Novel Excerpts

For NaNoEssex and its participants, November is all about writing furiously – scribbling and typing, jotting and plotting, and basically throwing everything into the creation of a brand new story draft. Come the end of the month, we get to look back at everything we have accomplished in a mere matter of weeks. Of course, it’s quite a busy time – full of stress, panic, plot holes, adverbs and glaring typing errors. But hey, it’s just the first draft. There’s so much more work to do on it until it’s ready to send ‘out there’, to potential readers.

So… to this page. Sharing something you’ve written is always a big deal. It’s something hugely personal that you’ve spent large amounts of time working on, developing, improving, editing, and more, until you’re finally happy to abandon the idea of making further changes. To share the first draft of something you’ve written – unthinkable, and hugely courageous.

The extracts that are shown below are just that: first drafts. They are excerpts from longer stories, written as part of National Novel Writing Month by participants in the Europe:: England:: Essex (or, NaNoEssex) region.

A huge well done guys.

Sitting behind the desk was an old woman. While her skin was wrinkled, there was nothing frail about her. She sat upright, scribbling away furiously but competently in the ledger laid out in front of her. Rather than the cardigans and knitted jumpers you usually saw on people of her age, she wore a jacket similar to Scarlett’s but brown and more weathered, with a neat white blouse beneath. She didn’t look up as Scarlett and Wolfe approached. Wolfe stood still, feet apart, arms crossed in front of him carrying the holdall, and waited for her to finish. The old woman dropped the pen, pulled the glasses down from her forehead and squinted at him.

“Of all the inconsiderate shitstains to come crawling back here,” she said. “Tony fucking Wolfe.”

There was familiarity in her voice, but unlike Scarlett there was no hint of welcome. Indeed, she sneered at the sight of him, and waved him away.

“Get rid of this prick,” she spat. “I’ve got more important things to do than deal with the likes of him.”

“Now come on, Granny,” Tony said, “there’s no need for -” But he never finished.

The gunman to the left slammed the butt of his Shortsword into Wolfe’s stomach. He dropped to the floor, clutching the area where the man had struck, the bruising from the morning’s assault flaring up again.

The old woman stood and walked around the desk, menace in her slow pace. “No one gets to call me that,” she said, “’cept Scarlett here. Don’t think you can just pick up where you left off, shit for brains. Have the proper respect.”

“Sorry,” Tony spluttered. “Sorry, Double-G. Shan’t happen again.”

“No it fucking shan’t,” she said, and snapped her fingers at the two gunmen. “You two, get this piece of filth out of my district.”

The two men moved towards them, but Wolfe held his hands up in protest. “Wait. Wait a sec,” he said, rising to his feet. “I’m here on business. Never turn away business – that’s what you taught me, Double-G.”

The old woman frowned at him, her piercing eyes trying to unlock the secrets that lie behind his. She made the two gunmen stand down with just a single gesture, then returned to her chair.

“Fine,” she said. “What do you want?”

“Guns.”

“Not a chance,” Double-G said, picking up the pen and returning to her ledger. “Get rid of him.”

“Granny!” Scarlett protested. “You haven’t even given him a chance.”

The old woman glared at her granddaughter. “I don’t need to. He works for the Pigs. Fuck knows what they’re going to do with my guns – probably use them against our own men, if I know those sadistic bastards. My guns is for people what need to protect themselves, not some drug-dealing tosspot who don’t even know how to say please.”

“These ain’t for the Pigs,” Tony said, standing his ground against the approaching gunmen. “They’re for killing them.”

“Eh?” Double-G dropped her pen and looked up at Tony.

“You heard,” Tony said, stepping forward and leaning towards the old woman. “I’m going to kill the pigs.”

There was a moment’s silence while the aging arms dealer thought about his claims.

“Bollocks,” she said.

“It’s not,” Wolfe insisted.

Double-G leaned back in her chair suddenly. “This is all some half-arsed ruse those old fucks have come up with to catch me off guard. You’ve been a Pig-man for decades, and Pig-men don’t just quit: they die. I’ve seen it happening for years. If you ain’t dead, you’re still with them – and that means you ain’t getting my guns.”

“I may not be dead,” Tony said, feeling the day’s rage building up in his every word, “but that’s not for want of trying on their part. Last night, they had me arrested. This morning, the Billies laid waste to my house. They tried to run over my son, and now he and my wife are both in hospital. All ‘cause I wouldn’t play their games by their rules. Well, I’m done playing fucking games now. I’m going to kill the Three Pigs and if you don’t believe me, I’ll bring you their fucking heads.”

The room was still for a few moments, save for the sound of Tony’s angry panting. Double-G’s chair creaked as she leaned forward, startling one of the two gunmen.

“It’s a very moving performance, Wolfe,” she said. “But I’m not buying it. Fact is, I don’t trust you and I see no reason why that should change. Now get lost.”

Tony slammed his hands on the woman’s desk, leaning in even closer. “You’ve got sources, Double-G, so why don’t you check them? I was arrested last night on [Check Street Name]. The fire that destroyed my house was so big, you would have been able to see it from here. And no doubt the Pigs are already calling on any scumbag and guttershite they can to track me down. Ask around. I’ll be at the Badger Inn until 11 o’clock tomorrow – if I don’t hear from you by then, I’ll take my custom elsewhere. But we both know how badly you want it to be your bullets that take down the Pigs.”

He stood, picked up his bag and walked back towards the door. Everyone else in the room watched him silently. He had just reached the door when Double-G called after him.

“The Badger Inn, you say?” she asked.

He turned and grinned at her. She did not return it.

“That’s right,” he said. “Room 124.”

“I’ll be in touch,” the old woman said, then returned to her ledger.

“I’ll stick the kettle on,” Wolfe grinned, but everyone ignored him.

Scarlett walked over and followed him as he stepped outside. She handed over his Dagger, and walked alongside him as he made his way back to the double doors.

“Sorry about Granny,” she said. “She’s getting a little protective in her old age. She’s much more defensive than she used to be.”

“Not at all,” Tony said, catching Scarlett with a knowing grin. “From what I remember of her, she’s mellowed.”

– James Batchelor, NaNoWriMo 2014

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