I sent the first 1200 words to a literary agent and received some coments:
Obviously, the begining will be slightly different, as the hook needs to be within the first and second sentences. How will it be different?
Crime Fiction: Hardboiled Detective
Dr Philip Shepherd
There are many software programs for scripts. The type of writing should be known, and then the software package chosen. I did write my PhD on Microsoft Word. Each chapter was a different Word file, and at the end, I numbered all the pages. Adding the references throughout the Word document was difficult, so I had references listed at the end of each chapter. LaTeX was available but required the use of a further code I was not willing to learn at that time, as I was doing a Postdoc at Nottingham University.
Recently, I have come across a new software package called Scrivener. This software is excellent as it also supplies the architecture to enable different scenes and chapters to be written and manipulate the order in which they appear. Additionally, Scrivener allows a folder for research and photographs for each character and location within the story.
I have located a writing competition and intend to enter.
I’m pantsing it. What the hell, it’s a short story. Only 2000 words, four A4 sides.
As you know from this web blog site, I’m plotting the story of a crime fiction novel series. Herein lies the difficulties I have so far encountered. A private investigator in the UK has no more rights within the law as you or I, going about our own business.
My protagonist is a self-employed private investigator, and she works within the law. Although, she may in certain circumstances, bend the law to the benefit of the client; i.e. sub-sub-genre; crime fiction noir.
Crimes have happened, and murders occur in public places. My story is set in a shop within the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading. Having visited the shopping centre and parked in the multi-level car park in which you receive a ticket containing your own vehicle number plate marked and the date/time you entered. There are cameras on buses and trains. A few years ago I was on Jury Service in Reading, and one of the offenders was seen walking down the main high street with the stolen item, on a video camera.
Things must be realistic and plausible in this story. Performing a crime these days you need to plan everything to a great detail. If a shop entrance within the Oracle Shopping Centre is videoed continuously, then how does someone commit a crime within the shop and escape undetected? They would have to know what cameras there were and what scenes they were capturing, when and how long if the cameras were panning around. Also, a change of clothing, and hair colour.
Things that give messages about people, and can be used in evidence:
1, Hands & fingernails condition, hand cuts or blisters.
2, How well shaven, beard long/short, small cuts or red areas indicate wet shave, else electric.
3, Stains on hands if they smoke, left or right handedness would be evident.
4, Left or right handed, crossed arms – the dominant arm underneath.
5, What type of footwear, shiny, dirt or mud, worn soles, shoelaces or slip-on.
6, Limps or limb damage, the speed of the walk.
7, Glasses, longsighted or shortsighted, varifocals possible.
8, Mobile phone, silent ring, vibrating or big ring, how loud, type – iPhone or simple.
9, Makeup on a woman, what colour lipstick.
10, Smells, perfume, burning smoke, cooking food.
11, Trousers creased behind knees if sat down a lot during the week in a suit.
12, Vehicle type, sports, estate, saloon, works car – else walks, public transport.
13, Car keys, house key, any other keys on ring or assistance items such as a knife, etc.
14, Tablets, liquid medicine kind and dosage.
15, Ring on left-hand ring finger if married, type would indicate engaged or fully married.
16, Surplus items on clothing such as hair or stains, torn clothes or missing buttons.
17, Location of excess hair or stains would indicate the reason, possible pets.
The private investigator in my fiction can’t take fingerprints, but shoe prints are available to be photographed. Also, if first on the scene of an accident or murder that has occurred, the P.I. can inspect and take photos but not alter anything. Being aware that under forensic science your own presence and movements will be evident to the police after forensic inspection.
N.B. I have not visited the Oracle Shopping Centre, or any other shops in that vicinity, with the intent of observing their surveillance cameras. This aspect I am creating my own scenario that fits into my story.
Fig. 1. The ticket I received from the car park at the Oracle shopping centre.
First of all, I’m using a software package called Scrivener as it is very, very useful for writing long documents. It enables you to structure the content and research for each subject. I have separate files for each character and every location in which scenes are set. I also have a few pages of filled in questions about each character.
There are many fictional story plot structures available, but I am using a mixture of two or three of them for a private investigator scenario, as there are none available that I could find. Mine is as follows:
Act I: Set up:
– 1, The hook
– 2, Customer Meeting
– 3, The inciting incident
– 4, Plot turn 1
Act II: Conflict:
– 5, Pinch 1
– 6, Midpoint
– 7, Pinch 2
– 8, Plot turn 2
Act III: Resolution:
– 9, Stand back up
– 10, Climax
– 11, Aftermath, or review of events
This structure is fairly common and used in most films and novels.
Hook: A hook is the first few sentences in a story that will catch someone’s attention and keep them reading. Or, action at the beginning of a film that is exciting. Somewhat like James Bond and StarWars movies.
Customer Meeting: This is the meeting that the private investigator has with the client explaining their problem. Clearly relevant to my stories.
Inciting Incident: An inciting incident is an event that literally makes the hero or protagonist of the story interact with the problem that has just arisen.
Plot Turn 1 & 2: The plot turns are just the times that new information comes to light and things change. Such that the suspects change and different things make an impact.
Pinch 1 & 2: The pinches are bad news for the protagonist and things go wrong and the antagonist, which is the bad guys, gets the better is some way.
Midpoint: The midpoint is just the protagonist’s changed life and getting used to it, including new normal things happening.
Stand Back Up: This is where the hero of the story has been pushed down so low that you think the game is over. The attitude of the hero is inevitably strong-willed and relentless. The protagonist is apparently getting ready for a massive conflict.
Climax: The battle where the hero and the antagonist are in a fight for right and wrong. A lot of the time there is a murder attempt and an inventing escape by the good guys.
Aftermath and Review of Events: This is after the battle where the opponent has been found and beaten by the protagonist. While the police turn up the protagonist questions the antagonist to explain events and reasons for them. Also, an opportunity for the hero to fill in where they knew things were headed. Indeed, the Police finally turn up, and further explanation is imparted to the DCI, detective chief inspector of CID, criminal investigation department.
I’ve been having trouble with my grammar. The biggest problem was comma splices. I looked around and found Grammarly, which is an online service that corrects grammar problems, including comma splices.
With the confidence of the Grammarly program helping me with the problems, I submitted my work to my tutor. My instructor in America still found comma splices. Writing the following sentences, I expected to find an error:
The program found no problem. I sent the sentences above in an email, and they said it was going to take a while as English is complicated, the only language that does not like comma splices. So now, the online program finds the problems except sentence eight as they are still working on it. Grammarly replaces the comma with a semicolon. The semicolon is fine for standard English text except when it is dialogue, as I got the reply that nobody speaks with semicolons. The other solution is adding a conjunction like: for, if, when. When the conjunction joins terms that are of equal importance in the sentence then it is right to use a coordinating conjunction like: or, but, and. When the conjunction is joining a subordinate sentence, then use subordinating conjunctions like: until, because. Another problem is that not many people speak correct English, but it is still required for the characters.
A sentence is an object and a verb, so that’s it. Also, just then I ended a sentence with a preposition, which is not allowed either. There is also the passive voice, which is not allowed. I’ll discuss the passive voice soon.