Tag Archives: Detective fiction

Friday Fictioneers – A Reminder

This week’s FF photo is Rochelle’s own – taken from the cover of her short story anthology. It’s suitably eclectic for that purpose, so I’m intrigued as to what the fictioneers make of it. My response is below, together with previous editions again. Comments, critique and criticism all welcome.

Genre: Police Procedural!

menora

The Reminder

“What’s the picture, Guv?”

“That was taken at the first scene I ever investigated. Old Mr Lewinski killed himself and…”

“You keep the picture to remind you of the case?”

“I keep the picture to remind me that even criminals have their own human stories. Motivations that make sense in their own heads.”

“But … you said suicide?”

“Lewinski’s depression started when his daughter died in childbirth five years before. Old Lewinski raised the kid. See those crayons?”

“Oh God, he was there when the old man did it?”

“Sergeant, it was a murder-suicide. The kid was Lewinski’s first victim.”

 

Version 1:

“What’s the picture, Guv?”

“First scene I ever investigated. Old Mr Lewinski killed himself and…”

“You keep the picture to remind you of the case?”

“I keep the picture to remind me that even criminals have human stories.”

“But … you said suicide?”

“Lewinski’s depression started when his daughter died in childbirth five years before. The kid survived. See those crayons?”

“Oh God, he was there when the old man did it?”

“Sergeant, it was a murder suicide. The kid was Lewinski’s first victim.”

[At 84 words, quite a bit too short. I decided to go a lot longer for v2, then cut back, as I find it easier to cut than extend word by word.]

Version 2:

“What’s the picture, Guv?” asked Detective Sergeant Briggs, picking up the framed photograph from his boss’s desk. He’d been meaning to ask for years, and finally plucked up the courage this morning when the old man seemed in a talkative mood. [The easiest way to add words to a dialogue scene like this, is to add narrative. This is the background I’d thought was going on anyway, so I simply put it down on paper]

“That was taken at the first scene I ever investigated. Old Mr Lewinski killed himself and…” [Another way to add words is to cut out the colloquial shorthand of the senior officer.]

“You keep the picture to remind you of the case?” A menorah, a black and white photograph and an old telephone – off the hook as if someone had tried to call for help. [Again, narrative. I would have liked to keep the description of the photograph. I fought myself to keep this in the final edit, but ultimately, it didn’t make the grade, because having cut the rest back to dialogue, this bit of description stuck out.]

“I keep the picture to remind me that even criminals have human stories. Reasons, motivations that make sense in their own worlds.” [There’s a saying “Nobody ever does anything wrong by their own view of the world.” I needed a reason for the senior officer to keep the picture, but also I suspect that saying – fascinating in its own right – would be all the more potent to a murder detective.]

“But … you said suicide?” Something didn’t add up. [If I was adding narrative, I needed some in this second half of the piece, but I was very glad when I could take this out again. It feels very hard-boiled Detective story-ish to me.]

“Lewinski’s depression started when his daughter died in childbirth five years before. The kid survived her. See those crayons?” [Given the ending, “the kid survived” is confusing, so I added her. It still didn’t read right though, hence the change of focus in the final version.]

“Oh God, he was there when the old man did it?”

“Sergeant, it was a murder-suicide. The kid was Lewinski’s first victim.”

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