Novel Sneak Peek

As nobody knows because I haven’t mentioned it save to a precious few, I have been for months attempting to write a book. It’s not turning out as bad as it could, but there’s always room for failure. It’s not the shiniest view of life one can have, but it keeps me honest!

I thought I’d share a sneak peek to any and all who are interested. Feedback is a vital part of the writing process, or so they tell me. It’s not every day you write a novel, you know.

Yes, yes. I know what you’re thinking.

What a novel idea!

I’m sorry. I’ll show myself out.

First off, the summary, still a work in progress:

Frederick doesn’t really like to lie. There are a lot of things he doesn’t like to do, in fact, such as dress up in gaudy clothes much too high above his station or buckle under peer pressure. But Her Ladyship Margarette Birmingham is looking for her long-lost grandson, and he just fits the bill. His friends see an opportunity. Frederick sees a disaster.

And now, the snippet:

“I’ve always liked cats,” Patrick murmured.  The two felines on the bed did not appear to return the favor.  “Clever, quiet little things.  Always look out for themselves.  Always know how to get what they want.  Nothing gets past them.” 

Frederick, watching Patrick’s dark eyes systematically scan the contents of the room, could understand his admiration.  In such respects he and cats were very much alike.  Frederick couldn’t know the workings of his mind, but he knew that Patrick wasn’t admiring the fabric-lined walls or the thick rugs and overstuffed chairs, all coated with cat hair and scored with scratch marks.  His eyes lingered momentarily on the small, decorative golden box that sat in the corner on a modest little table, the mounted silver lamp on the wall, the delicate china statue of a shepherdess that presided on a slender shelf, far above the reach of prowling felines.  He wasn’t here out of sheer boredom, or a desire to make friends with Lady Birmingham’s cats after hearing so much in their favor.  He was here checking for valuables, for things that could disappear easily, small enough to avoid notice and light enough to carry away.  Suddenly Frederick wondered how long it had taken Patrick to reach this room; how many doors had he stopped off at along the hallway, quietly twisting the knob to see what was unlocked and what could be sold in the streets below the Birmingham mansion?

“Batty old witch,” Patrick commented of their host with casual disdain.  “She’s gone crackers, years and years ago.  Everybody knows it.  Sometimes I wonder if she’s not playing with all of us, putting us on.”  He let his hand drop to his side, straightening up.  His eyes cast once more about the room.  “Enough to make a man lose his patience, that is.”

“It’s not that awful,” Frederick said placatingly.  He could feel the atmosphere in the room change quite suddenly, go from sleepy quiet to a tense, heavy kind of waiting.  The cats’ ears flickered uncertainly; Frederick rather agreed with them.  Patrick’s annoyance wasn’t visible in his pale face, but it could be felt easily enough.

“It’d go a lot easier, though,” Patrick said thoughtfully, “a lot faster, if Lady Birmingham weren’t in the middle of it to stir up things.  She’s old enough—might die in her sleep.  You know, peaceful-like.  No fuss.  Dozens of rich people do it every day.”  His gaze once again focused on the cats, but he didn’t seem to really be seeing them.  “We wouldn’t need the whole inheritance, each of us all to ourselves, would we? There’s enough in this house to make up for it if you’re quick enough.  Did you see the diamonds she was wearing this evening? Just one of those jewelry pieces could set a chap up for life.”  His tone was less even now, not quite alive but with a faint stirring of excitement to it.  Frederick felt a sudden, violent wave of revulsion for this sly young man speaking so easily about murder and thievery.  What unforgivable sin had Lady Birmingham committed against him that he should pay her back so ruthlessly? 

“Lady Birmingham keeps the jewelry in her room,” Frederick said forcefully.  “She said so.” 

Unruffled, Patrick tipped his head thoughtfully to the side.  He shrugged.  “No trouble,” he replied.  He looked at Frederick with cool, cool indigo eyes, devoid of anything Frederick had ever seen in another human being.  “Old ladies are all deaf, aren’t they?” 

And there you have it.


6 thoughts on “Novel Sneak Peek

  1. Oh my gosh! I was so excited to see this pop up on my dash! And I must say, a lovely snippet. I am very intrigued to say the least! Frederick seems like an interesting protagonist which is a definite strong point of this snippet. It seems to paint his intriguing personality and character more than anything. I’m curios as to what time period this is set in?
    And as for suggestions, I think this is a great first bit, but I one thing I did notice is you do use quite a few adverbs (this is something I myself struggle with). For example, “placatingly”, “uncertainly”, “thoughtfully”, and “forcefully”. While I am an avid supporter in the occasional use of an adverb, I personally think that too many can cramp one’s writing and can signal the dreaded issue of showing and not telling. This might be a taste thing, but I would personally try to use less adverbs attached to Frederick’s talking tags and use more actions between them to show what you mean. For example:

    “It’d go a lot easier, though,” Patrick said thoughtfully, “a lot faster, if Lady Birmingham weren’t in the middle of it to stir up things.”

    Instead of using “thoughtfully” here to describe the ponderous manner in which this is spoken, you can attach an action that shows the audience how this is said thoughtfully.

    Like so:

    “It’d go a lot easier, though,” Patrick said, raising a hand to his chin in a thoughtful gesture. “a lot faster, if Lady Birmingham weren’t in the middle of it to stir up things.”

    Or you know, something like that. Just a suggestion though. Overall I really love the piece and can’t wait to see where you go with it! I hope to see it published in full someday so I can figure what happens next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My goodness, thank you so much for the feedback and suggestions! I’m glad Frederick didn’t come across as flat, even in this short segment. The setting is Victorian England, because who wouldn’t want to write and read a story about Victorian England? I did forget to mention that, but because I’m a lazy cad I’ll leave the post as is and let anyone with the same question find the answer here in this comment.
      That’s a good point about the adverbs. I certainly struggle with that! When I was first learning the delicate art of authorship, I detested writing that was cluttered with an excessive amount of useless action tags; with all the fidgets and motions the characters would make in an attempt to show and not tell you’d have thought they had St. Vitus’ dance. So I decided to go too far the other way and clutter up my writing with an excessive amount of useless adverbs. Rereading this I definitely see what you mean, so I’ll keep that in mind as I go through and edit the rest of the story. Thank you again! I hope the rest of it meets your expectations, when and if I get it published so you can read it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah! The glorious Victorian Era! A time of impeccable aesthetic! Very good choice!
        That is also a very good point concerning dialogue. Adding an action tag to everything people do and say can be very frustrating so I can definitely get where you’re coming from. Honestly, writing flowing dialogue can be hard because its so easy to fall into a pattern whereas good dialogue and tags are written with a variety of things going on in between or sometimes nothing at all. Not everything needs a tag. Sadly, the best dialogue is a mix of adverbs, actions, and no tags at all and it’s surprisingly difficult to strike such a balance to where it doesn’t read repetitively or awkwardly. This is something I wonder if I’ll ever get down because I find myself falling into patterns far too often.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s such a frustrating balance you need so much practice and intuition to be able to achieve. I think a lot of the success of well-done dialog relies on building up the atmosphere beforehand, so you go into the exchange with an idea of how the characters feel and will react to each other. Then you don’t have to clutter it up with adverbs and gestures that might come across as cheesy or forced. Not that I’ve ever done that, I say as I scroll through my saved writings fraught with all the mistakes I so authoritatively condemned mere seconds ago.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ahh yess, the joy of being a writer. To spout writing tips but little do people know, they’re based off of your own shortcomings because practicing what you preach is a special sort of hard when you’re a writer yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s the magic of it though, isn’t it? Where else can you bluff your way into making people think you have it all together while simultaneously being a hot mess? Next to the actual writing, that might be the part I enjoy the most.

        Liked by 1 person

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