Monday, April 18, 2011

Story Notes: The Burglar's Dilemma

If you haven't read the flash story I posted yesterday, "The Burglar's Dilemma" go read it now (if you care about spoilers).
THIS IS ONE of the three stories I wrote in a quick sitting last weekend. I had intended to just scribble some notes and ideas, when I realized that I had taxes to do, and I would not get a chance to write for the rest of the day. So I just started writing, flat out.

I had full plot ideas for two of the stories, and rough drafts of both went pretty quickly. But for the third I only had a concept: I have wanted, for a while now, to write a series of short stories about a "Fairy God-Burglar." The concept is that a skilled burglar can do things that seem like magic. Nobody knows he's there. He can get into places nobody else can. He can make things vanish or appear or move.

But as I sat there thinking "What next? What next? What next...?" I forgot any ideas I'd already had. I just thought "burglar helps people." I grabbed the first idea that came into my head: a burglar can witness and interrupt a crime.

Perfect, because it introduces an automatic dilemma: the last thing a burglar wants to do is to reveal himself OR get involved with the cops. And most burglars are not very confrontational. (That's why they're burglars.) Not exactly your fighting tough guys. And that's what gave me my real hook, and his motivation.

He's shy.

He doesn't like hurting people, and he doesn't like seeing them hurt. And because of those things he's going to armor himself as much as possible. Like wearing a disguise. And the disguise would enable him to resolve the case without really being tough. Cool.

So I typed out the bare bones of the story, which allowed me to discover my kicker. The burglar, of course, is not a con man, so he isn't practiced at pretending to be someone he's not. He's still got to pull of his own escape. He's got to worry about whether to abort his own crime so nobody will be after him, about how and when to slip away. Plus he's out of his element now -- in the social world, and he knows he can't pull off his impersonation of a cop long.

The fall back on claiming he's really a stripper is one of those fate things. I did not plan it to strike a chord with the fact that he's shy, but once it was there, I saw that it was the perfect ending. He's a thief disguised as a cop, and a shy person disguised as a stripper. I suppose the only other irony that could take this even further is if he were shy and gay (what with coming out of the closet and all).

These are the discoveries that turn an incident into a story.

This story could certainly use more polishing before I do anything else with it, but that's the core that will guide me on rewrites. And it will resonate with future stories I write with Rod, the Fairy God-Burglar.

Tomorrow, I'll give you an update for the week's progress, including more info about "The Curse of Scattershale Gulch" which is now online with both Kindle and Smashwords. Then we'll have an interview with Laura Lond for Character Wednesday.


You can read more of my mystery and suspense fiction in the short ebook collection: Waiter, There's a Clue In My Soup! Five Mystery Stories.

Available for 99 cents at the Amazon Kindle Store, Kindle UK, and in multiple formats at Smashwords. Also available at the B&N Nook Store, as well as the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Sony and other e-retailers.

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