Most nights, the Lawman Billy Shane, as he liked to be called, took to slaying fire-breathing dragons, fighting epic battles with demons from Hell and occasionally repulsing alien invaders from outer space. Tonight, he sat in the police cruiser in the parking lot of De And R's Rib House, training Rusty Prestwick his new deputy.
"You can't get into a pattern when you do foot patrols at night. Patterns make it easy for a perp to be where you're not," Shane said.
"I understand that but just how much night crime do we have out here in the middle of Dawes County, Nebraska. The crime stats indicate there's more trouble from older students and twenty-somethings at the community college. That's not real crime." Prestwick's answer reflected his impractical and naive book learning. Too much philosophy and not enough practical experience, thought Shane.
"Oh there's real crime. You just have to be attentive to the subtext. There's more things in heaven and earth than mere drunks and bad boys if I can paraphrase Shakespeare," Shane said. "D&D is a catchall that fits most of the dumb things that happen." Banging and hollering from the back of the Rib House interrupted.
Before either of the cops could react, their cruiser was bathed in bright lights. A bullhorn voice boomed out, "This is Agent Carl Pretzler of the FBI. I'm recently divorced and I was dragged away from my monthly access visit with my mildly autistic son to instruct you to step out of the car. Now."
"We're police officers!" Lawman Billy Shane hollered through the open window.
"I know," Pretzler yelled back. "I can tell from your 1996 Crown Victoria cruiser. However, you're under arrest. Your use of backstory and 'as you know' dialogue -- that's a crime on this blog."
Opening: Dave F......Continuation: anon.
P1: The rib house would be named D & R's. Or Dee and Ron's.
You don't need "his new deputy." If he's being trained, we assume he's the new guy.
P2: If the part about dragons and demons and alien invaders refers to video games, you might want to make that clear in P1. Those things are real in some books. If they're real here, it's hard to believe Shane is wasting time training Rusty in foot patrol strategy. For that matter, if Rusty's problem is too much book learning and not enough experience, basic foot patrol strategy is one thing I'd expect him to already understand.
P3: Shane knows what county and state this is, and who's at the community college. As you know, Shane...
Delete "practical" from the last sentence. We get that he's contrasting with "impractical."
Not sure "too much philosophy" is the phrase I'd use to describe Rusty's weakness.
P4. After the first sentence, I was expecting an example or two of real crime. Instead it sounds like Shane is the one with a philosophy problem.
This little "gem" is gone...
took to slaying fire-breathing dragons, fighting epic battles with demons from Hell and occasionally repulsing alien invaders from outer space.
It was an idea that never worked itself into the story. everyone thinks he's playing video games but in reality he is doing the real thing. It turned out, he isn't the major character in the story after all. I thought he was. Turned out he isn't the center of the story.
Even the conceit of "The Lawman Billy Shane" as a running statement has fallen into ill-repute with me. I think it's going to come out completely as an idea that he has this superman type superego.
I kept this line at the bottom of the page as I wrote
He does it anachronistically dressed in cowboy boots, leather chaps, studded vest, smoky gray duster and ten-gallon hat. (As opposed to blue or biege modern uniforms).
AND THEN, never used it.
And I see that my last minute doubts and continual changes of "DuShawn and Ruby's Rib House" got me in trouble. I tried fifteen different names for that joint and hated all of them. Why do names bug me that way? IT took a full day to come up with 7 names for this story and guess what? One of the names has to be junked because it's too close to a real life name. grumbles, grumbles, grumbles, rotten names...
I'll be back.
Well, I fixed all of the opening. It's all changed and is working with the story instead of fighting it.
Thanks for the suggestions.
Actually,I liked the opening paragraph, and assumed the guy wrote thrillers in his spare time -maybe I've been visiting too many writers' blogs!
The line in your comment concerning his dress sense made me wonder if he performed in a Village People tribute band at gay bars in his spare time.
Quite a complex character you have there, Dave! Don't get rid of him completely. We need more stories about novel-writing law enforcers who swan about dressed as gay icons!
You made me laugh out loud, Jo-Ann. Good comments.
I write mostly short stories under 10K words and that means creating a character of some distinction (even if it's singing YMCA) in the reader's mind.
So I started out with the idea that Shane was the hidden hero fighting dragons or aliens at night for real. So that was the first paragraph to set up the ending lines of the story.
I also write the name and physical description of a character (or all of the characters) to fix them (and the way they act) in my mind before I write the main part of the story. Then I unleash those characters into the story.
What happened in this story is that Sheriff Billy Shane did not grow or change very much with the struggle in the story. Rusty Prestwick, the deputy does change and does turn into the hero. At the end of the story, he's the one who stands changed and made better.
That meant taking out that line from the first paragraph and never using the western clothing line. They were nice tools but with EE"s comments I knew (beyond doubt) they were only tools.
I don't see anything wrong with creating a unique, larger than life, or wildly off-base character in a story as long as the story can be tied up into a good climax and satisfying ending. Think of the movies HANGOVER or DEATH AF AT FUNERAL or DINNER WITH SCHMUCKS.
Think of "You can't handle the truth" or "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."
Now I liked the video games reference at the beginning and was happy to take it as a reference to games - while realising that you can never be sure how real games are when you're reading fiction.
I suppose it depends on what you usually read. I read a lot of sci fi.
I liked the video game reference to set up a story but as this story progressed (and its not due until July 1st) the videogames didn't work out.
I'll keep the videogame idea around and reuse it in another story.
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