Thursday, February 14, 2019

The working first chapter of Smitty novel number two

So I'm playing around with the opening chapter of the second full-length Smitty novel. Again, the template is simple; grab the reader as fast as you can with the first page. And then wrap the story, the mystery, the urge to continue reading into a web that requires the reader to continue reading to the delicious end.

Of the novel.

Simple, huh . . . the template? Yeah . . . not so much.

To capture the reader in the first page or two you've got to have a lot of imagination. You've got to set up a scene which invites the reader into the spider's web that both soothes the reader's natural hesitation, and at the same time, introduces him to a potential problem which requires his presence to solve. Not as easy as you think.

So with these parameters in mind, here's the first working chapter of a novel called, Discreet Inquiries.


He sat back in his chair and folded the paper back to reveal the Want Ads.  Folding the paper in half again, he laid it down on the small kitchen table beside his eggs and bacon and reached for his cup of hot black coffee.  Sunlight was pouring through the small kitchen window of his apartment and splashing across the kitchen table with a warm, clear light.  Outside, the sky was that light Cerulean blue. Not a cloud to be seen to mar the image.  He smiled.  It looked like it was going to be another beautiful day.
It was another Monday morning. Sitting at the table dressed in a blue shirt, top button undone, dark slacks and still wearing his slippers, he glanced at watch and noted he had another hour before needing to be at the office.  Good.  A good breakfast, then up to wash his teeth and slip into his shoes before slipping on his tie and knotting it, and he’d be ready for another day at the office.
But lifting the coffee cup he paused and frowned. 
There it was again. That strange ad. Taking up the right bottom corner of the want ads. Nothing special.  Other than the size of the ad.  An eighth of a page of the want ads had to be expensive.  But there it was.  With such an odd, odd lead line that instantly caught one’s attention.
Everyone, at one time or another, must face a Serious Security Crisis in their Lives.
            Life is neither Fair nor Cruel.  But People can be.
When that situation arises, and you need that Someone in your corner,
            Call Me for a Free Consultation.

He lowered the cup onto the table, not taking his eyes off the bold black words in the process and read the ad three or four more times.  Odd.  So very odd.  It was like something out of a TV show.  Yes.  That was it.  He remembered the old show from out of the 60’s.  What was it called?  Ah!  The Equalizer.  That was it.  An ex-CIA spy, retired, working the streets of New York City and helping those who needed protection and who could not do it themselves.
Silly.  Really silly nonsense, if you asked him.  Someone pulling a joke on the reading public.  That’s all.  Simple tomfoolery!
But, twisting his face into a thoughtful mask . . .
I wonder.  Could it be for real?
He read the ad another half a dozen times. Ending, each time, by staring at the phone number.  Finally, sitting back in his chair, he grabbed for his coffee and hurriedly slurped some of the hot fluid down before turning in his chair and reaching across the narrow confines of the kitchenette for his cellphone lying on the counter top beside the sink.  Lifting the phone up close he thumbed the phone icon and then paused.
Was he really going to do this?  Was he really going to make a fool of himself?
Yes.  He could use someone like this in his life now.  Questions needed answered.  So many questions.  Questions he had been looking to find the answers to ever since coming to the city.  He had promised.  Made a promise to someone back home he would find out.  Do everything possible to find out.  Surprised, he felt sweat beginning to bud up like unwanted little dandelions across his forehead as he paused holding the phone in his hand, ready to dial. Yet his natural tendency to be cautions, to be circumspect, kept him from dialing.
Really?  Really? Was he going to do this?
Yes.  He was.  Setting his face into a mask of stone he glanced at the number in the ad and dialed.


  1. This certainly does make the reader want to keep going and find out what's going on. Great start, B.R.