your wife and child again, you need to listen to me. Do you understand?"

"I...You have my wife and child?"

"I have my ways, Andrew. Do you understand me? Now listen. Get up from that bench, leave your bag. Walk calmly out of the park, turn right, and keep walking until you come across a rubbish bin. Inside will be a discarded McDonald's bag. Retrieve it, and inside you will find keys for a locker. Head to the train station, locker 213. Open it, take the bag, and head to the restroom. Do you understand me, Andrew?"

"F-f-fuck you, whoever you are. This is bullshit."


With that, a pigeon, finishing up the crumbs at his feet, exploded. The voice came back on the line.

"I am watching you, Andrew. Do not doubt me for a second. The next bullet goes into your son's forehead. A clean kill, he won't suffer, but you will. Do not involve the police, do not ring another soul. Do as I say and this will all be over shortly. Ok?"

Andrew pictured it clearly, the small coffin, his wife hysterical. The family in mourning, his own life now hollow. Devastated. He made the decision in no time.


He took a moment to compose himself. His life, less than ten minutes ago, was stable. His family safe, and now this. For what? From serenity to madness, he was but a puppet to this master. With a sigh, he took to his feet, his bag discarded, and he began to walk...

He moved at a brisk pace. He had too, his mind was wrought with potential outcomes. With every glance, he had to withhold urges to tell, to plea with the public around him. Seeing himself on his knees, weeping, begging for mercy, for his son's life, but he knew deep within that this was lunacy. The instructions were what mattered, this twisted man's orders the tentative hook between happiness and complete devastation. After a cursory look around, he grabbed the discarded McDonald's bag from the bin, took the keys, and set off for the station.

Why the fuck had he done it with her? Twice they'd slept together, and as far as he could tell she had something to do with this. Seeing her, alone, her dress riding high up her thighs, obviously inebriated, he couldn't help but give it a crack. He'd just wanted to get her going, flirt a bit, see if the old youth was still there, but one thing led to another and he ended up back at hers. Weak, he knew he was, like his father before him, that cunt of a man. And now what? His two loves in danger, all because he couldn't wait to whip his cock out.

Entering the station, thankful to be out of the just falling rain, he headed directly for the lockers, beads of sweat mixing with the fresh rain on his skin. The place was busy, strangers bustling too and from, the daily ritual of their own lives, oblivious to others around them. He thought he saw her at one point, his mistress, her dark hair flowing over her shoulders as she sauntered by, but he knew this was bullshit, he knew where she was. For her to be here would be nothing short of a miracle. The locker in front of him now, hands trembling as he eased the key into the lock. It opened without problem, and Andrew quickly took the bag inside Remembering his orders, he headed for the lavatory, and the phone rang...

"Good boy, Andrew. You have the bag I see. Head into one of the cubicles."

He did as he was told.

"Now, open the bag, Andrew. Go on, its a surprise..."

He put the bag onto the unopened seat of the toilet, and tentatively unzipped it. He knew what it was inside, he'd seen enough movies to get it. Pretty much an IED, a jacket laced with explosives. The phone, on the cistern, sprung into life..."Put it on, Andrew. See how it fits..." He wanted to cry, to just give up there and then. Let it all burst out from him, to say sorry to his wife, to hold his son once more, to go back to that same morning and experience life as he once knew it. "Fucking do it, Andrew, or I flick the switch and annihilate you were you stand. I will put a bullet in your son, my friend. Inside the bag is a gun. Grab it, and put the jacket on..."

He reached inside, the gun in his hands feeling alien, but eerily powerful.Taking his own jacket off, he hoisted the jacket up and eased his arms in. It weighed heavy on his body, mirroring his conscience. Zipped up, he grabbed the phone.

"N-n-now what?"

"Listen, Andrew. Listen very carefully. I have the trigger. If you even attempt to remove that jacket, it will blow. You speak to anyone other than who I instruct you to, it will blow. Any slight and you're dead. Put your jacket on over the top, there's a good...boy..."

It struggled to fit, but somehow he managed to squeeze it on.

"Now, you take the bag. You leave this station. You head left on your exit, and walk until you see the HSBC bank. You enter calmly, and queue. You wait until you are in front of the teller. You take the gun out, unzip your jacket, and demand as much as you want in unmarked notes. You give the teller your bag, remind her that she will feel her skull splintered into a thousand pieces if she raises the alarm. You wait patiently, receive the cash, zip up your jacket, and leave. You do this without raising suspicion. You do this, and you're on your way to safety. The next time you see your child, he'll be smiling. Do you understand?"

"I...why me? Why me for all this? What did I do?"

"Do you remember last night, Andrew? Or was that just another day to you?"

He knew. How could he not? At hers, both empty, pleasured. Chatting, and she'd said it. She wanted more, she wanted him. She was going to approach his wife, she wouldn't listen. Words got heated, Andrew shielding his separate life, wanting it, hating her now. She'd thrown the bedside lamp at him, missed him by inches. Downstairs she stormed, him chasing after her. In the kitchen, somehow a knife in his hands, within an instant plunged deep into her stomach. He couldn't forget the look in her eyes, devotion mixed with panic. She tried to speak, she couldn't, but she'd ebbed way in his arms, her blood pooling around them. The shock had blanked him, he felt nothing, and he left, the scene still there for anyone to chance on.

"I have the knife here, Andrew. This life you've worked so hard for, its in my hands. You follow what I say, do it to the letter, and her body along with the knife is gone forever. Remember that happiness you felt this morning? Its yours to bask in for as long as you desire. Do we understand each other Andrew?"

He imagined turning the gun on himself, ending it now, but he knew he couldn't. His son would die, that he knew, and his wife, he couldn't even begin to comprehend what he...or they would do to her.

"I....I understand..."

A single deep breath, with the bag slung over his shoulder, Andrew left the cubicle...

To him, the station felt distant, almost imaginary. To suffer a life turned upside down so severely in such little time had clouded his mind. The prospect that he could return to the life he had loved an hour or so ago now felt so enticing, but could he trust this man? Could he trust him to set him free? Another image entered now, stuck, repeating itself, his own son stood in front of him, his green eyes once so full of optimism and life slowly rolling in their sockets, a trickle of blood flowing over the bridge of his nose...He had to snap out of it, to keep calm, to put on that front he so readily slipped into just last night as he kissed his wife with such cheated passion.

On the street now, head down. Just another pedestrian getting on with life. The rain had stopped, and the puddles of water rippled, shimmying the light. For some reason, at this precise moment, the memories of his summer vacations hit him hard. Young, optimistic, on the beach front at Blackpool, kicking up the sand as his mother and father sunbathed. He wanted so badly to be that boy now, and that single tear he could feel forming he would not allow to fall. Under his breath "Be strong. I need to be strong" So preoccupied by his frenzied mind was he, he bumped into a gentleman outside the bank, and for one fleeting moment he thought he felt the jacket explode, ripping him limb from limb, but then clarity and sense kicked back in. The man grumbled and went about his way.

This was it, his moment. Get through this and he felt, he believed tht normality would be restored. He placed his hand inside the pocket of his jacket, felt the coldness of the gun and steeled himself. Lifting his head, now set in a show of confidence, he opened the door, walked inside and joined the back of the short queue...

He'd always been impatient, and stood here now in this queue just reminded him. It was something he'd inherited from his father, along with one or two other traits, one of which he was now lamenting. The queue was two deep now, and he needed to compose himself. Toying with the zipper on his jacket, his hand still holding the cold of the gun. Just this one step to go. As the woman in front left the teller, he knew his moment was now.

"How may I help you, sir?"

He could feel the sweat begin to form on his brow, but he managed a smile, his eyes locked on hers. He unzipped his jacket, and as it flayed open, the teller's face changed from a warm greeting to confusion. As she took stock of what was before her, his hand whipped from his pocket, the light reflecting off the gun barrel. Slowly, he removed the bag, handed it to her, and she began to reach for the panic button.

"I wouldn't do that. Its not in your best interests. You see that child over there?"

He cocked his head to the left, the teller following his gaze. A young girl was racing around the customer help desk, her mother seated, the child's frantic behaviour normal to her.

"If you value her life, so young, so full of potential. if you value your life, and the life of those around you, you will do as I say. Follow my every word, and you will be safe. Is that clear?"

The teller, who's face was now frozen in a weird look of anguish and fear, nodded weakly.

"Now, you take this bag. You fill it with as much unmarked cash as you can. Do it calmly, we don't want to raise any suspicions, do we? I certainly don't want to feel my finger get twitchy on this trigger."

She took the bag, and set about what she'd been told to do. Andrew waited, as instructed, and he took in his surroundings. He noticed queue hadn't formed behind him, a slice of luck he was happy to take right now. By the door stood a security guard, his eyes focused outside, seemingly distant to the world around him. Two security cameras of note, one of which was sure to capture all of this. His face, an instant criminal. He contemplated wearing a hood, or a mask, but what would've been the point? An instant explosion, sure death. Besides, he'd done much worse than this in his lifetime. Last night, however, he had no idea why he'd just fled the scene. With the others, he'd been meticulous...

The teller had done as asked. The bag was on the counter, and Andrew quickly took it and slung it back over his shoulder. She seemed to be in shock, her body trembling as if the morning after a rather drunken night.

"Thank you. You did well. Now, I'm going to leave calmly, as if this was all normal. If you even contemplate at pressing that button, every single person in here will suffer a quite horrific death. Sit here, as normal, and look busy, OK? Do not panic or so help me you will not see whatever family you have again. Understood?"

Letting out a meek "Yes", the teller bowed her head and started fiddling with the keyboard in front of her. Sliding the gun back into his pocket, and zipping his jacket back up, Andrew turned and headed for the door. It'd gone far easier than expected, all that fear and worry he'd built up blown aside by the efficiency of the plan. As he strode toward the exit, he held his head high, even turning a glance at the security guard and offering him a dry smile.

Outside, the fresh air flooded into him with every breath. He hadn't been aware, but he'd felt hot inside, clammy. It cleared his mind, the weight of the bag on his shoulder reassuring. He was still alive, and for that he could be grateful. Setting off walking, his thoughts returned to the sloppiness of the night before. Had it been shock? He doubted it, it was a scene played out for him multiple times before. She, however, had hooked her claws into him, unlike any other. She made his heart sing, his soul want to dance, and the passion they shared in their trysts was near volcanic. The others, well, they'd served their purpose. He'd lived this life, this secret for nearly ten years, eight of those married, and he loved his wife, he could never doubt that. Sure, on occasion she'd question his absences, his long hours at 'work', but she'd been loyal, serving. An image of his own sweet mother. His son was the bonus in life, the one thing, besides her, her life so cruelly cut short. The way his son played, and smiled, his fascination with life, it brought out his protective qualities. He wanted them both here, to hold them, to spill forth the dark secrets that plagued his life. His phone rang.

"Congratulations, Andrew. I'd ask you how it feels to be a fully fledged criminal, but we both know that's something you've known for a long while."

"How do you know all this about me? Just who in the fuck are you?"

"I am your saviour Andrew. Last night, when you held her in your arms as she bled slowly to death, what crossed your mind? Anger? Sadness? Another person's life, ended at your very hand. How many have there been before her Andrew?"

He sat down, the bench damp from the previous downpour. Andrew now knew that this whole thing, this whole plot was deeper than he originally thought. This man knew more than he was comfortable with. Images flashed through his mind, the first a sweet young woman, Rachael, aged 25. Andrew was a few years her senior, and he used it to his advantage, offering her a fatherly figure, a shoulder to cry on. Naturally, she'd fallen for his charm. To him, it was physical, her stamina and youth satisfying him in ways his wife couldn't imagine, but slowly, Rachael felt more. She got clingy, seeking his approval and desire constantly. For Andrew, that was too much, and he'd done it. At the time, he didn't know why. He felt disgusted at his actions afterwards, but during the act, his mind was blank. Almost free. It was a rush for which he had grown to live. To his thoughts now, he knew her death was merely a consequence of his growth. That night, it had unleashed itself to the fore, his anger, his frustration, his ill with the world. Her death had awakened him.

"Answer me, Andrew."

"My life is none of your concern. "

"Andrew, don't get tough. Don't try to be the big man. We both know the path your life has taken. You're corrupted, Andrew. This façade you put to the fore, a family man. Loving, caring, a complete unit. It's bullshit, Andrew. Deep down you're a monster. Its in your core."

"Just what the fuck do you want with me?"

"Admission, Andrew. Admit to what you are. Stop living a life of death and secrecy. The money you now carry? It means nothing to me. Burn it, for all I care. By now, the police will be involved. You're a wanted man, by me and by them. Which will you choose, Andrew?"

"Where do you want me to go?"

"You know where I am, Andrew. Its your home from home. I love what you've done with the place. You brought them here, didn't you? All except her. What they must've felt to enter here. Such fear, no doubt. They would've known, wouldn't they? That this was the last place they'd see before you shut off their lives. I'll be waiting, Andrew..."

The phone went dead. Of course he knew where to go, he'd known the place all his life. It was his fathers before him, and it was handed down like a poisoned chalice. He felt safe there, alive. With the thought of his family echoing throughout his nind, he rose to his feet, left the bag on the bench, and walked.

He was seven when his image of his father changed from an inspiration to a monster. It had been a typical night, his mother having her friends over, as she did once a week. On these nights, his father always took him out in the car. That night, they headed to his local, The White Bear. He kind enjoyed it in there, it was never busy. His dad sipping his bitter, and he with a quid in change on the pool table, a game he'd always loved. Even to him then, the cigarette smoke was acrid, horrible. Had always believed that starting down that road was a guaranteed death sentence. He couldn't remember how long they'd stayed there, but he did remember the chips his dad bought him on the way home. Little details had always been his thing, he had a great memory for them, and as his father's car turned into the farm that would become his home from home, he remembered the rain begin to fall. The kaleidoscope effect of the drops on the windscreen struck him, even then, as beautiful. His father told him to wait there, and naturally he did as so. Through the window, he watched his dad meet Mr Jenkins, a person he'd come to know very well, and they headed off to the nearest barn.

Whilst sat there, for what at his age seemed an eternity, he grew curious. Many times before this same situation had occurred, him in the car, obedient and patient, his father gone. Now, that itch to see what his father was doing was persistent, and he knew the only way to scratch it. The rain had ceased, and he slinked out of the car quietly, the door behind him shut slowly, no sound. It was dark, and he remembered being scared, but excited. His eyes darted around, wary of any potential danger that may have lurked in the night, but he got closer in no time at all. The barn was ramshackle, clearly old, and from inside he heard muffled voices, the occasional harsh laugh.

It was then he felt what seemed a thousand butterflies dance within his body. Never before had he been so nervous, but then he rarely ignored what his father asked. He fought internally with the idea of heading back to the car, to forgetting all of this. Bed was where he wanted to be, safe and comfortable, a glass of milk by his side. But he knew he had to see, his curiosity had peaked, and he approached the entrance tentatively. The door was open, barely enough to squeeze his head through. Inside, he saw the back of his father, smoke rising from in front of him, the smoke from the cigarette repulsing his senses, but there were other smells, alien to him, knocking him slightly sick. His father slowly walked to the right, and that was when he saw it. Mr Jenkins, removing his shirt, with a smile that haunted the dreams of his youth. So twisted and evil, the sight of him chewing on his bottom lip still burnt into his memory. On a table before him, a woman, dirty, bruised and beaten. Those soft, petrified cries a soundtrack to his life, so horrific to him at that age, so assuring to him now. He ran then, but he did not cry. Back at the car, he climbed inside, back to safety, and he locked his door, continuing to wait, a good, quiet boy. He never spoke a word of this to anyone, but it looped continuously in his mind for years to come.

It was later, with his first, Rachael, that Mr Jenkins had entered his life as a friend, a confidant. So soon after his own hands had pressed viciously around her throat, her eyes, so filled with fear and agony rolling back into her head, death sweeping over her, his panic had set in. There was no blood, not that time, but he was lost. How to deal with this, and once the adrenaline had abated, he thought back to that memory. If he was still there, surely he had hope? A friend of his father, their bond so dark and twisted. Loading the body into the boot of his car he set off. Of course, Mr Jenkins listened, and embraced him into the lifestyle. They took the body to the barn, and it was there where Andrew discovered the secret that was his father. The true extent of his evil, and from that night forth, he knew once and for all that he was truly his father's son. Now, as night seeped over the day, he stood at the entrance of the farm, ready and determined. His mind clear, he approached the barn...

His phone began to rang. Taking the call, he listened:

"Go inside, Andrew. I know you're eager to be back somewhere you belong."

He entered the barn, the doors weathered and beaten, creaking as they opened. Inside, the dust settled, the smell of decay and death as pungent as it was when he was a child. Stacks of hay piled high in every corner, the table still there, the centre point of the room. A shape upon it, covered by tarpaulin. By the window lay a cupboard, the door barely on its hinges. Inside, remnants of those who'd died here. Clothes, trinkets, echoes of former lives. The barn felt reassuring to Andrew, as if all this that had played out before was done, finished with. To be back somewhere you he belonged. Once it felt sacrilege, mutating his father into a monster of which he was now an equal. Today, right now, it felt like home.

"Imagine those women, Andrew. This is what they saw, what they took in as their final resting place. Such a bleak outlook, don't you agree? To have your life ended in a place barely fit for animal or waste. Do you believe we, as beings, have a soul, Andrew?"

"I...I don't know. Why have you brought me here?"

"We all have a soul, Andrew. How do we exist otherwise? We can't live without the way we feel. What do you feel in this place, Andrew? Happiness? Calm? Relief?"

"Wh-eh-Where are you? Fucking show yourself you pussy. My wife, my kid, are they safe?"

"They're safe, Andrew. I'm not like you, I don't take pleasure from the destruction of others. They're oblivious to all this, I can see that clearly. You did well for yourself, a family so happy and content. Why would you lie to them, Andrew?"


"Did you really think I'd be there? Do you still not understand, Andrew? The robbery, the vest? The police know about you now, they have your picture, your address. They have this address, Andrew."

"H-h-how do they know about here? Is that why you-"

"I told them Andrew. Will you do me one final favour? Just one more, please. Move to the table, remove the tarpaulin why don't you..."

Andrew's mind was furious now, raging and confused. He was here of course, his sanctuary, but he felt lost, almost alone. He moved slowly to the table, a picture of his wife, dead, slain already, his son cradled and lifeless in her arms. It was the one thing, the only thing he feared, the loss of his family. They kept him normal, outwardly at least, stable. With them, he fitted into society. His past, had it killed the only future he saw possible? He removed the cover, throwing it to the floor, and before him, it lay. The body of Mr Jenkins, a single bullet hole squarely between his eyes. The body looked rigid, and felt it to the touch. His eyes were open, completely life. Whatever soul he had possessed had now parted, and all that was left was a twisted, deceased old man. Andrew felt nothing. No empathy, no hurt, no regret.

"A pity, isn't it Andrew? Another to add to your list. That hole, Andrew, the one that dealt him the hand of death? The round will match your gun."

"I-I never pulled the trigger. Any trigger."

"You prefer to feel that moment, don't you, Andrew? When the soul that brings so much meaning to life, the souls that brought so much joy to those women, passes, you fave to feel that moment don't you? To feel that moment when the soul is released and death sweeps in. Is that what this is about to you? How man have there been, Andrew? Four? Five"

"S-S-Seven. I had no choice, my life...I couldn't see it end, to be destroyed in any fleeting moment. I've tried normality, I tried to be stable. I-I have my wife, my son. I can't help my being, who I am. Its there, its always there, pounding in my head, these urges. They won't leave, no matter what I do. They need to be fed, to be satiated. I don't think, I don't feel, I just....do..."

In the distance, sirens began to echo.

"Can you hear them, Andrew? They're coming, for you. They know now what you are, a criminal, a man who doesn't belong. They'll find you, stood there. Your implication in Jenkins' murder is total and complete, Andrew. Would you like a way out, Andrew? A way to make all this right?"


"Kneel, Andrew. Kneel before my voice. The gun, take it. Hold it and feel it. The weight is it comforting? I am your saviour, Andrew. Place it to your temple, feel the muzzle against your flesh. That cold, does it remind you of those you've killed, Andrew? When you feel ready, pull the trigger. Don't be afraid, this is the only way. Your wife and son, imagine their life without you. They will hurt, but their lives, their futures. So much happiness awaits without your corrupted input, without your control."

On his death bed, his father has whispered a single phrase. It was one that stuck with him throughout his life. "You're not like me, Andrew". How wrong he had been. Since that night as child, he'd always been the same as his father. At the time, it felt confusing, almost frightening, but as he grew older, he knew that the very same night, when he lay along in his bed, what he had felt was delight. He felt satisfied, whole, the switch had been flicked. He was destined to this life.

"Do it, Andrew. I have my own trigger here. As soon as you feel that bullet end you, I'll press it. Decimate you, and the barn. No trace of anything. Complete destruction. The cops, they'll put it down to a gas leak. Trust me, this, Andrew, is the only way..."

He began to weep now. It had led to this. He'd been so careful, the mask he put on to hide all his evil, his anger, his corrupted soul. He'd learnt to love as best he could, to care. A final image in his mind, one of simplicity, at home on the settee, his wife lay in his arms, his son soundly asleep upstairs. Never had he felt so whole, so complete. As it began to fade, he felt the pressure in his finger, and he squeezed.

A simple click. No explosion, no darkness, no death. He was still there, on his knees, weeping. The sirens had stopped now, the police outside. The voice spoke:

"Did you really think I'd make it that easy, Andrew? You don't escape who you are with such ease I'm afraid..."

On the line, he heard the trigger being pressed. The jacket he'd feared, that had spurred him into this destructive spiral was still intact. The pleasure of death was not forthcoming.

"They're here, Andrew. You've accepted who you are, now comes the consequence. It has been a pleasure, Andrew."


"I've already told you, Andrew. I'm your guardian angel. I am your saviour."

He dropped the phone just as the police entered. This life he'd hidden, the one he'd felt sacred, he now knew would be his end.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Get to your novel! :D

I wrote that about seven months ago, with a number of half finished things since. I find similar in that I get into it, get near the end, then something 'real world' takes over and before you know it whatever processes you were using to write have dried up. Still, my novel, when started, will be a love story. Of bleak sorts, anyway.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Post some, I'd happily read it :) I went through a stage a while back of trying to teach myself to write from a purely female perspective, harder than I thought. I kinda like to get into a character's mind and have it visibly struggle and fall apart, so to do that from an angle where I have zero experience kinda broke me for a bit. No matter how 'happy' I try to write, it ends up dark. Too much of my youth spent on bleak film/literature (Ketchum is a favourite).

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I downloaded yWriter and finally made a start. I defined a rough story arc yesterday, and now I'm dividing it up into chapters.

Don;t get too hung up on maintaining a strict structure. It stifles creativity in your writing. Instead just go with the flow and let things happen. You'll find the whole thing more enjoyable. Originally I was just going to write about 90,000 words for my second book but idea after idea kept coming and it became this giant, enormous, epic tomb.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.