Tuesday, November 01, 2011

NaNoWriMo - A Change for the...?.

Well, one day into the NaNoWriMo challenge and already things have taken a change for the, well, either better or worse -- I can't tell. Writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days with only a sketchy outline is bad enough. But I'm already off- track!

Here's my plot outline for Chapter 1:

MacGuffy’s with the Flying Squad. A rash of high-profile robberies has hit the city. The alarm’s gone off at a jewelry store in Manhattan, and he’s rushing there to capture the crooks. He arrives in time to corner the crooks, resulting in a shootout.
But while that’s going on, another – and larger—heist happens on the next block. MacGuffey pulls back some of his men to respond, but the crooks get away. And in the confusion, the first group is able to escape, too.
And here's what I pounded out this morning (remember all of this is unedited -- you're reading raw first-draft text here):

Chapter One – A City Besieged

Three police cars cut a swathe through late afternoon traffic in lower Manhattan, their blaring sirens creating a cacophony that echoed through the streets. Lieutenant Mike MacGuffey, riding in the lead car, leaned over to the driver. “Faster,” he said. The officer nodded and pushed the accelerator further into the floorboard.

The radio car surged forward, and the other two did likewise. MacGuffey chewed on an unlit cigar, his grizzled features scrunched together in worry. For the past two months, the city had been in the grip of crime. A series of robberies, each one more audacious than the last, had swept through New York.

MacGuffey absently scratched his head of coarse, rust-red hair. He and the officers of the three radio cars were responding to a silent alarm at Bennington’s, one of the city’s ritziest jewelers. If they could catch the thieves in the act, the police just might have a lead to the mastermind behind this crime wave.

“We’re four blocks away, Lieutenant,” said the driver. MacGuffey nodded and grabbed the radio microphone. “Attention Cars 7 and 23. Attention, Cars 7 and 23. This is Lieutenant MacGuffey. Turn off your sirens. I repeat. Turn off your sirens. We don’t want tip off those birds knocking over Bennington’s.”

The sound coming through the open car windows diminished somewhat. MacGuffey turned to glare at the driver. “You, too, knucklehead. Turn off that siren!”

The driver gulped nervously and complied. “Sorry, lieutenant, guess I wasn’t thinking.”

MacGuffey harrumphed, and the two policemen riding in the back grinned in anticipation. They had seen MacGuffey chew out patrolmen before, and knew he could make an art of it. Instead, the grizzled detective looked reflectively at the driver.

“New to the force?” he asked.

“Yes sir. I’ve been with the force three months, today.” The driver flashed a small smile, but did not take his eyes from the road as he continued to thread his way through lines of slower-moving vehicles.

“What’s your name, son?” asked MacGuffey.

“Ned Callahan,” he replied.

“Well, Callahan, a word of advice,” said MacGuffey. “We’re going into a very dangerous situation. Just keep your head about you, remember your training, and you’ll be fine.”

“Yes sir.”

“And one other thing,” added MacGuffey. “Follow my orders immediately.”

Callahan nodded.

The two other officers were a little disappointed, but not surprised at the exchange. In addition to being one of New York’s foremost detectives, MacGuffey had the distinction of being one of the best mentors on the force. Jim Rowland, the current police commissioner had trained under MacGuffey, and the two remained close. In fact, it was Rowland to had personally sent the red-headed detective out with the radio squad.

“Do what you can to bring them in alive, Mac,” the young commissioner had said. “We’ve got to stop this crime wave and fast.”

As the cars journeyed through Manhattan, Mac had outlined his plan via radio. Arriving at the block Bennington’s was on, the radio cars moved into position. Mac’s car, in the lead, drove to the end of the block and turned left to block traffic. The trailing car did the same, effectively sealing off the street. The middle car rolled up close to the curb in front of the store.

Mac and his men rolled out of their car. One of the officers walked forward into traffic to direct traffic away from the scene. Mac, Callahan, and the other policeman started up the block to the middle patrol car in a crouching run. The grizzled detective glanced up the block and noted with satisfaction that the men in the tail car had duplicated his actions. One remained behind, the other three made their way to the middle car.

The officers in that vehicle had exited through the left side, keeping the doors facing the jewelry store shut. They now huddled behind the patrol car with guns drawn, stealing an occasional glance over the hood or around the trunk.

Berrington’s storefront sported a modern, streamlined look. Rather than large plate glass windows, the store had inset polished black panels. Small windows in the panels displayed a few items of great value. The door had ornate chrome decoration and large, rounded bars for handles. The decoration served to obscure most of the view through the tinted glass door.

Nevertheless, it was possible to make out movement inside the store. Mac and his men arrived at the same time as the other three policemen. He peered over the still-warm car hood. Through the door he could see shadowy shapes in motion. Their outlines made it clear they were armed. One seemed to be patrolling the store, walking up and down, whirling unexpectedly from time to time as if startled. The other was making his way methodically down the row of display cases.

Filling a sack as he goes, no doubt, thought Mac. He looked more intently through the glass, taking a chance and rising up to get a better view. He quickly ducked down, and motioned the other officers close to him.

“Okay, I think I got the lay,” he said. “Two robbers; one’s grabbing the ice, the other’s guarding the customers and staff. It looks like they’re laying down on the floor.”

Callahan gulped nervously. “Are they dead?” he asked.

“Nah,” replied Mac. “If they were, that second jasper wouldn’t be looking around all the time – he’d be helping his partner load the loot. Our job is to keep them that way.”

“How we going to do that?”

Mac grinned. “Wait till they both come out, then grab ‘em. Remember,” he cautioned the men, “Rowland wants them alive, so easy with the rods, OK?”

The policemen reluctantly nodded their consent.

Suddenly the car radio came to life. “Calling all cars, calling all cars, hold-up in progress at Regent Jewelers, 34th and Park, Repeat, hold-up at Regent Jewelers, 34th and Park. All units respond.”

Callahan looked at MacGuffey with surprise. “That’s just two blocks away! We’ve got to respond.”

MacGuffey glared at the young officer, but he knew Callahan was right. Being the closest unit, they had to respond. But how could they prevent two crimes at once?

So where did Ned Callahan come from? I didn't plan for him to be in the story at all. Obviously some part of me has a plan -- but darned if the rest of me knows what it is. Hope this new detail gets resolved by the time the main villain (who still doesn't have a name) makes his entrance. 

"Literary abandon," indeed!


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