Posted by Kevin Kerrane
To refresh your memory on the first story I never quite finished, click here.
I have tried writing fiction – everything from vignettes to the great American novel. But I have – fortunately, perhaps – been found lacking. This article is one in a series of several stories, of one type or another, that I never quite finished – usually because I had neither the energy nor the heart to do so. After each story a short criticism follows. The criticism is offered to me, but of course you may profit from it too.
You may notice, incidentally, that in some cases the criticism is longer than the actual story reprint. This conclusively proves what has been a major contention of mine for some time now: namely that critics make things grow. How? I think that any farmer knows what makes things grow.
I wrote the second story that I never finished when I was 14-1/2. It purports to be a detective novel, and its title is Sex, Murder, Violence and You Know What – A Shell Steel Mystery.
"I inadvertently pressed my left elbow against my left shoulder, and felt the slight bulge of the M-1 beneath my magenta sport coat. I lit a Lucky Strike, and then watched the match burn slowly down to my fingers. It hurt, but I could take it. My name's Shell Steel. I'm an ex-Marine. I'm tougher than a 10-cent steak. So watch out.
"While I was pondering this (and watching my fingers burn slowly down to my palm), I happened to look at the knees of my baggy pants. There, in the shiny reflection of my leather knee patches. I saw a man standing in front of me. He had a .22 caliber Browning semi-automatic rifle ($69.50 retail) pointed directly at my right eyebrow.
"I took a long drag off of my Lucky. ‘Hi,' I said. Then very deftly, I…"
It must be noted in passing that the constant emphasis on detail promotes even more vividness than before, though the dialogue is a little weak. There is, in the first sentence, possible ignorance of biology shown. This piece shows the writer's obvious desire at 14 to be a gun-toting, deft, one-fisted detective (and/or Marine), and a cigarette smoker (the only ambition which has since materialized).
There seems to be a mercenary aspect to the writer's character. He has progressed to the use of the first person, though, and a certain element of suspense is present. But let's face it–there's something wrong with the darn thing!
Come back next week to peruse my attempted drama.