Friday, April 21, 2017

Keep the Police From Spoiling Your Plot

"Why didn't they just call the police?"

This question can sink your story. If you have characters in trouble and those story people could solve the problem with a quick call to the cops, you have a problem. 

Most of us, if put in mortal danger, will dial 9-1-1. Say you see a shady man in a hoodie and a mask coming up your front walkway. You'll probably lock the doors. Maybe grab a weapon. Certainly, you'll call the police. 

Characters are no different. The most logical step for an average character would be to call for help when danger comes knocking. We like our characters to struggle, fight, narrowly escape danger. If the police show up in your story and haul off the bad guys, where's the excitement in that?

Here are a few ways to force your characters to fend for themselves:

1. Isolate the characters. Set your story somewhere remote, such as the mountains or wilderness.

2. Delay the police. There could be a bad storm that washed out roads, or a massive blizzard. Make it hard for help to arrive. 

3. If you're writing crime or thrillers, maybe all your characters are criminals. Or perhaps your main character has gotten into some legal trouble.  Criminals are not going to go to the police. Give a logical reason that makes calling the police a bad idea.

4. Have the bad guys thwart the authorities. Maybe the police show up and the bad guys ambush them. 

5. Maybe the bad guys will harm a loved one if the police are involved (as in many kidnapping stories).

These are just a few possibilities. As writers, it's our job to keep tension high and squeeze excitement out of stories. Don't let the police show up and spoil the party.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Day's Writing 3/7/17

I got through Chapter Two of the next novel, tentatively titled "Die Trying."  Here's a snippet:

John Regal left the house with a sense of dread that afternoon. As he drove from his home in a quiet suburb of Buffalo and passed through downtown, he couldn’t shake the feeling. Twice he considered pulling his truck off the 190 expressway and turning around, but he chalked his feelings up to paranoia. 

My 19-year-old son and I are trying to complete Watchdogs 2. We're on the final mission. He and I play on the PS4 just about every night for an hour before bed. I really enjoy the time spent with him, and it gives me an excuse to sneak in some video game time, as well.

Currently reading Don Winslow's "The Life and Death of Bobby Z."

Also reading "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" by Mark Manson. I'd read a few of his blog posts a while back and liked them. I borrowed the book from a co-worker. Normally I'm not big on motivational or self-help books, but I like what this one has to say so far. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Damage Factory Excerpt

Here's an excerpt from my upcoming novel, The Damage Factory.

What would you do if a secret criminal organization was hired to destroy your life? Three unsuspecting people tied together by a tragic event are about to find out.

From The Damage Factory. Copyright 2017 Anthony Izzo

Jason Matthews suspected he was being followed.
The black Range Rover had matched his lane shifts, hanging back just enough to seem inconspicuous. Jason hadn’t noticed it until he’d neared the grocery store. Was he being followed?
Fuck it. You’re being paranoid.
While he was on his way to Wegman’s, his phone had buzzed several times. He’d taken it out and saw a missed call from Erin.
He’d checked in with her a while ago, thinking he’d be home soon, but a two-car accident had slowed traffic and put him behind.
He’d have to call Erin when he got inside. Paige was likely getting an itchy remote finger and wanted to start the movie.
He turned into the Wegman’s parking lot and found a spot. Parked the car and got out. He scanned the lot but saw no sign of the Range Rover. He chalked it up to being paranoid.
It had been a few hours since he’d last gone to the bathroom, and his bladder felt heavy, the large Starbuck’s coffee he had earlier doing its job.
He headed inside, passing a display of tomatoes and ducking into the alcove that housed the restrooms.
He entered the men’s room, the scent of a flowery air freshener filling the air. The men’s room was empty. He stood at the urinal, unzipped, and sighed at the relief as his bladder emptied.
He’d call Erin when he was finished.
The door squealed open behind him. Someone said, “Get lost. Closing for maintenance.”
He finished urinating and zipped up. Thought about the potential client he’d met with earlier; they wanted him to write for their website and social media outlets. It would be a nice job. And steady. His freelance business was taking off, and between that and Erin’s pension, they were doing okay financially.
When he turned around, a man was standing and grinning at him. He was big in the chest and shoulders, stood slightly stooped over. He wore a gray sport coat, black slacks, and a crisp, white shirt.
Jason started forward. The guy stepped in front of him.
“Do you mind?” Jason said.
The guy grabbed a handful of Jason’s shirt and pulled him close. “Listen to me. There’s a razor-sharp knife pointed at your thigh. One slip and it will likely sever some sensitive parts.”
Jason’s heart kicked hard in his chest. Couldn’t believe this was happening. “Wallet’s in my back pocket.”
“I don’t give a fuck about your wallet. Now we only have a minute before someone comes strolling in. I already had to scare one asshole out of coming in here. I’m going to take a step back. If you yell, I’ll pull down your pants and start cutting. Got it?”
He didn’t doubt the man. He spoke with the true calm only a true psychopath would possess. Or so Jason imagined.
“We’re going to walk out together, just like the best of friends. And in case you’re getting ideas, think about what could happen to Erin and Paige, huh?”
“Son of a bitch,” Jason said. “How do you know about my family?”
“Easy. Let’s walk before someone else comes in,” the man said.
Like a magician doing slight-of-hand, he swapped the knife for a small, semiautomatic pistol. He slipped it in his front pocket and kept his hand on it. “Just so you know it’s here. Think about that family. Matter of fact, don’t stop thinking about them.”

As they left the alcove and passed the displays of tomatoes in the produce department, no one gave them a second glance. A bored teenager mopped the floor nearby.
A pretty, young woman was trying to corral a toddler, who was attempting to climb from the shopping cart.
When they exited, Jason looked up at the security monitor, hoping they would get his face on camera. Out in the parking lot, they climbed into the Range Rover, the guy instructing Jason to sit tight in the passenger’s seat.
The man climbed into the driver’s seat and pointed the semiautomatic at Jason across the console. He started up the Range Rover and pulled out of the spot, putting the gun back on Jason.
He thought of Erin and Paige, how he might not see them again. He did a mental checklist, trying to figure out if he knew his abductor. Came up blank. There was no reason anyone would want to kidnap him; they certainly weren’t rich.
“Don’t try anything. If you try and jump out, I’ll shoot you. The bullet will likely sever your spine.”
“You make it sound so tempting.”
The guy actually laughed at that, and Jason thought for a second about making a move, but instead he stayed rooted to the spot.

He did nothing, watching in the rearview mirror as the store diminished.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Damage Factory - Coming Soon

This is with my proofreader right now. Should be on sale within the next week or so. More to come.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Day's Writing 1/11/16

Got 1,120 words done this morning on the latest novel. I just crossed the 40K mark. I'm thinking it will clock in between 50-60K when I'm done. Looking to have it for sale in February.  There's a snippet of the first chapter below (not edited).

Going to head to the basement for a workout. I added a chin-up bar and some suspension straps to the workout gear. Got them for Christmas.

Currently reading Stephen White's Soft Target and Chuck Wendig's Invasive.

Chapter One

Don’t write anything down. Don’t tell anyone you talked to me. And for God’s sake, make sure no one follows you.
That’s what the rough-sounding voice on the phone had told him.
John George pulled up to the hulking warehouse, wondering if he should turn back, the man’s words echoing in his mind. He didn’t. Instead, he got out of the car and immediately smelled the dead fish odor coming off the lake.
He went to the passenger’s side, opened the door, and took out a bulky manila envelope.
As he approached a steel man door, he noticed a security camera mounted overhead. There was a doorbell mounted on the wall. He pressed it and heard a loud bell echo from somewhere in the warehouse. It reminded him of an old fire bell.
He waited, used to being patient. Used to being alone these days. In the evening he would heat himself up a frozen entrée, the French bread pizzas being his favorite. His expanding belly was proof of his love of frozen foods.
There was no need for large meals or extensive grocery lists.
Occasionally, he would eat Italian at Marcos, sticking with Chicken Parm and a glass of house red. It always felt to John that the waitresses were taking pity on him, calling him sweetie. He must’ve seemed like a sad case.
After dinner, he would return home and sift through photos on the computer, looking at their trips to Bar Harbor and The Outer Banks. More often than not, the night ended with him in tears.
The door swung open and a guy in a flannel, workboots, and paint-spattered jeans answered. He was half a head shorter than John but his neck was like a tree trunk. “You John?”
“That’s me.”
“Follow me,” the guy said.
John followed the man to small room at the rear of the warehouse. Inside was a table surrounded by wooden folding chairs.
“Take a seat,” the man said.
John pulled out a chair and sat down. The guy took a seat on the other side. “Are you sure about this?”
“Did I talk you on the phone?”
“Don’t worry who you talked to. Once we start things in motion, there’s no going back.”
“I’m sure.”
“Where’s the money?”
John slid the envelope across the table. As the man reached for it, his shirt hiked up and John saw a chrome .45 tucked in his belt.
“You can call me Rex,” the guy said, and dumped the bundles of cash on the table. He’d emptied out his 401K for the cash.
Rex did a quick count of the money. “All here. Good boy.”
“I’m not a dog,” John said.
“We’ll go over this again. Like on the phone. No cops. No news. We’ll contact you with updates. You turn on us? We turn on you. Here’s the last guy that tried it.”
He took two photos from his breast pocket and slid them across the table. John took a look, saw a headshot of a man lying on some sort of table. Most of the skin was removed from his face, leaving raw, red muscle exposed.
“That was done while he was alive,” Rex said.
“I won’t cross you. I want these people to suffer,” John said.
“They will. Believe me. It’s what we do.”
“How will I know when it starts?”
“We’ll contact you.”
John said, “I’ll need proof.”
“Let us worry about that. Someone will be in touch, like I said. However, if you have an emergency. If someone’s on to you, take this,” Rex said, and pulled a crème-colored business card from his pocket. He slid it across the table.
The Damage Factory was printed on it in small, black letters. Below that was a phone number, most likely a burner phone.
John put it in his wallet as if it were a sensitive explosive.

“Don’t fucking lose it. We’ll be in touch. And don’t worry, you came to the right place.”