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Taking a Stab at a Novel - Unfinished Chapter One (Explicit)

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Old 09-08-2013, 05:18 PM
H.E. Jones (Offline)
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Default Taking a Stab at a Novel - Unfinished Chapter One (Explicit)


Okay, so I've started the first chapter of what may become a novel. The chapter's unfinished at the moment, but I'd like to get some reviews of what I have so far, so I can see what I should do with it. Thanks!

Chapter One

It was a cold January afternoon in Mechanicstown, Pennsylvania, the kind of cold that goes so deep it can touch a person’s bones. The sky was steel gray; placid, relentless, almost alien. Gray trees devoid of any signs of life lined the yards along Main Street. Camden Black walked down the sidewalk, attempting to block out the world by blasting his mp3 player at its highest volume. Wearing a backwards baseball cap and leather jacket over the black t-shirt, jeans, and Chuck Taylors that had come to sum up his fashion sense, Camden walked at a brisk pace and looked behind him every few seconds as if he was being followed. He wasn’t; that was his paranoia getting to him. In years past, he had been chased by kids on mopeds and followed by some of the kids who bullied him in school. But mopeds had been banned in Mechanicstown for a year, and most of the bullies from school were either doing drugs or playing sports. Camden’s mind had become its own worst enemy.


As he reached the town square and turned around to walk back home, Camden saw a black pickup truck approaching and slowing down and cautiously took out his earbuds.


Wonderful. Just once I’d like to take a walk in this town without getting harassed!” he thought as the passenger window rolled down, revealing the face of someone Camden had never seen; a teenager wearing a camouflaged hoodie.


“Hey Camden Black!” said the teenager.


“Yeah?” he asked.


“Fuck you!” yelled the teenager as the truck sped away. Camden could hear the people in the truck congratulating each other on their accomplishment.


“Wow, what amazing repartee. I’m sure you’re the smartest kid in your class” he muttered as he put his earbuds back in. Having had his fill of Mechanicstown’s most eloquent citizens, Camden took the shortest route home.


Camden was 23 years old, living alone in a one bedroom apartment above the town’s dentist office. He had spent the five years since graduating high school living in Mechanicstown and working the register at the town’s one gas station. His parents had died when he was 5, and after moving through the foster system until he turned 18, and not being able to afford college of any kind, Camden resigned himself to the same tepid existence on a daily basis.


On the way up the stairs to his apartment, he paused and glanced at the peeling blue-gray paint on the walls. The building was in dire need of repair, but the landlord was too busy living off the money he earned selling drugs to high school students to care. Sighing, Camden continued upstairs. Nothing ever changed in Mechanicstown.


Mechanicstown, Pennsylvania, was widely known as a former hotbed of the Aryan Brotherhood and the latest methamphetamine capital of the Northeast. Situated in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmland , and with a population of 1,500, Mechanicstown was the last place anyone with an ounce of sanity would raise a family. It was filled with drug addicts, racists, and hard scrapple farmers. Its chief source of income was the shattered dreams of those few who saw some redeeming quality in this miserable corner of Pennsylvania. Camden Black fit none of these categories.


After he walked into the apartment, he threw his keys on the table and made his way to the mirror in the bathroom. Examining his reflection, he silently scrutinized every feature. Taking off his hat, he ruffled his medium length greasy black hair. His eyes were tired, and spoke of years of toil and anguish at the hands of foster families and the idiots he had gone to school with. His scruffy black beard added 5 or 6 years to his 23, and the grim, careworn expression on his face was marked heavily by frown lines. The leather of the jacket he wore was old and cracking, reflecting his exhausted psyche as much as it did the jacket’s origins in a consignment store. Taking it off, he stared at his grayish black t-shirt emblazoned with the fading logo of his favorite band, KISS. At the bottom he noticed small holes starting to form.


Shirt’s got another few months left in it”, he thought.


His blue jeans were faded almost to the point of losing their color, and the knees and bottoms were torn beyond repair. Camden wasn’t the type to throw something away the moment it got a little dirty. Prime examples were his shoes; red and black Chuck Taylor sneakers, five years old and almost falling apart. Their once-white tips were now stark black from the grease and grime of the gas station where he worked. Song lyrics and quotes from his favorite books were written in black pen along the sides. In a town where he was an outcast, music and literature were Camden’s best friends. He had no human companions, and the longer he lived this lonely existence in this miserable little town, he wondered more and more if his life was really worth anything.

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Old 09-08-2013, 05:26 PM
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Default An interesting read so far!

I really like this for the start of a novel and I would be interested to read more. I felt like I got to know Camden pretty well from the get go and it would be easy to slide right into some sort of turning point or action event. I did think the name Camden Black was a little used. Maybe another last name? Then again it might have some sort of significance later in your story, so who am I to say.

The other idea I had was the paragraph describing the death of his parents. Maybe it would be interesting to leave some of this out right here at the beginning, and that would give you the opportunity to unfold it through other details later. Just drop a hint that he didn't know his parents well, or that he had been on his own for his whole life or something like that. Then the reader gets to wonder why until you fill it in later. Just a suggestion, feel free to use or lose as you need!

PS. Please post the rest when you're ready!
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by RS McCoy View Post
I really like this for the start of a novel and I would be interested to read more. I felt like I got to know Camden pretty well from the get go and it would be easy to slide right into some sort of turning point or action event. I did think the name Camden Black was a little used. Maybe another last name? Then again it might have some sort of significance later in your story, so who am I to say.

The other idea I had was the paragraph describing the death of his parents. Maybe it would be interesting to leave some of this out right here at the beginning, and that would give you the opportunity to unfold it through other details later. Just drop a hint that he didn't know his parents well, or that he had been on his own for his whole life or something like that. Then the reader gets to wonder why until you fill it in later. Just a suggestion, feel free to use or lose as you need!

PS. Please post the rest when you're ready!
Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, Black is pretty much a place-holder for now; just looks better than "TBD" or something. I see what you're saying about the info about his parents. I'm about to go into an explanation as to why Camden's such an outcast; I may try moving some stuff around to see if it flows better.
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