Skip to content



Jessica Cambrook, 15 Jul '12

For most people, the end of the world began with pandas. Yes, those chubby, furry, harmless herbivores got most of the blame from the public when society collapsed. However in my own humble opinion, it would be more sensible to blame, perhaps, the government, envelopes, Geraldine Tucker, Christmas, society’s love of money, or Nina Chalk.

For Nina Chalk, it had all started while she was a student at York College. From being a young girl she had always loved all kinds of animals. Her family’s pet cat had stubbornly taken permanent residence in her bedroom over all four of her siblings’ larger rooms when she was eight, and in return Nina had kept Chuckles safe from the brunt of her sister Geraldine's uncontrollable anger problem.

In college she had excelled in Science and Maths, due to an exceptional teacher, Ms (not Miss or Mrs, MS) Busby that had allowed Nina to spend her friendless after-school hours studying Science beyond what she had to in order to pass her exams. Ms Busby had spent many years volunteering in China, caring for orphaned baby girls. After a while she had moved to the Sichuan Province and fell in love with the pandas, who were gradually becoming extinct. The main concern for Ms Busby was that in China the pandas either wouldn’t or couldn’t breed and the humans weren’t allowed to. She often showed Nina photographs of the wildlife and home videos after they had discovered their mutual love of animals. After Nina had passed her exams with flying colours but without a friend to celebrate with, they realised their mutual distaste with the male species.

Nina had come to idolise Ms Busby, and made a vow to herself to try and do what she could to help with the problems she’d found in China. Starting with the pandas.

Although several universities with better reputations had battled and bargained for Nina’s presence in their schools, she had inexplicably chosen Sunderland University. Sunderland was an averagely ordinary city in the North East of England with not much going for it apart from about two hundred McDonalds and more discarded needles decorating the streets than an addict could ever dream of using. No one could explain why Cambridge had been less appealing for her but it would set Nina Chalk on a path towards riches and world destruction from which there was no turning back.

Comments · 12

Page 1 of 2

  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    These are the opening chapters for a new story I'm writing. Big up to Sunderland!
    I'd really appreciate any advice about how to improve. Honesty is best, even if it's to completely trash it. Thanks very much :D

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Hi @Jessica Cambrook, the first 2 paragraphs made sense to me and I enjoyed them, but then I got a little lost. The 3rd paragraph in particular seemed to be trying to convey a lot of facts crucial to the story but without really explaining adequately the reasons behind them. I've read that paragraph through a few times now and I'm still none the wiser as to why Ms Busby and Nina share a mutual distaste with the male species, or should that be for/of the male specices? (There's a good chance I'm just being dense so if I am I apologise in advance.)

    I also think that you've bought together a wonderful mixture that has great comic potential. Sunderland, Pandas, and the end of the world - how has no one foreseen this?

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    Thanks for the feedback :D That's why this site's so good, I never even realised how confusing that paragraph is. I'll have to add an explanation. The rest will be explained later on (I hope)!

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Jamie Thomas said...

    I liked this, you continue to show you are a great writer. I agree with Anthony though, at certain points you have conveyed too many facts in short spaces, which sometimes gets a little confusing. Apart from that, this looks like it is shaping up to lead on to a great story :)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Ross Tarran said...

    Amusing but confusing! Currently at least - there is potential for a very funny story although I've no idea what the chain of events could be!

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    Honestly, thank you to @Anthony Blackshaw @Jamie Thomas and @Ross Tarran, you're all always so nice and I've taken your advice and slowed the pace down to make it understandable. Without your invaluable advice it would still be rushed and terrible (it might still be terrible). Thanks guys :D

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Shirley Golden said...

    I love your two opening paragraphs (like the name Nina Chalk) but tend to agree with the comments above - it does get a little confusing after that (but it sounds as if you've addressed this). I also thought in places your language could be tighter - I'd be more than happy to give an example of the sort of changes you could try, but only if you would like me to!

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    Yeah please @Shirley Golden, I have this really terrible tendency to go at such a quick pace even I get a little lost reading it back. I've expanded on the above loads now and I'm completely rewriting it so these probably won't be the first paragraphs (Thankyouuuu, Burrst!) but I'd be really grateful for any examples you can give me :)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Shirley Golden said...

    Ok, @Jessica Cambrook,I'll take your first sentence in paragraph 3, and I'll suggest how it can be adjusted with explanations so you can get a flavour of what I'm on about! This is a long sentence, which I think you could split in two: 'Nina excelled in science and maths, due to an exceptional teacher. Ms Busby inspired her to spend extra, after-school hours studying science alone.' I've changed the tense from past perfect to simple past (as this makes for smoother reading). The word count is reduced by almost half but in essence, it says the same thing. We already know she studies at York college so I removed the reference to college here. We also learn that she passes her exams with, 'flying colours'; this tells us she studied beyond what was required, so I removed the reference to 'studying...beyond what she had to'.
    These are only suggestions (and by no means definitive - I'm sure you'll want to jiggle it around) but I'd always hone the language in this way (and I spend many hours doing so with my own work). For a novel, it picks up the pace. In short pieces, it's essential to make every word count.
    I hope this makes sense (let me know if it doesn't!) and I hope it helps :)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    Ahh right!! Thank you very much :)! I'll take that advice and apply it to everything, making every word count. I've probably been wasting words even more than I think. You're obviously very knowledgeable about English and to have the time to share it is very generous. Thanks, @Shirley Golden!

    • Posted 5 years ago