Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Misunderstanding

He was sitting in his apartment; lighting a cigarette while waiting. The phone suddenly rang.
‘Yes?’ he picked up the phone and answered.
‘Is everything going as planned?’
‘Yes, boss.’
‘You leave in 15 minutes. 27th Oak Street is the location. Remember; stick to the plan. I don’t want you screwing up this time.’
‘I won’t, sir, I promise.’
There were a few seconds of silence, and then his boss hung up. He collected his weapon and left the house. He was there within the next 10 minutes; waiting around the corner for Mr. John Jones to come home from work. Three minutes past by and he heard the sound of a car approaching the house. He hid himself. You could hear footsteps coming towards the door. He was still waiting for the right moment, for the moment where he would do as he was told and get the job done. The night was dark; darker than it usually would be. It was only a matter of seconds. Only a few short seconds it took him to do this. Nobody knows how he managed to do it so quickly. Suddenly the sound of a gunshot filled the empty space…
He woke up the next morning relieved that he had finished the job. He had done his duty. He turned on the TV to watch the news. The reporter was talking about a crime that had taken place the night before.
‘… It happened at this very house, in 27th Oak Street. The police suspect that it was a case of murder that happened here last night. John Jones came home last night to find Ralf Jones, his brother dead. The police had already arrived before he got home …’ the reporter continued.
He sat in front of the TV with his mouth wide open. ‘This can’t be…’ he thought to himself. He jumped when his phone rang. It was his boss.
‘You see what you have done??? You have ruined EVERYTHING. You can’t even follow simple instructions, can you?’ His boss shouted with an angry voice.
‘But sir, I thought it was the right person…. I SWEAR IT!!!’ He replied while shaking.
‘YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT. You’re ABSOLUTELY USELESS!!!’ His boss shouted in an even louder tone.
‘PLEASE, SIR…. Let me explain!!!’ He said in fear.
‘THAT’S ENOUGH! I have just about had it! I don’t want you working for me anymore. YOU’RE FIRED!’ His boss shouted.
His boss then hung up on him...

1 comment:

  1. Hello!

    In the analysis of your chosen excerpt, you do well to identify how crime fiction generally has a lot of narrative momentum; crime writers often have a keen sense of pace in order to turn their texts into page turners. The pacey nature of these texts is often achieved, as your rightly point out, by the use of “simple” language. Crime writers don't stand around staring googly-eyed at the scenery, but use readable, simple language that doesn't “get in the way” of the plot. In this genre, plot is a higher priority than description or figurative language (whereas the opposite is often true of literary fiction).

    The use of simple, clear language to achieve a strong sense of momentum is a technique that you have identified and subsequently brought to use in your own work, so very well done on that! I like your use of dialogue: it's pacey, and is a quick way of making the characters come to life. I really “heard” the voices of the irate boss and the nervous employee. I also liked the ending – at first I thought the boss should have reacted more strongly (in most of the crime stories I've come across, an employee would most likely be bumped off for messing up a murder), but on re-reading I found it quite funny, almost farcical, that the mistaken murder is treated just like any other everyday work-related bungling.

    A few things to look out for: firstly, try to maintain a consistent point-of-view. For most of this piece, we are very much with the murderer; it's narrated in third-person, but we see everything from his perspective, and are privy to his thoughts. As such, I was thrown by 'you could hear foosteps...' (I'm not there, the murderer is, so why can I hear it? Shouldn't it be 'he hears footsteps'?) and 'nobody knows how he managed to do it...' (a shift from his perspective to a universal one). Inconsistencies like this “jerk” the reader out of text; it makes them aware that they are reading a story, and so stops them from feeling like they are really part of it. Keep an eye on this :)

    A couple of minor stylistic points: semi-colons should only be used to separate two independent clauses – that is, two clauses that each make sense of themselves, and aren't “dependent” on another part of the sentence for their meaning. So 'it was a beautiful day; he decided to go swimming' is a correct use of a semi-colon, because the two clauses make sense as sentences of themselves. On the other hand, 'he decided to go swimming; walking down to the pool in the sunshine' is not a correct use of a semi-colon, because 'walking down to the pool in the sunshine' isn't a complete sentence.

    Often writing tutors advise their students to avoid adverbs as much as possible. This is because a writer, if they're doing their job properly, should be able to show, or imply, everything they need to about a situation without directly telling the reader what is going on via adverbs. So, if you write “'shut up, you old coot!' he shouted”,you don't need to add that he shouted “angrily”, because the reader can already infer that feeling of anger from the substance of what is being shouted. As a rule of thumb, you don't want to tell the reader what to think or feel – they like to be left to work that out for themselves :) This is why 'he jumped when his phone rang' is a better sentence than 'the phone suddenly rang'.

    This is a fast-paced and very readable snippet of crime fiction, with believable and pretty funny characters. In the time I've been moderating you your prose fiction has come on a lot, and you should be very proud. Good job!


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