novel excerpt 1

novel excerpt 1

A Story by Kees Kapteyn

a snippet of what im working on- this is not the start of the novel, but a ways in.


At night, Dan’s house is quiet as he lays awake, above sleep, in a surface tension that he cannot break. There is someone else in the bed with him. She snores loudly, pulls the covers to her side and imposes her body on his side of the bed. It is Olivia, and her intrusion prevents him from resting. The past few days and the past summer replays in his head like a film rolling too fast, badly spliced and edited with random chaos. He thinks of his loss of the only two people in the world who would love him unconditionally. He thinks about the whirlwind of the funeral and the surrealism of absence and loss. Here then and now gone. He thought about the boys returning to school, how their friends might react, if they react at all, oblivious as they are to anyone else’s drama but their own. He thought about his own return to work, the awkwardness of accepting condolences for a death he had yet to accept. He thought of Olivia in the bed next to him, absent in a sleep borne of oblivion. He is not used to having her in bed with him, in fact is the first time in many months she is here under the same covers at the same time. He hears her breathing, feels her warmth adding to his. He is thinking of waking her up and seeing if she is still in a mood. He had seen something in her that he had not seen in ages, the affection of his wife and he was wanting more. He thought about how tonight could break the drought between them. He listens to her, knows her female softness, knows how good it would feel. He rolls towards her and finds her back is towards him. He stops. She is in such a deep sleep, sleeping off her drunkenness after his mother’s funeral. This, now, here is all after the fact. The opportunity is lost; the opportunity that was never really there. He realizes as well that this is not the woman that he saw earlier in the day, and never would be again.

© 2008 Kees Kapteyn

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He thought about how tonight could break the drought between them. He listens to her, knows her female softness... loving the terminology here, very nice and intriguing.

I read the other reviews as well as your own and will venture to say this but keep in mind I haven't any professional anythings to back me up other than personal preferences. I enjoyed this because it's both intriguing and well written. As always, your writing makes me want to know more but to me that is the beauty of it. I am able to accept it for what it is and fill in the rest myself and be completely satisfied with it.


Posted 12 Years Ago

I can agree with Cicily about needing to incorporate a back-story, but, I also admit, that this is a well-written sucked me in to wanting to read more! But, personally, I also admit I like the mystery WITHOUT the back-story, and that entices me a bit more.....your call either way, I think....but I enjoy!

Posted 12 Years Ago

Cicily! thanks for the input! This actually isn't the beginning of the novel- its a little bit into it. I chose it quite randomly because I thought it explained the most of what drives the beginning of the novel. I have the funeral at the beginning- I can show you the passage if you want, I think I do it quite well!

"Summer passed at the same time as Daniel's mother. After all the rains of that; the wettest summer in recent years, the weather was finally fair. Fair meaning dry and warm. Fair meaning justifiable and acceptable, a passing grade. The rains of the past summer had cast a pall upon everything that represented summer- warmth, sunshine, even levity. So in the dying month of the season, the sun had returned, all too late, all too little. Through the clouds, it made an appearance and Daniel thought to himself it was casting its light as if to apologize. Sorry for what? Thanks for nothing. Daniel's mother used to say that when the clouds opened up and pillars of light beamed down on the earth, it meant that someone was finding their way into heaven. He wasn't looking to see any such beams of light- the thought would have been too much. He was sure someone somewhere was seeing that phenomenon and perhaps thinking just that, perhaps witnessing his mother's ascent, but he could not bear to see the weather as anything but 'fair'."

There is, of course, more to this- an incident with Olivia at the viewing and so on, but I think this passage is excruciatingly beautiful. There will be little backstory to this novel, but alot of trying to extricate from the past. I'm excited about writing it! Thanks for the review though- I would warmly welcome any input you might have as I post more excerpts in the future!

Posted 12 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Hello Kees,

HI!.. okay, first off, my name is Cicily Janus, I have been a writer for a while, have various editing jobs and much experience crocheting...all in all this means that I have absolutely no weight at all in the business, but I do wish to give you a bit of advice or crit.

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received in regards to writing is about beginnings. One of the cardinal rules of writing is to never begin a novel when someone is waking up, sleeping or about to sleep, taking a shower, looking in the mirror etc....

Having said that, what you do have is a great deal of details. I know a lot about this man, what he is thinking about, some of his past. Some of your details are very rich. Which is a good thing.

Second point of interest to you. Another cardinal rule is to watch the amount of backstory you place in the beginning of a novel. With this excerpt, you have started out your novel almost entirely with backstory. In order to draw a reader in, you should open up with some kind of action. Something to draw the reader in and not put them to sleep. Now it doesn't have to be an explosion or murder, but give the reader something to truly grasp on to. Give the reader something that will keep them turning the pages.

You can always slip in backstory throughout the novel in your dialog, characterization etc....

I would rewrite this and really think about your opening. This is crucial to snag readers, editors and agents into your writing. If I can offer any more help, please do not hesitate to email me.


Posted 12 Years Ago

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4 Reviews
Added on March 19, 2008
Last Updated on March 23, 2008


Kees Kapteyn
Kees Kapteyn

Ottawa, Canada

Resides in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Self-published his zine 'rhododendron' and two chapbooks: 'grubstreet' and 'coffee salt.' Has been published in,, Novella, Corv.. more..

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A Story by Kees Kapteyn