Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Crime Fiction

I think we can probably leave our iambs behind for a little while now. I think some of you simply need to practise the technique independently; you are all still finding it difficult, but really it will be down to how much energy and time you are willing and able to put into it independently now; further tasks will not necessarily help at this stage, and might just start to irritate you!

So now we shall move on to some more prose fiction. For the following tasks, we shall follow the same format: a) a commentary on an excerpt of prose; and b) your own piece of original writing.

This week, we shall focus on writing some CRIME fiction.

You will all, no doubt, be familiar with 'crime' as a TV or movie genre: I, for one, am totally gripped by each year's new series of the UK series Waking the Dead, Silent Witness or Wire in the Blood. But I don't know how many of you have read much crime fiction.

As with many popular genres, the shelves of your bookshop are full of two different types of crime fiction: popular, generic, shallow, derivative stuff aimed predominantly at a mass market and pretty devoid of anything especially 'creative, inventive and original'; and, also, more 'literary' fare, writing that grabs hold of and wrestles with the conventions of the genre, and reworks them in a highly original and imaginative fashion. Unsurprisingly, it is the latter for which I would like you to aim.

Part One

You have all been emailed 5 extracts from different pieces of contemporary crime fiction. I would like you to choose which of them you feel is the most effective, and explain precisely why you have made that choice. Using examples to back up your points, try to get to the bottom of what, in your opinion, makes for effective crime fiction, identifying techniques which you might, yourself, try to explore in your own writing for Part Two.

Part Two

Now it is your turn: write your own excerpt of crime fiction, in which you demonstrate your own ability to interpret this popular genre in an original and compelling way. It is up to you whether your piece represents the opening of a longer novel, the end of an individual chapter, or just an 'abstract' - provided that it still works in isolation (i.e. on its own). As well as focusing on the genre-specific features of language and style, think also about the structure of your piece: few genres are more reliant on a build up to a strong (and sometimes surprising) climax. Aim for between 300-450 words (and try not to go too much below or above this).

Good luck!

This task is due by midnight on Saturday 9th March 2011.

As always, here is my attempt:
His First Case

You wake, surprised by the dark. You can smell him, although you do not realise that yet. You sit up, briefly, and hear nothing. Dreams, punctured, claw at you, vying to drag you under. You sag and fall into the mattress he bought. You can hear him, although you do not realise that yet either. Sleep comes.

You wake again; the dark is predictable now. You cannot smell him or hear him, but you think you can. Your dream has spilt over, torpid but bulging. He is in your dream; quickly, reluctantly, you rejoin him.

You do not wake. Still, listless, the darkness drinks you. He can smell you now; he can hear you too, the crackle of your congested breath half stifled by your pillow. He watches, waiting, your stale perfume tickling his senses like a red rag. The blade is the only beam, conducting light from nowhere. He shines it on your face. Your mouth. Your neck.

The cut is languorous. The metal strokes your throat, teasing the blood in one, perpetual exhalation. The white sheets purple in the bladelight. Your scent changes; he is relieved.

Freshly shaven, a pale elastoplast barely covering one clumsy nick, I cannot see when I first cross the threshold: they have left the curtains closed, left everything. I carry a small torch. I shine it on your face. Your mouth. Your neck.

I can smell him. I think I can hear him, but I can't. The blue light speaks, silently, outside the window. I buckle, bend over, vomit - ruddy specks raining through my torchlight.

Your eyes are staring at me. I cannot escape your gaze. I take out my notebook and begin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.