Chapter One.

Below is the first chapter of my novel ‘Where There Are No Eyes’.
Please read and critique. “I like it” or “I don’t like it” are pointless remarks. Why do you like it, why don’t you like it?
Is the character of Shelley Winters fully formed in your mind?
What is your overall feeling of the chapters mood and or emotion?
Do you care about Shelley?

This is only a second draft running at 7 pages and 1696 words and please excuse spelling and grammatical errors. This WordPress theme doesn’t allow paragraph indents.

Where There Are No Eyes follows Detective Chief Inspector Robert Carter as he tries to solve a series of horrific murders while dealing with his own personal problems, a promise he shouldn’t have made, and bureaucratic nonsense.’

Enjoy.

Edit: 14:06 22/07/16

Edit: 20:29 23/07/16


Nine Days Ago


The streets of London are in shadow as the sun dances on the horizon to the West, casting an orange light, turning the clouds shades of pink and orange, giving them the appearance of candy floss. But this sky isn’t so sweet.

Shelley Winters, young, blond, beautiful in a conventional way has picked up her pace as she has no intention of being caught in the rain, but her shoes are not for running, frankly they are not for working either, but it is Friday night, and London is as predictable as the clouds above.

People leave work as early as they can, heading to the bars, pubs, or events depending on their tastes, and London can cater to all sorts of proclivities. Shelley is heading to a local bar across the street and like her shoes her clothes are not run friendly either. The tight skirt restricts her movements.

As the sun kisses the horizon there is a flash of lightning, and for a second the clouds vanish, the darkening streets light up, and the path to the underworld is revealed. Then comes the rain.

Shelley enters the bar just as the rain comes down in sheets as think as lead. She stops by the door, and the sky out side turns a monochrome of filth. She didn’t bring an umbrella today, wether report said it wasn’t going rain until Saturday, so here she is, a mid-September Friday, no umbrella or coat, just a suit, blouse, and high heels, all made to look sexy, pulled tight at the waist to show off her figure, maybe to impress a guy, all gone because of the rain.

Though she is wearing five inch high heels she needs to raise herself up on her tip toes to scan over the crowd but her small size makes this difficult, even though she is standing on a step. A subtle haze floats about everyone’s head. It’s not smoke or steam, just a pub haze, could be dust. The noise is just below deafening, and it’s impossible to make out any one conversation.

She checks the message on her phone again then looks to the far right corner of the room, a hair style she recognises, the red bob cut shining like polished copper lit up by a wall light. She moves down the step and disappears beneath the bodies with only the direction of the bar to guide her movements. Pushing past patrons who are taking up all available space.

Though the bar has separated seating and standing areas, people in the city will stand where they please on a Friday afternoon. Shelley moved past them to a cat call, “Whoa, whoa, whoa luv, where you going so fast?”

She was close enough to smell the stale beer on his breath with an undertone of cigarette and coffee but they were not enough to cover the reek of aftershave he clearly applied liberally, just before heading out of the office.

Shelley doesn’t respond, she knows the guy and is used to his alpha male bullshit, he’s the kind of guy who wears tight trousers to accentuate his arse and crouch, then there is the fake Rolex. These so called alphas have been drinking and think this mixed with their boyish good looks is enough to get the girl no matter how stupid the pick up line.

Shelley reaches the bar, it’s bright back lighting a contrast to the dark outside and the haze inside, it hurts her eyes for a second, the barmen asks her what she’s having she shakes her head and moves away to the other end of the bar. She’s seen the people she knows. A brief path has just opened up for her, she hurriedly moves through it before the next wave of consumers crash the bar like a stale wave on rock.

She reaches her friends who greet her the way women do, a cuddle and a kiss on the cheek, Shelley shows them the message on her phone and apologises for having to leave. One of her best friends from college is in town and wants to see her tonight. Red bob touches her arm in an understanding way.

Shelley leaves the way she came, her small frame weaving past the bodies crowding the bar and again passes the alphas by the door. One reaches out and grabs her arm, “Where you going so fast?” he says.

It’s the guy Shelley knows. She shakes her arm loose and shoots him a look. Outside, the city lights up, and a second later a clap of thunder loud enough to rattle the windows, for a second the bar goes quiet and you can hear a few bars of ‘White Shadows’ by Coldplay, then there is a unified cheer to the god of thunder. Shelley is out the door before the cheer ends to the sound of the three men laughing. These are what Shelley, and many others call, Wankers.

Shelley waits by the door for the rain to let up enough to get a taxi. The candy sky has been washed away, replaced with dark. The rain seems to slow, so holding her handbag over her head, Shelley runs to the curb to flag down a taxi. She throws out her hand and the car stops. She opens the door and practically dives in, hitting the floor hard, the driver asks if she’s okay. She gets up, sits down on the back seat and nods, then gives the driver the name of a club in Soho. Her hair is ruined.

Fifteen minutes later, Shelley has fixed her makeup and has done what she could with her hair to the soundtrack of ‘I’ll tell you what’s wrong with London’ and the constant rattle of the vehicle. She steps out into the rain, pays the driver, and thanks him for the ride, then quickly moves to the vague shelter of the nearest building. The driver touches his flat cap and drives on before stopping to pick up another fare.

The streets are filled with people moving in all directions, and traffic is blocking the streets, which is why Shelley jumped out of the taxi early. People moving In and out of shops and services. Laughing, joking, crying, running to escape the rain which is getting heavier. The streets are dark enough to make every light seem brighter than it is.

Soho is a very different place to the rest of London, the way it sounds with the record shops pumping out the latest indie releases, the way it smells, there is a feeling of togetherness here, like everyone in Soho is there for the same reason, a good time. It is also an area of London filled with small tight streets, with buildings which seem to be leaning over you, and alley ways allowing services to keep trash off the streets for the most part.

Shelley knows her way around and takes a short cut through an alley way, it’ll also provide a little protection from the downpour, but as she makes her turn she almost walks into the back of a parked van, taking up all but a little space on the left hand side. She thinks nothing of it and moves around the van. She usually counts on the street lights to provide some elimination, but the van has it’s lights on, and the small court yard beyond is lit up.

Shelley’s phone buzzes. It’s a text message — ‘Got Ur drink w8ing in back.

Shelley stopped by the van’s cab to check the message and noticed the van is empty. She moves on, it’s lights making the rain visible in the dark, its engine running, and steam rising up from the bonnet. She steps into the wash of its headlights, and for a moment her shadow is 30 feet high. The rain running down the walls like insects.

The small court yard area beyond is empty, it smells of London’s underbelly, piss, shit, and vomit, none of which will ever get washed away no matter heavy the rain gets. It could rain bleach and those smells will remain, they are apart of London, they have permeated the stone of the buildings and the very foundations of the city, even the very air here is stale, like the last breath of a dying man.

The lights turn off, and Shelley is now standing in the dark. She turns but the van is alone. She knows this place and tries to walk it from memory. She enters the open court yard, back doors to cafe’s, restaurants, and the flats above them, but no lights are on, and the height of the building stops the street lights on the other side of Shelley’s short cut from reaching her, only the top of the building is lit.

The wet surface catches what little light there is, making it easier to figure out where to step and where to avoid. She can make out subtle features on the walls, the drain pipes, where the brick work is uneven, doors, window frames, the drain in the middle of this tight pungent square seems to be the only outlet for the rain, its constant wash louder than the streets beyond. In this space it sounds like a waterfall.

Another flash, but this one doesn’t light up the alley way, and there isn’t a roll of thunder coming. Shelley loses focus and drops to her knees on the wet cobblestone ground, a sharp pain shoots up her thigh from the impact, she falls to the side, turning and landing on her back. She lies there for a second, wondering what just happened, the clouds a contrast in grey slowly moving over head, and why the rain now feels warm as it runs down the back of her head.

She can see movement to her right, she tries to look but finds if difficult to move anything other than her eyes, but there is definitely someone standing over her, his shape against the clouds. Her eyes lose their focus again and a grey wash moves in to take her sight completely, like a cloud.


Chapters two and three to follow soon.

14 Comments on “Chapter One.

  1. Ok. I’m not a book reader but there is enough to keep me interested and read more. There are many gramme and spelling mistakes but as someone who never tried to write a book then I enjoyed it while having my lunch. So good luck with your book and I wish you well. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment Michael.

      Yeah, Grammar and spelling are not my strong point and will be the last thing I fix after edits and rewrites, and gawd knows what that will be.

      Like

  2. Ok, so the writing is pretty good, I like the descriptions and the feel so far. There is clearly a lot of potential here but at the same time there is a lot of polishing that need to be done. First thing is spelling, grammar, and punctuation. This is a must, especially if you are going to post it online for the world to see. For most people when they start to read something and there are numerous spelling mistakes they will instantly lose interest. No matter how great the writing and story are, misspelled words cannot get overlooked.
    Next is the wordiness. Too many run on sentences and just a little too much description on things that don’t matter too much in the story. You need to get to the conflict a little quicker here, especially since it is the first chapter. Shelley seems like a nice girl but it is hard to feel an emotional connection to her with all of the descriptions about the weather, the bar, the streets, and the town. All of that could have been cut down to a paragraph or two and then give us just a little bit more about her. Even though she gets killed at the end of the chapter, we need a reason to care. Setting a scene with good description is a must but too much will bog down a story and pull away from the characters. You have a good knack at describing things, just figure out how to cut it down a bit.
    I have a word document I can send you where I made notes on each section of the chapter. Send me your email and I will send it to you if you would like to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve described this Shelley’s physical appearance pretty well. You have also given us a brief insight into a little of her personality, which is a good step in the right direction. However, as you aware, there are a number of grammatical errors, which is fine at this stage. I would say that paragraphs are essential though, I can see that you have but the format of the slight indent at the beginning of a new paragraph really helps read to distinguish when a new one is starting and it just helps with the overall flow.

    I’m nothing of an editor just a novice writer myself. There were a couple of instances that I think could possibly do with having another look at. “Sheets as thick as lead”, I understand what you’re trying to portray here ..I just think that lead is usually used as a descriptive tool more for its weight properties, do you get what I mean?

    “Just below deafening”, you could just “almost deafening”, its just a bit cleaner.

    “greet her the way women do, a cuddle and a kiss on the cheek”. I personally would shorten this and just say something along the lines of greeted her warmly or affectionately. “The way women do” could be viewed as a bit offensive to some people due lol.

    The paragraph on Soho has got a really good start to it. You could definitely build upon that and make it a bit darker if you so wished to.

    These were just a few brief impressions I got from it when I read it, hope they are helpful in some way! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks S. McKeown.
      Great feedback/comment will definitely use some of your suggestions. The line about “As women do” was always on the fence and i’ve been thinking about removing it. The formatting on this theme in wordpress doesn’t allow me to use an indent without pushing the whole paragraph over. But yeah, I use Scrivener to write and my paragraphs has that indent. Also this wordpress theme creates an extra space between paragraphs. I should probably mention that up top.

      Thanks again.

      Like

  4. Pretty good story, but some of your descriptions mainly of the weather and minute.details are tedious and distract this reader from the story you wish to impart. Keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good piece of writing, though as many have said here there are issues with spelling, grammar, and sentence-length which need addressing.

    The opening few paragraphs read like the voice-over announcer from the Twilight Zone; it seemed a bit television-y and was hard to get into at first. However, a few paragraphs afterwards and I felt the writing started to take off.

    I liked Shelley, was interested to see what would happen to her, what journey she was on, but I would suggest changing her last name. She shares her name with a big-time American actress from the 1950s/60s so it could be distracting to some readers, lol.

    There were times when I felt I was reading a screenplay that was trying to transition into a novel. This approach is fine, as several other writers have tried this approach in the past (think Steinbeck or Hemingway), but there needs to be more of a definite reason as to WHY you’re using this approach. The visual descriptions of the London landscape are all well and good, but how does this fit the story you’re trying to tell us? Obviously, you’ve only shared the first chapter, and it does have a strong visual flourish at the end with the figure standing over Shelley (though be careful with this as it might remind people a bit too much of old slasher movies and might set the wrong tone for the kind of novel you’re writing – is this horror or crime or a mix of both?), but what is the purpose? How does the form match the content, or is it meant to – are you experimenting with narrative form?

    Finally, I’d suggesting taking out the paragraph about the courtyard smelling like ‘London’s underbelly, piss, shit, and vomit none of which will ever get washed away no matter heavy the rain gets’. It sounds like something out of the script for Taxi Driver, which is great if that’s the kind of atmosphere you’re going for, but that paragraph is just too much!

    Great job, keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, appreciate the comment.
      You’ve given me some ideas for changes. As this is my first attempt a writing a novel it’s all a little experimental right now, and i’ve been getting some great feedback.

      Thanks again.

      Like

  6. Your descriptions are quite vivid. The stage is lit and I want to know where the characters are going. I would, however…and this is what I like personally-whether I am THE READER or WRITER…action and/or dialogue within the first 3 paragraphs of any novel. “Telling” as the saying goes is not “Selling”. No matter what we are trying to convey to the reader. We are always “selling” them on the reason they should read more.

    Yes, grammar is important. Phraseology/vernacular helpful. But as a writer who’s genre is “Naturalism”, I find sticking patriotically to RULES BORING. You have an important story to tell through a lens that is unique to you. Only YOU can tell this story. Do it. Listen to the inner voice. Allow those characters to come alive by being THEMSELVES. Write. Write. Write, my friend! Let no one stop that outpouring of self expression.

    Rebecca
    https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B01HQQ7DAU&asin=B01HQQ7DAU&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_wXJKxbXF4GPW1

    Liked by 1 person

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