Sunday, 10 April 2011

Not Just a Dream...

There I was breathing heavily, as he held the trigger just centimetres away from my face. I was so scared I couldn’t move, thinking that if I had even moved a muscle that trigger would probably have been pulled. The heat was unbearable, the room felt so stuffed that if an old man had been there he probably would have suffocated. Still holding the gun in his hand, with an evil threatening voice, the man said to me,

“No worries, you’ll be joining your ancestors in just a matter …of …sec-” As he said the last word, he had pulled the trigger and the final word he said was blown out by the sound of an explosion. I woke up. My face was full of sweat and my heart was beating as fast as the drums of a rock and roll band. It was just the dream again, this reccurring nightmare coming to haunt me.

Morning came as I drove on my way to work, I work as a crime investigator. In the past 2 weeks there have been 4 murders predictably by the same murderer. First murder, April 12th, Brooke Thatcher. April 15th Margaret Shields, April 21st Bobby Smith and April 23rd Katie Baker. All murders took place in the middle of the night at their house, all were killed the same way, they were shot twice in the neck. The latest murder, Katie Baker, happened to be a close friend of mine, she told me before died that she got an unknown message saying that shes ‘next’.

Jack, my partner, barged into my office.

"Miss Current, there has been a report of another murder of a young boy by the name of Sam Maurice. Two bullets found in his neck."

“Sam Maurice, Sam Maurice…hm” I said, as his name sounded vaguely familiar. “Sam Maurice! Hes in the same class as my son! Poor boy, we must find out who this murderer is and stop him!”

The day went by as I got into bed. I breathed heavily and calmly closed both my eyes. Right before me, I see his face. He reloads the trigger, turns around and tells me;

“My, my, my… these days have been just far too busy for me, first Thatcher, then Shields, then Smith and the list goes on… but don’t worry my dear, I’ve still got time for you…” He points his gun to my direction, pulls the trigger, the bullet exits the gun and I wake up. Its morning.
I get out of bed and check the mail. I get a message with no postage stamp or name, all it says is that it is addressed to me. I open it up and in letters cut out from magazines and newspapers the letter seems to read out:
“Your next… From, the man of your dreams”

1 comment:

  1. Venice, an excellent opening sentence, if you allow me to put a comma after “There I was” – “There I was, breathing heavily…” – and to change the ‘trigger’ to the gun – “holding the gun just centimetres from my face”. Brilliant for two reasons – one, it throws you directly into the action, into danger and jeopardy, and two, it leaves you wondering, “Who is ‘I’?”

    The second sentence is good, too, but I think you can take out the “I was so scared,” as that is what we would expect. You can go straight onto “I couldn’t move, thinking that if I moved even a muscle…” Crime fiction is often rather minimal in its style, moving the sentences on as swiftly as possible. So lines like “Still holding the gun in his hand” aren’t really necessary – we assume he’s still got the gun in his hand, just like we assume the narrator is scared. I read a great description of ‘genre’ recently that said, “A genre is a bit like a family: when you are with your family you do not have to explain who are each time you enter a room; you are taken for granted.”

    I wasn’t sure about the “evil threatening voice” – think of ‘show, don’t tell’, and perhaps describe him pulling an evil smile.

    The second paragraph is great too. I particularly like the fact that the gunman pulls the trigger before he finishes the sentence, which makes the shock twist you spring the on the reader even more of a surprise. And the line “the final word he said was blown out by the sound of an explosion” is wonderful. The “heart” line, too, but you could have a bit more fun with the rock and roll band idea: these detectives are often cynical types, and like a good joke, so you could have “and my heart was banging about like the drummer in a bad rock and roll band”.

    In the third paragraph I like the list of murders, but again you can make things a bit smoother by remembering that idea of taking things for granted in genre fiction. So you could have something like: “As I drove to work I went over the murders again in my mind. April 12th, Brooke Thatcher. April 15th Margaret Shields… etc”. It will be obvious that the narrator is a detective, and you will be giving the reader the information they need without obviously telling them. After all, the reader’s job in detective fiction is to piece together the little clues you give them.

    However, there are places where a bit more information is needed. For example, in that paragraph the narrator is driving to work. The next paragraph is “Jack, my partner, barged into my office.” Unless you’re going for a REALLY cut about narrative style you should go for something like, “I was just hanging up my coat in my office when Jack, my partner, barged in.” And that “I was just” gives you the perfect opportunity to give more hints about the narrator. “I was just hanging up my jacket…” “I was just pouring myself a third cup of coffee…” “I sat at my desk and buried my head in my hands when…”

    The information that the next victim is known to the narrator is good too, especially as she already knows one previous victim, as it makes it all seem very close to home. But be careful about what you give the character actually to say. “We must find out who this murderer is and stop him!” is not what I would expect a tough detective to say. It’s too obvious.

    The ending of this section is good, too, but I’d say you move too quickly through the day (perhaps you rushed because of space). All the same the day could easily be summarised to give the sense of what a police detective’s job is like – going to see the body, knocking on doors, contacting the school…

    And finally, one intriguing thought, which perhaps you haven’t even noticed yourself. The narrator has a daughter at school, but at the beginning and ending of the day there is no sense of it being a family home… is the mother living apart from her daughter? Why? What happened to her family? All these are just the kind of questions that make for great fiction – because, after all, crime fiction is often as much about the detective as it is about the crime. Well done!


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