Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Just for fun...

I'm posting the rewrite I just did of the first six pages of LD, if anybody wants to see how they've changed in the space of 24 hours.

"The Lyons' Den"

Y‘know, Daniel never should’ve agreed to help Tad (excuse me, Theodore J. Bentley, the Third; he’d snarl in disgust without the full and flowing exclamation of his name) but the little shit knew exactly which buttons to push, and he hit every damned one of them with a sledgehammer. You see, the two of them had been a couple for a couple years and had only broken up six months ago, and Daniel was still raw from it. I seriously think that if he’d let his brain do the thinking instead of his dreams, he’d have seen straight off that this was a catastrophe in the making. But the way Tad rushed in, breathless, his ice-blue eyes projecting fear and need and horror on top of that hint of a quiver he can get in his voice, all but begging, “Danny, please, help me,” -- well, it would’ve crushed the first wall of any defense. So now he and Dan-O were seated in a downstairs booth, in a back corner of the diner’s faux 1890’s decor, and Tad was trying to explain it all.

Now Master Bentley was one of those young, perfect East Coast types who’s en route to being perfect on the West Coast (as in Hollywood, baby, since he’d already produced and had broadcast one whole cable movie; helps to know the sociology of the natives). So because of that movie, he was now considered a player by both coasts. It helped that the thing was based on “High-Heeled Moccasins,” a quirky mystery novel featuring yours truly, Ace Shostakovich, private eye extraordinaire and written by our one and only Daniel (excuse me, Daniel J. Bettancourt, tho’ I get to call him Dan-O).

Meaning, yes -- I’m not real. But if you think it’s weird a fictional character is telling this story, you ain’t seen what happened, yet.

Overall, Daniel has six of my mysteries to his credit, each one selling better than the last. But just being published don’t mean you’re making enough to live on in New York City. So while Tad was flying high playing Mr. Producer, my guy was still tending bar at two different jobs. Until this...well...problem arose.

You see, Little Sir Great-and-glorious had optioned two more of Dan-O’s books -- “The Dr. Pepper Tryst and Tristan” and “Cadillac Criminal Mind” -- aiming to start up a crime series for cable. Then he’d gone and hired this overpriced twenty-one-year-old-Cheeto-eater (who people SWORE was the hottest writer in Hollywood since Orson Welles; and look, I got nothing against Cheetos, just the idiots with dicks that think they’re a food group), well, anyway, Tad had given him free reign to adapt them into eight fifty-five page scripts, something to show the money boys at HBO. And he’d just gotten them. And believing the hype around that screenwriter, he’d arranged to meet with the “yea or nay” guy at HBO on Monday. And only then had finally sat down to read the damned things -- and had watched the crash and burn of his fledgling career scream across his designer contacts.

Seems the Cheeto-eater’d had so little interaction with reality (since birth, probably), he was incapable of making fictional characters act like real ones instead of second-rate film noir clich├ęs with crap dialog. But just as he was about to pretend to toss himself off the balcony of his 45th floor condo, great-and-glorious-producer remembered Daniel worked Friday lunches at a diner that was just blocks away, so raced over to catch him. And now his wailing and gnashing of teeth was caught in this non-stop loop of, “ALL the scripts are crap, all fuckin’ eight of them, including the Bible.” (“The Bible” not being that book of Christian conflict but one that outlined the direction the characters and story would take; also helps to know the lingo of the natives, in cases like this.)

“Tad!” (Daniel being the only one allowed to call him that.) “I write books, not scripts.”

He was sitting across from the twerp, nursing a hunger headache since he hadn’t had a chance to eat before work and now it was after four.

“But they’re based on your books! And you’re the one who was always telling me, A story’s a story.”

“A script isn’t a story,” Dan-O growled, “it’s a desecration.”

“Danny!” (And Tad was the only person allowed to call Daniel by that name.) “I told you from the outset, you can’t fit everything from a two-hundred and fifty page book into an hour and forty minute movie. And don’t forget, reviewers still said we stuck really close to your story.”

Daniel had no real answer to that. The fact is, the movie had turned out nice enough...but it just wasn’t...well, it wasn’t right. He’d have kept Ace (me) less cynical and made sure Carmen (oh, she’s my sexy secretary), well she’d have been more important, like in the book. But there’d been enough money in selling the rights to pay down a couple of bills and get a better apartment, so he couldn’t bitch too much. And since this series of scripts were based on his books, he probably did have a pretty good idea of what they’d need to work.

It helped that a perky little waitress who had a crush on my guy whipped up with a steaming cheeseburger and fries, and he popped out with, “Bless you,” before he could filter the words. She beamed and backed away, muttering something unintelligible as Dan-O hauled out the ketchup and mustard. I just shook my head and sighed, “Dude, if you were a horn doggie, you’d be set for tonight.”

My guy just growled and shoved a steak fry into his mouth.

“C’mon, Danny,” Tad whined, “you’re the guy who always said -- and I mean you said it every time you got stuck on a story -- ‘My characters’ll work it out; Ace’ll take care of everything.’”

“Gotta admit -- he’s right, for once,” I sneered.

“Which you said made me sound crazy!” Dan-O snapped.

“Since when did you pay any attention to anything I’d say?” Tad snapped.

Dan-O dug into the burger to hide his snarls as he said, “I remember everything you said, Tad.”

Tad rolled his eyes in that way that always pissed my guy off. Not so much because it was condescending or dismissive, but because he looked so damned good when he did it, the little shit. Even when he shot back with crap like, “Yeah, well, it’s true -- I’ve seen you say things” (his words, honest) “that would’ve put you in a padded room, fifty years ago. But I’ve also seen it work. I -- I should never have said that, Danny. I’m -- I’m sorry.”

Which floored Daniel. Tad really was one of those perfect people who never admits error in anything, and who has the looks, attitude and charisma to pull it off. If he says the sky is green, it sorta-kinda would be -- even when it’s really blue. If he says the world is flat -- hell, not even the horizon will argue with him. But here was big, bad, beautiful Tad -- oops, Theodore J. Bentley, the Third (I keep forgetting, one must have one’s moniker correct, you know, and...and...oh, the hell with it; let him snarl) -- here he was, admitting error.

It knocked Daniel off center just enough for the bastard to jump in with, “It’s just -- Danny, this series -- it’s only as good as the scripts I hand over for those jerks with the network to mangle with their notes and suggestions and stupid-shit ideas and -- and, you -- you’ve got six books out there, all nice and neat and selling and all yours and -- and all I got is my ass on the line, putting more money into this project than I should’ve, hiring that twerp and -- and the meeting’s Monday! At noon! If you don’t do this, I’m fucked. I’m totally fucked. I’ll get sued and put in jail and spend my life bankrupt. Please help me, Daniel Bettancourt; you’re my only hope.” Aw, jeez, the “Star Wars” reference!? That was below the belt! 

And it will continue to change till I'm done with it.  I can polish my work to the point of madness.

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