Now here’s the thing. Anyone who knows me knows that I am one sarcastic ho-bag. It’s genetic I think, or at least a skill handed down from parent to child. But every so often I do like to tap into my serious side. I try not to do it too often, I have to do serious at work and it’s very draining, but sometimes, even in blogger land, it is sadly unavoidable.
Now I read a post in a book group on the dreaded FB the other day which was a new writer asking people for advice on what to avoid in their book. What plot points and devices should they try not to use, ones which would put readers off. And oh my life the range of answers… ‘I hate the inaccurate portrayal of the police’, says one. ‘I don’t like it when they include the Supernatural’, says another. No sex, no alcoholics, no kids, no back story… I resisted the urge to correct someone who chose to point out how effectively one author manages to avoid including backstory for their characters given the fact that I’d just listen to the first book on audio, and it had more back story than the potted life history of President Donald Trump… If the poor original poster learned anything from the question it was probably only that one man’s meat is another’s poison and if you want to be a success then write the book you want to read.
It did start me thinking though. What would a book look like if the author really did try to avoid every cliché, trope, pet peeve and irkability factor that could alienate readers? And the only way to find out the answer to any question, IMHO and scientifically speaking of course, is a) research or b) experimentation. As my life is too short and I am lacking the inclination for research i.e. reading every book ever written, I have decided to plump for experimentation. Now regular readers of my reviews will know that I am not a writer. A verbose reviewer who uses far more words than necessary to get her point across yes (that is a given just going by this introduction) but writer… not so much. Still I figured I’d give it a shot. And so I bring you my short story – Killer. ( I’d have come up with a more original title but apparently unlikely plot twists and unrealistically big surprises that people didn’t see coming are also on the embargoed list so I figured applied to the title too). Tell it like it is. That’s my motto. Here is Chapter One. I hope you enjoy it.
By Jen (sooooo not a writer) Lucas
Detective Inspector Colin Williams knew that today was going to be a bad day. He knew this because the minute he had walked into the office in the tall, perfectly disordered CID office, Detective Constable Janice Davis had offered him the simple pearl of wisdom ‘It’s going to be a bad day gov.’ This was further backed up by his Sergeant Rebecca Daly who was just finishing up on the phone, muttering a clearly audible ‘poop’ as she replaced the receiver.
DI Williams liked DS Daly. She was very polite and one of the best Detectives he had ever worked with. And she kept him on the straight and narrow or at least steered him in the right direction when he started making unforgiveable errors.
He had only been working for the Metropolitan Police for around six months, having transferred from Oldham when he realised that in order to be a truly successful fictional Detective, he was better working for a murder investigation team in a larger police force. Not that you didn’t get murders in Manchester, but he was hoping for promotion one day and Rachel Abbott had already cornered the market in Manchester Detective royalty with DCI Tom Douglas. Williams knew he would never compare. Competition in London was also fierce, but being a larger city it was far easier to create fictional divisions and police stations in order to create the desired job openings.
DS Daly frowned. ‘Not really, Gov, no. At least… Well I’m hoping this is a one off.’
‘Huh?’ DC Janice Davis stared at Daly.
‘He asked if there were problems daily,’ the DS explained slowly, shaking her head. ‘I said I hoped it was a one off…’
The DC looked confused. The DI looked bored.
‘Is there a problem DS Daly? The phone call?’ Williams asked looking at his DS. He probably would have stared or narrowed his eyes for effect too but knew that people didn’t appreciate too much description and so looking seemed ample.
‘Body. Down at the dump. We’re up.’
‘Shit’ Williams said. ‘I was hoping for a quiet one this morning.’
‘Told you it was a bad day,’ Davis remarked. ‘And you can’t say that.’
Williams stared at her. Staring was called for this time. ‘I can’t say what?’
‘Shit’ Davis said. ‘Real police may swear but you are a fictional Detective and people don’t like it.’
‘Christ.’ Williams said.
‘You can’t say that either,’ Daly said, shaking her head.’ Christ? You’ll upset the religious readers. Blasphemy. Or something.’
‘Oh for fu-’ Williams stopped abruptly as Daly raised her eyebrows. ‘Ok. No swearing.’
‘No swearing,’ Daly nodded. ‘Come on. I’ll drive.’
Williams stared as his DS started towards the door, his eyes wide. ‘Oh for fu-…’
To be continued… If I can be arsed. Can I say arsed? Ah… Bollocks to it.
Have a fab night all