I’ve just finished writing a middle-grade action adventure book, working title – Revenge upon the Mummy Snatcher – yes, I know, not a great title.
Anyway, I gave it to a number of Beta readers and have had some really constructive feedback. However, sometimes, one or two readers went beyond the requirements of pointing out flaws in character, plot, dialogue etc, and sent me full-on editing with occasional re-writes they have done themselves.
Whilst I appreciate their effort and thank them profusely, it left me in a quandary, because they have given me completely opposite views/pointers on my work, leaving me somewhat confused.
My head was in such a whirl that I almost gave up on the novel until I came across Neil Gaiman’s 8 rules of writing. Number 5 resonated with me immediately, as did number 8.
Thank you, Neil Gaiman, you have rescued my befuddled brain and set me back on course with my book.
Just need a better title.
Here are the first 500 words from Revenge upon the Mummy Snatcher:
Chapter 1: We Are Not Alone
Darkness pushed against Cleo Dalby’s arms and legs as she struggled to make her way through the narrow chamber. Hands outstretched before her, she slid her feet forward, straining to hear something, anything. But every sound, even the skid-slap of her sandals on the stone floor, became lost in the gloom. On Cleo walked slow and tentative, deeper into the world of corpses.
A sigh, long and weary-filled drifted towards her. It seemed to gather friends as it neared, and soon the sad laments of dozens of disembodied voices surrounded her. The moans continued, drifting in and out of her ears like tired moths trapped inside a lampshade. She tried to struggle on, but the wails tugged at her ankles, forcing her to stop and listen to the muffled chatter that swirled and scuttled inside her head.
“We, the dead, abide here. Quietly resting, hands on chest, faces tilted up to catch a ray of sunlight.”
“A futile gesture. For this far below the ground, there is only blackness and the weight of stone.”
“We, the dead, lie still, poised in readiness for our resurrection.”
“What a wait we’ve had. So many years spent lying in a state of half-remembered promises and expectations, grown dull with the passing of each century.”
“We, the dead, no longer know who we are. Memories fade and melt into our hollow skulls.”
“We, the dead, sometimes whisper to each other.”
“Husks of words from dried up lips that stick to the cold walls, waiting for the living to listen.”
Cleo touched the limestone with her fingertips and thought she heard a murmuring of souls.
“We, the dead, can feel a presence.”
A breath of ancient brushed past her cheek. She shivered and rubbed her naked arms. The chill slapped onto her legs and spread upwards leaving pimples of stiff-hair unease on her sunburnt flesh. She gulped and said into the blackness, “Hello? Is anyone there? My name is Cleo.”
The voices ceased.
She called again, but no answer came. There was a smell of rot so strong that Cleo nearly vomited. It disappeared and she felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She stood tall, shrugged, and said, “The dark is just an absence of light,” then shook the torch that was gripped in her hand. “Stupid, froggin’ thing. Work.” She patted it against her palm. “Work.” Something touched her shoulder and Cleo jumped.
“I thought I’d lost you.”
“Mum, don’t creep up on me like that.”
“I can’t very well do anything else, can I? It’s darker than a black hole in here.”
“I know. I can’t see a froggin’ thing.”
“What do you expect? We are half way down a pyramid. And don’t say ‘froggin’ I know what it really means.”
Cleo mouthed the word again, and then once more, just because she could.
If you enjoyed the extract, you might like to have a look at my YA Dystopian/Sci-fi Adventure series – The Song of Forgetfulness – here: