clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Interview

Ah, the interview scene. This is the all-purpose two character in isolation dialogue exchange which is so critical to fiction but passes by almost invisibly to we readers.

At least, they're passing me by because I have never made an adequate study of the bits and now I've got an important one to write.

I believe the exchange between characters gives way to an immersion in storytelling which seems complete because the characters in the scene become so immersed by the tale of what happened outside the white room that we the reader are pulled into the that same frame of focus. The two parties dissolve as the principal agents and the story emerges independently of the fact two men are confined in a small space, sitting on hard chairs, and talking.

The scene - a white room.

Inventory:  A couple chairs, a lamp (maybe) , a table. Probably a note pad and a pen. A couple cameras in the corner.

Characters: A cop and a person of interest.

Those are the material details. The rest is interaction and dialogue and the absence of dialogue.

I've got one of these to write now. The protagonist is in an interview room and the name of the game is "your dead wife at home in the library."

I know what is supposed to happen in my story. It's a pretty quick outline.

The questioning starts.

We go back before the dead bride to six weeks ago when infidelity became indiscreet.

We walk through the resolution by the couple last weekend in a country house.

We have the husband coming home early from a business trip. We have him discovering the wife dead in the library four hours after coming home, showering, and going to bed.

Now, the story plays out in the interview room. There is a little falling action scene in a bar afterwards that has a little twist; but, ninety percent of the story involves two men and a little box of a room.

My job: make it work. So - I'm looking for a little help. I'm looking for story examples of the best "white room" scenes you remember.  

I can think of Chandler's scenes (wise-ass and bull cops). I can think of some other white room (Merlin and Wart at the beginning for a breakfast; but ,the room is very rich and can hardly be white room). I think of Huck and Jim on the raft in the river. I think of Haviland Tuf and any number of other characters aboard The Ark. I can think of so few, really. I'm just not pulling things together and I could use some help.

If you remember two-character dialogue scenes in the white room environment which stuck with you all these years, I'd love to hear from you in the comments. 

The art for this one is telling the story from the interrogative prompts. No one wants to read a story that is an excruciating detailed question and answer session. Thus, I have (gasp) the flashback scenes with little to break our immersion. I know the flashback is despised but the threat of the murder charge is my external conflict of Man vs The Law. I need the tension of the interview to be a major contributor to the conflict and palpable tension.

I am looking for masters of the white room. I've probably read them because I cannot recall the scenes. That's probably the mark of doing it well.

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