Beginning of a Story - Whaddaya think?

This was intended to be the first 2 chapters of a story I’ve long since given up on. I was just wondering what you thought of it. Any and all comments, no matter how harsh, are greatly appreciated.

Sunday Afternoon at the Sutton Arms. So quiet it was almost serene, almost. But then it was always this way in the Arms. A lone barman, a few drunks, a few hard men, a couple of working girls and a ticking clock. The air in the pub was thick with acrid smoke, it infested the air and stank the life from it, burning your nose. The two men, however, sat by the bar, unaffected. They didn’t notice because it was their local and they were in there all the time.

The taller of the two men who liked to be known simply as Guv’nor and who wouldn’t tolerate anything else sat, supped his pint, talked to his companion, wiped his thick lips, drank some more, talked some more, kept his eye on the clock.
He leaned over to his slight companion in the beige jacket and said conspiritorially

“The one thing you’ve got to remember is that it’s all just business”

Flash back to the night before. Pouring rain. The guv’nor, pounding away at some poor pretty boy wannabe hood. Covered in blood. Not his, loving it.

“These guy’s don’t take it personal like, they know you’re just doing a job”

The guv’nor, raining blows on pretty boy.

“They don’t take it personally, so why should you? Don’t beat yourself up about it, no pun intended there” the guv’nor lied, sniggering at his sparkling wit, coughing up tar.

The guv’nor, brandishing the now not-so-pretty boy by the scruff of the neck. Like a trophy. Roaring to the night sky. Victorious.

“I see guv’nor” the thin man said back, trying but not quite succeeding to look the guv’nor in the eye
“no…no worries”

The thin man, looking on at the carnage as the guv’nor prepared himself for a fresh onslaught, praying for it to end fast, for the sake of the poor lads face if not his dignity.

“I’m glad. I weren’t so sure of you last night, but if you’re one of Angel’s you can be counted on, so if you’re sure you can handle it, you can do the rounds with me again tonight”
“Sure guv’nor, no worries” The thin man replied, staring straight ahead resolutely. He needed the money after all, so he’d just have to put up or shut up. They paid the fat barman and walked out together, single file.
Chapter 2.

Another pub. In walked the guv’nor and the thin man followed, they made a bee line for the bar, pushing another man aside roughly. The man turned angrily, turning back again once he saw who’d elbowed him.
The barman briefly glanced up. When he saw who’d come in the pint glass he was cleaning slipped from his hand, spinning, tumbling and orbiting until it shattered into a thousand fragments, tiny and delicate.

“Sheila, clean this up will you? I’ve got to have a word with some people”

As Sheila cleaned, the barman, whose name was Sean, invited the two men behind the bar and together they briskly walked into a living room. There was a small TV with a white doily in the far west side of the small room, next to the window’s faded net curtains. Other than these cheap attempts to bring fancy, the room was squalid, almost empty. The guv’nor had to stoop under the low doorway, then he paused for a brief moment, surveying the room, adjusting. He sat on a small sofa and turned back towards the doorway, waiting for Sean and his lean companion to enter.
Sean sat slowly in a small armchair and waited for the guv’nor to speak.

“Well?’ demanded the guv’nor aggressively “What’re you waiting for?”
Sean shuffled nervously in his own front room and slowly, hesitantly, moved for his back pocket. The thin man standing next to Sean knew as soon as Sean brought his hand back from his pocket that there was going to be trouble.
Sean handed a roll of creased and shriveled of bills to the guv’nor who counted them slowly and purposefully, then once he’d finished, paused and counted them again. His brow furrowed, giving the appearance of intense concentration. Then he rose to his feet, slowly stepped over to Sean and put his face close. Sean pushed himself back into his seat and turned to avoid the guv’nors intense, violent stare.

“What do you call this?” The guv’nor whispered, barely able to contain his wrath.
“L…look guv’nor, I was meaning to tell you but ___”
“Well why didn’t you then?” interrupted the guv’nor.
“I…I…” The words stuck in Sean’s throat and choked him. He could hardly breathe and sweat made his fat face shine.
“WELL?” The Guv’nor roared “WHERE’S THE REST OF IT?”
Sean’s terror could not be contained. He half whined, half sobbed into his chest as the man mountain lurched towards him and punched him hard in the gut.
“Tomorrow” said the guv’nor “I wouldn’t like to see this place if you disappoint me”. To punctuate the point, the guv’nor whipped out his gold cigarette lighter and lit it under Seans nose. He then walked out, the thin man following behind, shoulders hunched.

What do you guys think? Should I carry on with it?


One final plea for any comments before I let this one die.

Okay, please understand that I’m answering as an English teacher. I don’t mean to be picky about grammar and such, but it’s this quirk of mine.

Okay, first chapter, I’m distracted in the first paragraph by the number of sentence fragments and then the run-on sentence. Yes, all rules are made to be broken, but sentence fragments are incomplete thoughts and should only be used when an incomplete thought is what is appropriate to the text. Set the mood by all means, but do it by making something happen.

Use descriptive verbs. I did like “stank the life from it”.

Second biggie, major writer’s rule. Show. Don’t tell. That is, don’t say:


Don’t tell me you’re flashing back to the previous night. Show me it’s the previous night, and Guv-nor is beating the crap out of someone. Don’t tell me Sean is the name of the next barkeep, show me.

Go find a thesaurus and start using more descriptive verbs and nouns. Guv’nor doesn’t walk. He strides, clomps, paces, or even sashays. He is not a bad guy, he is a misanthrope, a bully, a bastard, a felon, a raconteur, a thug, a slubberdegullion.

By all means, though, keep working on it.

I’m not speaking as a teacher, or even an “educated” person (I’m still in high school) but I did find at least a few things which could use improving, IMHO:

“Flash back to the night before” sounds too…un-poetic, and un-professional somehow. It sounds like something you’d use in casual speech. There’s got to be some better way to start a flashback than saying “flash back.”

Thanks for the comments guys, I’ll try to remember them in future.
Anyone else?

The next night was dismal–cold, foggy. Guv’nor wandered around near the pub, debating with himself whether to go in tonight. He now had a splitting headache—he’d had them constantly since his tour of duty in Aden in 1967–and felt perfectly miserable. And now, as he rounded a corner, Two big, husky men in dark clothes accosted him.
“Are you Guv’nor?” asked one in a growling, angry voice.
“I am,” he answered curtly.
Then one of them kicked Guv’nor angrily in the groin. The other stood behind him with his brawny arms around Guv’nor’s neck.
The other man spoke, in an accent Guv’nor clearly recognized as American.
“You butthead! The next time you pound our cousin we’ll kill you!” Then the first one puched Guv’nor in the eye.
When Guv’nor woke up he was still on the street, alone. He had blood running over one eye and sensed he’d lost a tooth. He muttered dark oaths for a while–then collapsed weeping. And he heard a town clock chime four a.m.
“What’s the matter with you, then?” said a young woman’s voice.
Guv’nor looked up and saw a nun, with a policeman. He moaned, then passed out.
When he awoke, he was in a hospital bed, bandaged up. A clock on the wall said 6:30 a.m. The nun and the bobby were still there…

Well, my only claim to fame here w.r.t. writing is my lesbian erotica and the “Horror at Cecil Cove”. But mind if I make some comments?

OK…this last sentence is awkward IMO. It is telling way too much, telling things that the reader would not know. One might put it a different way, such as

“They seemed to match the bar as well as the battered old beer tap, or the yellowed liquor license by the mirror, faded into watery unreadability…”

How about “The taller of the two men was Guv’nor. Just Guv’nor. If he had another name, it was lost in his murky past. He sullenly sat, supped…”

The flash back thing needs more intro.

I think I see here…you are trying to put into words a common technique in filmmaking. It can work, but is very difficult IMO. I think it would work better as a screenplay, to keep flashing back to the beating in the middle of talking.

The barman wasn’t mentioned enough - he had no character introduction. Character introduction is very hard, IMO, and is why part 2 of my Cecil Cove story is so late (but almost done). So don’t just introduce him as “fat”, rather, give him an emotional characteristic. Such as “…paid the disinterested barman…”

Let me try: “Two hours later - another pub. The guv’nor and the thin man stepped out of the gray light and into the dim and smoke. They made a beeline for the bar, pushing aside a tipsy carpenter who was chatting up Arsenal. The carpenter turned with outrage on his lips, which drained away unspoken as he saw who he faced. He decided descretion was better than lost teeth and broken bones, and headed for the door. The guv’nor let him go - he had made his point without a single word. He smiled inwardly.”

Too much detail here. You don’t need this - it imbalances the focus.

A trick is to introduce “Sean” via “Sheila”. Such as:

"A female voice that had seen far too many cigarettes yelled from the back - “Damnit Sean, keep your mind on your bloody work. I’m sick of cleaning up your mistakes.”

No man mountain. Awkward. I’d just say “the Guv’nor”.

It sounds like you have an idea in mind here that is worth exploring. Can you lay out what you have for a general plot?

Ok, first I’d like to thank everyone for their comments, especially Phouka & Anthracite who must’ve devoted quite a bit of time to helping make me a better writer. I just want you to know how much I appreciate it.

Secondly, in reply to Anthracites question I’ve got a general plot in mind but it’s very, very vague. Basically the kid who got beaten up at the start of the story dies and his brother (although that’s a very cliche connection, I’m trying to think of a better one) decides to take revenge on both the Guv’nor and the organisation he works for. He gets himself into the gang and he & the guv’nor are asked to mind (be bodyguards to) a local drug dealer who’s arranged a potentially massive deal. Somehow (I don’t know how) the brother kills the drug dealers, makes off with the money and frames the Guv’nor for it. The boss of the gang kills the guv’nor then, somehow ( I told you it was vague :slight_smile: ) realises that it was actually the brother who was behind the whole thing. The boss then comes after the brother who either kills him or gets killed himself, I haven’t decided which yet.

I’ve nearly done a second instalment, if you like I’ll post it when its done.

Er…sorry, Voice, I’m not sure where you’re located, but it sounds like this is set in the UK, and I’d be happy to help with any specific references (perhaps not using “hood” or “bills”). Sorry if that sounds patronising, I honestly can’t remember if you’re British or not or judge whether the story is set here or not.

[english accent]
Freshen your tea, guv’nor?
[/english accent]