clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rural Noir

When you find your tribe as a writer, it is a grand day.

If you've been on this blog for any time at all, you know I have an attachment to B.F.E. (rhymes with rum truck).

Actually, I grew up west of B.F.E. That part of the map where the census people say no one lives? That's me.

Now, I've seen the oil and cattle business up close and can say that Detroit has nothing on me. It can be as rough as a drug deal gone south. Add a little family in the mix and you've got a nuclear explosion all over the page.

I've got several stories set in Western Hell which are not very good stories. That is, the conflict is weak and our connection to the protagonist through the conflict is poor. The pieces are aspiring literary fiction which is to say they completely suck as stories. Oh, they're great character studies full of atmosphere and regret. They do miss a sense of conflict though.

SO, I wrote a quick re-draft of something over a couple lunchtimes with an eye towards Hammett set in Western Hell. Damned if that sense of doom running at the protagonist like a T. Rex at an ice cream social didn't have merit.

I have to thank some of the Tin House folks - Steve Almond - one day for showing me a couple of narrative tension tricks, too. When the reader knows something the other characters don't - well. That can work in the set-up.

Anyway, I cannot wait to revisit the land of inadvertent tractor turn-overs and blasting caps and rattlesnakes in the pick-up cab.

I had a rat run across my foot while driving a feed wagon once. Almost like a blasting cap.

I lived. Not so for the rat.

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