Under the Microscope extra: A Fatal Addiction pt 3, The Victor and The Vanquished

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A reader's novel opening goes under our critical eye

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

The Victor and the Vanquished, by Steve Bradley - original

The cold winter wind swirled around the single swinging bell in St Mary’s church tower. It's mournful, lonely toll a call to the family and friends of Frank Cartland.

It was November 5th in 1965. The date for the funeral of Frank. There would be no fireworks in the village of Burlham this year.

A shiver went through the body of Lady Mary Marshall. Death always causes regrets for those still living, she thought, as she sat in the hard-old black oak, Cartland family, pew. Here to bury her father Frank Cartland. All the; I will, I can...and maybe next week, have suddenly become, I should have, I could have and ...never.

Her father had always been the most important part of her life, until William Marshall had entered it and stolen her heart. The longstanding Cartland and Marshall family conflicts had constantly saddened her.

Now, without her father, she felt an important part of her had also died.

Sitting in the pew directly behind Mary eighty-eight-year-old Doctor Howard Jones shifted his large body trying to find some comfort on the unyielding wooden surface.

Shaking his bald head slightly and thinking, how could this elegant, beautiful woman be the scruffy oily handed little girl I used to know?

He had sat in this place many times for the weddings and funerals of the Cartland family. Sadly, far more funerals than weddings. The last time the bells had rung for Frank Cartland it had been a joyful peal to celebrate his wedding in 1920.

Howard was the only one, of more than one hundred people crowded into the church, who had known Frank as a boy. What a life, he thought. I never expected all those years ago that, skinny, battered, and bruised little boy would have packed so much into his.

 

McCredited Version

November 5, 1965

The cold winter wind circled the bell in St Mary’s church tower. Its mournful, lonely toll reverberated among the family and friends of Frank Cartland, who had gathered for his funeral. There would be no fireworks that night.

Lady Mary Marshall shivered on the hard black oak of the old Cartland family pew. Death always causes regrets for those still living, she thought, here to bury her father. All the I will . . . I can . . . maybe next week had suddenly become, I should have . . . I could have . . . and . . . never . . .

Her father had been the most important part of her life until William Marshall had entered it and stolen her heart. The longstanding Cartland and Marshall family conflicts had constantly saddened her.

Now, without him, she felt an important part of her had also died.

Sitting in the pew directly behind Mary, eighty-eight-year-old Doctor Howard Jones uncomfortably shifted his large body. He shook his bald head slightly and thought, How could this elegant, beautiful woman be the scruffy, oily-handed little girl I used to know?

He had sat in this place many times for the weddings and funerals of the Cartland family. Sadly, far more funerals than weddings. The last time the bells had rung for Frank Cartland, it had been a joyful peal to celebrate his wedding in 1920.

Howard was the only one of more than one hundred people crowded into the church who had known Frank as a boy. What a life, he thought. I never expected all those years ago that such a skinny, battered and bruised little boy would have packed so much into his.

For the full critique, see the November issue of Writing Magazine