Help An Author – Tales From Under The Rainbow (Part 5) #AmWriting

For the last four weeks, I’ve asked for feedback on the opening chapter of a book I have written.

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Help An Author

For those who missed the first four parts, ‘Tales From Under The Rainbow‘ is a novel I started writing in 2012.

An update on Part 4

Part 4 has now been added to the ‘Tales From Under Rainbow’ page. Click here to read the story so far.

Thank you to everyone who left feedback for me. Once again, you all came up with brilliant suggestions, much of which I have implemented.

‘Tales From Under The Rainbow’ follows the adventures of Danny Johnson. Set in 1986, Danny is about to face life-changing events when he travels to live and work in London.

Part 5

Here are the next 492 words of chapter 1. It continues from where it left off last week, on-board the coach as Danny analyses a flashback in his life. In this part we delve even further into what caused the split-up between Danny and Nick. We’ll also learn a little more about Nick.

Banner for Tales From Under The Rainbow - a new book by Hugh W. Roberts
Tales From Under The Rainbow

Setting the trap had been straightforward. 

On a works’ evening out Danny was attending, Nick told him that he’d be spending the evening catching up on some work. As a trade unionist, Nick cared deeply about his fellow workers. He saw it as a way of showing how he cared for others without actually having to say anything. Unyielding with management, Nick ensured none of his fellow workers was ever bullied or sacked for no good reason. He organised strike action, and the workforce respected him for what he did. Even though some suspected Nick was gay, they still looked up to him. Many of the men he worked with never tolerated any homophobia allegations against him. Those that tried got dealt with quickly. 

Making a small mark on a half-empty bottle of vodka just to where the level of the vodka sat, Danny went out. It hadn’t mattered where they were going. If the venue played music, Danny could forget about everything and, for a time, dance the problems away.

At the end of the evening, after getting home, Danny noticed how untidy Nick’s usually clean and tidy desk looked. Union papers covered the entire surface. Had they been placed there to make it look like lots of hard work had taken place? It didn’t fool Danny. The vodka bottle held the truth, but it would have to wait until morning. All Danny wanted to do right now was cuddle up to Nick before they officially split up. He still loved him. 

Surprisingly, he slept well. 

‘Friday, at five past nine, but the evening, not the morning.’ Was that his Grandmother’s voice he could hear? Upon opening his eyes, Danny focused on the clock on the bedside cabinet. Five minutes past nine was the exact time he had been born. How odd that he’d just heard his Grandmother’s voice telling him the time. But she was wrong. It was morning, not evening. Given that she lived hundreds of miles away, he must have been dreaming about her.

He needed a drink of water but realised he’d forgotten to bring any with him to bed. A sudden noise of cutlery and dinner-plates from downstairs startled him. Turning over, he saw Nick’s side of the bed was empty.

One more minute, thought Danny, give me one more minute before I go downstairs and face being a single man again.

But the minute turned into two, which turned into five and then ten. Finally, Danny’s overfilled bladder forced him up and out of bed.

“Coffee, Danny?” called out Nick from the bottom of the stairs as Danny tipped-toed to the bathroom. 

Danny didn’t want to reply.

“Danny! Do you want coffee?” Nick yelled. 

An awkward pause was followed by what seemed an uncomfortable reply.

“Ah, yes. Better make it black, please.” 

Pausing, Danny wondered if he should shower first or just put on a pair of shorts and go and face Nick straight away.


Now it’s over to you.

I’m looking for your feedback on this next part of chapter 1.

  • What did you like/dislike about this part?
  • Are there any changes you’d recommend?

All feedback is welcome. Please leave me your comments.

Thank you so much.

Click here to read more about why I’m asking for your help in writing ‘Tales From Under The Rainbow.’   

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Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar to learn more about me and my blog.

28 thoughts

  1. I love how we’re getting into the meat of the story now. I’m having a bit of trouble with the first paragraph. First sentence we learn Danny’s is going out, and next sentence on jumps into how Nick is with lots of details about how he is at work that don’t seem to flow with the fact Danny is going out. I feel like you’re telling two different stories parts in one paragraph there. First sentence Danny is going out, then it jumps to backstory of Nick making the two events confusing to me. I would suggest rewriting for example:

    Start with the Nick sentence, only change it to start “Nick told Danny ……” Then after thatft that paragraph:

    Danny marked a half empty bottle of vodka at level remaining and headed out for his work evening out. It hadn’t mattered where HE was going. If the venue played music, Danny could forget about everything and, for a time, dance the problems away.

    Upon his arrival home, Danny noticed how untidy Nick’s usually clean and tidy desk looked . . .

    🙂 I will also assume that paragraph at the beginning about Nick is going to be relevant later?

    1. Hi Debby, thanks for all the feedback. I’ve made some amendments to the draft which I’ll add to the ‘Tales From Under The Rainbow’ page on the weekend.

      Yes, we’re still only on chapter one, so your feedback on getting into the meat of the story is excellent. Yes, the information I’ve given about Nick’s character will become more relevant later on in the story when he reenters Danny’s life.

  2. good, as Paul says, we’re getting into the characters and story nicely – that said, there’s merit in thinking whether you could show Nick in union mode rather than telling us about it – it’s a balance: you can’t always show or the novel will make War & Peace look like a novella but just a thought.

  3. It’s nice to learn a little bit more about your characters, Hugh. In the second paragraph, the word “cared” is used repetitively in two sentences in a row. Maybe you can use a synonym in one of the two cases.

    In the paragraph “Making a small mark on a half-empty bottle of vodka just to where the level of the vodka sat, Danny went out. It hadn’t matter where they were going. If the venue played music, Danny could forget about everything and, for a time, dance the problems away, “ the third sentence doesn’t make sense. Maybe use “didn’t” instead of “hadn’t” or “mattered” instead of “matter”.

    Also, Danny acts as if he knows something happened to that bottle of vodka, but he waits until the morning to check it out. Maybe add some thoughts about his suspicions, instead of making him sound so sure about something he still needs to confirm? Hope this helps!

    1. Hi Liesbet, thanks so much for the feedback.

      I’ve made some amendments from the feedback you have given. You’ve been so helpful to me on this project. If we do ever meet up in person one day, I’ll be sure to buy you dinner.

      1. You’re very welcome, Hugh. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time these months (editing my own manuscript). Otherwise, I’d be able to help out more. Writing a book is a massive ordeal! Thanks for the invite, but don’t worry about dinner; one day, I might ask you for a writing favor in return. 🙂

  4. Hi Hugh this part of the chapter reads well I agree with Paul’s two points and I just have one of my own which is the line. ‘Nick ensured none of his fellow workers was ever bullied or sacked for no good reason” As it is referring to a plural I would change the was to were so it reads ‘Nick ensured none of his fellow workers were ever bullied or sacked for no good reason’
    BTW my Dad was a strong union man, shop steward and went annually to the TUC Conferences as a congressman. There was always a steady stream of men to house every evening.. dad used the dining room as an office 💜

    1. Thanks, Willow. Once again, I initially had ‘were’ in that sentence, but Grammarly did not like it and recommended changing it to ‘was.’ I’m going to have to learn that Grammarly isn’t always correct.

      That’s a lovely piece of information about your Dad and his connections to the Trade Unions. Have you ever written about it?

      1. Not sure if grammarly is always right I just go by what I as taught at school. As for dad I may of mentioned it in passing, he dedicated his life to the welfare of his fellow workers and his union NUVB. National Union of Vehicle Builders, he was a body maker for London Transport, he made all the seats on tubes and buses he could see like a tailor. I have his needles 😁

        1. Yes, definitely, Willow. It’s certainly got me interested in wanting to know more. Blog posts about memories are popular, especially if they’ve changed the lives of people in any way.

        2. Send it over via email, Willow. It would be helpful if you also emailed any images for the post separately. If you don’t have my email address, contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menu bar of my blog. I’ll then get back to you.

          There’s no rush in writing the post. Please do take as much time as you need with it.

      2. both are right, Hugh/Willow because the verb can reference the none – singular, or the fellow workers – plural. There’s a term for it that was in the Times last Saturday, not that I can remember it now!!

  5. I’d been expecting the split to be from infidelity, not an alcohol problem. It’s a good twist, and I hope its impact on Danny features as part of the story that follows: you’ve given yourself plenty of scope for developing the theme.

  6. Hi Hugh, this reads well, like we’re getting more into the meat of the story.

    I wasn’t sure why Danny was hesitating in replying to Nick’s question about the coffee, the question didn’t carry any gravitas so was a little puzzled by that, but it could just be me missing something.

    And the only suggestion I’d make is with the line ‘many of the men he worked with never tolerated any homophobia allegations against him’. As it initially reads to me it came across that some men are accusing Nick of homophobia, which I know is not what you meant. So, I just wonder if it would read better as ‘none of the men he worked with tolerated any homophobic remarks about him’. Up to you, of course.

    Hope this helps but as always, feel free to ignore!

    1. Thanks, Paul.

      Yes, I see what you mean with both bits of feedback you’ve given. I’ve made some amendments to take into account what you’ve said.

      Thanks again for the feedback. It’s always very helpful.

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