Something new

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
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I have been working on something new - a magical realism set close to my home. I got the chance to get to a writing retreat last weekend and I got a good bit of the start of it completed - if you ever get the chance to go on one, do! Anyhow, this is the opening chapter: I'd love to get some feedback on it. I don't need a line edit, this will change a lot between now and publication, and will have a copy edit

Specifically for those who know my work

Too like the opening of Waters and the Wild? The story is very different. And if they are similar, would it be a problem, do you think?

And for those who don't

Can you get a clear (ish) picture of the setting. Describing is my bug-bear and these glens are never easy to capture, twisty little things that they are
Does the irish 'voice' engage you or put you off?

And, I guess, does it hook, do you like it, all that craic. :) Jo x

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“A UK city beginning with L,” said Alexander Armstrong, seeking one of the three possible jackpot options.

Jim absently rubbed Snoops’ ears, in the spot where the collie liked. “Lisburn.” Snoops cocked his head, and Jim nodded sagely. “Always go for a Northern Ireland answer. They’re always pointless.”

The answers came up. Liverpool. Well, it was never going to be that. Lincoln. He wasn’t even sure that was a city. And London, with a giggled admission that the two contestants didn’t know any other cities starting with L. He watched the three rejected answers. The lowest was Lincoln – a city, he’d learned something new today and that showed he was still alive. Sure enough, there was Lisburn. Pointless. And Londonderry, if he’d had thought of it. Alexander Armstrong wished everyone goodbye, as he always did, following the formula: the same things said, in the same order. Already Snoops was getting up, trying to herd Jim as he would any sheep.

“All right,” Jim said and through the hall into the kitchen. From the wooden coat shelf by the back door he lifted down his coat and pulled it on, ignoring the dog as he turned in a circle. Silly antics that Snoops should have grown out of and showed no signs of doing. Jim thrust his cap on, grabbed the blackthorn stick that he’d to increasingly use, and opened the backdoor. “Come on, then.”

Scoops ran to the gate which led from Jim’s driveway, connected to the village at the other end, into the glen behind the house. He reached the gate in eight steps he could do in his sleep and lifted the latch, letting Snoops run ahead. There was no need to call the dog to his side; he knew the glen as well, if not better, than Jim himself.

Jim followed, strolling along the path which ran into, and then through the glen. A steep hill opposite, coated in autumn leaf-fall and curled-up ferns, hid the waterfall at its other side. The drumming sound was constant through the glen, and his own Glen House. It was the sound Jim both fell asleep and woke to.

Competing with the drumming, a river ran fast to his right before forking to go around the house. A low run of stones forded the start of the fork, giving the village – such as it was, blink and you’d miss it for sure – its name. Jim stayed on the path, leaving the hill to Snoops who ran up, seeking who knew what, a constant movement through the bracken and ferns. A wooden bridge, spanning the river just before the pool at the foot of the waterfall, offered an alternative to the ford with its slippery rocks, and Jim chose this, taking his time; even on the boards, he had to be careful with his footing.

He paused on the bridge, waiting for Snoops to make his way to him, the nightly walk just as familiar, as much as a ritual, as anything Alexander Armstrong could say. From here, having rounded the hill, the lower waterfall dominated the scene. It crashed into the pool, the foam visible in the falling evening. In another half hour it would be dark, where a month ago it had still been light. He hated the shortening lights, hated doing this walk in the dark but hated even more to admit that. Once or twice, though, over the autumn, he’d followed the path in the other direction, into the village, not quite facing Snoops’ betrayed look back.

Today, though, the light was just enough to see where his footing was and he decided to climb a little further up, following a set of wooden steps which hugged the cliff face framing the waterfall. Spray hit his face as he passed closer to the fall, reminding him why he did this walk even with the need for a stick and careful steps. It wasn’t just for Snoops; something inside him came alive with the sound of the waterfall and the chill spray misting his face.

He climbed past the first pool. No swimmers tonight, although they were mad eejits who’d turn up at night and in the middle of winter when the water was pure Baltic. Jim liked the pool as much as the next man, he’d spent most of his summers as a lad in and out of it, but this new fashion for swimming all the time, outdoors, and talking about endorphins and whatnot made no sense. The swimmers filled up the little carpark at the other entrance to the glen and, half the time – although he hadn’t had the heart yet to tell them – the girls getting changed weren’t able to hide themselves as well as they thought they did. He’d yet to decide if that was good or bad for tourism – for sure, as a lad, he’d have seen it as a bonus.

He climbed doggedly. Snoops ran past him on the steps and was out of sight in moments, only the occasional swish-swish in the bracken, as the dog explored from right to left, showing where he was.

The night was coming on rightly now, and Jim turned to go back down, giving a sharp whistle that should have brought Snoops to him, but the dog didn’t come. Beside Jim, the second pool was empty, only the drum of the waterfall breaking the night. On the road above, at the top of another flight of steps, the odd crunch of a car’s wheels could be heard.

“Snoops!” he called, not liking the quaver in his voice but since the accident – referred to only as the collision by the police, as if there was any doubt about whose fault it was – he was acutely aware that if he fell no one would know except Snoops. Some nights it was a comfort to think about it but… if he was gone, who’d fight for his Joan? Or Lauren? Or the babies that weren’t even recognised as people, who were just dead pieces of meat inside his daughter’s body, three weeks off birth?

The thoughts brought bitter bile with them and he wanted only to get back to Glen House and slam the door. Keep everyone and everything out. Damn the dog. It wasn’t like him, and that made Jim climb again, afraid, with a piercing cold, that the dog had been hurt. Without Snoops there’d be nothing except Pointless and dinners from the village until people decided Jim was coping all right and he became just the subject of whispered conversations about the ‘poor old man, his wife and daughter, and then the dog, too.’ Avoided, as if he’d spread bad luck, like a Jonah.

Suddenly, Snoops let out a bark, loud and sharp in the darkness. Not a yip, not in pain, but a good solid, and alive, ‘I’ve found something’ bark. Jim didn’t care about the steps, or the chance his stick might slip, or the night, just that Snoops was okay. He followed a second bark to where the dog stood, near the top of the steps, the white flash on his tail wagging to and fro showing Jim.

“What is it?” Jim asked. He took a step forward, but a sound stopped him. A small sound, a stunted babble. Maybe a fox cub, abandoned? But Snoops would have gone for it, Jim knew; he’d seen more than one off before.

Jim stepped past the dog and stooped down, pushing the long grass and brambles back and there, in the glen, under a tangled bower of ivy, lay a baby, wrapped in a single white sheet, its hands balled up in fury.
 
Well, I love this. I can see where you'd worry about the resemblance to the opening of Waters, but this has a totally different feel to it. The voice is great, the characters (I'm including Snoop) relatable, the atmosphere is well drawn. I'm deeply hooked by the baby.

Now for the negative. I don't think the stuff about the game show (I assume that's what it is?) helps any. Maybe not does for fans of game shows, but what proportion of your readers will that take in?
 
Well, I love this. I can see where you'd worry about the resemblance to the opening of Waters, but this has a totally different feel to it. The voice is great, the characters (I'm including Snoop) relatable, the atmosphere is well drawn. I'm deeply hooked by the baby.

Now for the negative. I don't think the stuff about the game show (I assume that's what it is?) helps any. Maybe not does for fans of game shows, but what proportion of your readers will that take in?
Thank you lovely :) - the game show went down well with a crit group last week but I do have reservations. I shall muse xx
 
I have been working on something new - a magical realism set close to my home. I got the chance to get to a writing retreat last weekend and I got a good bit of the start of it completed - if you ever get the chance to go on one, do! Anyhow, this is the opening chapter: I'd love to get some feedback on it. I don't need a line edit, this will change a lot between now and publication, and will have a copy edit

Specifically for those who know my work

Too like the opening of Waters and the Wild? The story is very different. And if they are similar, would it be a problem, do you think?

And for those who don't

Can you get a clear (ish) picture of the setting. Describing is my bug-bear and these glens are never easy to capture, twisty little things that they are
Does the irish 'voice' engage you or put you off?

And, I guess, does it hook, do you like it, all that craic. :) Jo x

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“A UK city beginning with L,” said Alexander Armstrong, seeking one of the three possible jackpot options.

Jim absently rubbed Snoops’ ears, in the spot where the collie liked. “Lisburn.” Snoops cocked his head, and Jim nodded sagely. “Always go for a Northern Ireland answer. They’re always pointless.”

The answers came up. Liverpool. Well, it was never going to be that. Lincoln. He wasn’t even sure that was a city. And London, with a giggled admission that the two contestants didn’t know any other cities starting with L. He watched the three rejected answers. The lowest was Lincoln – a city, he’d learned something new today and that showed he was still alive. Sure enough, there was Lisburn. Pointless. And Londonderry, if he’d had thought of it. Alexander Armstrong wished everyone goodbye, as he always did, following the formula: the same things said, in the same order. Already Snoops was getting up, trying to herd Jim as he would any sheep.

“All right,” Jim said and through the hall into the kitchen. From the wooden coat shelf by the back door he lifted down his coat and pulled it on, ignoring the dog as he turned in a circle. Silly antics that Snoops should have grown out of and showed no signs of doing. Jim thrust his cap on, grabbed the blackthorn stick that he’d to increasingly use, and opened the backdoor. “Come on, then.”

Scoops ran to the gate which led from Jim’s driveway, connected to the village at the other end, into the glen behind the house. He reached the gate in eight steps he could do in his sleep and lifted the latch, letting Snoops run ahead. There was no need to call the dog to his side; he knew the glen as well, if not better, than Jim himself.

Jim followed, strolling along the path which ran into, and then through the glen. A steep hill opposite, coated in autumn leaf-fall and curled-up ferns, hid the waterfall at its other side. The drumming sound was constant through the glen, and his own Glen House. It was the sound Jim both fell asleep and woke to.

Competing with the drumming, a river ran fast to his right before forking to go around the house. A low run of stones forded the start of the fork, giving the village – such as it was, blink and you’d miss it for sure – its name. Jim stayed on the path, leaving the hill to Snoops who ran up, seeking who knew what, a constant movement through the bracken and ferns. A wooden bridge, spanning the river just before the pool at the foot of the waterfall, offered an alternative to the ford with its slippery rocks, and Jim chose this, taking his time; even on the boards, he had to be careful with his footing.

He paused on the bridge, waiting for Snoops to make his way to him, the nightly walk just as familiar, as much as a ritual, as anything Alexander Armstrong could say. From here, having rounded the hill, the lower waterfall dominated the scene. It crashed into the pool, the foam visible in the falling evening. In another half hour it would be dark, where a month ago it had still been light. He hated the shortening lights, hated doing this walk in the dark but hated even more to admit that. Once or twice, though, over the autumn, he’d followed the path in the other direction, into the village, not quite facing Snoops’ betrayed look back.

Today, though, the light was just enough to see where his footing was and he decided to climb a little further up, following a set of wooden steps which hugged the cliff face framing the waterfall. Spray hit his face as he passed closer to the fall, reminding him why he did this walk even with the need for a stick and careful steps. It wasn’t just for Snoops; something inside him came alive with the sound of the waterfall and the chill spray misting his face.

He climbed past the first pool. No swimmers tonight, although they were mad eejits who’d turn up at night and in the middle of winter when the water was pure Baltic. Jim liked the pool as much as the next man, he’d spent most of his summers as a lad in and out of it, but this new fashion for swimming all the time, outdoors, and talking about endorphins and whatnot made no sense. The swimmers filled up the little carpark at the other entrance to the glen and, half the time – although he hadn’t had the heart yet to tell them – the girls getting changed weren’t able to hide themselves as well as they thought they did. He’d yet to decide if that was good or bad for tourism – for sure, as a lad, he’d have seen it as a bonus.

He climbed doggedly. Snoops ran past him on the steps and was out of sight in moments, only the occasional swish-swish in the bracken, as the dog explored from right to left, showing where he was.

The night was coming on rightly now, and Jim turned to go back down, giving a sharp whistle that should have brought Snoops to him, but the dog didn’t come. Beside Jim, the second pool was empty, only the drum of the waterfall breaking the night. On the road above, at the top of another flight of steps, the odd crunch of a car’s wheels could be heard.

“Snoops!” he called, not liking the quaver in his voice but since the accident – referred to only as the collision by the police, as if there was any doubt about whose fault it was – he was acutely aware that if he fell no one would know except Snoops. Some nights it was a comfort to think about it but… if he was gone, who’d fight for his Joan? Or Lauren? Or the babies that weren’t even recognised as people, who were just dead pieces of meat inside his daughter’s body, three weeks off birth?

The thoughts brought bitter bile with them and he wanted only to get back to Glen House and slam the door. Keep everyone and everything out. Damn the dog. It wasn’t like him, and that made Jim climb again, afraid, with a piercing cold, that the dog had been hurt. Without Snoops there’d be nothing except Pointless and dinners from the village until people decided Jim was coping all right and he became just the subject of whispered conversations about the ‘poor old man, his wife and daughter, and then the dog, too.’ Avoided, as if he’d spread bad luck, like a Jonah.

Suddenly, Snoops let out a bark, loud and sharp in the darkness. Not a yip, not in pain, but a good solid, and alive, ‘I’ve found something’ bark. Jim didn’t care about the steps, or the chance his stick might slip, or the night, just that Snoops was okay. He followed a second bark to where the dog stood, near the top of the steps, the white flash on his tail wagging to and fro showing Jim.

“What is it?” Jim asked. He took a step forward, but a sound stopped him. A small sound, a stunted babble. Maybe a fox cub, abandoned? But Snoops would have gone for it, Jim knew; he’d seen more than one off before.

Jim stepped past the dog and stooped down, pushing the long grass and brambles back and there, in the glen, under a tangled bower of ivy, lay a baby, wrapped in a single white sheet, its hands balled up in fury.
I haven't read your prior work.

This is a wonderful beginning. You tell the bare minimum which is wonderful. I'd really have to study to find an extra adjective or adverb, if one exists. I felt like I was being carried along on this walk.

I'm intrigued to see how some of the references will flesh out.
if he was gone, who’d fight for his Joan? Or Lauren? Or the babies that weren’t even recognised as people, who were just dead pieces of meat inside his daughter’s body, three weeks off birth?

And
‘poor old man, his wife and daughter, and then the dog, too.
So, some how, in this story I am learning that he has to fight for his dead wife and daughter, the daughter that died while pregnant.

Intriguing indeed.
 
I have been working on something new - a magical realism set close to my home. I got the chance to get to a writing retreat last weekend and I got a good bit of the start of it completed - if you ever get the chance to go on one, do! Anyhow, this is the opening chapter: I'd love to get some feedback on it. I don't need a line edit, this will change a lot between now and publication, and will have a copy edit

Specifically for those who know my work

Too like the opening of Waters and the Wild? The story is very different. And if they are similar, would it be a problem, do you think?

And for those who don't

Can you get a clear (ish) picture of the setting. Describing is my bug-bear and these glens are never easy to capture, twisty little things that they are
Does the irish 'voice' engage you or put you off?

And, I guess, does it hook, do you like it, all that craic. :) Jo x

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“A UK city beginning with L,” said Alexander Armstrong, seeking one of the three possible jackpot options.

Jim absently rubbed Snoops’ ears, in the spot where the collie liked. “Lisburn.” Snoops cocked his head, and Jim nodded sagely. “Always go for a Northern Ireland answer. They’re always pointless.”

The answers came up. Liverpool. Well, it was never going to be that. Lincoln. He wasn’t even sure that was a city. And London, with a giggled admission that the two contestants didn’t know any other cities starting with L. He watched the three rejected answers. The lowest was Lincoln – a city, he’d learned something new today and that showed he was still alive. Sure enough, there was Lisburn. Pointless. And Londonderry, if he’d had thought of it. Alexander Armstrong wished everyone goodbye, as he always did, following the formula: the same things said, in the same order. Already Snoops was getting up, trying to herd Jim as he would any sheep.

“All right,” Jim said and through the hall into the kitchen. From the wooden coat shelf by the back door he lifted down his coat and pulled it on, ignoring the dog as he turned in a circle. Silly antics that Snoops should have grown out of and showed no signs of doing. Jim thrust his cap on, grabbed the blackthorn stick that he’d to increasingly use, and opened the backdoor. “Come on, then.”

Scoops ran to the gate which led from Jim’s driveway, connected to the village at the other end, into the glen behind the house. He reached the gate in eight steps he could do in his sleep and lifted the latch, letting Snoops run ahead. There was no need to call the dog to his side; he knew the glen as well, if not better, than Jim himself.

Jim followed, strolling along the path which ran into, and then through the glen. A steep hill opposite, coated in autumn leaf-fall and curled-up ferns, hid the waterfall at its other side. The drumming sound was constant through the glen, and his own Glen House. It was the sound Jim both fell asleep and woke to.

Competing with the drumming, a river ran fast to his right before forking to go around the house. A low run of stones forded the start of the fork, giving the village – such as it was, blink and you’d miss it for sure – its name. Jim stayed on the path, leaving the hill to Snoops who ran up, seeking who knew what, a constant movement through the bracken and ferns. A wooden bridge, spanning the river just before the pool at the foot of the waterfall, offered an alternative to the ford with its slippery rocks, and Jim chose this, taking his time; even on the boards, he had to be careful with his footing.

He paused on the bridge, waiting for Snoops to make his way to him, the nightly walk just as familiar, as much as a ritual, as anything Alexander Armstrong could say. From here, having rounded the hill, the lower waterfall dominated the scene. It crashed into the pool, the foam visible in the falling evening. In another half hour it would be dark, where a month ago it had still been light. He hated the shortening lights, hated doing this walk in the dark but hated even more to admit that. Once or twice, though, over the autumn, he’d followed the path in the other direction, into the village, not quite facing Snoops’ betrayed look back.

Today, though, the light was just enough to see where his footing was and he decided to climb a little further up, following a set of wooden steps which hugged the cliff face framing the waterfall. Spray hit his face as he passed closer to the fall, reminding him why he did this walk even with the need for a stick and careful steps. It wasn’t just for Snoops; something inside him came alive with the sound of the waterfall and the chill spray misting his face.

He climbed past the first pool. No swimmers tonight, although they were mad eejits who’d turn up at night and in the middle of winter when the water was pure Baltic. Jim liked the pool as much as the next man, he’d spent most of his summers as a lad in and out of it, but this new fashion for swimming all the time, outdoors, and talking about endorphins and whatnot made no sense. The swimmers filled up the little carpark at the other entrance to the glen and, half the time – although he hadn’t had the heart yet to tell them – the girls getting changed weren’t able to hide themselves as well as they thought they did. He’d yet to decide if that was good or bad for tourism – for sure, as a lad, he’d have seen it as a bonus.

He climbed doggedly. Snoops ran past him on the steps and was out of sight in moments, only the occasional swish-swish in the bracken, as the dog explored from right to left, showing where he was.

The night was coming on rightly now, and Jim turned to go back down, giving a sharp whistle that should have brought Snoops to him, but the dog didn’t come. Beside Jim, the second pool was empty, only the drum of the waterfall breaking the night. On the road above, at the top of another flight of steps, the odd crunch of a car’s wheels could be heard.

“Snoops!” he called, not liking the quaver in his voice but since the accident – referred to only as the collision by the police, as if there was any doubt about whose fault it was – he was acutely aware that if he fell no one would know except Snoops. Some nights it was a comfort to think about it but… if he was gone, who’d fight for his Joan? Or Lauren? Or the babies that weren’t even recognised as people, who were just dead pieces of meat inside his daughter’s body, three weeks off birth?

The thoughts brought bitter bile with them and he wanted only to get back to Glen House and slam the door. Keep everyone and everything out. Damn the dog. It wasn’t like him, and that made Jim climb again, afraid, with a piercing cold, that the dog had been hurt. Without Snoops there’d be nothing except Pointless and dinners from the village until people decided Jim was coping all right and he became just the subject of whispered conversations about the ‘poor old man, his wife and daughter, and then the dog, too.’ Avoided, as if he’d spread bad luck, like a Jonah.

Suddenly, Snoops let out a bark, loud and sharp in the darkness. Not a yip, not in pain, but a good solid, and alive, ‘I’ve found something’ bark. Jim didn’t care about the steps, or the chance his stick might slip, or the night, just that Snoops was okay. He followed a second bark to where the dog stood, near the top of the steps, the white flash on his tail wagging to and fro showing Jim.

“What is it?” Jim asked. He took a step forward, but a sound stopped him. A small sound, a stunted babble. Maybe a fox cub, abandoned? But Snoops would have gone for it, Jim knew; he’d seen more than one off before.

Jim stepped past the dog and stooped down, pushing the long grass and brambles back and there, in the glen, under a tangled bower of ivy, lay a baby, wrapped in a single white sheet, its hands balled up in fury.
American here, unfamiliar with your previous work.

My impression of what's going on- an old curmudgeon living alone with his dog is watching a popular game show on tv. He takes the dog for his evening walk past a place where something bad happened, and when his dog disappears for a bit, he gets nervous thinking about his own mortality. Sounds like somebody had a car accident, and he's recently lost a wife and daughter.

I think the description of the glen came across perfectly well. In fact, I think you could cut a few lines here and there as I found my mind wandering with all the details about the stone walls going this way and that.

The thing that threw me was the timeline. The man worries what would happen if he died and who would fight for Joan etc, but then we find out there's been an accident, and his wife and daughter (and presumably her twin babies?) are already dead. So who is he meant to fight for?

The baby would make me turn the page. Well done. :)
 
American here, unfamiliar with your previous work.

My impression of what's going on- an old curmudgeon living alone with his dog is watching a popular game show on tv. He takes the dog for his evening walk past a place where something bad happened, and when his dog disappears for a bit, he gets nervous thinking about his own mortality. Sounds like somebody had a car accident, and he's recently lost a wife and daughter.

I think the description of the glen came across perfectly well. In fact, I think you could cut a few lines here and there as I found my mind wandering with all the details about the stone walls going this way and that.

The thing that threw me was the timeline. The man worries what would happen if he died and who would fight for Joan etc, but then we find out there's been an accident, and his wife and daughter (and presumably her twin babies?) are already dead. So who is he meant to fight for?

The baby would make me turn the page. Well done. :)
Thank you both, a valid point there on my turn of language - if I added who would fight for justice for his family would that clear it up?
 
Thank you both, a valid point there on my turn of language - if I added who would fight for justice for his family would that clear it up?
I think it would.

One other thing I'll mention just as a heads up in case this book will be released to an American audience- the part about the "babies that weren’t even recognised as people..." Here in the US that phrasing could bring to mind abortion rights and the rights of the unborn, which is a polarizing issue here. If that topic comes into play later on in your book, then no problem; you've laid the groundwork. But if that's not where you're going with that, and he's simply grieving the loss of his unborn grandchildren, then just be aware that some Americans could read that line as the author trying to signal that he's a pro-Life activist.
 
I think it would.

One other thing I'll mention just as a heads up in case this book will be released to an American audience- the part about the "babies that weren’t even recognised as people..." Here in the US that phrasing could bring to mind abortion rights and the rights of the unborn, which is a polarizing issue here. If that topic comes into play later on in your book, then no problem; you've laid the groundwork. But if that's not where you're going with that, and he's simply grieving the loss of his unborn grandchildren, then just be aware that some Americans could read that line as the author trying to signal that he's a pro-Life activist.
That’s useful thank you for that context. It’s to do with the children not being recognised in any court case rather than a pro life thing - it harks back to one of the most awful events during the Northern Ireland Troubles, a bomb in Omagh, which killed many but two unborn babies are not included in that count. It will come up again - it is important - but it will be expanded on.
 
That’s useful thank you for that context. It’s to do with the children not being recognised in any court case rather than a pro life thing - it harks back to one of the most awful events during the Northern Ireland Troubles, a bomb in Omagh, which killed many but two unborn babies are not included in that count. It will come up again - it is important - but it will be expanded on.
ahhhhh, that IS important context, and nothing I would know about so thank you for that background.
 
Its near perfect prose. Clear and readable.

Only one minor niggle. I didn't immediately realize Alexander Armstrong was on the TV. I assumed he was in the house doing a crossword puzzle, or something like that. Oh, and I want a collie just like Snoops, but that will have to wait for retirement.
 
Hi Jo,

This was a dark and moody opening. In a few lines I knew that something momentous was going to arise out of a boring, slightly dangerous and somewhat ordinary trip. I loved the walking home through the Glen part. I almost felt like I was there. And I don't think I've ever seen anything like what you describe.

I've got to say that I missed the game show reference completely. Until I read the crits I had thought he was in the local pub and he and some friends were playing some sort of trivia game. The idea of watching TV somewhere other than at home, unless you are going to cheer on the local team with a bunch of friends didn't occur to me. And now that I know what was going on, it feels rather sad. Which, I'm guessing, is what you were going for.
 
Its near perfect prose. Clear and readable.

Only one minor niggle. I didn't immediately realize Alexander Armstrong was on the TV. I assumed he was in the house doing a crossword puzzle, or something like that. Oh, and I want a collie just like Snoops, but that will have to wait for retirement.
That’s so very kind, thank you. I think the tv show needs context or reworked :)

I’d quite like a Snoops too (we have a dog but not a collie) - he’s becoming quite the character as I write!
 
Hi Jo,

This was a dark and moody opening. In a few lines I knew that something momentous was going to arise out of a boring, slightly dangerous and somewhat ordinary trip. I loved the walking home through the Glen part. I almost felt like I was there. And I don't think I've ever seen anything like what you describe.

I've got to say that I missed the game show reference completely. Until I read the crits I had thought he was in the local pub and he and some friends were playing some sort of trivia game. The idea of watching TV somewhere other than at home, unless you are going to cheer on the local team with a bunch of friends didn't occur to me. And now that I know what was going on, it feels rather sad. Which, I'm guessing, is what you were going for.
Thank you - yes, I will tidy up the game show. And yes, it is sad. But, I hope, he is not a miserable character through it all. Will have to keep that in check, for sure :)
 
I also found the game show part confusing, but really liked the rest of it. As a dog owner, I empathize with the feeling of dragging yourself out on the walk in the dark even when you don’t want to go, and how it does feel good to get out there anyway.

When I read the part about the unborn babies, I thought that the daughter was still alive. Like she was in a vegetative state and he was fighting to keep her long enough for the babies to be delivered close to term. If that’s not it, maybe reword to make the actual situation clearer.
 
I also found the game show part confusing, but really liked the rest of it. As a dog owner, I empathize with the feeling of dragging yourself out on the walk in the dark even when you don’t want to go, and how it does feel good to get out there anyway.

When I read the part about the unborn babies, I thought that the daughter was still alive. Like she was in a vegetative state and he was fighting to keep her long enough for the babies to be delivered close to term. If that’s not it, maybe reword to make the actual situation clearer.
Oh I’ll tidy that up for sure, thank you.

@cyprus7 Pointless will have to go! It’s really only there to set the context of we’re in Northern Ireland and we have a lonely routine life now - I can do that without the specifics :)
 
I was befuddled to learn that the opening scene was in the house. Do I feel ultra stupid now? But maybe that points to the possibility that some old geezers like me will need a little more setting the scene. I would think even saying he "walked out his back door" would have been enough to get me on the right track.

(I re-read the opening of the story a couple more times and I think part of the problem was "Pointless" does not read as television show to me. I thought it was "a pointless trivia game."
 
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I was befuddled to learn that the opening scene was in the house. Do I feel ultra stupid now. But maybe that points to the possibility that some old geezers like me will need a little more setting the scene. I would think even saying he "walked out his back door" would have been enough to get me on the right track.

(I re-read the opening of the story a couple more times and I think part of the problem was "Pointless" does not read as television show to me. I thought it was "a pointless trivia game."
It definitely needs a wee bit more clarity
 
I loved the second half, but thought it took a bit to warm up. I think you can shorten the first half and still build mood. The introduction of a named character at the start still confuses me: Was he in a pub? Did he have friends over? It took me a second reading to decide he was watching television. This is not bad as an opening - the telly is all the friends that he has - but the confusion can easily be avoided with minor clues. The description of him getting out and going on the walk was a bit "and then that happened" which made the start drag, but can easily be tightened up on revision. Not clear if he's an anti-abortionist, or there is something else going on (he's a lonely old man, but his daughter is pregnant? Has he mixed up the past with the present?) but this will likely be clarified as we go along.

What I didn't get was what kind of story I was getting in to, which of course will be clear from all sorts of other clues, like the title, the genre its placed under, the blurb, the cover etc. But from this excerpt, I could not tell if I was in for a gothic tale, a horror story, a supernatural story, science fiction or drama (It will be, perhaps all of them.).

Keep writing!
 
I loved the second half, but thought it took a bit to warm up. I think you can shorten the first half and still build mood. The introduction of a named character at the start still confuses me: Was he in a pub? Did he have friends over? It took me a second reading to decide he was watching television. This is not bad as an opening - the telly is all the friends that he has - but the confusion can easily be avoided with minor clues. The description of him getting out and going on the walk was a bit "and then that happened" which made the start drag, but can easily be tightened up on revision. Not clear if he's an anti-abortionist, or there is something else going on (he's a lonely old man, but his daughter is pregnant? Has he mixed up the past with the present?) but this will likely be clarified as we go along.

What I didn't get was what kind of story I was getting in to, which of course will be clear from all sorts of other clues, like the title, the genre its placed under, the blurb, the cover etc. But from this excerpt, I could not tell if I was in for a gothic tale, a horror story, a supernatural story, science fiction or drama (It will be, perhaps all of them.).

Keep writing!
Thank you - very useful.
 

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