Thursday, June 14, 2007

New Beginning 294


At 2:42 am, Officer Robert Burchard telephoned for back-up. He stood in Mrs. Hillen’s living room, looking at the first dead body of his career. He tried to walk around without stepping in anything. Blood pooled along the wooden floor, seeping through last month’s issue of Watchtower, ‘Are You Afraid of the Future.’ No Siree, Bob. Not anymore. I got a gun. I got a car. And in a few minutes, I’m gonna get a head start.

I watched the prick tiptoe around the room, spasmodically looking over his shoulder. He’ll be writing his report later. Single gunshot to the heart. Through and through. Time of death, shortly before midnight. No witnesses. Person of interest--Kenneth Jackman.

I’m close enough to eighteen he’ll want to pin murder on me. First, he’ll have to catch me.

"Kenneth Jackman, I can hear you mumbling there. It's very rude. I'm not completely deaf, you know."

"Sorry, Mrs. Hillen."

"I don't ask the church to send you kids round to keep me company. You should show some respect."

"Sorry, Mrs. Hillen."

"If you ask me, kids today need to--"

"Yes, Mrs. Hillen."

She put her magazine back on the coffee table. "More cake?"

"Thank you, Mrs. Hillen."

Detective Robert Burchard was stumped. Although it looked like cake, it was many times harder than any substance he had come across and had cleaved through her skull like a sharpened ax. Only a criminal mastermind like Kenneth Jackman could have come up with something this diabolical, but--

"Kenneth!"

"Sorry, Mrs. Hillen."


Opening: Takoda.....Continuation: Anonymous

17 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations

I was almost out the door when Burchard called to me. “Hey, you. Stop. Police.”

I ignored him, and fled through the patio doors. Simultaneously, I heard the shot and felt the burning in my back. The next bullet caught me in the shoulder. I fell to the floor.

“Haven’t you ever heard of warning shots, asshole?” I asked, blood pooling around me.

“Those were my warning shots. This is my first case.”

--circus boy


But not if I get him first.

No, he'd be expecting that. I have to try and fly now, before he really notices me.

I squeeze past him, out the door and down the street.

"Hey!" shouts the backup cop.

"Don't worry," says Robert. "It's just the old lady's parrot."

--Khazar Khum

Beth said...

Whoa. That was disorienting. First we start out in Officer Burchard's POV and suddenly we're in the head of a first-person narrator.

Open with the first sentence in the second paragraph to establish POV (it also makes a great opening line), then go back and work in the information in the first paragraph, about the blood and the magazine.

And unless Jackman knows that the dead body is the first of Burchard's career, leave that out, because it definitely sounded like it came from Burchard's POV.

Beyond that, you've got tension, conflict, a mystery, and a strong voice. Clear up the POV confusion, and this is a winner.

Bernita said...

telephoned for back-up?
Is this an historical?

Dave said...

The author has to separate the narrator "I" from the police officer "Burchard" ...
As it's currently written, It's unclear as to whether Burchard is tiptoeing around the dead body or if the narrator "18y/o" is there.

I also get the idea that the first question "Are You Afraid of the Future" is the title on the Watchtower. If that's so, it's a good bit of writing. But the punctuation is awful and the phrasing is poor. AND, AND, AND, It belongs to the other person in the room - the 18yo.

Is Kenneth Jackman the "18y/o" ? If so, then we need the word "me" inserted into one of the lines. possibly: "Person of interest, me, Kenneth Jackman."

Before y'all get wild with glee discussing POV, (I get hives, hemmorhoids and migraines from POV) just think about who is telling this part of the story. It's Kenneth Jackman. He sees the detective hovering over the dead body and realizes that he's going to get blamed for the murder.

The opening is all there, just not in the right order, a little jumbled.

May I suggest this rearrangement of your words: I added two words in boldface.
At 2:42 am, Officer Robert Burchard telephoned for back-up. He stood in Mrs. Hillen’s living room, looking at the first dead body of his career. He tried to walk around without stepping in anything.
I watched the prick tiptoe around the room, spasmodically looking over his shoulder.
He’ll be writing his report later. Single gunshot to the heart. Through and through. Time of death, shortly before midnight. No witnesses. Person of interest--Kenneth Jackman.
Blood pooled along the wooden floor, seeping through last month’s issue of Watchtower.
‘Are You Afraid of the Future?’ IT ASKED
No Siree, Bob. Not anymore. I got a gun. I got a car. And in a few minutes, I’m gonna get a head start.
I’m close enough to eighteen he’ll want to pin murder on me. First, he’ll have to catch me.

takoda said...

Hi Beth, Thanks--That's a good comment.

Hi Bernita, It's not an historical--what word would you use?

Dave, Thanks to taking the time to comment. Your suggestions are very helpful. You are right. It's about a 17 year old who's watching the detective, and realizes he's going to be blamed for the murder.

I'm writing this to teach myself about story tension. I think it will be a fun exercise, in between my MGs. It's quite fun.

Thanks for the critiques!

Cheers,

Rei said...

Also, the scene comes across as a bit cliche to me -- starting out a murder mystery (right?) with a police officer hovering over a dead body.

Bernita said...

"radioed" might be better, Takoda.

takoda said...

Hi Rei,Yeah, but it's MY cliche (grin).

It's not a murder mystery. It's more about the boy, and why he would be blamed. It will be YA when it's finished.

Plus, that scene closes very quickly, and we're on the run with Ken, starting here:
http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/c3i/raven_rock.htm

(Do you think I'll be able to get inside to do research for my story?)

Dave said...

GET IN?
Sure, with an escort that follows you to the bathrooms and stands outside the stalls, waiting.
(I've been on both sides of this - yuck!).
Or get a security clearance.
But you'll be dissapointed. Your imagination is better.

writtenwyrdd said...

The good thing is I liked both voices. The bad thing is, you had two. It was quite jarring slipping from the cop's to the other guy's head like that. If you just picked one of them, I'd go for the 2nd guy; it was really dynamic and felt like you were more familiar with him. (Or perhaps you aren't as familiar with police procedures. Dunno.)

Anonymous said...

Police use radios, not telephones. Cell phones are issued to some guys (most often the sgts or investigators) and patrol officers often have their own cells with them. Generally, it is preferred to use the radio so everybody knows what's going on and you can get backup if the fecal matter hits the proverbial fan.

ME said...

He’ll be writing his report later. Single gunshot to the heart. Through and through. Time of death, shortly before midnight. No witnesses. Person of interest--Kenneth Jackman.

A nit to pick here, but I think it's worth mentioning. If Kenneth is mentally filling out the report it could read a little tighter.
Cause of Death: single etc.
(I'd eliminate "through and through", as not likely to be found on a report.
Time of Death: 11:55 pm
Witnesess: none
Person(s) of interest: Kenneth.

You probably don't want to have the stacked format I've used, but you might want to rethink that para. Or sneak a peek at a real report??? See Officer Krupke.

Anonymous said...

Actually I think time of death would not be "just before midnight" OR "11:55 p.m.". In real police speak it would be more like "approximately 2355 hours."

McKoala said...

Either blogger or the Evil One ate my comment. Not even sure what it was. I think I suggested telling this firmly from the POV of the hidden boy, as I was very confused as to who was who and who was where.

I do remember saying that I loved that third paragraph, which is a real invitation to read on.

AmyB said...

Others have already said it, but I'll weigh in too: the POV switch is very jarring. I believe we are technically in Kenneth Jackman's POV the whole time, but since we opened with Officer Burchard, I automatically assumed he was the POV character. The line "first dead body of his career" strengthens that impression, because it's something an outsider wouldn't likely know.

Then I got to, "No Siree, Bob..." and I was totally lost, because I would expect that to be Burchard's inner monologue, but it makes no sense for him to say those things.

So it must be Kenneth Jackman's monologue, but we have to be in his head before we can attribute those thoughts to him, and he doesn't even show up until the next paragraph.

Looks like a nice setup though, with a solid hook.

Bernita said...

I hope Kenneth is already "known to police", otherwise, his summation of the constable's report rings more like a device to inform the reader than a likely thought stream of an innocent adolescent.

takoda said...

Thanks, everyone, for the helpful comments. Bernita, yes, the MC is already known to the police. It's more a story about him, than a story about solving a murder.

Cheers,