27/11/2018
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Under the Microscope extra: The Man Who Would Do Nothing Twice

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Read our suggested rewrite of a reader's first 300 words and for the full critique, see the January issue of Writing Magazine.

 

THE MAN WHO WOULD DO NOTHING TWICE - original

It dawned on him while driving to work that he had semtex in his brain.

Hearing but not listening to Jane, Greg and Alex babble and laugh, it struck him that only one thing would do the trick: change everything.

He did not know if he had the courage to follow the revelation, but he knew where it came from.

A few weeks earlier he’d settled down one evening to re-read his favourite novel but, responding to a disposition he did not understand and strangely did not want to resist, after half an hour he’d returned the unopened book to the shelves, thinking, ‘why read anything twice?’

The car was now entering a small town. The babbling had given way to silence.

He guessed what was on their minds: the imminent assembly and a lifeless, moronic talk from the Head, the sound of bells, registration and one debilitating period after another.

He looked at the kids and the buses, all heading in the same direction, and another question detonated in his mind - why do anything twice?

It was a crazy idea. It was insane. But a fuse had been lit, and like the fuse of lust or addiction, he knew it would be hard to extinguish.

He parked the car and the quartet made its way slowly to the school entrance.

He felt elated: everyone walked in a strait-jacket, but his was a little less tight fitting than usual.

And scared: the explosive in his brain had the capacity to blow his world apart.

And consoled: this brand of semtex offered life, not death.

Jane detached herself from Greg and Alex.

-You’ve been very quiet, she said.

-Just waking up, sweet Jane.

-Eyes wide open now?

-Completely.

-Seeing clearly?

-Like never before.

 

********

 

McCredited version

He realised while driving to work that he had Semtex in his brain.

Jane, Greg and Alex babbled and laughed. He heard them but didn’t listen. There was only one solution: change everything.

But did he have the courage to follow his revelation?

The car was entering a small town. The babbling had given way to silence.

He guessed what was on their minds: the imminent assembly and a lifeless, moronic talk from the Head, the sound of bells, registration and one debilitating period after another.

He looked at the kids and the buses heading in the same direction, and another question pierced in his mind – why do anything twice?

It was a crazy idea. It was insane. But a fuse had been lit, and like the fuse of lust or addiction, he knew it would be hard to extinguish.

He parked the car and the quartet made its way slowly to the school entrance.

He felt elated. Everyone walked in a straitjacket, but his was a little less tight fitting than usual.

And scared: the explosive in his brain had the capacity to blow his world apart.

And consoled: this brand of Semtex offered life, not death.

Jane walked ahead of Greg and Alex.

-You’ve been very quiet, she said.

-Just waking up, sweet Jane.

-Eyes wide open now?

-Completely.

-Seeing clearly?

-Like never before.

 

For the full critique, see the January issue of Writing Magazine.

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