08/09/2017
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Under the Microscope extra: All the Crawls

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David Wren's thriller All that Crawls opens with the main character, Alex Longmire, relating the events of a mssion gone bad to his superior officer


Here's David's original extract:

It was hot in Sanderson’s office and I couldn’t breathe. A brass carriage clock ticked too loud. Lots of leather and mahogany furniture smelt like Old England. The bookcase was stuffed with thick brown books, none of them looked like casual reading. The only modern thing was the computer and even that seemed like an antique. I’d never been here before. Being here now couldn’t be any kind of good.  
Not that I cared. I didn’t care about anything anymore. There was a hole in me so deep that I couldn’t remember what had filled it before. In fact that was wrong – it’d been friendship and pride. And trust.
Sanderson was making phone calls and scribbling on bits of paper and I couldn’t remember a single word he’d said or who he’d been talking to. My mind was empty and full at the same time – empty of background thought and full of blood and bad decisions.
I didn’t know how long I’d been standing there. I thought five minutes but it was probably less. I felt like I was swaying and maybe I was. I hadn’t been sleeping or eating much. It all came back when I closed my eyes – vivid and brutal, quick but lasting.
The door opened and I stood a little straighter. It was only the colonel’s secretary. She was good-looking, a nice perk if you can get it. She put a file on the desk, glanced at me, and left the room.
Sanderson opened a desk drawer and brought out another folder. He opened it and I recognised the writing. He flicked the pages then said without looking up, “Sit down before you fall down.”  
I winced as I sat. A bullet had nicked me in the side two weeks ago, although I hadn’t felt it at the time.


And James' suggested rewrite:

It was hot in Sanderson’s office. I couldn’t breathe. A brass carriage clock ticked too loud. There was dark leather and mahogany and a waxed wooden floor that all said Establishment. He was sitting but I was standing. The bookcase was stuffed with old books, but none of them looked like casual reading. The only modern object was the computer and even that seemed out of date. I’d never been here before. Being here now couldn’t be any kind of good.  
Not that I cared. I didn’t care about anything anymore. There was a hole in me so deep that I couldn’t remember what had filled it before. Well, I could – it’d been friendship and pride. And trust.
Sanderson was making phone calls and writing but I couldn’t remember a single word he’d said or who he’d been talking to. My mind was empty and full at the same time – empty of background thought and full of blood and bad decisions.
I didn’t know how long I’d been standing there. I thought five minutes but it was probably less. I felt like I was swaying and maybe I was. I hadn’t been sleeping or eating much. It all came back when I closed my eyes – vivid and brutal, quick but permanent.
The door opened and I stood a little straighter. It was only the colonel’s secretary. She was good-looking – a nice perk if you can get it. She put a file on the desk, glanced at me, and left the room.
Sanderson opened a desk drawer and brought out another folder. He opened it and I recognised the writing. He flicked the pages then said without looking up, “Sit down before you fall down.”  
I winced as I sat. The bullet had nicked me two weeks ago, although I hadn’t felt it at the time.

Read the full critique in the October 2017 issue of Writing Magazine

Back to "How to write fiction" Category

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