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Cressida
November 9th, 2010, 06:46 PM
I wonder if I could ask here for some feedback on this extract from my novel. It is from one of the later chapters. The earlier chapters have been quite well received but then reviews tailed off and I am not sure why. In this scene my hero, now an MI5 agent, confronts the man who stole his life and family. Sorry there is a shooting in this so don't read if that might upset you.



“It’s over,” she spoke softly, as Michael emerged from the shadows, a gun in his hand.
Malik released Diana from his arms and faced his former friend with a smile.
“Michael,” he said. “We meet again.”
Michael gestured towards the drawing room with his gun and with a smile Malik al Khouri complied, standing back to allow his wife to enter first.
Diana, sensing that she was an extra to this drama, perched awkwardly on the edge of an armchair. She glanced apprehensively from husband to former lover as they stood before the fireplace.
“Your gun,” said Michael, his voice tight with emotion.
Malik complied, gingerly removing a pistol from its holster with two fingers and placing it on the hearthrug between them.
“He has another,” interrupted Diana. “His left ankle.”
Michael nodded and Malik with a twisted smile removed a small gun which had been taped to his leg.
“Thank you.”
“No, Michael. It is I who should thank you of course. Thank you for lending me your family for so many years. If it is any consolation I believe I have cared for them so much better than you would have done.”
Michael’s hand tightened on his gun and he longed to kill this man who had stolen so many years of his life but he was a professional and he would not be goaded.
“Never mind about that now, first the Indians.”
“Ah of course, the bomb. You English are so proud of your traditions and it would not do to upset your precious tennis with a spectacle of violence and death.”
“The time and the place, Malik.”
Are you mad? Why would I tell you?”
In answer Michael punched Malik several times in the face. His hand moving so fast that Diana barely had time to register it.
“No, stop!” she screamed, leaping to her feet her face a mask of horror at the violent spectacle.
“Malik. Tell him what he wants to know,” she begged. “A man came to kill me today in our own home.”
“No,” whispered the injured man.
“Oh, yes,” Diana spat out the words. “If it wasn’t for Michael I would be lying dead, a message to you from your terrorist friends. Noor is in danger because of you.”
“My Blackberry,” he whispered.
Malik spread his hands wide so that his jacket gaped and without removing his eyes from him Michael gestured to Diana to check her husband’s pockets. Diana moved forwards and not meeting Malik’s eyes, she slipped her hand into his inside pocket and removed the device.”
“The code.”
“I am sure my beautiful Rania will tell you. She can be so obliging when she chooses.”
“It’s Noor’s birthday,” said Diana punching in the numbers quickly.
The Blackberry screen flickered into life and Diana handed it to Michael who dropped it into his pocket.
“And now you need to tell me...”
Events happened so quickly that Diana barely had time to cry out. There was the cough of a silenced gun and Malik al Khouri fell to his knees in front of Michael a scarlet bloom spreading rapidly across his chest. Michael reacted instantly, throwing Diana to the floor and crushing her with his weight. The shots had come from the open French windows and he expected the assailant to enter that way. There were no more shots however and a few seconds later they heard the sound of a car engine bursting in to life.
“No!” yelled Michael, as he sprang for the window leaving Diana lying on the floor.
She crawled to her husband’s side. Scarlet bubbles formed at his lips as he fought to breathe. Desperately she cradled the dying man in her arms pressing on his chest to staunch the blood. He was struggling to pull something from his pocket.
“Please Malik be still,” she begged. “I’ll get a doctor, it’ll be OK.”
Even as she said the words she knew it was a lie. Malik was too far gone now for anyone to save.
“B..b...”
“Shh don’t talk.”
“Bahebek,” he whispered with his dying breath. I love you.
Diana wept for the man she had not loved in return. Whatever he was whatever he had done in the dim and distant past, he had cared for her and protected her and been the mainstay of her life for so long.
When Michael returned, he found her still sobbing. He had been too late to catch the gunman. A sweep of the building had revealed nobody else so it seemed the assailant had acted alone. When he returned and saw Malik was dead, he realised that the quest to find out what had happened to his life was now at an end. All trails had lead back to this man but Michael had sensed that there was something more to all of it and now he would never know. It was his turn now to weep at last. Slowly and silently he allowed the tears to fall. Gently Diana laid aside her husband’s body; there was nothing she could do for him now. Michael at least was alive. She held him in her arms and stroked his hair and the two of them wept together for their lost love and their lost lives.
It was Michael who recovered first. Night was beginning to fall and Diana was shivering in the gathering gloom.
“Oh Christ,” he exclaimed. “You need to get that off.”
Diana’s silk dress had been drenched in Malik’s blood and was now drying stiffly. She stared down at it in horror and began to shake. Michael closed the windows and grabbed her hand, steering her from the drawing room with its charnel house stink. There was a bathroom off one of the bedrooms on the first floor and he pushed her inside. She stood staring blankly at the shower so he unzipped her dress and turned on the shower taps. The sound of the water seemed to wake her and she realised that she was clutching something in her hand. She could hear the sound of doors and drawers being opened and closed as Michael searched the room for something for her to wear.
“Michael?”
She held a bloodstained piece of card out to him.
“What is it?”
“I don’t know,” replied Diana. “Malik was desperate to give it to me, just before he...he..”
She tried to say died but somehow the word wouldn’t come out. Almost as if saying it would make it real.
Michael took the card from her and turned it over in his hand. It was the size of a business card but plain except for some handwritten letters and numbers.
“It looks like a postcode. Did he say anything?”
Diana hesitated.
“Just...,” she stammered. “Just that he loved me.”
“Get a shower,” replied Michael shortly. “I’ll find you some clothes, there’s nothing here.”

valo123
November 9th, 2010, 07:10 PM
I like the material. I think where you fall short is the narration. I haven't read your previous chapters, but I'm lost as to who the main character is (if they're even included in this segment). You'd capture the urgency of the situation more if it was done from the perspective of one of those characters. As I read it I just pictured the whole scene from an overhead view, me being out of harms way. As a reader, I want to be immersed in the action.

There are many things I saw that could be shortened to convey what's taking place more effectively.

Cressida
November 9th, 2010, 07:38 PM
OK thanks for that, I see where you are coming from. Who the main characters are is not important for this really, they are actually Diana and Michael at different part and the viewpoints swap. If you wanted to read it you could try the link in my sig but don't worry I won't expect you to. I will perhaps rewrite it giving more of a character perspective and see how that works.

valo123
November 9th, 2010, 07:47 PM
I wonder if I could ask here for some feedback on this extract from my novel. It is from one of the later chapters. The earlier chapters have been quite well received but then reviews tailed off and I am not sure why. In this scene my hero, now an MI5 agent, confronts the man who stole his life and family. Sorry there is a shooting in this so don't read if that might upset you.


blue means remove Red means add or replace with
“It’s over,” she said softly, as Michael emerged from the shadows with a gun in hand.
Malik released Diana from his arms and faced his former friend with a smile.
“Michael,” he said. “We meet again.”
Michael gestured towards the drawing room with his gun. Malik stood back, allowing his wife to enter first, then, with a smile, he followed.
Diana, Sensing that she was an extra to this drama, Diana perched awkwardly on the edge of an armchair, away from the rising tension between the two. She glanced apprehensively from husband to former lover as they stood before the fireplace.
“Your gun,” said Michael, his voice tight with emotion.
Malik complied, gingerly removing a pistol from its holster with two fingers and placing it on the hearthrug between them.
“He has another,” interrupted Diana. “His left ankle.”
Michael nodded and Malik, with a twisted smile, removed the small pistol.
“Thank you.”
“No, Michael. It is I who should thank you, of course. Thank you for lending me your family for so many years. If it is any consolation I believe I have cared for them so much better than you would have done.”
His hand tightened on the gun. He wanted him dead. Wanted to shoot the man who'd stolen so many years of his life. It gnawed at him like a festering bite....(include something else depicting the anger and inner termoil this guy's feeling) but he was a professional and he would not be goaded.
“Never mind about that now, first the Indians.”
“Ah of course, the bomb. You English are so proud of your traditions and it would not do to upset your precious tennis with a spectacle of violence and death.”
“The time and the place, Malik.”(this sounds like something the girl would say, not Mike.)
"Are you mad? Why would I tell you?”
In answer Michael threw his fists, striking Malik several times in the face, his hands moving so fast that Diana barely had time to register it.
“No, stop!” she screamed, leaping to her feet her face a mask of horror at the violent spectacle.
“Malik. Tell him what he wants to know,” she begged. “A man came to kill me today in our own home.”
“No,” whispered the injured man.
“Oh, yes,” Diana spat out the words. “If it wasn’t for Michael I would be lying dead, a message to you from your terrorist friends. Noor is in danger because of you.”
“My Blackberry,” he whispered.
Malik spread his hands wide so that his jacket gaped and without removing his eyes from him Michael gestured to Diana to check her husband’s pockets. Diana moved forwards and not meeting Malik’s eyes, she slipped her hand into his inside pocket and removed the device.”
“The code.”
“I am sure my beautiful Rania will tell you. She can be so obliging when she chooses.”
“It’s Noor’s birthday,” said Diana punching in the numbers quickly.
The Blackberry screen flickered into life and Diana handed it to Michael who dropped it into his pocket.
“And now you need to tell me...”
Events happened so quickly that Diana barely had time to cry out. There was the cough of a silenced gun and Malik al Khouri fell to his knees in front of Michael a scarlet bloom spreading rapidly across his chest. Michael reacted instantly, throwing Diana to the floor and crushing her with his weight. The shots had come from the open French windows and he expected the assailant to enter that way. There were no more shots however and a few seconds later they heard the sound of a car engine bursting in to life.
“No!” yelled Michael, as he sprang for the window leaving Diana lying on the floor.
She crawled to her husband’s side. Scarlet bubbles formed at his lips as he fought to breathe. Desperately she cradled the dying man in her arms pressing on his chest to staunch the blood. He was struggling to pull something from his pocket.
“Please Malik be still,” she begged. “I’ll get a doctor, it’ll be OK.”
Even as she said the words she knew it was a lie. Malik was too far gone now for anyone to save.
“B..b...”
“Shh don’t talk.”
“Bahebek,” he whispered with his dying breath. I love you.
Diana wept for the man she had not loved in return. Whatever he was whatever he had done in the dim and distant past, he had cared for her and protected her and been the mainstay of her life for so long.
When Michael returned, he found her still sobbing. He had been too late to catch the gunman. A sweep of the building had revealed nobody else so it seemed the assailant had acted alone. When he returned and saw Malik was dead, he realised that the quest to find out what had happened to his life was now at an end. All trails had lead back to this man but Michael had sensed that there was something more to all of it and now he would never know. It was his turn now to weep at last. Slowly and silently he allowed the tears to fall. Gently Diana laid aside her husband’s body; there was nothing she could do for him now. Michael at least was alive. She held him in her arms and stroked his hair and the two of them wept together for their lost love and their lost lives.
It was Michael who recovered first. Night was beginning to fall and Diana was shivering in the gathering gloom.
“Oh Christ,” he exclaimed. “You need to get that off.”
Diana’s silk dress had been drenched in Malik’s blood and was now drying stiffly. She stared down at it in horror and began to shake. Michael closed the windows and grabbed her hand, steering her from the drawing room with its charnel house stink. There was a bathroom off one of the bedrooms on the first floor and he pushed her inside. She stood staring blankly at the shower so he unzipped her dress and turned on the shower taps. The sound of the water seemed to wake her and she realised that she was clutching something in her hand. She could hear the sound of doors and drawers being opened and closed as Michael searched the room for something for her to wear.
“Michael?”
She held a bloodstained piece of card out to him.
“What is it?”
“I don’t know,” replied Diana. “Malik was desperate to give it to me, just before he...he..”
She tried to say died but somehow the word wouldn’t come out. Almost as if saying it would make it real.
Michael took the card from her and turned it over in his hand. It was the size of a business card but plain except for some handwritten letters and numbers.
“It looks like a postcode. Did he say anything?”
Diana hesitated.
“Just...,” she stammered. “Just that he loved me.”
“Get a shower,” replied Michael shortly. “I’ll find you some clothes, there’s nothing here.”

This is all I had time for now, but you get the point. Shorten some things up and rewrite some sentences to add more suspense/urgency.

Cressida
November 9th, 2010, 08:20 PM
Thank you valo that is very helpful. I have written mainly technical items so sometimes I am afraid I become too lost in my own complexity I think.

craighallam
November 9th, 2010, 09:55 PM
This isn't the kind of thing I usually read, so it took some effort, but as it got to the part with the shooting, I thought you really got into it. The flow of the action there was much better. I'd suggest reading your dialogue aloud and figuring what feels right. Remember your reader can't imagine inflexion that isn't on the page.

Secondly, and this is only a suggestion, try more showing rather than telling:


Diana, sensing that she was an extra to this drama, perched awkwardly on the edge of an armchair.

The underlined section is unecessary if you change the next line to something like:


Her eyes flitted between husband and lover as they stood before the fireplace. She tugged at the hem of her skirt, picking at lint that wasn't there.

See how the action shows you her hesitancy and discomfort rather than telling them overtly? Maybe try using the same idea throughout the piece?

But as I said earlier, your action sections are really good. Just put the same amount of crunch into your resting bits too. Hope that helps :D
Craig

Cressida
November 9th, 2010, 10:00 PM
Thank you that was so sweet of you to read mine. I am accustomed to writing for technical magazines and it requires a very different style which is sometimes hard to lose. Actually I do often read my dialogue outloud which is helpful.

craighallam
November 9th, 2010, 10:03 PM
Ah, you see, I started with fiction and I'm now trying more journalism. I'm having the opposite problem where I forget I'm not delivering narrative hahaha

Poor, pidgeon-holed us! :roll:

Craig

Cressida
November 9th, 2010, 10:19 PM
Well, I think it depends to a large extent on for whom you write. When I read back some of the things I wrote in PR...

Of course there are lies, damn lies and ...journalism so provided you find the right niche you will be fine!

PS I wouldn't apply for a job at 'The Racing Pigeon' though.:wink:

craighallam
November 10th, 2010, 10:23 AM
hahaha I'll bear that in mind!