Here is one of my favourite sections told from the perspective of the central character Alan Holmes – an eulogy to his childhood friend Wayne.  The gist of the story is this: Alan escaped a murder scene when he was ten-years-old, but has no recollections of the event. 

For a few moments, I’m a boy again, trekking along the muddy trail with Gordon Day and Wayne Winters, the three of us building dens near the tyre swing in the woods,Wayne trying to teach us one of those silly rhyming songs he’d just made up. Then, the vision fades, and I stand by a wooden bus shelter near the village pub, peering at fields and rolling hills and tall chimney-like structures.

I suddenly remember the significance of today’s date. The first day of October. How could I have forgotten? Today is Wayne Winter’s birthday. If he’d lived, he would have been my age, Gordon’s age. Thirty-five. And how different all our lives would have been if I hadn’t suggested the bike race to Whaley Hill when we were boys of ten.

Nearby, in the village, the church bells are ringing, their sounds soft and mournful. They evoke images of the horse-led funeral procession along bleak northern roads twenty-six-years ago as people came out of their homes to watch in silence, heads bowed. Images of the Pennines skyline cloudy in the distance. Images of the small coffin draped in a Manchester United scarf, decorated with flowers. The groups of sobbing adults and children following in the cold and the wet to pay their final respects, their footsteps slow like a funeral march, matching the tempo of the horses’ hooves.


8 thoughts on “The Novel: A Short Writing Sample

  1. Very vivid! This is a great scene, you are not only showing me this mans pain, but I can relate it to my own life. The people who are gone and the funerals I attended. Beautifully written!


  2. Wow! Nice stuff.

    Like: the evocative images.
    Don’t like: Saying “They evoke images…”

    Like: The feeling of “jumpiness” of a recollection.
    Don’t like: “Then, the vision fades…” because it seems like you are directing the reader that it IS a recollection.

    Like: The references to the Pennines skyline and the small coffin dramed in Manchester United scarf.
    Don’t like: Referring to them as Images. (See note above.)

    I think overall it has a dreamlike quality to begin with that should be enhanced. After all, we can never really be sure of our memories (as you yourself have mentioned in previous posts).

  3. Thanks very much, tikiman.

    I think I’ve always known there’s a problem with using words like “images” in the writing, i.e. telling not showing. It’s pretty difficult to get exactly right. Glad you like the overall feel.

  4. you’ve been talking so much about your work on flashbacks – I like how you tackled it here, moving between past and present. I especially like the way you handled it in the second paragraph….very nice!

  5. Thanks, Jennifer! Like I said earlier, the section is one of my favourites, and I’ve been working very hard at the overall construction of this story.

  6. Beautifully evoked. I like how in that moment and in that place we learn so much about the character. I makes me want to know more about him.

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