Time Of Death / Forensic Investigator Steve Rush

I’m sitting in the conference room of a coffee shop in the Greater Austin Area, working on my current short story, or, as we writers say, my WIP. Two other people sit at the table with me. We’re part of a work group called Writers Who Write. We gather here because at our respective homes, we’re too often Writers Who Don’t Write.

Anyway. I pulled up the story I’ve been working on for what seems like an eon–the story about which I’ve said on at least four occasions, “I think I can finish it today.” I read over the paragraphs I wrote three days ago, made some minor changes that could have been done any time between now and January 2014, read the same paragraphs again, shifted my fingers into neutral, and wondered–

If I engage in a game of Poppit, would my fellow writers think less of me? Would they know I’m playing Poppit? The incessant click click clicking might give me away. If they did know, would they tell on me, and to whom?

Writers are generally good people. Some, however, are fiercely competitive. Others are downright mean. And most of them are constitutionally unable to keep their mouths shut. Consider the things Ernest Hemingway wrote about F. Scott Fitzgerald. Consider what William Faulkner wrote about Ernest Hemingway. Consider what Ernest Hemingway wrote about William Faulkner. Consider what Dorothy Parker wrote about everybody.

I decided Poppit was not an option and turned to the next best thing: writing a post for my blog. Sometimes posts don’t come easily. When blogging prevents my writing what I should be writing, however, they’re a breeze. Words flow. It’s like I’m channeling myself.

But on the way to my dashboard, I stopped by my WordPress Reader and what did I find but this post by forensic investigator Steve Rush, written for the Killer Nashville blog.

I need to read this, I thought. And if I need to read this, so do all my friends and followers.* And why write my own post when the little Reblog button sits at the bottom left corner of the screen, singing its siren song.

So in a couple of minutes I’m going to click on that button and share today’s spark of Serendipity, which is one of the loveliest words I know.

* I hope all my friends are followers and all my followers are friends, but in case they aren’t, I referred to them here separately.

Killer Nashville Blog

Accurate details prove important when including crime scenes in our prose. Three basic questions we want to answer when writing these scenes are: What was my character doing before incident? What altered and/or interrupted her/him at the inciting moment? What took place afterward?

One or two details may be all that is necessary when trying to portray realism in our story. In the old TV series Dragnet, Jack Webb’s “Just the facts” statement identified the essential elements to solve the crime in question. Insert a fascinating fact in your scenario and capture your reader’s attention. Get it wrong and you risk losing them. We want to be certain every fact in our stories fits the scenario we are trying to portray.

For murder scenes, facts we choose may include things like type of weapon used, resulting harm to the character, and any potential evidence in our setting. One of…

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Like Sending a Bucket Down the Well

I never wrote a word that I didn’t hear as I read.
~     Eudora Welty

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Familiarity. Memory of the way things get said. Once you have heard certain expressions, sentences, you almost never forget them. It’s like sending a bucket down the well and it always comes up full. You don’t know you’ve remembered, but you have. And you listen for the right word, in the present, and you hear it. Once you’re into a story everything seems to apply—what you overhear on a city bus is exactly what your character would say on the page you’re writing. Wherever you go, you meet part of your story. I guess you’re tuned in for it, and the right things are sort of magnetized—if you can think of your ears as magnets. I could hear someone saying—and I had to cut this out—”What, you never ate goat?” And someone answering, “Goat! Please don’t say you serve goat at this reunion. I wasn’t told it was goat I was served. I thought—” and so on, and then the recipe, and then it ended up with—I can’t remember exactly now—it ended with, “You can do a whole lot of things with vinegar.” Well, all these things I would just laugh about and think about for so long and put them in. And then I’d think, that’s just plain indulgence. Take it out! And I’d take it out.

~ Eudora Welty, quoted here