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A story beginning...
blaisepascal
This is rough, basically written off the cuff, and mainly sets up a situation that can be pursued further -- if I knew where to take it. The basic tone is hard-boiled noir detective, but I'm not sure this first cut will accurately pull that off. I did do some research before hand, but would always appreciate constructive criticism.



It was already late afternoon when Tom Peterson walked into his office.

"Hello, Tom" said Trina, his secretary, "Any luck today on finding Mr Lutz's son?"

He took off his coat and hat, hanging them on the rack near the door. "Too much luck. Send a letter to Mr Lutz, will you? Tell him I found his son, and that he forgot to mention that his dear, missing, teenaged son is 21 years old, happy, and wants nothing to do with his father. Mr Lutz is no longer my client. Oh, bill him for the 2 days I spent looking, plus a $2 round trip train fare to see his son".

"$2 round trip? He didn't live that far away, did he?"

"No, but if Mr. Lutz hires another detective, that'll throw them off for a bit."

At that moment, the inner office door opened, and two men emerged. One, tall, in a neatly pressed suit, was talking "...thank you so much for putting my mind at ease." The shorter, more rumpled of the two, replied "You're quite welcome. I'm glad things are going to work out between you two. Trina will contact you about our fee."

When the client had left, Tom looked at Jake. "I take it Mrs, Walker was not cheating on him."

"Nope, not at all. It turns out she was meeting with a stock broker. She had some savings, and has recently decided to get into the market. He's been instructing her on good investment strategy, and so far, she's made some decent money."

"So the strange new jewelry, the expensive new clothes, were her treating herself? Why didn't she tell her husband?"

"I don't know, maybe she thought he'd disapprove?"

The outer door opened again, and a police detective walked in. "Was that Sidney Walker I just saw in the hall?"

"Now John, you know we don't comment on people in our hall. What brings you here? Can't the police solve their own cases without coming to a pair of private dicks?"

Detective John Cook smiled. "Normally we can, but we're a bit stumped on this one. We found a gun at a recent crime scene that none of us recognizes. I know you have a hobby of studying odd guns, so I thought I'd bring it here to see if you know anything about it."

He handed over a heavy padded envelope, and Tom took out the pistol. Looking it over, he commented. "Interesting. I can tell why you had trouble with it. There aren't that many of these outside of Germany. See? The maker's mark is Mauser." Working the slide, Tom looked into the action and down the barrel. "It's chambered for a 7.62mm round, which you don't see many of in the US. Only the Remington 51 uses that round here." After looking at it a bit more, he put it back in the envelope and handed to back to John. "Mauser started making that design in 1914 for the Kraut government. I suspect whoever left that at your crime scene found one during the war, and kept it as a souvenir. I wouldn't worry too much about it. As I said, it's hard to get the ammunition for it in the States."

"I knew you could help us. Thanks for identifying it for us. We won't forget your help."

"C'mon John, you always seem to forget our help when you get our bills in the mail".

"We don't forget, we just chalk it up to your civil duty."

"Civil duty, huh? Ok, John. Trina? Can you walk John out of the building? I don't want him snooping on any more of our clients."

"Oh! So Mr. Walker was one of your clients? I knew it!"

"Good bye, John".

After Trina closed the door behind her, Jake said "What was that about? I know they've got firearm experts at the police who could have identified that gun as fast as you did."

"I'm sure they do. I bet John knows a Mauser 1914 when he sees one as well. John's a good guy, and I bet he suspects more than he should. Otherwise, he'd never have brought that gun to us. What's today's date?"

"April 12th, 1929, why?"

"Did you notice the grip on that pistol? Did you notice the curve at the bottom? That wasn't a Mauser 1914, that was a Mauser 1934."

"Ah.... And Tom brought it to us? He does know more than he should."

"Yep. It looks like we have a case..."
---------------------------------

I seem to like dialog. I write like a script, not like a novel.

So... what'ya think? Does it have a good hook? Would you like to see this go further? If so, where? And what can I do to improve it?

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I've been working on something for publication recently (got a decent chance) and I've been paying attention to the responses to certain things.

First is the fact that you made it a sci-fi story at the end, with it being a Mauser 1934 being shown in 1929. (Even if they were producing a Mauser 1934 back then, people will THINK it's a mistake. You'll want a description at some point of that, if it's the case.)

It is obvious from reading it that it's a first draft/rough draft, which is NOT a bad thing. Too much telling right now, and not enough showing. (That's a big JK Rowling problem, unfortunately.) Right now it's an info-dump problem. Looks like a couple guys who were likely cops at one time, since P.I. rules require that you were in a detective job for at least three years before you get your license. I think that rule has been in effect in NY for at least 50-75 years. (Got a friend who IS a P.I.)

These guys have a good relationship with the guys on the force, which is another thing that points at them having been on the force before. This can be helpful, and is certainly a better feel than so many other PI stories where they're always at odds.

Also, if you're aiming for a noir feel, you'll need to change the current writing style. An example of the introductory couple paragraphs:

---

The orange of the late afternoon sun was coming in the windows when Tom finally made it into the office.

"Hello, Mr Peterson," Trina said as he came in, telling Tom that his partner had a client in the office. "Any luck on the Lutz case?"

"I'll write it up nice and proper in a while, but it boils down to the missing teenaged son being 21, happy, and wanting nothing to do with Dad. Mark the case closed, bill for the two days and two dollars for the round trip train ticket when I found him." He smiled at her raised eyebrows - two dollars indicated a long trip, and she knew he hadn't had the chance to take such a trip since the Lutz case had come in. "Throw the next guys off the trail for a bit. Lutz won't take no for an answer, I'm sure."

---

Not trying to take it over, but in the proper feel, this page of stuff you've got could easily cover the first chapter of the book, or even go into the second chapter.

You and I are very much alike on dialog writing, but for a story of this style, you NEED descriptions.

As for whether it sounds interesting? Well, I don't do test rewrites on things I don't want to see more of. I would like to see where you go with this.

Thanks for your comments. I was hoping more people would reply, but yours are good.

It is not a mistake, in terms of the story, that they find a Mauser 1934 in 1929. It is anachronistic, and that's the hook. I had to do some searching to find a pistol which was around in the late 1920s but underwent a minor but identifiable change in the then-near-future. Take a look at <http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg191-e.htm>, specifically the only picture they have of the 1914 Mauser and the 2nd picture they have of the 1934. While that site doesn't verify it, I have verified with other sites that the 1934 model was, in fact, introduced in 1934.

I sort of have this in mind as the first chapter of a noir detective SF story. Since Tom recognized it as a 1934 model, and was willing to tell Jake, that sets up Tom and Jake as anachronisms themselves. Trina, the dutiful buxom brunette secretary, may suspect they are more than your average late 20's PI, but does not officially know. Their police friend John. doesn't know officially, but knows enough to throw the information about the odd gun their way.

I know I need to describe more, and it's an interesting show/tell distinction. I'm afraid of authorial info-dumping in description, so I over-compensated and went for too much dialog, leading to character info-dumping and still not enough showing. The place where that struck me as especially clunky was in my attempt to establish a time-setting. "It was late afternoon when Tom got to his office" is better than having Trina announce the time when he comes in. Your "The orange of the late afternoon sun was coming in the windows..." is even better. However it got real clunky when I tried to establish the date. I tried a little of "showing" by mentioning the stock-market, but eventually had to fall back on the really clunky "what date is it" line. I'd also like to avoid looking at a paper's dateline and explicitly saying, in narrative voice, the year.

I'm also thinking of changing the manner in which the gun is found. Right now, Tom and Jake have no more information to work with than the gun's existence, and that it was found at a crime scene. I think I'm going to have to change that so that it was found on a suspect at a crime scene, whom they are going to have to let go since they have nothing tying him to the crime. John "conveniently" brings the guy's file with him to see Tom and Jake, so can glance at it and get his name, address, etc.

But I'm going to also have to establish a location. Initially, I was thinking New York City, but with the establishment of the possessor of the gun, it'll have to be different, since New York enacted the Sullivan Law in 1911, requiring permits for handguns. Obviously, no permit is going to exist for a gun that shouldn't exist, so it has to be set in a locale where there isn't such a law. I've not heard of a Noir piece not written in a city, so I'd have to pick a bustling city of the late 1920s to set it in, and get the details right.

Hmmmm.....

---

The roar of the El full of workers going home came through the open office window, drowning out the sound of the door when Tom finally made it in to the office. When the train had passed, Tom could hear his partners muffled voice as he was talking with a parter.

"Hello, Mr Peterson," Trina said as she came in. "Any luck on the Lutz case?"

"Some. Mark the cased closed. I'll give you a full report to type up later, but the long and short of it is that Mr Lutz's lost so called 'teen-aged' son has been missing for a lot longer than Mr Lutz said. I found him up in Waukegan, aged 21, happy as a clam living with a room-mate in a real domestic setup, and wanting nothing to do with Dad and his abuse. All we need to tell Lutz is that his 21 year old son doesn't want to see him. Send him a bill for two days and round-trip train fare to Urbana-Champaign." Trina raised her eyebrows at that, and Tom chuckled. "Lutz isn't going to drop it simply because we say so. This will throw the next guys off the trail for a bit."

----

Is that better? I admit, I cribbed from you a bit.


As I was saying before I was rudely cut off by a comment length limitation on LJ....

As to where it's going.... I'm not 100% sure. Unfortunately, what pops into my head are hooks, scenes, not full-fledged stories. Obviously Tom and Jake need to investigate the other anachronist, and presumably do something about it. Other questions which need to be explored in the story are who are they, and why are they anachronists there as well. I'm thinking of trying to keep their use of future technology to a minimum, so the opening to Chapter Two isn't going to have them go into the back room and pull out a lap-top with a memory disk of containing Wikipedia, circa 2030. That would be cheating, in my opinion. They are in the 1920s, so that means 1920s technology, 1920s legwork, etc. I suspect that the only anachronistic technology they'll use in this story is stuff they confiscate from the antagonist.

It’s intriguing. Hope you write (and share) more. The dialogue is good. I envy you, I can’t write dialogue at all.

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