I've actually completed the first two chapters of my first novel now (aimed at ages 10+), but obviously they're not 'finished' as such, they'll need editing over and over again.
Anyway, I thought I'd put up the very first few paragraphs of chapter one - The Loft of Doom! - here just to get some feedback on how it flows, etc. and some fresh eyes. It's not much, but I don't like sticking too much on here anyway.
Let me know what you think.
PS - It never looks as good on here as it does in Word, all nicely laid out and indented, but there you go.
Chapter One - The Loft Of Doom!
Felix stood on the landing, as still as a statue, staring at the door to the loft, trying hard not to panic. His blue eyes were fixed on the handle, as if he were about to somehow turn it using his mind alone. He could feel his heart thumping in his chest, and if the rain outside wasn’t pounding on the roof quite so hard he was sure he’d be able to actually hear it, too. A cold bead of sweat trickled down between his shoulder blades, causing him to fidget for the first time in the last few minutes.
He’d prepared himself as best he could; a cycling helmet, a large pair of protective plastic goggles he’d found in the garage, a pair of thick leather gloves, and his Dad’s tennis racquet, still in its cover. He’d also tucked his jeans in to his socks and his jumper in to his jeans. He realised this made him look a bit silly, but that didn’t matter right now. He was ready.
It was the summer holidays. Not that you’d know it from looking out of the window - it was pouring down. In a few days his family would be moving to a new house - not too far away, about twenty minutes in the car - and there was plenty of work to be done before the move. His brother, Dillon, had already helped pack away lots of things from downstairs, sealing them up in large cardboard boxes and putting them in to the back of the removal van. Being four years older than Felix meant he was much bigger and stronger and able to lift anything heavy; something that Felix, being quite small and skinny, would most certainly have struggled with. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help feeling that Dillon had it easy compared to him. Packing boxes wasn’t hard, even if the lifting part was, especially when you get to watch television or something at the same time. Instead, his job would be to help move some of the other boxes out of the dreaded loft. The ones which had been small enough to be pushed in to the corners, under the angle of the roof. The ones full of old junk that his Mum and Dad no longer really needed, but for some reason held on to, and were now making him fetch.
He was the only person in the family small enough to get in to the corners without banging their head all the time. When they were moving in, his Dad had banged his so many times that it had to be covered in bandages. After that, he’d sworn that if he ever had to go in there again he’d get little Felix to crawl in to the smaller areas instead. And now, unfortunately for Felix, that day had arrived. He’d been dreading it for weeks. Not because he was lazy or didn’t want to help, but because going in to the small corners of the loft meant one thing was absolutely guaranteed:
Felix hated spiders. He absolutely hated them. He didn’t like woodlice either, but they were nothing compared to spiders. He hated spiders. He knew they’d be in there, waiting for him, their eight eyes peering over the top of the boxes. One or two might even decide to run at him again, just like they did last time. They’d be bigger now, too. All the tiny bugs they’d eaten over the last couple of years would have made them twice the size they were before. Twice as terrifying. He shuddered at the thought of it. His Mum had always said that they were more afraid of him than he was of them, but he knew that was rubbish. If it was true then they had a funny way of showing it; crawling in to his trainers in the winter, coming up the plug hole when he wanted a bath. One even dropped in to his scruffy mop of black hair once while he was sat in bed drawing, frightening the life out of him and sending him running outside to the safety of the landing.
Oh yes, very scared of him.
He was usually pretty brave, too. Well, as brave as any eleven year old could be anyway. Once he even stood up to a couple of fourth year kids who were picking on his best friend, Benny Parker. He’d been rewarded with a fat lip and a bloody nose for his trouble, but he’d gained the admiration of his classmates for saving ‘Pencil Case Parker’ from the bullies. Benny had earned himself this rather unfortunate nickname having once tried to pick his nose with a pencil in art class, only for his chair to slip suddenly - flipping Benny forward and the pencil upward as his head collided with the desk. It got jammed up there so tight it took the doctors and nurses at the hospital two days to get it out. By the time Benny had come back to school his story had spread to each and every class. There wasn’t a single person who hadn’t heard about it, and the race to find the best possible nickname was already under way. Even Felix had to admit, as far as nicknames go, the winning entry was a pretty good one.
Given the choice right now, he’d prefer to open the door to the loft and find those two fourth year kids stood there, snarling at him, rather than the hundred dusty cobwebs and hairy, eight-legged monsters that surely awaited him instead. He’d take another punch on the nose over an afternoon with some spiders any day. The tennis racquet would make a good swatter though, he thought; he’d use that to bat them out of the way if he had to. The cycling helmet was essential, too; no more spiders dropping in the hair. He wasn’t sure what the goggles would be useful for, but he felt safer wearing them than not. His Dad wore them to protect his eyes whenever he was doing some welding in the garage. They were far too big for Felix though, he had to keep pushing them back up his nose every time they slipped down.
He made one last check that his jeans were sufficiently tucked in, tightened his grip on the racquet handle, and took his first step towards the door.