Plastic Policemen

I lost my father eight years ago to prostate cancer. I lost myself the same day and it has been a long, painful journey to claw my way back from there to where I am today. Writing has played a huge part in my recovery. I have self medicated with words and blogged my way out of the depths and back to the surface. These eight years have seen unspeakable depths but also breathtaking highs. It has been quite the experience.

Last night I completed the third draft of the book I am writing. I worked my way through a chapter titled ‘Plastic Policemen’ which was one of the first I wrote when I started work on the book last November. It covers an incident in the childhood of Kirkwood Scott which deeply affected him and set in progress a series of events which would change his life and the lives of countless others forever.

The chapter is based on a real life event which I experienced when I was an eleven year old boy. It is one of four chapters which paint the picture of Kirkwood’s relationship with his father. They are deeply personal chapters and I regard them as the cornerstone of the book. Without them there is no story. Without wishing to sound arrogant I view them as some of my best written work. It was as if they wrote themselves.

I’ve never been able to put my finger on where ‘Plastic Policemen’ fitted into the running order, chapter wise. It always floated about on the fringes. Until yesterday that was. Yesterday it dawned on me. This is your opening chapter, you idiot. This paints the picture for all that follows. They say open your book with a bang, hook the reader and reel them in. I’ve been searching for that ‘bang’ for months and it was sitting in front of me the whole time.

Last week I reached out, via the blog, for test readers willing to review the book in its draft form and provide feedback. I was amazed and humbled by the response. Talented, intelligent fellow bloggers willing to give up their valuable time in order to help little old me. It has left me excited but also a little nervous. What would I send them? That question was answered last night. It will be ‘Plastic Policemen’.

It is the beginning. The beginning of a book? Definitely. The beginning of a new stage of my life? Hopefully. But if nothing else it has exorcised demons which have lay dormant in my soul for too long. Which makes it an ending as well. The end of a journey. A writing journey, yes, but also a personal one which has brought me to where I am today. On the cusp of revealing my deepest, most personal memories to the world.

Thank you to the test readers who have bravely raised their heads above the parapet to face the bombardment which is about to commence. And thank you to those who stop by here every day and provide such support and encouragement. I will never be able to repay you or express my gratitude sufficiently. I hope one day you will read this book and go ‘Oh I know the guy who wrote this. It was thingy. Fractured something.’

What do you look for in the opening chapter of a book?

What is the best opening chapter you have ever read?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

26 thoughts on “Plastic Policemen

  1. I mentally classify openings to books; like, “Ah, ‘Threw Me Right Into an Action’ or ‘Fantasy Backstory then Character Introduction…”

    I can’t give you one great opening but (don’t hate me) I think Harry Potter (Philosopher’s Stone) is definitely on the list.


  2. Ok… this is probably one of (if not the) most incredible and punching posts you have written so far… I think that your chapter will be the same (most certainly the inner you always knew it was the real “start” of the whole book… afterall, it’s what you wrote first… 😉)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s a huge strength and power in those words and in the way of putting them, one can feel it and it’s “energising” is you know what I mean .


  3. You write well, in an engaging manner. I hope that my first chapter draws readers in as well. I think a good opening chapter holds intrigue, that makes the reader want to know more. If it hasn’t got that then what’s the point of continuing…?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. They say the best writing comes from personal experience. Please stop editing and publish the damn thing already so I can read it. Also if rejected by publishers remember you can self publish at no cost via create space and amazon. Your loyal followers are dying over here!! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Any first chapter (heck first paragraph) has to make me want to know “What next?” It might be that the character has some quirk or event going on that makes me keep going; it could be that the feel of the that chapter is taking me somewhere new. Why is this out of place item important?

    Some of the best “hooks” for me have come from Elizabeth Peters, and Terry Pratchett. There’s something about the ongoing tale of so and so? Agatha Christie for sure had a talent for doing that. You write you – if your blog is any indication of what’s going on in the Kirkwood Chronicles, you’ll have us all.


  6. Beautiful Stephen …. I so want to read that chapter (if I am deemed worthy enough!). It sounds like a complete breakthrough. Thank you for your honesty and sharing this with us. There is a very appealing vulnerability about you that comes across so well in your blog and alongside your beautiful writing and ‘way with words’, accounts for your tremendous following; and finishing the last tweakings of your book will be the cherry on the icing on the cake…. Bravo. K

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You will never be Fractured Somebody to me. You will be Stephen the brave wonderful gentleman who was willing to share his heart, soul, and fabulous mind with us. You will be the awesome husband and father others should strive to be like. I am SOOOOOO super excited for this book. Yes I know that is not something a 36 year old should write but that is how excited I am!! It is going to be amazing because YOU are amazing.

    As for what I look for in the opening of a book, I tend to look for some background, something that entices me to want to know more about the characters. If you ever need a backup test reader I am here. But I totally call dibs on a signed copy when this comes out 🙂 Happy writing my friend!


  8. Congratulations.
    Best opening chapters give you enough to keep you intrigued but set up for a slow reveal, not a ton of backstory etc. dumped all at once. Introduce the main character and setting but set up the situation to be resolved by the end. Dodie Smith in I Capture the Castle introduces the narrator, her character, voice, attitude, and circumstances all in the opening line.


  9. Again, I thoroughly enjoy your writing . . . and honesty. I’m sorry to hear about your father; the grief at losing a loved ones is overwhelming, to say the least. God bless. . . . In terms of your question, I generally read only mysteries given the opportunity (that confounded time factor) so I want that first sentence/paragraph to yank me into the page – – excite me, intrigue me, confound me.


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