The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 3

Previous entries in this novel:

Enjoy!


The Alibi – Chapter 3

 
Cranston grabbed the railing as he jogged up the stairs to Precinct House 17. He may have been a linebacker in college, but that was thirty-five years ago and now he needed to pull himself up inclines when he jogged them.

He snapped his hand back as if the railing carried high-tension electricity and stared.

The railing was shaking?


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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 2

Previous entries in this novel:

Enjoy!


The Alibi – Chapter 2

 
Rexall Shaul stood quietly at the top of thirty flights of stairs. He held the door open for a moment and peered down the stairwell. The stairs descended from the art deco paneled hallway on AirCon’s corporate office floor to the garage underneath their building. There were many such buildings, some taller, some shorter, many shared, dotting Boston’s Incubation Center’s waterfront, and Shaul sometimes believed he could feel the waves rocking the building’s foundation pylons buried deep into the landfill supporting the Incubation Center’s population.

He let go of the door and waited, quietly, meditatively, listening to the pneumatic cylinder ease the door shut behind him. The click of the latch was his runner’s starting pistol.

He slowed his breathing and relaxed his still-lean body, techniques he learned as a USAA level competitive gymnast, and debated lifting his arm to check his Omega Dark Side of the Moon watch.

Lifting his arm would raise his pulse a beat, maybe two.

The hesitation alone raised his pulse a beat or two and he wondered if he was losing his edge.

The sound of the pneumatic piston slowly increased as it reached the last moments of its transit.

Quick glance at the Omega. The gun sounded.

Off.

He walked quickly but not hurriedly.

Steady pace. People wouldn’t think twice, let him pass. A burst of speed once in the garage if necessary and never necessary before.

Break a sweat and he revealed too much.

Keep it all inside. Maintained.

He opened the door to the garage, glanced at his watch.

Two-hundred-forty seconds. Eight seconds per flight. Not breathing hard. Didn’t break a sweat.

Good.

His best time made use of gravity and dropping down the stairwell, his hands working the railings like descending uneven bars.

He smiled and walked to his black Lotus Exige. Two parking spaces were assigned to him as part of his package. He parked over the center line of the two so the Exige had three feet on either side clear.

Footsteps. Running, flanking him.


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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 1

You can get the backstory on this rewrite at The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 1 (backstory).
Enjoy!


The Alibi – Chapter 1

 
Ed Voss stood in the middle of his orchard focusing on G. His only knowledge of G came from Maestro Fortuna, the stories he told him. And once Maestro Fortuna stood on this very spot with him and smiled as a shape formed in the air.

It took Ed a moment’s focusing to recognize the shape as female, its body’s curves outlined in earth tones of browns and greens and blues. Eyes floated in what now and again seemed to be a face, and he heard laughter.

No, not quite laughter. More like a chuckle. A playful chuckle, the kind of sound someone makes when they’re tickled by someone they know.

And love.

And a moment later Ed’s orchard came to life. Leaves budded, apples ripened, flowers opened, birds nested, bees buzzed, worms burst through the soil.

And that was just what he could see. Could feel. Hear. Taste. Touch.

Could experience.

Maestro Fortuna sighed as the shape faded. “Her gift to you, Ed, for inviting her here.”

But Ed couldn’t find her – communicate to her? – on his own. Not yet.

Possibly not ever.

The warm, August sun dried sweat on Ed’s bare chest and back, both permanently tanned from many summer suns above and below the equator. He took his ballcap off to wipe his brow and felt furrows there, as if plowed like his fields, and realized he was tense with concentration.

But that’s not how Maestro Fortuna did it.

Maestro Fortuna relaxed with slow, even breathing.

First lesson; Lower-Center-Relax-Breathe.

He descended through the levels of awareness of his training, cocked his head, and stopped.

A sound?

His name?

Someone called his name?


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Toing and Froing

We’re going to build on elements from Using One-Line Summaries to Write Better Stories and Flashback as Story Frame to deal with another story challenge that often leads editors and publishers to stop reading and reject a story: Toing and Froing (To-ing and Fro-ing), something I first wrote about in Quit Stage Directing.

Simply put, Toing and Froing occurs when the writer/author has their characters move around or do things for no real story purpose; there’s no character development, no character revelation, the atmosphere doesn’t change, no plot elements are furthered or revealed, the movement is irrelevant to any established or impending plot points, the movement is unnecessary to the dialogue, et cetera.

The end result is weak writing, exposition, narration, and lots of uninteresting things happening just to fill the page. Most writers/authors fall down on “movement is unnecessary to the dialogue.” They’ll have two or more characters talking and feel the characters should be doing something while they talk.

The desire to have characters do something while talking is good, the execution is usually poor, and now we’re dealing with attribution via action which I’ll cover in another post.

Eating my own dogfood
I’m currently editing Cicatrix, a work-in-progress last picked up and put down in late Feb 2019.

What follows is the ninth scene in the story. I’ll share the scene’s original form first with brightly colored “Problems” buttons after each weak paragraph. Click on the “Problems” buttons for examples of that paragraph’s problems. Next I’ll share share a rewrite with brightly colored “Solutions” buttons. Click on the “Solutions” buttons for explanations of why the rewrite is better.

PS) this is more for my edification than yours. Feel free to disagree. Please make sure you explain your disagreement and offer suggestions for improvement. Always happy to learn, me.


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Mystery Writers of America “Mystery Writer’s Handbook”

Another book purchased years ago and finally read because a work-in-progress, Search, had mystery elements and I wanted to know ahead of time what I should be doing and what to look out for.

 
Mystery Writer’s Handbook, like most of the writing books I’ve reviewed on my website, is a worthy read for all authors, writers, and writer-wannabes. It’s focus is mystery and its view is broad. Romantic suspense novels fall into the mystery fold. I didn’t know there was such a genre, but I do now and surprise! my work-in-progress with mystery elements is more a romantic suspense novel than not.

Like all writing books, it discusses character, scene, POV, dialogue, description, and the like. Its real power is in both plot – because good plot tends to drive most mystery and the plot techniques are gems – and editing – the chapter on revising and editing is truly a standout. An extra bonus is a short section on contracts. Many of the books I’ve read mention contracts, Mystery Writer’s Handbook provides a roadmap of potholes and things to avoid.

Strongly recommended.