First Scene From My Novel

Posted: October 2, 2011 in Writing

The WIP is now the WIE (Work in Editing). I thought I would allow you all to see the opening scene or two of my novel  “Professional Development”. I hope you enjoy it.


Everyone in the crowd jockeyed to get a better view of the body. A young woman lay on the ground. Her eyes stared eternally into the sky, a thin white film obscuring her final view. She couldn’t have been over twenty-five years of age. Her face was smooth without the aid of make-up. Legs that were the product, no doubt, of hours of aerobics peeked out from the hip hugging dress that she wore. Torn in several spots, the dress held the dirt of the area within every wrinkle and crease.

The wind picked up, blowing strands of hair across her face. The only motion on her still frame

“She looks so peaceful,” a female voice said. Hushed out of some sense of propriety.

The noon time sun bore down on the courtyard. The uncommon April heat broken by the occasional breeze.

Contained wonderment buzzed in the air.

“It can’t be that comfortable having your leg bent under your body that way,” a deep male voice added, sounding a bit disturbed at the sight.

“She can’t feel it, you idiot, she’s dead.” another male added.

The courtyard of a prestigious school did not seem to be the most likely place to find a body, yet none in the group seemed to be showing any signs of shock or surprise.

“Ladies and gentleman, please step aside,” Declan Anders took control of the group.

The crowd parted slightly as he walked forward. If you saw him walking down the street you wouldn’t notice him. Average height and build. The same description that is given to most convenience store hold-up suspects. What would make him stand out was his presence. Declan Anders was a man who commanded respect, and did so without uttering a word to that fact.

Controlled power.

“What’s going on here?” Declan surveyed the crowd patiently.

Silence was certain to illicit an answer. All it took was a little patience.

A pile of leaves rustled as a gust blew through the area.

The sun disappeared behind a cloud,cooling the area further.

Declan was hopeful that the weather would return to a more reasonable temperature.

A cough.

A throat clearing.

Finally, “It seems to be a female, roughly in her mid twenties,” Sarah
Whitaker volunteered an answer.

“Good, Ms. Whitaker. You have shown yourself capable of stating the  obvious. What else is there?”

Another bout of silence and uncomfortable murmuring.

“It is important to notice the little details, class,” Declan said,
“The body did not start at this location. There are heel drag
marks entering the area ending at her feet.”

Pens, pencils and smart-phones worked feverishly to record every detail.

“Evidence of struggle are apparent by the bruising on her knuckles. Whoever attacked her will have some ice applied to their body somewhere, that’s for sure.”

Nervous laughter added to the sound of the wind.

“Furthermore, it is evident that-“

A bell rings.
Book-bags are quickly put away and shouldered for the journey to
another class.

Declan raised his voice above the cacophony, “Remember to read chapter four in your text tonight, and check the class wikispace for your problem set. We will continue this lesson tomorrow.”

It is futile to say all this, as no one stops to even listen.

Declan shook his head.

Teaching the Criminalistics senior elective hadn’t turned out the way that he wanted. The idea was perfect; students with some modicum of interest would be able to work their way through a series of crime scenes from simple burglary to serial murders throughout the year. Now, four years in, Declan realizes that most of the students were just here to get their final science credit and then get out of here.

“Mr. Anders?” Sarah Whitaker had stayed behind. The only bright spot in this year’s class.

Smart, dedicated, and beautiful. Most of the boys in the Senior Class were simultaneously in love with, and in fear of, her. It was hard for a
guy to be the dumb one in the relationship.

“What do you need Miss Whitaker?”

“I was wondering about the extra work choices we had to improve our grades.” She talked quietly, but confidently.

Declan hated extra credit. In his experience students didn’t work hard enough on their regular assignments and tried to recover everything by doing some kind of hokey current events report. In this class, the grades topped out at a B+. If you wanted to get anything higher, you had to do an internship or an independent research report in the field of forensics. It separated the truly motivated from the lazy.

“Yes, you opted to help out at the morgue, correct?” Declan busied himself with the papers stacked on his desk. The pile of ungraded work never shrank, and always threatened to tumble down in an avalanche of failure and disappointment.

“That is correct.”

“What is the issue?”

“No issue. I was just wondering what I would need to do to look in on a real autopsy. So far, all they have me doing is pushing the bodies around and paper work.” Disappointment showed on her face. Here was a young woman that wanted to actually be involved in this stuff. Ah, to have an entire class like this. What would that be like?

“I’ll talk to Ben. He probably is stuck in a rut of how to deal with my interns based on the last few years. Remember Johnny Martin?”

“The quarterback for last years team?”A flash of adoration showed on
Sarah’s face; replaced by redness when it was obvious that Declan had

“He vomited all over someone’s grandmother last year.”

“That’s disgusting.” Sarah tried to stop from giggling.

“Yes, and very hard to finish doing an autopsy with. Luckily she had died from just being old. I’d hate to see what a defense attorney would do with that.”

“Thanks for that story, Mr. Anders. Oh, and thanks for helping out.”

“Have a good day Sarah. Get to your next class.”

Declan watched her head back to the school. Too bad there weren’t more students like that here.

He owed it to all of them to be successful tonight.

His hand patted his jacket pocket.

Everything he needed was right there.

There it is. Just the opening, mind you. If you want more, let me know. I just might oblige you all.

  1. jmcmurray says:

    Sorry about the editing on wordpress. copying and pasting made it a bit difficult. I will try to adjust it.

  2. Michael says:

    There are some minor grammar points that should be handled by further editting (mostly punctuation, but also a little captilization). On the terms of the actual novel, it’s got the beginnings of something rather interesting. The first paragraph hooks and then draws in, leaving us with the protagonist and his life. As a teacher myself, I can identify with his problems, so I’d say you handled that right. Towards the end, it branches a little bit, leaving me wondering where exactly you’re going with it – which is good, as it’ll probably get me to keep reading.

    All in all? As a writer, I’d say keep writing. I want to see what happens next.

  3. Acebrock says:

    Work in editing. I like that. I may just have to steal it.

    As for the story, it looks good. It’s very engaging, and very tightly written. The only thing, other than some formatting (such as a space between the comma and the next word). this:

    A cough.

    A throat clearing.

    seems a bit redundant, unless these are being done by two different characters

    • jmcmurray says:

      Fair enough on the cough and throat clearing. As for the comma and space thing, that isn’t in the original manuscript. It was a product of copying and pasting into wordpress. It is actually very hard to see on my screen, so I am struggling to fix it in wordpress.

  4. Marcia says:

    I like it! Can’t wait to read more!

  5. catwoods says:

    Love the WIE. I’ve got me some of those.

    Also enjoyed the first chapter snippet. Thanks for sharing with us. I’m always too terrified to put anything out there until it’s gone into the WIOE stage (work in over-editing).


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