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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

She is back. That fat ugly woman is following me once more. I saw her in every shop window today and when I was sorting my holiday photos she was in them too. She wore the same clothes as me and she even had her hair scrapped back like me. Of course I knew it was me it’s just that I don’t recognise me. Ally hadn’t been to Fat Control for almost a year and she now knew it was time to return. A comical look at four different women at four different dress sizes with four different goals

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Romance / Women's fiction


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Lulu Watkins (United Kingdom)


FAT CONTROL

My Monday to Friday mornings are pretty much routine. After the school run I’d walk Max our dog up through the large field at the back of our house. As soon as we reached the gate I’d take Max’s lead off and he’d bound away on his gangly legs while I slowly walked up the field. At the very top there was a thick heavy gate which lead you back onto the main road and civilization, the countryside feeling soon disappeared.

With Max now back on his lead we’d walk to the end of the road where there was a small row of shops including Mr Patel’s which stood right on the corner and was unimaginatively called ‘The Corner Shop’. Mr Patel had owned the shop ever since we had moved to the area, it had changed a lot over the years and it was now very up market. The biggest transformation was when Mr Patel had altered the shop front from white plastic PVC and frosted glass windows with faded pictures of food to solid wooden frames with clear glass which were very cleverly etched in italic writing that resembled a shopping list. The shop had become much lighter and brighter overnight, the bargain brands disappeared and the shelves were now full with well know makes which his new clientele expected.

“Morning Mr Patel”

“Morning Ally” said Mr Patel chirpy as ever.

As routine I would then pick up my paper plus three kit-kats, three kit-kats costing 99p and as one costs 45p meant the third Kit-Kat was only costs 9p so why by one? We would then chat about the weather and I’d be would be off.

I would eat the first kit-kat very quickly in-fact it hardly touched the sides. While the second one was to be really enjoyed and savoured so my taste buds could get the full benefit. The third kit-kat was for later on in the day before the kids came home from school, Pete was home from work and the house turned into a whir with my full attention required by all three of them at exactly the same time. My last kit-kat and the paper was my final bit of solace for the day.

Today, today was different. I was approaching my house while Max jumped the gate and went and sat by the front door starring at the brass lion head knocker that was really really tarnished in-fact I can’t remember polishing the thing since the boys were in primary school. I stopped at the waist high wooden gate and looked down at my hand in total shock. I was eating my third kit-kat and the worst thing was I couldn’t even remember opening it. I stopped and thought for a moment and realised I had no choice and quickly finished the chocolate stuffing the empty wrapper into my pocket. I immediately took two steps right and opened next doors bright shiny gate and walked up my neighbour’s path. The front door was a double-glazed composite one, one of those really expensive ones that you see in posh magazines and it was a lovely poppy red. I looked over at my front door it was blue and wooden and even though the paint wasn’t peeling off it yet it had lost it gloss shine years ago but at least it is the original door authentic Victorian, who wants draft proof plastic.

I rang the doorbell, no answer, I rang the doorbell again and again still no answer. Max jumped over the wall and sat by my feet now starring at the doorbell and wagging his tail. I knew she was in. Chaz never went anywhere this early in the morning, as far as she was concerned morning didn’t officially start until 10 am, anything before that was just silly o’clock. This time I put my index finger on the doorbell and just left it there.

“Yes yes I am coming,” shouted Chaz “you had better not be one of those bloody double-glazing salesmen”

I took my finger off the doorbell.

“Chaz it’s only me calm down” I yelled back.

Chaz opened the door looking very ruffled and supporting a shiny buttery chin with her short hair sticking up and out. This month her hair was pink with a few black streaks running through it which actually looked nice when it was done and far better than the blonde and green from last month. Apart from our hair, mine being long and fair which went very sun kissed in the summer, we were very similar looking. We both had very dark brown eyes, of just below average height, similar weight although different dress sizes oh and we both had very tiny feet.

“Why didn’t you come around the back like you normally do” she snapped “quick quick got to go it’s about to pop.”

Chaz disappeared up the hallway and Max and I let ourselves in not taking any notice of her attitude as it wasn’t yet 10am. Chaz’s house was an identical layout to mine, downstairs two reception rooms, a large kitchen diner with both had original cornice and fireplaces yet our houses couldn’t be more different. Chaz had solid oak flooring, a stripped back staircase, the latest colours on the walls and furniture that came from shops that I had never heard of. My house was IKEA from top to bottom, with sensible carpets and a second-hand kitchen that was only temporary twenty years ago; note to self in my next life don’t marry a builder.

I sat at Chaz’s oak table which had matching chairs, mine was a miss match nothing being the same. She sat at the head of the table facing the over large flat screen TV broadcasting morning television, in front of her was a toaster, plate and knife, an almost finished loaf of bread, a tub of spreadable butter, a cafeteria of fresh coffee and a half full cup. Feeling thirsty I went over to the cupboards and took out a clean mug and on returning to the table I filled it with fresh coffee and looked around the kitchen while she finished her toast. The kitchen had the latest trendy gloss white cabinets, beautiful black marble worktops and lovely slate floors. I thought of my cheap lino then remembered note to self and changed my concentration to Max. Max was desperately trying to settle down into Trixie’s pink gingham bed. Trixie is a white miniature west highland terrier and a lot smaller than Max, in fact Max’s head would probably only just fit into Trixie’s bed. Trixie watched Max with amusement, ears pricked up head to one side probably thinking why do you do this every time you come around here you’ll never going to fit into my bed, never. After circling the bed again and again Max finally gave up and curled up on the floor next to it. Trixie then with head held high walked up to the bed stepped in and positioned herself quite easily in the middle.

I looked over at Chaz just as she was about to take more bread out of the bag and I put my hand over hers.

“That is enough now, you have almost eaten a whole loaf.”

She gave me one of her not impressed looks and her lips puckered up, the stare seemed to go on forever. Suddenly she relaxed smiled and actually said I was right. Then a look came over her face as if a little lightbulb had gone off and she proclaimed,

I nodded.

“So we’re going to fat control again.”

“Yes we are going and it has got to be today preferably about 6 to 6.30pm.”

Chaz reached for her handbag which was on the chair next to her and pulled out her diary and flicked through it until she got to the relevant page.

“Okay what do you fancy calories, points or syns?”

“I don’t really care” I said “they all work if you stick to them, what’s on for tonight.”

“We have got St. John’s at 6pm or St. Mark’s at 6.30pm.”

“Lets do St Marks it gives us a bit more time to feed the boys and get them settled.”

“Fine by me” said Chaz “give me three rings when you are about to leave.”

I assured her I would ring when I was about to leave the house then calling Max left the house via the back door. I stepped over the very low wall that divided our back gardens and was soon opening my back door already thinking about what I needed to do next.


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Read Reviews

Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • There needs to be more balance between narration and dialogue. Avoid overdoing the narrative and remember that dialogue can diffuse long claustrophobic text.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Connect us to your main protagonist with a deeper characterization. Could your protagonist have a few more distinguishing character traits?
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a difficult balancing act. Are you sure all the material is relevant to the plot, setting and atmosphere? Make sure each sentence makes sense to the reader, and each paragraph moves their experience forward.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.
Technique and tight writing
  • When writing is tight, economical and each word has purpose, it enables the plot to unravel clearly. Try and make each individual word count.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose is tricky. As writers, we face the daunting task of making sure we are not being predictable. Can you find a way to give the content and characters more of a unique edge? Perhaps say something boldly, something fresh or show an unorthodox approach to a topic?
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Great books, nowadays, start with a powerful opening and compelling hook in order to keep the reader engaged. Have you baited the reader enough?
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
Your chapter shows promise, but you need to brush up your punctuation and balance out the dialogue and narrative better. Your strength in this piece seems to be description. I found them detailed and vivid. Ally seems like an engaging character, but the others are a bit one-dimensional. Edit, edit, edit.

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a difficult balancing act. Are you sure all the material is relevant to the plot, setting and atmosphere? Make sure each sentence makes sense to the reader, and each paragraph moves their experience forward.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. The first page should introduce some intrigue, something that causes the reader to turn the page. Think about the conflict and tension in your story. How effectively has it been introduced?
Technique and tight writing
  • When writing is tight, economical and each word has purpose, it enables the plot to unravel clearly. Try and make each individual word count.
Style and originality
  • Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose is tricky. As writers, we face the daunting task of making sure we are not being predictable. Can you find a way to give the content and characters more of a unique edge? Perhaps say something boldly, something fresh or show an unorthodox approach to a topic?
Atmosphere and description
  • A writer’s ability to create mood and atmosphere through evocative description is vital to the reader’s experience. It’s a real skill to craft out how the characters react to the setting and atmosphere and perhaps your story could go further in its description. The reader wants to experience the same sensory and poignant journey as the characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Great books, nowadays, start with a powerful opening and compelling hook in order to keep the reader engaged. Have you baited the reader enough?
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
Your first chapter is good. I wanted to know where your main character was going and why. I felt there could be a little more insight into the possible 'intrigue' that usually happens in romantic novels. I loved the banter between your two characters. They have obviously been friends for years. Well done.