Friday, November 11, 2011

Nanowrimo - Ringing those changes

The National November Writing Month Challenge's official motto is "Writing with Abandon."  And it's true. Trying to crank out a 50,0000-word novel while working a day job leaves little time to do more than type at a breakneck pace.

But that's what I like about it. Because of the time constraints, I have to turn off my internal editor and just write. It's a great exercise, and always produces some surprising results. I've posted a couple of times about a seemingly random character that popped up in chapter one of my novel. Ned Callahan came straight from my subconscious  mind --  he wasn't in my plot outline, and until my fingers typed out his name, he was just another anonymous spear-carrier.

Although  he was killed off in the second chapter, his death was not in vain. It's providing the personal motivation of one of the major characters to pursue the villain. You can read Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here.  I recently wrote this sequence in the middle of Chapter 7.

(Remember, what you're reading is the first draft, completely unedited. Also, my story, "The Crime Broker" is an homage to the adventure stories of the 1930's and hopes to capture the over-the-top writing style of the pulps.)

The doors of the restaurant burst open and a stream of uniformed officers poured in, guns drawn. The seedy establishment in the heart of the slums was a well-known underworld hangout. The diners – mostly hard-looking men, leaped from their chairs in surprise. A few instinctively reached for their guns.

“Don’t try it, boyo,” barked MacGuffey, storming in the door through the sea of policemen. He held a large revolver tightly in his fist. The belligerent thugs slowly lowered their hands.

“That’s better,” said MacGuffey, striding into the center of the room. He picked up an overturned chair and climbed up on it.

“Now listen, you mugs, and listen good. Someone’s bankrolling big time heists, and I want his name.”

The few gaudily-dressed women in the establishment looked nervously at their escorts, who pointedly ignored them. To a man, the assembled criminals in the room stared sullenly – and silently – up at the grizzled detective.

“So that’s the way it’s going to be, eh?” said MacGuffey. “Well get this, and get this good. In the last job a cop got bumped off, see? And you know what happens when there’s a cop-killer loose.”

He paused, and looked slowly around the room, returning glare for glare. “We take this town apart until we find him, that’s what.”

MacGuffey nodded contemptuously. “You birds think you’re smart. You think the guy we want’s going to make you big shots. Well, now he’s going to bring you nothing but trouble. You spread the word to your pals. We’ll be raiding joints like this every night until someone talks. And not just joints, either. Gambling houses, opium dens – whatever rackets you run, expect trouble and plenty.”

He hopped down from the chair. “Clancy, come here,” he said, motioning for the sergeant in charge of the squad. Mac took a cigar from his rumpled coat and pointed it at each man who had attempted to draw. “Take those birds down to headquarters. The charge is resisting arrest.” He pointed to the head waiter they had pushed aside when they entered. “Take him, too. And the rest of the staff. I have a feeling the health inspector will take one look at their kitchen and shut this joint down.”

Finally, he surveyed the crowd and pointed at five more men at random. “And take those guys, too. I just don’t like their looks.”

Policemen began hauling off the men singled out by MacGuffey, There was pandemonium as they loudly protested their innocence and demanded their lawyers. Some of the officers still stood facing the mobsters, holding them at bay.

“This is how it’s going to be,” shouted Mac to the remaining patrons. “This is how it’s going to be every night until I get a name.”

He turned and left the restaurant. The rest of the police squad backed out through the door, guns still trained on the mobsters.

“Yeah,” said Mac softly to himself. “This is how it’s going to be until I find the man who killed Ned Callahan.”


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