Under the Microscope extra: Only a Weekend

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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 February issue of Writing Magazine.

Only A Weekend - original version

It was not the best of places. Many were far better. Anyone would sooner be elsewhere than at the Effingham Hotel. Being here came with the job though for Detective Inspector Jack Kirby. A woman had been murdered; the station sent him to find her killer.

On arrival Detective Sergeant Rowena Farr was stood outside the door to the crime scene. She opened it; they entered.

‘Her name was Miss Mary Hardy,’ she said.

He nodded. His eyes were drawn to the body lying on the floor.

‘She’d only come for the weekend. That was the gist of what they said downstairs. Her clothes in the wardrobe tell me otherwise.’

He thanked DS Farr for putting him in the picture. Living nearer to the crime scene she had arrived before him and straightway took over command from the uniformed branch.

Miss Hardy’s petite slim frame lay on her back on the cheap tired carpet that vainly attempted to cover the floor. Her height was about five feet three or four and weighed approximately eight and a half to nine stone. Wearing only her light blue silk pyjamas told him she’d dressed ready for bed. A coffin would be the only bed awaiting her now.

Turning to Rowena he said, ‘DS Farr, you said you had seen her clothes in the wardrobe. Get the photographer and a police woman to go through them with you. I want the manufacturer’s names of all her clothes, sizes, etc. Tell the photographer I want photographs of all her clothes. Anything inside the pockets I want bagged up. There might be something to give us a lead. What was a woman with expensive tastes doing in a cheap dive like this? What brought her here? Had she come to see someone? We need the answers.’

 

McCredited version

The Effingham Hotel was not the best of places. But it came with the job for Detective Inspector Jack Kirby. A woman had been murdered there.
Detective Sergeant Rowena Farr was standing outside the door when he arrived. She opened it; they entered.

‘Her name was Miss Mary Hardy,’ she said.

He nodded. He looked at the body lying face up on the floor.

‘She’d only come for the weekend. That was the gist of what they said downstairs. But her clothes are hanging in the wardrobe.’

‘Thanks.’

Miss Hardy’s petite, slim frame lay on the cheap, threadbare carpet. She was about 5’3” and approximately eight or nine stone. She was wearing light-blue silk pyjamas.

‘DS Farr – get the photographer and a policewoman to go through them with you. I want the manufacturer’s names of all her clothes, sizes, et cetera. I want photographs. Anything inside the pockets, I want bagged up. What was this woman doing in a cheap dive like this?’

 

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