01/01/2017
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Under the Microscope extra: Project Icarus

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Rebecca Richardson is a librarian, mother and sometime writer from Manchester. She is currently working on her first novel, salvaged from a messy NaNoWriMo. She enjoys science fiction, comic books and cartoons. Project Icarus is a science fiction novel for teenagers, about a girl trying to discover the truth about her mother’s murder while dealing with her own emerging psychic powers and a government conspiracy that changes her whole life.

Read James McCreet's suggested rewrite below, and check out his full critique in the February issue of Writing Magazine.

Project Icarus - Rebecca's version
‘I’m sorry about your mother.’

The man’s voice shattered the silence like a gunshot. Charlotte closed her eyes and tried not to scream. She could hear the man pacing around the sitting room; the creak of the floorboards, the occasional scrape of furniture being dragged along the wooden floor as he searched for her. Charlotte knew this cubby hole behind the bookshelf couldn’t be seen from the front, you had to know it was there, and Mum had told her that only the two of them knew. But then, Mum had told her that this time they would be safe and now she was bleeding all over the brand new cream rug.

‘Charlotte?’

Her heart lurched painfully – he was standing on the other side of the bookshelf, inches away. Charlotte drew her knees up to her chest and hugged them tightly, lowering her face and trying not to breathe.

‘I didn’t want to hurt her Charlotte, that’s not why I came here.’

The floorboards creaked.

‘You have to understand, we couldn’t let her get away again.’

Charlotte gritted her teeth. Leave the room, she begged silently, go and search downstairs. The window was still wide open. It would only take a few seconds to crawl out of the cupboard, climb onto the windowsill and jump into the big oak tree outside. Then she could climb down and…well…she hadn’t thought that far ahead, but anything was better than waiting here to be discovered by the man with the gun. What she wanted to do was run to her mother, to shake her awake and promise that help was on its way, that she’d be just fine once an ambulance arrived. But there was no help, no ambulance - no one but Charlotte, and she wasn’t stupid. She knew no one was fine after a gunshot to the head.

 

Project Icarus - McCredited version

‘I’m sorry about your mother.’

His voice seemed quiet after the gunshot.

Charlotte closed her eyes behind the bookshelf. She tried not to scream. She could hear him pacing around the sitting room – the creak of the floorboards, the occasional scrape of furniture on wooden floor as he searched. She knew her cubby hole couldn’t be seen from the front. You had to know it was there. And Mum had told her it was their secret. But, then Mum had told her they’d be safe this time and . . . and there she was bleeding all over the brand new cream rug.

‘Charlotte?’

Her heart hurt. Was he standing just the other side of the bookshelf? Just inches away? She drew up her knees and clasped them. She lowered her face and tried not to breathe.

‘I didn’t want to hurt her Charlotte. That’s not why I came here.’

The floorboards creaked.

‘You have to understand... We couldn’t let her get away again.’

Charlotte clenched her teeth. Leave the room, she begged silently. Go and search downstairs! Was the window still wide open? It’d take seconds to crawl out, climb the windowsill and jump. Out into the big oak tree. She could climb down and... well... run somewhere. Anywhere. Anything was better than waiting here to be found. If only she could run to mum, shake her awake, promise help, promise an ambulance. But there’d be no help, no ambulance – just Charlotte. And she wasn’t stupid. She knew no one was fine after a gunshot to the head. 

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