Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Writers Skill/Craft (04/22/10)
TITLE: The Story Bites Back
By Joshua Janoski
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Carl stood frozen as the figure, dressed in a beige overcoat with matching bowler hat, approached him. He extended his hand, and Carl hesitantly shook it.
âGood afternoon, Carl. Itâs nice to meet my maker. Enjoying the rain?â
Carl shook his head in disapproval.
âDonât like it, huh? Well this was your doing. Remember the novel you finished last night? The one you want to self publish? You started chapter one with the line âIt was a dark and stormy night.â Thatâs quite the clichéd beginning if you ask me.â
The mysterious man pulled out a business card from his wallet and handed it to the confused Carl.
âI apologize. Please, allow me to introduce myself. The nameâs MacâŚMac Benjamin. Iâm a private investigator.â
Carl stumbled backwards in shock. âYouâŚyouâre the main character of my book!â
âYes I am, and in case you wondered, you are dreaming. Follow me over to 23rd Street and Iâll explain more.â
Carl trailed Mac through the alley and over to the connecting street. As Mac stepped from the alley, he vanished.
âHey there, sugar!â
Carl turned around. âWhoa, you scared me! Who are you? And whereâs Mac?â
âSilly, Carl. Donât you recognize Louisa Rose - hairdresser extraordinaire?â
âLouisa? The hair dresser in my book? Iâm so confused!â
âAnd so are your readers! Mac Benjamin is the main character that drives your book, but every time you switch point-of-views to another character you stick your readers into a new mindset making it difficult for them to relate to Mac and immerse themselves in his story. One moment they are puffing smoke and solving crimes in Macâs office and the next moment they are sniffing perm chemicals and gossiping with the girls in my shop.â
Louisa rubbed her eye. âThis rain is making my mascara run, so I gotta skedaddle. Bye, darling!â
Carl walked to the barbershop across the street and rested outside. His watch had shifted forward twenty-four hours. Mac stepped out the barbershop door.
âThanks for the trim, Guido!â
âWhat are you doing?â Carl snapped.
âRemember in chapter four when I was in the middle of solving that murder case, and you decided to skip forward a whole day without letting the readers know what happened during that 24 hours? They had no idea what I was doing during that time and the plot halted. So, I used that time to go to the barber shop and get a haircut. I may grab some food at Joeâs Grill too since wasting a day while knee deep in an urgent case seems like a logical thing to do.â
âHahahahaha!â A naked man covered in tattoos laughed maniacally as he zipped past Mac and Carl.
âWhoa! Is that Ben the killer? I donât remember writing him to look like that.â
âThatâs Crazy Lars. You introduced him at the very beginning of the book before introducing me. You confused your readers as to who the protagonist of the story was. And the really sad part is that Lars wasnât even a main character and only lasted a few pages. What do you say we go to my office and further discuss this there?â
Inside Macâs office, Carl noticed an open file on the desk. His picture was in it along with a list of every major writing mistake in his book.
âI understand this dream now.â Carl said with regret. âYou were hired to reel in my bad writing.â
Mac placed a hand on Carlâs shoulder. âI was hired to help you improve your skill and knowledge of the craft. Revise your novel and learn from other writers. Donât give up, and youâll be amazed how much things change in this town the next time you visit.â
Light penetrated the office. Carl walked over to the window and peeked down at the street below.
âWow! Look outside! There are unicorns, butterflies, and rainbows! The rain has turned to gumdrops and the sun is out! Children are singing in the streets! How did this happen, Mac?â
âYou used the cliché ending âand they all lived happily ever after.'â
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