Author Topic: A snippet for your enjoyment (hopefully) and comments (please)).  (Read 138 times)

Gyppo

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A little bit of background to this snippet...

   Natalie - the fourteen year old runaway living rough  - but well organised - in the coppice owned by John and Frances is in trouble, but John turns up just as Otto Franz is trying to bundle her into his car.

   Franz hates Frances because she put him in prison several years earlier, and has been spying on her and John from the coppice.  He has been previously unaware of their little woodland wraith, who, a few nights earlier, had been across the fields at night to tell them about the  watcher.


==================================================

   "Is this man bothering you?"  John had a shotgun casually under one arm, doing a rather poor impression of a squire checking out his land.

   Her face was pale and her eyes glinting as she tried to reach her knife, but the man had both skinny wrists trapped in one large hand and was laughing at her struggle.

   "He's the one who's been spying on you and Frances."  Natalie raked her boot down the front of her assailant's shin, but the soft soled desert boots did little damage.  He just crushed her wrists more tightly and swung her around to act as a barrier between him and John, trapping her against him with a brawny forearm.

   He grunted something and John smiled.  "Fuck off" is usually self explanatory in any language. Then the man tried again in English.  "Which part of fuck off don't you understand?"

   "The part which implies I should leave this child to your tender mercies."

   Natalie suddenly went limp, like a rag doll.  Seven stone isn't much, but as totally dead weight folded unexpectedly around one arm it can throw anyone off balance.  Franz dropped her and stepped back a pace to evaluate the new threat.

   John moved in fast, drove the shotgun's stock hard against Franz's head.  A good solid straight line crunch rather than a swinging Hollywood ballet move.  Before Franz even started to crumple Natalie curled back from the ground, uncoiling like a striking adder.  She stabbed him through the right calf muscle, before rolling away and coming to her feet.

   As Franz dropped John stepped forward, between him and Natalie.  She tried to get past, still fighting mad, eager to stab Franz again.

   "Enough.  I'll deal with him."

   The wild gleam in her eyes faded and for a split second she looked like a frightened fourteen year old.  But her fingers were still bone white around the hilt of her knife.

   "Natalie.  Do you trust me?"

   She looked at him straight on, not the furtive little glances he'd grown used to over the last few weeks since first meeting her.

   "Yes."

   "Then go down to the house.  Tell Frances to put your knife through the dishwasher a couple of times and check your clothes for blood splatter.  Don't put it back in the sheath.  Carry it in your hand.  Tell her I'll be back down as soon as I can.  Tell her it's all under control.  Now, please."

   Starting to shake with the post adrenaline comedown she turned away and ran towards the distant house.

   Halfway there she heard the shotgun boom and saw Frances open the kitchen door and look towards the coppice.

   ===
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 11:27:40 AM by Gyppo »

hillwalker3000

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Re: A snippet for your enjoyment (hopefully) and comments (please)).
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2019, 03:35:25 PM »
A few things if I may:

1)   
Quote
"Is this man bothering you?"  John had a shotgun casually under one arm, doing a rather poor impression of a squire checking out his land.

You've already told us this
John turns up just as Otto Franz is trying to bundle her (Natalie) into his car.
I'm assuming John knows Otto because of his past involvement with Frances. . . and the reader knows their backgrounds. . . so the opening line of dialogue seems very casual (even if John didn't recognise who was trying to force the girl into a car). Would you react the same way in a similar situation? 

2)   Having read further, I guess John maintains this rather leisurely tone whenever talking to people from a lower class than him, even when they present a threat. He's a bit of a James Bond type, but maybe too blasé to be believable, unless that's your intention.

3)   
Quote
Natalie suddenly went limp, like a rag doll.  Seven stone isn't much, but as totally dead weight folded unexpectedly around one arm it can throw anyone off balance.  Franz dropped her and stepped back a pace to evaluate the new threat.
All this happens quite quickly, but the way it's reported makes it seem as if it's happening in slow motion. I don't think the second sentence telling how Natalie's actions would affect Otto is necessary since you show us in what follows. And the 'stepping back etc.' slows the pace even further.

I do like the closing line - we don't know why the gun went off or whether anyone was hurt or not. As good a reason as any to keep reading.

H3K

Gyppo

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Re: A snippet for your enjoyment (hopefully) and comments (please)).
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2019, 03:53:56 PM »
All valid points and much appreciated.

Point three in particular.  I knew there was something not quite right there but couldn't put my finger on it.  It's that` 'authorial aside' isn't it?  Easier to spot in others' work than your own.

And John deliberately talks casually in hair trigger situations.  It's a bit of a safety valve.

Thanks again.

Gyppo

Jo Bannister

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Re: A snippet for your enjoyment (hopefully) and comments (please)).
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2019, 03:58:37 PM »
I like it, Gyppo.  I particularly like the hint about the sheath - I must remember that next time I have someone to stab.

I didn't get any class-type connotations from John's attitude, merely self-confidence and the suggestion that he'd been in dangerous situations enough in the past to know how to handle them.

The only bum note, for me was this sentence:

She looked at him straight on, not the furtive little glances he'd grown used to over the last few weeks since first meeting her.


"Over the last few weeks since first meeting her" is heavy-handed: pick one - over the last few weeks, or since first meeting her - and trust us to infer the other.


Gyppo

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Re: A snippet for your enjoyment (hopefully) and comments (please)).
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2019, 04:33:39 PM »
Cheers, Jo.

It's a bugger to get bloodstains out of leather.  Because of the absorbency you could probably never do it quite well enough to beat a serious forensic test.  There  are far more cleanable and durable 'plastic' sheath materials but little Natalie is a traditionalist at heart.  She's still using what she 'inherited' when she ran away.

Have to agree with the heavy-handed line comment.  I'll probably go with 'over the last few weeks'.

She's not comfortable around men, with good reason, but  since John found her hiding out in his coppice she's decided that as the male half of John and Frances he's probably okay.  He treats her like a human being, not prey, but real trust takes time.

===

As a writer it's an interesting journey getting into the mind of a streetwise fourteen year old girl ;-)  I have a few reference points to work with from family and friends, but I have to remind myself she is still a child and not just a 'cookie cutter' character who will perform as I want.

Gyppo

Michael Marnier

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Re: A snippet for your enjoyment (hopefully) and comments (please)).
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2019, 05:04:06 PM »
I agree with previous comments and would add one more. The abrupt action of 'Natalie goes limp...' does not quite fit the tempo, IMO. Perhaps a single preceding descriptive sentence that signals John; like a sudden stare or steady eye contact between Natalie and John would foreshadow what she plans to do. For example,

'Natalie's eyes went steady, locked onto John's. Don't do anything silly, Natalie. She suddenly goes limp...etc.'

I would try to extend and build the tension a bit more before the blunt force action that follows.

On the other hand, John is a consummate keen observer in such situations so he would be ready for it without the signal. Just a thought. I always enjoy the blow-by-blow descriptions you apply to fight scenes although I much prefer to see Frances do it with cat-like quickness and deadly force applied with artistic finesse when required. At least that is what is stored in my mind's eye from reading your snippets about Frances and John in the past.

Cheers,
Michael aka Artemis
Trouble on the Straits
Action-Adventure on the Florida Straits


Gyppo

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Re: A snippet for your enjoyment (hopefully) and comments (please)).
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2019, 06:08:56 PM »
Interesting point, Michael.

At this stage John and Natalie don't work as a team, (maybe they never will), unlike his near-psychic link with Frances.  But she probably learned the 'flop and drop' from Frances.  Maybe just as a 'quick fix' mentioned over a slice of cake and a cup of tea during one of her visits to the house, although she rarely goes indoors.  But the stab into his leg, attacking the nearest part, is pure little wildcat instinct.

John's more an 'overwhelming blunt force' in these situations, although he does display more finesse with a knife ;-).

Gyppo
« Last Edit: June 10, 2019, 10:00:50 PM by Gyppo »

indar9

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Re: A snippet for your enjoyment (hopefully) and comments (please)).
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2019, 01:44:49 AM »
Hi Gyppo,

I chose the sentence below to comment on although there are others that i think could benefit from some tightening as well.

She stabbed him through the right calf muscle, before rolling away and coming to her feet.


Perhaps: She stabbed him through the right calf muscle before she rolled away and came to her feet.

Maybe you wrote it the way you did to avoid the repeat of the pronoun "she" Always a trade off I guess, but a descriptive write as one might expect from you.