Under the Microscope extra: The Star of the Funeral

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Microscope_icon-21392.jpg Under the microscope extra

Read our suggested rewrite of a reader's novel opening

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

The Star of the Funeral - original version

She was the star of the funeral, Frances Tristana. Black accentuated her slenderness. The vicar spoke of Andrew’s courage when he was pilot of a de Havilland Mosquito during world war two, ended forty years previously. After the service the five mourners trooped back to the house. Andrew’s family must have thought him lucky, with a younger partner by his side when he lay dying.

Tyrone, her father, reminded her that it was a long drive back to London, and night would soon fall. They took leave of their fellow mourners and boarded the Vauxhall Viva which Andrew bought second-hand for five hundred pounds.

Tyrone no longer drove, and Frances took the wheel.

“That was a lovely tribute from the vicar,” said Frances.

“Very nice.”

Tyrone had failed by a hairsbreadth to gain admission to the RAF because he had hitherto unsuspected myopia. He joined the Royal West Kent Regiment and rose to the rank of captain.

The sky was black and sleet glistened in the headlights by the time Frances parked at Shepherds Bush.

“Buzz us in,” he called up to Molly, his wife. Nothing happened. He muttered, and let them in with his key. When he opened the door to his flat, it was in darkness. Muttering again, he snapped on the light to reveal Molly on her hands and knees with a dustpan and brush. Frances wriggled out of her coat, tossed it on one of the twin beds, and began to talk animatedly:

“It was great to meet Andrew’s family. They’ve invited me to Yorkshire and I’d love to go but it’s a long way and I’ve got my work cut out, selling the house in Braintree and buying a flat nearer my job.”

Molly rose in silence and stalked to the kitchenette, dustpan and brush in hand.

 

Star of the Funeral - McCredited version

Frances Tristana was the star of the funeral. Black accentuated her slenderness. The family seemed almost hypnotised by her seeming youth – emphasised somehow still further by her husband in the coffin. She nodded when the vicar spoke of Andrew’s courage as a de Havilland Mosquito pilot during World War II.

After the service the mourners went back to the house and Tyrone, Frances’ father,

reminded her that it was a long drive back to London. Night would soon fall.

Frances drove the Vauxhall Viva.

“That was lovely what the vicar said about the war,” she said.

“He was a hero,” said Tyrone.

“He was my hero.”

Tyrone looked at her. He touched her hand on the steering wheel. It was cold and white.

The sky was black and sleet was glistening in the headlights by the time Frances parked at Shepherds Bush.

“Buzz us in,” he called up to Molly, his wife. Nothing happened. He muttered, and let them in with his key.

The flat was dark when they entered. Muttering again, he snapped on the light to reveal Molly on her hands and knees with a dustpan and brush. She said nothing.

Frances seemed not to notice Molly. She wriggled out of her coat, tossed it on one of the twin beds and began to talk animatedly for the first time since that morning:

“Actually, it was great to meet Andrew’s family. They’ve invited me to Yorkshire and I’d love to go but it’s a long way and I’ve got my work cut out, selling the house in Braintree and buying a flat nearer my job.”

Molly rose in silence and went to the kitchenette, dustpan and brush in hand.

 

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