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joe108
September 17th, 2010, 11:26 PM
Hi all! Here's a short novel extract I recently wrote for a writing workshop I'm going to. ANY feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thanks very much :) DP

The message was to be delivered by Jackson, who in turn had been recruited by two men in dark suits with matching buzz-cuts. They had enticed him with a five thousand dollar sweetener to ensure that the message was delivered to the intended recipient. Jackson felt inside his pocket to make sure the wad of hundred dollar bills was still there, that this wasn’t just a fantasy. All he had to do was pass on a name and number to a guy he knew, and that was it. Easy.

Jackson’s phone rang but it could wait, he clicked it off. It was probably one of three girls who worked for him in and around The Strip in Las Vegas. The word “pimp” was such an ugly word and Jackson certainly would not have classed himself as one. He did not beat his women, did not abuse them in any way, in fact; and frowned upon any drug taking. He was a broker and with that thought he straightened his tie in the bathroom mirror of his modest apartment two blocks west of The Strip. He glanced down at the replica Rolex that adorned his fleshy pink wrist; it was almost eight p.m., the perfect time to bump into the recipient of the message to fulfil his side of the transaction. He rode the elevator down to the basement, jumped into his reconditioned pearl white Cadillac, and headed east toward The Strip. He had no idea that the actions he was about to take would trigger off a chain of events leading to unthinkable tragedy for one of the wealthiest men in the United States.

Jackson’s huge metallic mass of a car came to a slow halt round the back entrance of Buckles Casino. He knew the owner of Buckles, a fiery Japanese guy called Hoshimo, who had become quite fond of one of Jackson’s girls named Sandy, a young redheaded small-town runaway from the Midwest. Jackson’s thoughts momentarily lingered on how well he had ascertained Hoshimo’s taste in women. It was about as close to job satisfaction one could get in his chosen field.

Jackson’s seriously over-nourished and under-exercised body creaked and clicked in bursts as he got out the Cadillac and made for the back entrance of the casino. He gave a few nods to acquaintances here and there as he walked through the casino, grabbed a handful of nuts from the bar without slowing his stride, and then exited through the front entrance out onto The Strip. The bright lights of the biggest casinos in the world glared back at him with an almost spiritual assertion, there were the sounds of excited tourists whizzing about, and the intense vibes of cash and energy which one could only experience in Vegas.

Walking through the steady flow of people traffic, Jackson kept his eyes open for the person he had to pass the message to. He breathed heavily as he walked, and noisily crunched on the nuts intermittently. He looked out for the places where he was most likely to see him; outside fast food joints, near alleys, on benches- any regular place a homeless man could usually be found.

All the while, Jackson wondered why anyone would be willing to pay five thousand bucks to pass on a message to an old homeless guy.

After almost an hour of aimlessly wandering around, Jackson decided to swallow his pride and ask the next apparently homeless person if they could help him locate Carl Copland, or C-Cop, as he was known on the streets.

Jackson spotted a potential target, a kid of about fifteen who was rummaging through a trash can in a McDonald’s parking lot. He almost cringed at having to ask him for a help, but he was exhausted and so he pushed ahead.

“Hey, over there!” Jackson yelled as he walked over in the vague direction to where the kid was standing, careful not to get too close.

The kid looked over, but there was no response, just a stare.

“How’s it going, buddy?” Jackson tried again, “Just a quick question” he spoke politely and with the nicest do-gooder smile he could muster, slowly rocking his head back and forth just like he had seen a talk show host do when speaking to dysfunctional kids. He was out of his depth.

“I was looking for Carl… err, I mean, C-Cop. I don’t suppose you’d happen to know him?”

The kid continued to stare for a moment longer. Jackson stared back with a smile which felt so forced he was concerned it would make him appear insane. The kid’s face was smeared with smudged dirt. He wore oversized jeans and a red-checked shirt which clearly covered numerous layers of other clothing, giving him an almost inflated upper torso.

“Cost you.” He shot back suddenly, catching Jackson off guard.

“Sure, no probs, say ten bucks?”

“Twenty.” It was a statement, a demand made with a self assurance that often accompanies those who live on the streets.

Jackson fumbled about in his left pocket, mindful that the right one contained five thousand in hundred dollar bills. If only the kid knew how much he was really helping. Jackson fished out a twenty and held it toward the kid, who snatched it up and tucked it safely away in a flash. Jackson eyed him, expectantly, waiting for C-Cop’s location.

“You’ll catch him in about an hour at St Dukes Church. He goes there for soup every Thursday.”

Jackson smiled. St Dukes was just a fifteen minute ride away.

“That’s great, appreciate your help, buddy. Say, why don’t you get down there yourself, son, instead of trolling through this?”

Jackson waved his hand at the trash can; he was feeling sorry for the kid who had already gone back to rummaging through other people’s leftovers. The kid spun round, a half consumed burger in his hand, as though he had been midway through eating it.

“’Cause I hate soup. But a Big Mac, I could eat these all day” he took a big bite and Jackson visually saw how his body relaxed in satisfaction as it registered the intake of a delightful treat. Teenagers were the same right across the social-class spectrum; some had just had a few bad breaks.

Olly Buckle
September 18th, 2010, 12:35 AM
The message was to be delivered by Jackson, who in turn had been recruited by two men in dark suits with matching buzz-cuts.Did the suits match the buzz cuts? keep things that go together together eg "Two men with matching buzz cuts and dark suits.

The Backward OX
September 18th, 2010, 04:13 AM
Olly, perhaps he meant “Two men in dark suits and with matching buzz-cuts.”

joe108:


Jackson’s seriously over-nourished and under-exercised body creaked and clicked in bursts as he got out the Cadillac and made for the back entrance of the casino. He gave a few nods to acquaintances here and there as he walked through the casino, grabbed a handful of nuts from the bar without slowing his stride, and then exited through the front entrance out onto The Strip.

You’ve used ‘casino’ twice here. My preference is to avoid closely-spaced repetitions of words that stand out.



“You’ll catch him in about an hour at St Dukes Church. He goes there for soup every Thursday.”

This is just a small thing, however if we calculate the time that will have elapsed since Jackson checked his watch, it means this guy will be lining up for soup around ten p.m. Don’t you think that’s a bit late?

joe108
September 18th, 2010, 03:10 PM
Thanks alot for the feedback. Yeah, totally see what you mean regarding the matching buzz cut thing. Can't believe I didnt spot that myself. The 2 x casino usage was also a good observation, thanks. Back to the drawing board!

PSFoster
September 22nd, 2010, 10:26 PM
Paragraph 2 would be better starting out with (just a suggestion): "Jackson's phone rang and he clicked it off. It could wait."

There's too much backstory crammed into this. It needs spaced out. It could be one of his girls calling, but to go into detail about how and where he does business detracts from the scene. As does how much he knows about the casino owner. This stuff can be released in bits and pieces throughout the story, even in dialogue. To keep the readers attention, stick to what is happening now. If it isn't really important to the story, leave it out.

It is good info to keep, though, because you will have a picture of Jackson in front of you.

Hope I helped.

joe108
September 23rd, 2010, 11:05 AM
PSFoster, yes you make a good point regarding the "here and now". I appreciate your feedback and will keep it in mind when i start writing my "proper" novel. Take care and God bless! DP

BoredMormon
September 24th, 2010, 04:49 AM
Your opening paragraph has too many words and too little infomation. 'A guy he knew' could be replaced by a name. It looks like you are trying to create suspense and mystery. What I read is vaugeness and confusion.

'for the person he had to pass the message to' - Long winded and unneeded. Replace with 'his contact', 'the target' or even better a name.