Friday, 2 December 2011

Raw Material

NaNo Winner

Phew, that was hard work. I've just recently completed NaNoWriMo, writing 50,827 words in 30 days. I'm no stranger to writing novel-length pieces of fiction, but that kind of sustained rate of creation (just under 1,700 words per day, on average) is quite a bit above my normal output. Despite that, I can honestly say I'm glad I did it.

The trouble is, although NaNoWriMo has ended, the project is far from finished. In fact, the first draft is not even done yet. What I have is a huge, incomplete pile of raw material from which to obtain a proper first draft of the manuscript. Then, of course, the business of re-writing and editing will come.

A big well done to all my friends who also took part in NaNoWriMo. It doesn't matter whether you 'won' or not. Like me, you'll have thousands of words of material to work with, that you would otherwise not have written. If nothing else, NaNo is a great instrument for giving us writers a kick-up-the-backside.

Suspicious Behaviour

As promised, here are some excerpts from my NaNoWriMo story Seeing Sharp. I've incorporated some of the suspicious behaviour that some of you suggested in my earlier article. It's not going to win any prizes, but it might be amusing to read.

Excerpt from "ATM", Seeing Sharp

"It's a bit too public, isn't it," Sean commented.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it's a busy part of town. The perps are not gonna risk it here."

Patrick thought about this. "You might be right, but the paper said the robberies took place in many locations, seemingly at random. And during different times of the day."

Sean nodded. "Doesn't seem like opportunistic attacks by teenagers, does it?"

"No. It smacks of being a lot more organised… Hello."

Patrick had seen something on the computer screen that raised his interest. He zoomed in on it.

"What have you got?"

"Just a sec…" Patrick played with the controls some more. "Have a look at this guy."

Sean craned forward and they both watched the display. A man in a boiler suit was very slowly making his way up the hight street. His head was moving all around as he appeared to be examining all of the shops on their side of the street, from top to bottom.

On his head was a old-fashioned pair of can headphones with their coiled lead disappearing into his back pack. He was carrying two instruments, one in each hand. In his left was a device resembling the business end of a medical stethoscope. In the right was something that looked like a drumstick with a small ball on the end. Both were also wired into the back pack.

As they watched, the two ExPose operatives saw the man perform irregular acts of strangeness. At least it was strange compared to normal high street behaviour. Every so often he would put the stethoscope against the wall of a building, then repeatedly tap with the drumstick. He would move both instruments around on whatever shop wall he was interested in. Then he'd abruptly stop and move on.

Sometimes he would squat down and look across the street. His gaze was not directly at the view that the lap-top showed, but nevertheless in that general direction.

"He almost looking right at us," Sean remarked, though their actual position was well out of Boiler Suit's line of sight.

"Do you think he could be… D'you think he's looking at the bank? The ATM?"

Sean inspected the screen, looked out of the coffee shop window, then back to the screen again, trying to judge the angles. "It's possible. He's coming this way, so if we wait long enough, we should be able to see him out of the window."

"What the heck is he doing, do you think?"

"Haven't the foggiest. Metal detecting, maybe? Looking for coins buried in the wall?"

"So why does he keep looking across the street? At the bank?" asked Patrick.

"We don't know for sure that it's the bank. It could be one of the neighbouring shops."

Patrick found this difficult to believe. The two premises either side of the bank were a restaurant and a women's clothing store. He couldn't think what Boiler Suit's interest in either of those would be. It had to be the bank. Whatever he was doing, it was definitely suspicious.

"Stay here and keep observing," Patrick said to Sean. "Make sure we keep recording. There's enough disk space for over two hours."

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to follow him."

Excerpt from "The Orphanage", Seeing Sharp

Behind the park was a very drab looking council estate with sprayed graffiti on many of the walls. A man with a shaven head, walking a squat but powerful looking pit bull terrier, was sauntering over in the direction of the park. From a different street, a youth on roller blades was skating and nodding his head in time to the music on his headphones, also approaching the park.

Celia watched the skater and thought she saw something a little forced about his weaving and jigging, as though he were deliberately trying to act casual. He pulled the hood of his cotton top over his head, as he neared the park. Something else Celia found to be suspicious, as it was dry and not a cold day.

He skated along the path, right past where Celia was sitting, then swerved into another path to retreat again. He'd barely glanced at her, though Celia thought she'd look out of place here. Also unusual behaviour; why hadn't he checked her out like many boys of his age would do?

She'd taken her eyes off the bald man, having been distracted by the skater. Now she saw him again, over by the wheely bins, crouching down. When he stood up again, his dog was trying to sniff something on the ground. Celia could not make out what it was from this distance, but it looked like small pile of parcels in brown paper.

The man dragged his dog away and then walked it out of the park, to return to the council estate. Several minutes passed, during which time Celia debated whether to go over to the bins and see what had been put there. She was about to stand up when the skater reappeared from behind the bins. He skated in an elaborate loop which culminated in him swooping low to snatch up the topmost parcel. He tucked it under his arm before zooming off back into the depths of the estate.

"You saw that too, didn't you?" a voice behind her said.


liz fenwick said...

Well on completing NaNo...I failed miserably but knew I would...good luck finishing the first draft and then onto the editing!

Anonymous said...

Liz: You did not "fail miserably". You now have 9,900 words that you can use.