I’ve been away from the blog for a while, due to Sleuthfest 2015, my own writing, and life itself. But I’m back. With a …well, not a scream…more of a swish and flick.
My novel about my baseball playing PI has hit a snag called The Muddy Middle, in which the writer discovers she picked the wrong bad guy and has to delete about four pages of stuff….and in which said writer figures out it makes the book better. So, I decided to go from the ending and work my way backwards, to “meet in the middle”, so to speak.
Here’s my question: Does anybody else out there have the same problem? Do you hit a certain spot, following your outline, in which the protagonist basically grabs the story and runs away with it?
Answer will be welcome. Suggestions for avoiding this in the future would be VERY welcome.
Today I will be taking a break from the keyboard, letting things simmer in the back of my mind. In the meantime, here’s a little taste of Diamond In The Dark:
EXTRA INNING TWO – TOP OF THE ELEVENTH: 5-4-3
Three days later, dust billowed up behind the car. Jake steered hard through the fast turns, glancing now and then into the rear-view mirror. Yep. Still following.
Jake saw his chance. Two buildings with an alley between. Yanking the wheel to the left, Jake fled up the alley. Dust followed.
Almost not breathing, Jake lay flat across the high metal landing of the fire escape, sharp grids digging into his ribs. He could hear the screech of the other guy’s brakes. The sound of a car door slamming. Feet running closer.
No Jake. No car. Just dust billowing up into the blackening sky. Empty alley. The tailer jumped out of the car, pulling his gun. Stood flat-footed, looking up at the buildings around him. Nothing. Not a wisp.
Even though he knew the other guy couldn’t see the car, Jake sucked in a quiet breath. Take no chances. Wait as long as you can. That’s what he’d learned at the feet of the best.
The sound of pursuit stopped. Right outside the building where Jake hid. Slow and easy, Jake slid backwards into the window behind him, carefully avoiding the edges of the empty window panes. He stood to his feet, stepping slowly across the littered floor of the abandoned office. He dropped to his knees as he reached the plate glass of the internal window looking out over the factory floor. Peering out just at the edge of the window sill, Jake heard metal screech. Security lights clunked. Bright beams of light criss-crossed the floor far below. Footsteps scratched through the dust. Metal screeched again.
A loud voice. “Hey! Come on out! Police!”
Sure you are, Jake thought. Just not the one I’m hoping comes through that door in about a minute.
“I know what you think, Diamond. And you’d be wrong. Very wrong.”
“But not dead wrong,” Jake whispered. Easing his way through the open doorway of the office, he made his way up the ladder onto the high catwalk. Peering through the slats below his feet, Jake watched and waited to make his next move.
The ersatz cop kept his gun pointed at the ground. Looked around the large open space. Saw the metal staircase to his left. Turned quick, running toward Jake’s hiding place.
“Halt! Freeze! Police!” came a commanding voice from the opposite side of the room. “Hit the dirt, you son of a bitch!”
The masked cop wheeled around, gun up toward the voice. Then froze.
A SWAT team stood in the doorway. Jake stood up on the catwalk. He heard the sound of loads being chambered in very large guns. The kind of guns you didn’t ignore.
Unless you had a death wish.
“Okay! Okay!” the fake cop yelled, dropping to the ground and setting his gun down. “I’m down! I’m down!”
Jake made his way down the stairway, gun at the ready. Still taking no chances.
“Took you long enough, Lt.”
“Had a little discussion with the Commish. Said I planned to go after you whether he said so or not. So that took a little bit.”
Jake grinned. “Woulda loved to be a fly on the wall…”
“Yea, I know. Now, what should we do about this piece of dirt?”
Jake walked over to the cop. Yanked up his head. Pulled off the hat. Then removed the mask from the face. “Take him in.”
From the ground, handcuffed tightly, Officer Sam McIlveen groaned.
“Who are you working for?”
“I’m not saying. If I tell you, they’ll find me no matter where you hide me. They’ll kill me!”
“Who is ‘They’?” Goldberg grabbed McIlveen by the collar, lifting him from the ground.
A sudden pop sang across the parking lot. McIlveen jerked. A bright red flower blossomed on his throat. He curled up in a ball, grabbed his throat, blood spurting. He gurgled a word and flopped loosely to the ground.
Goldberg pulled his weapon. “Damn it! Didn’t I tell you guys to secure the area?”
“Yes sir, you did. And we did. As far as half a mile away, there isn’t anybody or anything. The area is cordoned off by the SWAT team.”
Goldberg came to his feet. “Well, there’s a sniper out there somewhere. Hey, Max? Check in with the city. See if there are any useful security cameras anywhere that caught something, anything! And for God’s sake, watch out. The shooter could still be out there.”