Writing The Western Update VI: A Funny Thing Happened After I Was Done

Got through another scene today[1]. I’m proud of how this one turned out. There was lots of action, and we got to try out some suspense.

Character A wants to kill Character B to get the reward money, but Character C is also gunning for B, hoping to get there first. There’s a couple different ways we can tell this story:

We could show A and B together, while A sets his trap.[2] Suddenly- shots ring out! A and B dive for cover!

This is surprise. We don’t see it coming, and it lasts about five seconds. Acceptable to some, but I know I can do better.

Instead of staying with A and B the whole time, we can go to a different perspective- that of C aiming his gun. This “raises the stakes” as a screenwriting manual/professor would say: Not only is B in danger to begin with,[3] but there’s the question of who, if anyone, will do him in, and which assassin will get the reward money. We also get to have some business with the gun aiming at the wrong person. Infinitely more interesting.

Tell people something bad is going to happen, and then make them wait.

So that was fun. Except, not too long after I was finished, there was a knock on the door. It’s a police officer, of all people. I ask him what I can do for him, and he says he’s investigating an attempted murder, and thought I might know something about it.

Oddly enough, the guy who showed up today looked a lot like this.

I said I didn’t know what he was talking about. He asked me where I was this morning, I said I was on the computer the whole time. Never hurt anybody in my life. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

And you know what he says? “A likely story,” he says. It’s the truth, I swear. I didn’t try to kill anybody.

Plus, B is not a nice guy at all. Wouldn’t you rather somebody get him right between the eyes? Why do you think there’s a price on his head in the first place? I hear he’s super dangerous, too. So really, it was either him or me.

Not that it was me. Because it wasn’t. I wasn’t there. I was on my computer the whole time. Honest.

  1. [1] Three days this week!
  2. [2] If we were really lazy, we might not even make it clear what A’s intentions are. Then, all we’d have is an innocuous conversation, A pulling out his gun, and then someone else starting to shoot. Where’s the fun in that?
  3. [3] It doesn’t even matter if B is likable or not- and here he really isn’t. Any time somebody might get shot, people seem to perk up and go, “Ooh! Shiny!”
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