Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Excerpts--Gal Friday Noir

Okay, I did something. My critique partner suggested I try my story in first person. I'm not a big fan of the first person. In fact, my initial blase attitude regarding Twilight had to do with the first person POV. (BTW, in case you missed my earlier post regarding this, no author bashing here on my blog. I will erase the post. Constructive criticism only, please.) I told my critique partner this, and being the brave soul that she is, she said, "It would be good exercise anyway." So I did it. Instead of a "new" chapter, I rewrote the last chapter, and did it in first person. Here is an excerpt.

PLEASE comment, give your opinion constructively. (The no author bashing rule applies to me too!) This is a little long because I need some feed back on the first person and this chapter is full of dialogue. Enjoy :D

"I don't think they meant to. Only one other person knew I was taking those days before I left the office. I was kidnapped on my way home. Since I live alone, there's no one to report me missing unless I don't check in today."

"Nice," I said. "I bet you pissed off someone. They can't say a word and all their careful planning is backfiring because you had a whim for a few days to yourself."
He grinned at me and I could see some color returning to his face. "Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?"

My kind of man. "Pissing people off always makes my heart glow." I glanced quickly his way and smiled. "So, their mole isn't likely to be your boss, or he could have called off the kidnapping. That is, if the intended result was to have you pulled from the case."

"You're scary when you smile like that," he said, approval lacing his voice. "What training have you had?"

Surprised, I glanced over at him again, then shrugged. "Here, there. Mostly local people." Some dumb luck and experience is how I learned most of my survival lessons, but that would lead to lots of questions I have no intention of answering. Besides, those experiences are what made me seek out self-defense lessons.

"I can't imagine how you'd be if you had any formal training." He shook his head then dropped the subject. Smart man. "But back to the problem. I agree with you. The more I think about it, the more I'm sure they intended to have me taken off the case. I need to find out why. And who."

"What's the next step? This is way past my skills." Even my private investigator training wasn't enough to deal with a mole in the FBI.

"I doubt it. You handled yourself like a pro back there."

"Damn it." That's not what I meant at all. But if he leaked that she was cool under fire and had bested an infected, there's no telling the damage it would do. "Is there any way I can keep that information out of your official report?

"There's not going to be an official report," he said grimly. "Normally, I'd report, they'd pull me as lead, but keep me as consultant. But I don't think that's what'll happen this time. There's something underhanded about all of this that I mean to get to the bottom of. What if they wanted more than to get me off the case?'

His question surprised me, but I immediately knew what he meant. "Like fired?"

"Yes, fired. I've been secretly searching for the mole. The director isn't convinced there is one. I'm sure there is. What if I'm getting too close and they've decided to get rid of me in a non-sensational way?"

"This group seems to enjoy the bloodshed. Why stop now?" I had an inkling of where he was going, but wanted to hear him talk out the process for me.

"Because the death of an FBI agent would cause too many questions. Better for them to try a different route first."

I pondered this while driving, letting the car fill with silence again. After a while, I heard him mumble "What the hell?" and reach in his pocket. It was his cell phone. That worried me. They kidnap him, bloody him up, then leave him with everything, including his phone? Nothing added up.

Granted, I'd interrupted them, perhaps foiling some of their plans when they left, but they'd been there for two days. Simple enough to slip his gun, badge and phone into a pocket or purse. Spinning the scenarios was giving me a bitch of a headache. Normally, I didn't get them anymore, but apparently my body was telling me it'd had enough for the day.

I reached behind the front seat and started rummaging in my pack. Joseph gave me a look and pointed to the road. I sighed in frustration and mouthed "headache" at him.
He nodded and pulled my pack to his lap. While plastering his phone to his ear with his shoulder he poked around in the pocket I'd just been digging in. He came up with my bottle of Motrin.

I popped them with some of the left over soda from McDonald's and surreptitiously watched his features. His face was still somewhat swollen, especially around the eyes. However, fully dressed, the only clue to the recent ordeal were the black eyes.
I wanted to offer him some of her Motrin but figured he knew about them now and could ask or get some if he needed it. I noticed him tensing his jaw which made it difficult for me not to ask "What?" while he talked on the phone. Driving aimlessly for a few more minutes wouldn't kill me. But my curiosity might. I was so busy mocking myself, I didn't notice he'd quit talking on the phone and shut it off.

"I'm not saying anything about my kidnapping and we have to go in to the Bureau. The person I talked to said all calls from me, to me, or regarding me were ordered rerouted to another number--two days ago," he said darkly.

Two days ago. I was incredulous. No way. I'm not buying. "That's a little much for my bullshit meter," I said mildly, not wanting any of his anger directed at me.

"Mine too," he replied.

"I know the director didn't set it up, so it had to come from one of two people. My regular partner is stuck on desk duty from injuries arising out of a hit and run. In light of recent events, I'm beginning to think his accident is related to this case. These people are ruthless and have no morals if I'm right," he said with hot anger in his voice.

Despite knowing he wasn't directing it at me, I flinched at his tone. Even while being tied up and tortured, he hadn't lost his cool. Now he looked ready to take someone out for what happened to his partner. I planned on staying out of his way.

"What happened," I ask him quietly. "And give me directions to the local office so we can take care of that before I check in to a hotel somewhere."

He gave me the directions while he talked. "A month ago, my partner, David, was t-boned on his way to work. He left the Shell Station by the freeway after getting gas and witnesses say a large black truck appeared out of nowhere and smashed the driver's side of his sedate sedan. The doctors said if his car hadn't come equipped with side airbags as well as front air bags, he would have died."

The malice and forethought involved with planning a murder for an Agent only peripherally involved stunned me. Killing someone in that manner was risky at best. You were more likely to permanently handicap them. I had to agree with Joseph's assessment. Chances are that they did it to get David off a current case in the field and stuck behind a desk or worse.

I'm not sure what he thought of my continued silence, but he didn't stay quiet for long. This time I could hear the raw emotions in his voice. "It took two weeks before he was well enough to come to work and sit behind a desk. His color was so bad, I almost made him go home. I don't know how he convinced his own doctors, much less the FBI ones to let him back so soon, but he did."

He started to say more than stopped. I let him contemplate his thoughts on his own for now. I have my own worries to ponder. As I thought things out, I didn't much like the conclusions I came to. Fear is not a comfortable bed fellow. Tended to make people make mistakes and I was no exception. If these people were willing to do that to an FBI agent, how much more would they do to me, a lowly writer?


  1. Nice job! If you hadn't mentioned that it was originally third person, I wouldn't have known. It feels very natural :)

  2. Hi Leona:

    Okay, first let me congratulate you on giving this a try. 1st person POV is tough. And, with that said, I must also say, this is a really good start.

    I don't write in 1st POV, so I may not be the best person to make suggestions - but you know me, I'll try anyway. ;)

    I'm only going to comment on the first couple of paragraphs - because I could be totally wrong - but again, you know, that never stops me.

    In the first paragraph? Nothing jumps out at me - maybe a little tweaking is all. And, it could very well be a voice thingy, but my take on this one? I'd exchange kidnaped with something less formal like grabbed or snatched. The phrase: Since I live alone - sounds too explainish <-(yeah, I make up words ;) ) to me. I'd simply say: living alone...and then - I'd change the don't in the last sentence to didn't.

    Now, in this second paragraph, you have an opportunity to connect your main POV character's thoughts to previous dialogue that's awesome! Don't miss out. When your character replies: "Nice" instead of: I said, why not clue the reader into why 'nice' was said. Since I don't know - I'll take a logical thoughtprocessey <-(I lurve my made up wordies)stab at it.

    "Nice," Cripes, single living had a one heck of a downside. "I bet..."(<-this way the point that the snatched guy was truly alone is nailed) The next thing I see - has nothing to do with POV, it's word choice. Again, disregard if you're using the word whim some other way. If it's whim, whim then: ...Because you had a whim for a few days to yourself, - sounds incomplete or wrong to me. You can say, because you decided, on a whim to take a few days for yourself,<- better - but the other way? Nope, not liking it. :)

    As for the third paragraph, it could be tighter. You say:

    He grinned at me and I could see some color returning to his face.

    Why not step closer? Be there. The phrase: I could see - creates distance. Take that out and replace it with exactly what the POV character is seeing in the moment.

    It could be as simple as: He grinned and color returned to his face.

    Or? I like specific details because I think we notice the little things.

    He grinned and his pallid-cheeks filled with healthy color.

    Or, something like that.

    To me, 1st person narrative is being in the moment. You are the person who sees everything and conveys it to the reader in a clear and logical manner. ;)

    Again, great start, Leona! Big hugs!


  3. Murphy's nailed it.

  4. Hi Leona.

    Murphy is spot on. I wasn't sure who the "she" was in the "if he leaked that she was cool" line.

    Your dialogue was much more natural in this piece than the last thing I read of yours. I'm really impressed with this excerpt!

    I emailed you all my thoughts since I threw the excerpt into Word to more easily go through it.


  5. You have good advice here. :) Adding more would only muddy the comments previously made, and the story merely needs you to take a deep breath and tackle each part on its' own strengths and weaknesses.

    Editing and refining is the hardest part of writing.

  6. @Diana Thanks :D I see a few errors... but I'm glad it wasn't too jarring.

    @Murphy Hi there *waves madly* just like old times, my dear. I miss the days we rocked edittorrent's comments lol need to get back on that. some of the followers are going to turn it into something dull if we're not careful. :D

    Thank you for the insights. I love how you put things. My critique partner said same type of things. So, I'm working on it. Wrote two more chapters. Shall see if I get deeper into her psyche or not.

    @Anne-Mhairi <--this<-- is my critique partner. She said need more sympathy/empathy for character, only quite eloquently. lol She's been the best. PS Three chapters any time now...

    @Techsurgeons LOL Wow. Thanks for the email. And a huge compliment on the dialogue! PS the"she" was a left over from the third person. "sigh"

    @Bigwords Thank you for commenting. I appreciate the support and the advice :)