Crapometer's Sweet Sixteen!

When my sergeant's cruiser pulls into the high school parking lot, I have the same impulse as ten minutes ago, when he radioed me to meet him here: hit the gas, drive away, and pretend I never saw him. But it was too late once I acknowledged his request. All I can do now is sit, drink the coffee I bought on the way here, and watch his Crown Vic coming at mine. I try not to
speculate what he wants me for. With Paul LeMonde it can't be good.

By starting with "when" you pull us OUT of the action and make us observers rather than participants. It becomes a tell rather than a show. Consider: My sergeant's cruiser pulls into the high school parking lot. I have the same impulse I did ten minutes ago when he radioed to meet him here: hit the gas etc.

See the difference?

I push the thought away and roll down my window. Raw air, the kind only New Hampshire can generate in April, rushes at me, so I turn the heater up full blast.

When you're building tension, long sentences are the exception not the rule. Consider: New Hampshire in April raw air rushes at me. I turn the heater up to full blast

But instead of stopping next to me so we can talk, LeMonde drives right past me. Through the rearview I watch him park and get out. He stands there facing the Pines like he's getting ready to battle some giant mythical beast, and I know he's waiting for me. So I kill the headlights and engine and, figuring it's probably best for me to leave the coffee in the car, I join him.

Starting sentences with "but" and "so" are awkward. I advise taking all of them out and then deciding if any really need to be replaced.

"Got a report of some teenagers skinny-dipping in the river," he tells me.

I'm supposed to believe that? I'm standing here shivering and it looks like it's going to snow any minute.

"Come on, Sarge," I say. "That's awfully obvious for an April Fools' prank." I hope my voice doesn't give away my irritation. Policy says we're supposed to respond to 911 calls we can't
verify, but this is too obvious.

His black eyebrows and mustache sink into a frown as he looks me over.

"No joke, Ron," he says.

Skinny dipping near the high school parking lot? Braver kids than I!

I'd read on to see if it gets better and if it did it would still require a LOT more polish before I'd take it on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, that's a better critique than I feared. ;) This draft represents the second to last before a final polish, so it looks like I'm about where I thought I was. Thanks so much for the heads-up.