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Jay McWalter, C.I.D revised chapter one

by Jwjwoodhouse 

Posted: 20 November 2009
Word Count: 1448
Summary: Hopefully I've gone straight into the action with chapter one this time, rather than dilly dallying with the back story.
Related Works: Jay McWalter, C.I.D • 

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My name is Jay McWalter. I have something very important to tell you but I don’t have much time. Why I don’t have much time isn’t important. Everything will become clear, in the end, if I manage to finish explaining before…well, before I have to go.
If your parents bought you this book, or your teacher, or any other adult for that matter, then the first part of my plan has worked. It means that this document is in your hands, and hopefully in other people’s hands our age too. It is important that my message reaches people like us, important that you know about what I’m about to tell you. We’ve got to stick together, fight for the right cause, battle against the evil that always somehow manages to worm its way into the adult world. It lurks everywhere, and mostly where you least expect it. Remember that.
We have a chance, an opportunity to end it all, but only if we’re careful, if we don’t get found out. The cause I fight for must go on long after I’m not able to help anymore, which is soon. Otherwise things will get very messy.
I’m not important in the grand scheme of things. But the organization I work for, and the things they do, are very, very important indeed. I hope you’ll understand more clearly when you turn over to the next page.

So long for now, and probably forever. I wish you good luck.

Jay McWalter,
C.I.D (Children’s Investigation Department)


It was on May 6th 2009 that my life changed forever. I never thought a boring Wednesday in Balham House (that’s my school) could bring about such a big change in me. I especially didn’t think my life would do such a head spin during an assembly, but it did. Usually I’m asleep in Assembly because Mr Trevithick, our headmaster, tries to teach us some sort of boring moral lesson. The thing is he always manages to make even an interesting story seem like the most boring thing since the invention of boredom. I always get all fidgety as well because my blazer itches like mad if I stay in one place for too long.
Anyway I’d decided to stay awake for this particular assembly because we were told in registration that we were going to have a “very special” visitor that day who would give a talk instead of Mr Trevithick. I heard the loud, deep sigh of relief from everyone when Ms Coles, our form tutor, announced the message in class. Finally an assembly without constantly yawning! Usually by first lesson I can’t talk because my mouth has already had so much exercise from opening and closing at Mr Trevithick.
As we filed into the school hall we took our seats on the little padded leather chairs (my school is quite posh, but most of the kids are still as thick as bricks. They’re just bricks with rich parents). There was a little stir of excitement and the pupils actually seemed happy to be going to assembly for a change. All of us fell deadly silent, waiting in anticipation for this unusual Wednesday morning to begin.
Sure enough, it wasn’t Mr Trevithick at the front of the hall. Thank goodness. Instead a tall man stood serenely with his hands clasped in front of his small, slightly rounded stomach. He was fascinating to look at, because his features seemed nearly perfect. It was almost like someone had ironed him as well as his clothes before he left the house that morning. It was all a little too perfect to be true. But there he was, standing right there, dressed in a smart, slightly extravagant baby blue coloured suit.
The suit complemented the colour of his skin, which was like milk chocolate with a bit of extra milk. His eyes were both almond coloured and shaped and his hands were long and slender. His face was peaceful, but for reasons that I can’t explain, before he’d even opened his mouth I didn’t trust him. It was all a bit too nicey nicey for me. I’ve met people like that before. He reminded me of an Uncle who is all smiles and really nice to you until you spill a tiny drop of apple juice on his favourite rug, and then he turns into a shouting ball of red-cheeked rage. None of the other pupils around me seemed to share my worries though, as they all stared on gormless (as usual) waiting for what he was about to say.
But instead of saying anything, he raised his arm and silently pressed a little black remote control in his left hand that I hadn’t noticed. Suddenly a booming splurge of music exploded into the room, accompanied by a Technicolored video projection that filled the back of the stage. It was a truly impressive display. The music playing was loaded with heavy drum beats that made my chest vibrate every time the bass kicked in. It was uncomfortably loud. It was like we were being forced to listen. With all of our eyes glued to the screen a mixture of pictures flashed up momentarily before flickering away to reveal yet more images. Some lasted longer than others. The sequence began with large multicoloured letters that grew larger and smaller with the drum beat. The letters spelled out “IMAGI.NATION.” As the words flashed up a chorus of women’s voices whispered “Imagi dot nation” over the music. The letters fell away and the series of images started. The first was of hungry children in Africa. When that had disappeared there appeared an image of a kid’s lunchbox, then a pirate throwing gold coins out to some people with rags for clothes on a beach, then a picture of a robin hood type character, and then, strangely, a picture of our own playground flashed up. There were more images but it was so hard to remember what they were because they had come and gone so quickly. The beating music continued throughout the rest of the cycle of pictures, making the pupils around me nod their heads like those dogs people put in the back of their cars. It was like they were being hypnotised. As it continued, the man at the front in the blue suit brought his hand up to his ear and turned a radio microphone on. He twisted the little black device so that it pulled across to his mouth, like a pop star you see at award ceremonies. He began to speak over the music in a deep voice.
“Thousands of children just like you all over the world are going hungry. Imagi dot Nation is here to help. With just one donation of your lunch money every month, we can help to rid the world of poverty. Help us to spread the word. Use your Imagi dot Nation.”
His voice was magnetic, drawing all of the pupils in. Luckily my lack of trust had sort of given me the awareness not to get sucked in, but it was amazing as I looked around to see the other kids drinking in every word. The projection ended with more letters. The women came back over the sound system and spoke the words on the screen. “Will you use your Imagi dot Nation?”
The screen faded away with some sort of effect that looked like the words were melting into the blackness of the back of the stage. The women’s voices echoed and re-echoed around the room. As the noise came to an end, there was a deathly silence, just for a moment, while the pupils around me came to, their minds re-entering the room as if from a deep sleep.
Within seconds, the whole room was applauding, wildly cheering. Even Mr Trevithick, who I noticed at the side of the hall, and all the teachers, were clapping loudly the way teachers always do at school concerts. I looked around desperately to find someone else who hadn’t taken the presentation in like a robot having their circuits re-wired. I looked left. Nobody. I looked right. More idiots clapping like hungry seals. Surely someone else in the room wasn’t as stupid as the rest of these morons? I took a final frantic look behind me.
And there she was. A girl with striking features looked directly at me from the back of the hall, through the crowd of waving arms. Her piercing eyes were fixed on mine. She’d noticed I hadn’t been sucked in like the others by the man in the blue suit and his presentation, and it looked like she had a big problem with it.

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Comments by other Members

NMott at 21:10 on 23 November 2009  Report this post
This is very different to the previous version (not sure if you saw the feedback I left on it). I think you need a little introduction to your character and I liked the 'voice' in the previous version where the character was talking about himself. Maybe concentate on editing the previous version down, rather than throw it out completely.

- NaomiM

Jwjwoodhouse at 16:32 on 24 November 2009  Report this post
Thanks Naomi, I'm not too sure what to do because I've tried with this version to go straight into the action rather than waffle, which seemed to be the general consensus of everyone's comments. Maybe I'll just put in a little, refined introduction and then crash into the story.

NMott at 19:12 on 24 November 2009  Report this post
It's a tricky juggling act Joe, between introducing the main character, setting the scene with enough detailed description that the reader can visualise it, and introducing the action. You first version introduced the character and to some degree set the scene, albeit with background info. diving straight into the action without the balancing ct of MC intoduction and descrition of the setting (incl. the era detail) leaves the reader off balance.


apologies for typos - realized pizza was burning.

Last sentence should have been:
Diving straight into the action without the balancing act of MC introduction, and description of the setting (incl. the era detail), leaves the reader off balance.


The thing is to have a few paragraphs just to set the scene; to the mc it's just another normal start to the day (make it an interesting 'normal start to the day', rather than a boring one). You might set a bit of it at home to introduce the family and make the point about them being a normal, not particularly well off family, but the mc is bright enough to get a scholarship at a private school. Maybe you could show the difference between him and his school chums - he walks or takes the bus, while they get dropped off from brand new Mercs, BMWs, 4x4s, etc.
Is there a main secondary character or two he can chat to on his way to assembly, or is he a loner? Do any of his classmates call him names, or does he have a nickname to show the colour of his skin? - all these little details build up a picture of the main character and his environment. At the moment there's too much Tell summarising the detail as oyu rush to the action, and not enough Show to make the reader empathise with the character and hook them in - hooks aren't all about action and cliffhangers, but can simply be the reader wanting to know more about the character and being willing to read on to find out - don't be tempted to answer the questions too early or you'll lose the reader's interest.

Watch out for authorial intrusion sneaking in again:
...tries to teach us some sort of boring moral lesson...


oops, I don't know why it's all in italics

Freebird at 12:51 on 27 November 2009  Report this post

I like the fact that you've kept the distinct 'voice' in this, and your descriptions of the man and the presentation are very vivid. It could be cut down a little bit (e.g do you really need 'sort of' in 'my lack of trust had sort of given me the awareness..'

You've introduced a scenario that leaves us wondering, and also another character at the end who is obviously going to be significant. And it's very topical - multi-media presentation on world hunger asking for money. I like this premise that there is something deeply dodgy about it all!

If I were you, I would press on and get the whole first draft out, then come back to this and you will probably be able to see clearly how to tighten it up. For now, it's a great start.


Issy at 22:57 on 05 December 2009  Report this post
This is great, enjoyed it immensely, refreshingly different and questioning, not so much the charitable situation, but the brain washing of this particular presentation.

I too liked the voice. Very strong. I liked the micro descriptions - just enough for us to be able to place the people mentioned.

The only point I would make is that it did take a little too long to get to the man in the suit and the build up did start to pall just a little. I couldn't quite believe that a stranger would be any more welcome than the headmaster at a school assembly and maybe the narrator could be a bit more apprehensive, and wary, like he is with the man in the pressed face and suit ( excellent by the way)

Otherwise looking forward to the next. I haven't read the earlier version.

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