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  1. #1
    Karen Campbell
    Guest

    Soft Boiled Cop Critique

    After spending the past two years stuck in first person single POV, I've finally moved on to multiple POV heaven. I'll only dive into one head per chapter, but the variety is still fun. Maybe too much fun. I loved writing from my cop's POV, but have I boiled him too hard? The set-up for this is that a photographer dies and his daughter accidentally mails his Peeping Tom photos, including one of a naked man. Any opinions are very much appreciated.


    There’s an old joke Sheriff Stallings liked to tell to anyone who wasn’t from Willow Springs. Know how to keep a Baptist out of your beer cooler when you take him fishing? Take a second Baptist to keep an eye on the first.

    Not that it was funny; it’s just the way things were.

    Half-assed mountains held the town hostage, letting one highway in from the Interstate six miles to the north. Another road stuck its nose out the east side of town, hanging its tail out the west, but you could drive all day just going from one bulge in that blacktop to the next, getting nowhere. Not that anybody was going. People stuck to Willow Springs, taking over Grandpa’s ranch home when he was done with living, and laying new carpet in place of his deep shag. They sent their kindergartners to the concrete block school and graduated them from the same building, if they did their job right and enough good Baptists kept an eye on the kid. If the Baptists blinked, the delivery room half an hour down the Interstate would wash the muck off the bawling indiscretion, swaddle it up, and knock both babies back down the highway to Willow Springs.

    With 2021 souls and nine churches, the town had enough Bible thumping fundamentalists to give Stallings nothing better to do most eight-hour shifts than put his feet up on his metal desk.

    God bless Joseph Pierpont and his god damned telephoto lens.

    “Ros?” Stallings leaned out from his desk and looked through the open doorway to the outer office. “You reach Linder yet?”

    The wheels on Ros’ desk rattled against the uneven floor, and her face and shoulder appeared in the doorway, tilting more as she leaned deeper. Her grey-blonde braid flopped down, swinging like a rat-tailed hemp rope. “Our centerfold, you mean?” she asked. “Likes long walks on the beach? Pet peeve pervert photographers?” She disappeared again, and those wheels clattered. “Haven’t got him, boss.”

    Figured. Stallings looked up at the clock, registered the five minutes he had before Reba Thompson would be there, and then slid a folder off the stack in his in-box. He opened it and slipped the top photograph to the side of the second, being careful to touch it only on its white margin, just as if it really were evidence and some court might actually give a flyin’ frick.

    She was pretty, the girl in the photo. Fourteen, her daddy had said. She sat cross-legged, looking up at somebody like they had cotton candy coming out of their ears and she couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Or maybe she’d just seen a butterfly. No telling with girls her age. The second photo was a blur, all blue-denim overalls and one bare foot. Pierpont must have hit the shutter with the girl taking off on him. If he thought she’d seen him, Pierpont had probably taken off in a god damned hurry himself.

    The photographs made Stallings’ skin crawl, but in a good way. Pierpont had to have been stalking the citizens of Willow Springs, lurking in the shadows with his highest powered lens, sneaking into their private spaces, but nobody was touched; nobody was hurt. On one of her flashback hippie days, Ros might tell you photographs capture a person’s soul, but they’d get over it. Unless Reba Thompson had something worse to confess on behalf of her daddy.

    A sudden stab of sunlight in the outer office draw his attention, and Stallings looked up to see Reba Thompson walking in. Those damn wheels rattled again, and Ros got up to greet her. “Are you Mrs. Thompson?” Ros asked.



  2. #2
    Paul Harris
    Guest

    Re: Soft Boiled Cop Critique

    I like this. In a small space you created a character who is engaging, interesting and sympathetic. I think it's very well-written and I would certainly read more to find out what happens in this small town. I love the half-assed mountains holding the town hostage line. Well done.

  3. #3
    Nan Hammond
    Guest

    Re: Soft Boiled Cop Critique

    I like this too. Your character is fine and very believable. I'd have to read more though to see if he is too hard/softboiled. My only critique lies in the fact that you're very discriptive, and while its not a bad thing, I find myself wondering why exactly I wAnT to know any of this. Peeping Tom is all well and good but I didn't feel a hook. It feels a bit slow and maybe that's intentional in a 2 horse town, but I felt...sleepy. Not in a disinterested way, just in a ... there's nothing going on kind of way.

    It is well written though.

  4. #4
    nom de plume
    Guest

    Re: Soft Boiled Cop Critique

    Excellent, Karen!

    The paragraph about the town (half-assed mountains...) is great.

    I think you have a typo near the end (draw instead of drew). Also believe you could dispense with the "Ros asked."

    You certainly made me want to know more about this town and its people.

    Have fun with this!

  5. #5
    the cat came back
    Guest

    Re: Soft Boiled Cop Critique

    In general, I'd say it's very well written. It has voice and character. Nothing to say there, so I'll get picky.


    Not that it was funny; it’s just the way things were.

    I had to reread the second clause to "get it" so that threw me out of the writing a bit.

    Half-assed mountains held the town hostage...

    Lovely writing.

    I think it would be "kindergartenners".

    If the Baptists blinked, the delivery room half an hour down the Interstate would wash the muck off the bawling indiscretion, swaddle it up, and knock both babies back down the highway to Willow Springs.

    I read theat sentence over and over, and I don't get it.

    The wheels on Ros’ desk rattled against the uneven floor, and her face and shoulder appeared in the doorway, tilting more as she leaned deeper.

    I wonder about the wheels rattling. Would that happen? Would her desk move that much from her leaning into the doorway?

    Those damn wheels rattled again...

    Something about the wheels thing puts me off, probably because I have never seen a desk that behaves like that.

    Well done.

  6. #6
    nom de plume
    Guest

    Re: Soft Boiled Cop Critique

    For once, I didn't want to be overly critical but the wheels of the desk bothered me as well. I can imagine wheels under a desk chair or a cart that holds a typewriter or something but not really a desk.

  7. #7
    the cat came back
    Guest

    Re: Soft Boiled Cop Critique

    If I had a desk like that I'd shoot it.

    But seriously, if you want to keep the wheel thing, which is a bit of verisimilitude, after all, could it be the wheels on her rolling chair or something. "Doesn't that woman ever get up and walk?" he things (sort of thing).

  8. #8
    Busy Lizzy
    Guest

    Re: Soft Boiled Cop Critique

    Your question was about POV. Well, I think that this sample of your writing proves more than anything how GOOD you're creeping into people's minds works.

    It's obvious you got all of us hooked.

    IMO, you're certainly on the right track. Keep going,and good luck!

    Busy Lizzy

  9. #9
    Ray Veen
    Guest

    Re: Soft Boiled Cop Critique

    Its very very good. But for me, every once in a while, the style kind of got in the way of the narrative. This is a little hypocritical coming from me, because I tend to go overboard with my voice and tone, but I do try to keep the story moving, too.

    Let me give you an example:

    They sent their kindergartners to the concrete block school and graduated them from the same building, if they did their job right and enough good Baptists kept an eye on the kid. If the Baptists blinked, the delivery room half an hour down the Interstate would wash the muck off the bawling indiscretion, swaddle it up, and knock both babies back down the highway to Willow Springs.

    You're making the point that in this town, the religious people made sure the kids grew up on the straight and narrow, and babies out of wedlock were scandelous and rare. I get it. And I think it's cool how you lay it out. But you use a whole lot of words to do it.

    I guess all I'm saying is that you could tone it down like four percent, and still have an amazing read.

  10. #10
    leslee
    Guest

    Re: Soft Boiled Cop Critique

    Just my opinion, feel free to ignore:

    Another road stuck its nose
    People stuck to Willow Springs

    One "stuck" to a customer in the same paragraph, unless it's an intentional re-use of the word. And I can't see why it would be.


    flyin’ frick.

    As soon as you use "frick" you've lost the edge. Quit fudging. Use the real word or change the entire phrase.


    god damned

    Generally one word.

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