Rewrite: Opening Chapter One - The Adventures of Tarquin Seebohm Jenkins

Status
Not open for further replies.

The Bloated One

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2007
Messages
505
Location
Life challenged and crazy
Thanks to those that took the time to offer comments and advice. I've rewritten the opening few pages for your delectation....

TBO



The sleepy, Northamptonshire village of Steeple Snoring was not known for its bears. In fact, no one at the Post Office could recall ever seeing one, let alone a sloth of twenty. That was, until this sunny morning.

“I see what I sees,” said Mrs. Harbinkle, confirming it, and crossing her ample chest with her arms. “On their hind legs too!” she continued, nodding sagely at the villagers around her.

“They’re here for a reason,” added her husband, looking warily through the Post Office’s casement window toward the bears’ last known position.

Standing in the queue, and listening avidly to the conversation was Tarquin Jenkins, a 13-year-old schoolboy. He knew bears. In fact, he was meeting two in the village tearooms very shortly.

“Probably got lost coming in off the A43,” said Tarquin, shrugging his shoulders. “Take the wrong turn by Bishop’s Rest and you’ll be down the High Street in no time.”

“Perhaps there’s a circus in town?” queried the Postmaster.

“Circus!” Shrieked a small, rotund woman in a gray tweed suit, Tyrolean hat and brown brogues who had been standing on the periphery of the conversation. Miss Hoploosely, the spinster of the parish, and doyen of the lace-curtain brigade was not amused. “I’ll go to the Police,” she said, waving her Harrods umbrella, “we can’t have a circus here!” Turning smartly on her heels she strode purposefully from the Post Office toward the Police Station.
Reaching the counter, Tarquin quickly paid for his stamps and envelopes, and left.

On his way to the tearooms, Tarquin took from his pocket the crumpled piece of paper pushed through his letter-box that morning, and read it aloud;

Rupert and Teddy
Cordially invite you to an
Invitation Only
Teddy Bears Picnic
The Enchanted Teapot Tea Rooms
12:00

Scrawled across the bottom in red ink were the words, ‘Come alone! Jules.’

Every family had a charismatic uncle and Tarquin’s was no exception. Inventor, world traveler, tea taster, apothecary, balloon racer, and all round know it all. That was Uncle Jules. Now, back in Steeple Snoring, he was up to something.

Nearing the tearooms, Tarquin heard the sound of a piano accompanied by singing and laughter. He could see two large bears standing in the doorway. Reaching the tearooms, he tried to pass the bears, but they barred the door.

“Это - званый вечер. Что Вы хотите?” said the bear with the large, brown fluffy ears and what appeared to be the Olympic rings strapped to its chest.

Tarquin thrust the invitation into its outstretched paw. “I am invited,” he said, nervously.

“Xорошо, проникнуть внутрь,” Replied the bear, stepping aside and pushing open the door.

The tearooms were heaving. Every imaginable bear was standing or sitting, drinking tea or slurping milkshakes through bendy straws. In the middle of the room, Rupert Bear stood up and started waving at him. Tarquin pushed through the crowd toward the table.

“Glad you could make it,” said Rupert, offering a paw.

“Don’t you think it’s time to take off that silly costume Uncle Jules? Half the village is up in arms with your picnic,” said Tarquin, shaking the paw and sitting in the chair opposite him.

The two bears at the table removed their costume heads to reveal grinning, red faced, middle-aged men.

“This is Jeremiah Cavendish,” said Jules, turning to the hulk of a man next to him, sporting the only hair on his head, a huge, graying handlebar mustache. “Jeremiah is an old friend, an ex-wrestler, and runs the double lock on the canal.” Jeremiah leaned across the table, took Tarquin’s hand in his large paw, and shook it vigorously.

“Okay Uncle, why did you want to see me?”

“Well, with your summer holiday’s coming up, Jeremiah and I want to get you involved in our tour guiding business.”

“Wearing silly costumes and guiding tourists? Why on earth would I want to do that!”

“Your Uncle and me thought you lacked adventure,” said Jeremiah.

“It would be a great experience during the holidays,” added Jules.

“Oh, and dressing up as bears and going on picnics is adventurous!”

“Haven’t you wondered what really happened at the signing of the Magna Carta?” asked Jules.

“Or, the Declaration of Independence?” said Jeremiah.

“If I was that interested, I’d read it in a book.”

“Wouldn’t you rather witness it, first hand?” asked his Uncle.

“What? Go there and see it happening, for real?” said Tarquin laughing.

“Yes,” said Jules. “You would travel there with a group of people and watch.”

“So, let me get this right. I’ll take twenty people on bus 101 to 1776?”

Tarquin laughed again, but when the two mens' lively, humorous demeanors disappeared, replaced by the grim, po-faced expressions of accountants, he stopped.

“Okay,” said Tarquin, looking at his uncle and feeling uneasy, “what hair brained scheme are you working on now.”

“What if,” continued Jules, “ you could take people to Rome AD103 and watch a live chariot race?”

“Or, have dinner with a famous painter, perhaps that Mr. Manet?” said, Jeremiah.

Tarquin felt an icy chill go down his spine. “You’re serious about this.”

“Deadly,” chorused the two bears.
 
Last edited:

Bowler1

Senile Supporter
Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
4,247
Location
High Wycombe
Your second russian line came back as "well, to get inside" - it might just be my translation, but the fact I went off and did a translation should tell you a lot.

I'm not going to pick at it anymore, it's good enough for me - good job.

Why does everyone pick on accountants, it's not right I tell you. :mad:
 

Boneman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2008
Messages
5,540
Location
Working with the Bare Bones of talent
Definitely better, so just some nitpicks:

A sloth of bears? Is that the collective term? I like it, but someone will nitpick and say "why is there a 20 year-old sloth going down the road?"


It's hyphen day, today, so you're in luck...

Inventor, world-traveler, tea-taster, apothecary, balloon-racer, and all round know-it-all.
might be better?

“what hair-brained scheme are you working on now?”


Hyphen and question mark added...

I'm a little confused that Jules and Jermiah feel free to discuss this in the middle of a crowded room of bears, who you've led us to believe are tourists (unless they're all in on it, of course...)
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
12,741
Location
West Sussex, UK
A sloth of bears? Is that the collective term? I like it, but someone will nitpick and say "why is there a 20 year-old sloth going down the road?"

Yes, that would have been me ...

Oh, and it's not "hair-brained" unless you're a 16th-century Scot. I'll leave you to guess what the more correct version is. :p

Also, I don't think the comma after "sleepy" is correct. It would be if "Northamptonshire" were another adjective, like in "the sleepy, isolated village", but it isn't. Is it part of the noun? In any case, whenever I've previously seen "the sleepy [county] village of" it's never with a comma.
 

ctg

weaver of the unseen
Supporter
Joined
Aug 21, 2007
Messages
9,311
TBO it's good and I think I've said it couple of times all ready. Get this published one way or another because there's a world full of people who would like to read this type of classics. But I also know you have had years full of struggle to get it right. So I'm just saying that please get it finished before we get too old and die on waiting.
 

Sander

Active Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2013
Messages
36
Really, really good! You've hooked me, at least. Just a few very, very small nitpicks for me.


The sleepy, Northamptonshire village of Steeple Snoring was not known for its bears. In fact, no one at the Post Office could recall ever seeing one, let alone a sloth of twenty. That was, until this sunny morning.
This feels off to me, because you're jumping between two tenses here. "this sunny morning" suggests present tense, but the "was" is of course past tense as is the subsequent paragraph (and everything else). But then 'one sunny morning' maybe sounds too much like a fairy tale. I don't know -- it's minor, but it bugs me a little.

I also trip over the 'sloth' -- it stops my reading for half a second.

Every family had a charismatic uncle and Tarquin’s was no exception. Inventor, world traveler, tea taster, apothecary, balloon racer, and all round know it all. That was Uncle Jules. Now, back in Steeple Snoring, he was up to something.
This reads like "Now he's up to something, a few miles off in Steeple Snoring" rather than the "Now he's back in Steeple Snoring and up to something" I think you're going for.

“This is Jeremiah Cavendish,” said Jules, turning to the hulk of a man next to him, sporting the only hair on his head, a huge, graying handlebar mustache.
I'd put a colon (or maybe semicolon?) there, but that's just me.



Just those three tiny things I trip over. Otherwise it's great!
 

SleepyDormouse

dreaming away....
Joined
Jan 10, 2011
Messages
239
I really like this and would definitely read on. I love the quirkiness.

the "sloth of 20" bears threw me.. I was trying to work out why you were referring to sloth's all of a sudden.

I went back and read the previous version, and much prefer this one. Tarquin sounds much more like a 13yr old and I love the invite to the teddy bears tea party.. it confused me at first, but in a good intrigued way.
 

The Bloated One

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2007
Messages
505
Location
Life challenged and crazy
Thanks everyone!

Bowler1, I'll double check the Russian with some friends in Moscow, but it's what I would have said (I speak a little).

Harebrain - could it get any worse?? Mega apologies....Harebrain it is.

Sander - good calls, I'll amend.

A group of bears can be called either a Sleuth, or a Sloth. However, a group of Polar bears is called a Celebration!

CTG, we've been together on this road a darn long time! You may be pleased to know that I made a decision recently that will cost me a fair amount of dosh, but it will ensure that Tarquin gets published at the very least as an eBook. This wonderful gentleman is now editing and helping my plotting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Grant_(author))

TBO
 

hopewrites

Crochet Streamer
Joined
Oct 6, 2011
Messages
3,487
Location
Earth
I liked it.

I felt the imagery was concise enough to give me a good view of the what and where without holding up the pace. Though some of it went over my American head :(

I enjoyed the characters. Your narrative voice does a wonderful job of steering emotive prejudice to formulate quick pictures that are then filled in nicely by action. (in short, one knows just what sort of people one is reading about.)

And the intrigue was kept flowing nicely throughout so that by the time you reveal the hook, I was quite ready to take it.

I personally liked that the bate on the hook was passed from one character to the next.
 

Bowler1

Senile Supporter
Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
4,247
Location
High Wycombe
Bowler1, I'll double check the Russian with some friends in Moscow, but it's what I would have said (I speak a little).

That was the Google translation, mate, is all, it could have been a direct translation. I'm happy that your work is about to get out there, good luck with it. :D
 

JoanDrake

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2008
Messages
1,445
Very, very good, the style evokes a fascinating sort of steampunky ambiance without being at all hokey or outdated. It's also very clear. I did think at first we were going to have something with a giant sloth being mistaken for a bear but otherwise that went right over my head.

Your publishing note in reply to CTG did give me slight pause. I know nothing whatsoever of John Grant but I do know there is a general rule that money (dosh?) in the publishing business should always flow generally TO the author. I suppose it's ok to pay for pro editing, yes, but the sample you used looked good enough to me.
 

ed9428

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2013
Messages
46
This isn't really a criticism, I just would like to say I really enjoy your writing and would definitely read more.
 

The Bloated One

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2007
Messages
505
Location
Life challenged and crazy
JoanDrake,

I totally agree, but as you point out, I am paying for top drawer editing services. John has become a good friend over the last five or so years, so I am actually getting far more than the invoices would suggest.

I do have a problem with pacing and clarity and the number of times John has pointed out wayward plotting is embarrasing!

People here on Chrons have quite a thing going for John Jarrold (never replied to my emails several years ago, so I gave up) and I don't suppose he does it just for love!

Thanks again, really appreciate the thoughts and comments (thanks ed9428)

TBO
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads


Top