Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Drop the Needle: Death #21

TITLE: Neither Here Nor There
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

Opening scene of my first novel where in the MC receives a letter that will turn his world upside down and inside out.

I checked the mailbox with a sense of dread. There was always a chance that among the stacks of junk mail, bills and unwanted invitations there would be one with a stamp that read: Royal Mail. I hated those letters. They could mean only one thing.


The metal box contained the following; a couple of bills, junk mail, an invitation to a second cousin's weeding and a letter with the dreaded red stamp on it.

Might as well get it over with.

I ripped the white envelope open. No, I destroyed the thing trying to get it open. Never figured out how open one in a clean way. Inside I found a stack of official looking documents, some airline tickets, and last but least a single page letter with following:

McIntyre & Co.

Woodstock, Oxfordshire, UK

To Mr. Mendoza

We regret to inform you of your father passing...

What the f***!


  1. Well, I'd definitely turn the page to keep reading! Great opening paragraph and overall hook!

    The third paragraph felt repetitious with a near repeat of the list from the first.

    I like the shift from resignation to a hint of anger in ripping the envelope. But I was confused by the second sentence of that paragraph--it took me a moment to figure out the thing he destroyed was the envelope.

    I got a good chuckle out of the final sentence. Nice work!

  2. This is an interesting premise! It makes me wonder what exactly the father does, if the MC is informed of the death by mail, not someone telling him in person.

    Also, I'm a tiny bit confused by the last sentence--is that implying that he's surprised? I thought the first paragraph told us that he dreaded getting a Royal Mail letter--I assumed that meant that he knew it would be a death letter. Otherwise, why would he dread it? Because he just hates getting mail from his father?

    Maybe the "what the f***!" was more of an angry reaction to the news, not surprise.

    Anyway, overall I like the set-up and would read more, so good job!

  3. Very interesting! I liked the reaction here. It seemed the MC didn't care for his father too much, but news of a family member's death is still shocking, and his response here seemed genuine and in character.

    Great piece!

  4. I read it wrong--please ignore my confusion comments. Good stuff!

  5. @Joankr

    "Well, I'd definitely turn the page to keep reading! Great opening paragraph and overall hook!"

    Well then it has done its job.I see your point about the third paragraph. Clarity is the best policy.

    Thank you all for commenting and for the useful tips. Reminds me that even at the query stage, one needs to keep polishing away.

    Thank you. Yes, the MC has a potty mouth, especially when he is angry.


    No worries. That's the problem that I have as an underwriter/minimalist, I tend to leave things unsaid in my rush to say them.

  6. Ha! I loved it - the set up, the detail about not being able to open the envelope, and the contrast between the news and the mc's reaction. Well done!

  7. Very intrigued, but one nitpick, unless you have purposefully twisted this phrase: it should be "last but not least." If you are doing that on purpose, I'd make it more obvious like, "last and definitely least..."

  8. In the set-up, it's obvious the MC and the father don't have a close relationship. Makes me wonder how long it's been since MC has seen the father and why. Interesting too that MC was expecting to find a letter from the father, from the letter stamp, yet news of death. Nice job and good luck!

  9. I'd totally keep reading. BTW, there's a slight typo: weeding should be wedding (or so I assume).

  10. The feeling of looking for that dreaded letter I totally connected with.
    It was a nice shift from that 'oh no here we go again' kind of moment to the snap of the sudden news. The only thing I didn't like was 'with the following...'
    Good work!

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