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Writer's Group 11: Chekhov's Gun
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Asa



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Location: Grammar Police HQ. Watch your language, I'm armed with the NYTimes Style Book AND Strunk and White!

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well now, there's a difference between using everything, and having an explanation for everything. If you specifically mention something, it should have a purpose. That purpose might not be spelled out here, but in the grand scheme of things it should be more important than 'oh, it looked neat.'

Mercedes Lackey has a great story using this technique in the Vows and Honor subseries; unfortunately I can't remember which book exactly.
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Tinu.



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like Usa, I'm not a big fan of this technique in novels, however, I think this is going to be a lot of fun and a big challenge. =)
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Asa



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Location: Grammar Police HQ. Watch your language, I'm armed with the NYTimes Style Book AND Strunk and White!

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it can be used subtly. It can be difficult to use subtly, but it's possible.
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BS: "...then insist you eat a brownie."
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Tinu.



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it works well that way. I've seen a few people do it blatantly and do it well, but most of the time I've seen it, it just appears so completely random, almost like Deus Ex Machina. When it's done well though, it's really cool.
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Talps



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, this'll be tough! Made harder by the fact that we lose the subtlety of the device because everyone's expecting it.

Though it does remind me of the Terry Pratchett book, 'Maskerade' where (spoiler warning!) from the start we're introduced to a massive chandelier that's hanging from a frayed old rope over the audience at an Opera theatre where a masked 'phantom' is committing crazy murders, and everyone keeps noticing it and commenting on how dangerous it is, but in the end it's not actually cut down.

Anyway, I have kind of an idea of how I'm going to do this, but I'll have to think on it.
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Asa



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Location: Grammar Police HQ. Watch your language, I'm armed with the NYTimes Style Book AND Strunk and White!

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, I don't think it loses the subtlety. You just have to work harder at being casual in your initial mention and brilliant in your eventual reveal. ^_^

What'll make this difficult for me is that I like throwing in random details without necessarily giving them purpose. I feel that fleshes out the world I'm building and makes it real, gives it character. Now I have to actually think about it...
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Nem: "It's the sort of face you just know is getting ready to poke you with something sharp."
BS: "...then insist you eat a brownie."
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Lani



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok... went out of the loop for a couple days, come back, and boom!

Was it really March 9th? Cuz... that was like... two days ago...
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Maeniel



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha! Yes... I meant April 9. Smile Sorry!
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Lani



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

*heaves a sigh of relief, because I very much like this topic*

^_^
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Talps



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One day left and I'm first to post! So if no one else posts tomorrow, do I win by default? Razz


To be honest, this could be better. For some reason I decided to write a Western, and I've never written one before. As 'research' I watched a couple of Clint Eastwood films for the first time, and found out that, annoyingly, Clint wore the same clothes and rode the same animal as my hero. I wrote that bit before watching the films! Honest!
So as Westerns go, it's probably not the best, and it is rather cliched. But I hope the story and writing are decent.

Unlike the last two which had... experimental titles, this one doesn't have a title.



Bill Silver rode his mule into the tiny township of St Stevens looking for good money and old friends. Smiling his trademark lazy smile, that showed off the silver-capped tooth in the back of his jaw so that it sparkled in the blazing sun, he lifted a hand to a couple of wives talking on a street corner on that early morning. They smiled back at the handsome young man dressed in faded denims, dusty poncho and broad-brimmed hat that shadowed his glacier-blue eyes as he rode on by.

He slung himself off of his weary old mule outside the Wild Coe’s saloon and started tying her halter to the rail. Another man approached, leading his horse and Silver raised a hand to him, “I wouldn’t tie your horse up too close now; my Sweetie gets mighty edgy when crowded,” He tapped the mule on the back and grinned his lazy grin, “Why last town I was in,” He bragged, “She kicked clean through the wall of the jail where she was tied.”

The stranger lifted his hand in thanks of the warning and moved his horse further down the rail.

Bill Silver patted Sweetie one more time and then strode up the steps and through the saloon doors. The place was pretty quiet this early in the morning; half a dozen men were inside, three of them throwing darts at a target chalked on a board of wood. Two others were talking quietly in the corner near the silent piano and looked up as Bill entered before turning back to their discussion.

The last man was sat at the bar, drowning his sorrows in the latest of several now-empty bottles before him. Silver smiled to see him and moseyed over to take the seat on his right, “How’s the gold hunting, Ohv?” He drawled to his old friend.

The prospector, Vic Ohv, was a stocky man with hair as dark as the air in a coal mine, just beginning to fade at the temples, a square, stubbly chin and a bushy moustache. He looked up glumly at Silver and turned back to his beer, “Brilliant,” He replied forlornly.

“That good, huh?” Silver murmured.

“We were up in mountains;” Vic Ohv divulged in his thick accent, “We search for many days and then, about two week ago, we find what we’re looking for.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out several yellow nuggets that glittered in the dusty light of the bar.

Bill picked one up and examined it. There was no denying what it was. “We-ell…” He purred.

Ohv nodded, “We dig deep; plenty to keep all ten of us busy for rest of our lives. But then, week later, food start running low. Another team with mine; we met up in town further down,” He gestured vaguely over his shoulder and lost himself for a moment in his beer, “Decide to work together. Now we find gold but have no food. ‘Well,’ they say, ‘We go get food; you stay here and keep diggink.’ ‘No,’ say my boys, ‘we go and you dig.’ You see, we thought that they leave us and come back only when we starved and dead. Dey think same thingk. So in the end we decide, we all come back for food! Stick together, yes? So we make map back to gold mine and make our way back to town.”

“A map, you say?” Bill Silver said with feigned disinterest.

Vic nodded glumly and started gathering up his nuggets of gold, then held out his hand for the one Silver had palmed. He handed it back reluctantly.

“Map to gold. So back we come, then about three days from town,” He said some foreign word that Silver guessed wasn’t something you’d call a man’s mother, “-pull out their guns and turn on us. Comes down to fire fight; they snatch map off of my man, Brown, but he only carrying one piece of three! See, we expected this of those... those thugs! They were all gentlemen in town but once outside… Anyway, down go two of my men and we’re running and I pull out my gun and-“ The prospector pulled his revolver from his holster and Silver’s hand moved automatically to the butt of his own, but Ohv just laid his on the bar, “Stupid thing misfires; fifty dollar I pay for its repairs after last time and ‘click!’ Nothingk.” He took a deep drink from his beer. “My men, gone. I crawl back to town with one third of useless map and a gun that won’t fire. And my gold will now likely to go to Jack McRobb and his gang of thieves.”

Bill Silver’s eyes lit up with excitement, “So you got a piece of the map, friend?”

Ohv gave him a sideways look and nodded.

“Well then that’s just what we need! Those men can’t get your gold without it and ‘cus they know you’ve got it, they’ll come looking for you!”

“And that’s a good thingk?” Vic retorted.

“’Course it is! When they come, we can get their pieces of the map back!”

Vic Ohv paused to think, then shook his head, “They kill all my men; they’re fierce fighters. We can’t beat them.”

Bill Silver grinned his lazy grin, “Listen partner; you’ve got Billy Silver at your side; you could take on the devil himself.”

-----

Jack McRobb rode a black stallion through the tiny town of St Stevens with three friends on horseback behind him.

“This is the fourth town we’ve searched,” Moaned Pete One-Eye as they passed Smith’s Drugstore, Daniel Smith himself watching them cautiously as they rode past. “We ain’t never gonna find that Ruskie; I say we head into the hills and find that mine before he shows that gold o’ his to some friends and brings Hell down on us.”

McRobb rolled his eyes. The useless cowpoke had been complaining since they’d left the hills. With any luck the Ruskie would have gathered some friends and they could take care of Pete for him; Hell, one less person to split the gold with.

“Don’t be a fool; without that piece of the damn map, we ain’t never gonna find the gold. Now shut yer hole and keep yer eyes peeled.”

“Hey, Boss,” Murmured Harry, “That white horse over there looks mighty familiar. Outside the tavern, with the grey dapples.”

A slow smirk spread itself over Jack McRobb’s face, “Gentlemen, I think we’ve found ourselves a map.” He jumped down from his saddle and heard the soft thuds as his friends did the same.

“Now let’s move careful, boys. Might be that Ruskie’s got some friends with him; don’t be doin’ anythin’ hasty.”

The four bandits walked their horses to the rail outside the saloon and tied them up. A dusty mule shifted uncomfortably as Pete tied his horse beside it and he laughed and slapped its rump. It let out a whinny and tugged at its halter.

“Leave it alone,” McRobb snapped, “We ain’t here for games!”

A moment later, Jack McRobb led his mean into the saloon. He stopped and looked around. Two men were talking quietly in a corner; three were playing darts with a makeshift board and another was bent over at the bar, judging by the number of bottles around him, trying to forget something.

McRobb sauntered on over to the men around the dart board, “Hey, friends,” He said, dipping his hat to them, “I’m looking for an old acquaintance of mine; I heard he might be found in these parts.”

The men turned and he and his gang smiled and exchanged greetings.

“The man’s about, oh, six foot two, three, dark hair, square chin, Ruskie."

“There was a man in here earlier, with a thick accent,” One of the players provided. “That guy was talkin’ to him.”

Jack McRobb turned his eyes to the man leant over the bar, then nodded his thanks to the player. He leant over to his gang and muttered softly, “Homer, go round back.”

Homer nodded and hurried out. Harry moved to the door and Pete One-Eye followed Jack McRobb as he walked over to the man at the bar. “They there, friend.”

The man wore a wide hat, pulled low over his face, and a poncho. “Can’t say I know you well enough to call you friend just yet.”

“Oh, you will do, friend,” McRobb purred as he sat down beside him. The man sounded surprisingly clear-headed for a person surrounded by so many empty bottles. He noticed the man’s gun lying amidst them. “You want another?”

“Huh? Oh, these aren’t mine. But I’ll have a drink with you and your partner.” He nodded to Pete, who had just sat down on his other side, and leered now at McRobb, who scowled back at him.

“I don’t see the barman just now...”

“Hey,” Called the man, “Can we get three beers?”

The barkeeper hurried in through a back door and handed out three bottles.

“This feller’s payin’.” The man said, nodding to Jack.

Scowling again, McRobb handed over the money. “You got a name, friend?”

“Silver,” The man answered, “Bill Silver.”

“Well, I’m Jack. This here’s One-Eye.” Pete leered. “I got a bit of a... a proposition for you, Bill.”

“Call me all ears,” He said with a lazy grin, taking a drink from his beer.

“I’m lookin’ for a man... A Ruskie, actually. He borrowed some money a while ago and, well, he’s been pretty slow in payin’ me back, if ya follow.”

“Can’t say I know a man like that.”

“No? I heard he was around in these parts.”

“Well I’m kinda new in town, myself,” Billy said, watching as the three darts-players walked past the man leaning by the door and out of the saloon.

“Come on, Bill,” Jack cajoled, “Don’t be like that. You let us know where your friend is, I might just give you somethin’ in return.”

Bill let out a long sigh, “Sorry, Jack; I’d help you if I could, but...”

“We can make it worth your while, Bill.”

“Oh?” He paused for a while, “What do you have to offer?”

“How about, you help us and...” There was a click of a gun being cocked and One-Eye leered, nudging it into Bill’s side. “We let you walk out of here alive. That sound fair?”

Three sets of eyes lingered on the gun lying on the bar. “I told you, Jack,” Billy said with a sigh, “That ain’t mine.” There was another click, and Jack looked down. Half-hidden under the bar, Billy’s gun was aimed directly at his, Jack’s, chest. “Now we can be reasonable about this; I reckon you’re the brains of your little gang, and I don’t think One-Eye’ll get too close to that gold mine without you helping him put one foot in front of the other all the way. So why don’t you just tell me where you’ve got your pieces of the map hidden, ‘cus I don’t think for half a second you’re stupid enough to bring ‘em in here with you, and no blood will have to be lost by anyone.”

Jack McRobb smirked, “You don’t think I’d come in here looking for trouble wi’ just a fool like Pete, now do ya?”

“Of course I don’t Jack, but for some reason your friend by the door seems to think that I would.”

As one, Jack and Pete swivelled their eyes to look sharply towards Harry, who was leant against the door frame with his arms crossed, a gun half-hidden under one shoulder. In their moment of distraction, Billy Silver all but fell backwards out of his seat, squeezing the trigger of his gun as he went down. Jack McRobb let out one last cry before the bullet tore through his chest, spraying gore over the bar. Pete was on his feet but far too slow to bring his gun to bear before Silver fired another bullet through his other eye. Silver dived beneath a table as Harry, standing by the door, fired three shots at him. Harry bent down to aim his gun at him but Silver was flying along the floor. The two men who had been talking quietly by the piano were hurrying out of a back door.

“Where are you?” Growled Harry, ducking out of the door and looking around the room.

There was the boom of a gunshot and a splinter of wood blew out of the doorpost and scraped across his cheek. He ducked back out of sight, leaning with his back to the wall between the door and the nervous grey mule that was stirring with agitation at the noise of the guns firing.

“I can be reasonable,” Called Silver from inside the saloon. “You can come back in here and tell me where your pieces o’ the map are hidden, and no one’ll have to lose any blood. We can make this easy.”

“Huh,” Harry grunted. He just had to keep the cowboy talking while Homer came through the bar behind him. Surely the sound of the gunshots would’ve drawn him to the barroom?

“Maybe I don’t know where they’re hidden, cowboy.”

“Come on; would you really let a man like McRobb keep a secret like that to himself? Anyway, if you don’t know where to find the map pieces, what are you still fighting for?”

“Hah! You kill my boss and my brother and you think I’ll let you walk away from this?” Come on, Homer!

“One-Eye wasn’t your brother,” Silver said scornfully.

“How’d you know?”

“I ain’t blind, friend.”

The man’s voice sounded too close for comfort. Harry edged away from the door, towards the grey mule. “He was like a brother to me! You’ll pay for what you did!” ‘Harry, if he believes that then he deserves to be shot,’ He thought to himself. His arm suddenly brushed against the side of the mule and it jerked and let out an angry snort. He jumped as at the same moment, Billy Silver came swinging out of the door and fired his gun. Harry crumpled to the ground.

“And then there was one,” Silver muttered to himself, looking in through the saloon door. A moment later, the door behind the bar opened, and then closed again. Standing in the doorway, Silver took aim as the barrel of a gun poked up over the edge of the bar; he fired.

Homer let out a curse and his gun flew from his now bloody hand.

“Alright, stand up; keep your hands nice and high.”

Homer slowly straightened up, his eyes moving from the stranger, to the lifeless bodies of Jack and Pete, to the gun someone had left among the empty beer bottles on the bar. He scowled at the stranger.

“Right; it’s just you and me, now,” Silver said, walking nonchalantly into the barroom, “So you tell me where you and your friends hid your pieces of Vic Ohv’s map and Ohv and I’ll let you walk away from this town without any holes in your skin.”

How many shots had the man fired? Homer wondered; would he have had time to reload? He thought not.

“I don’t know where they are,” He said firmly, “Jack never told us.”

“Yah, your friend tried that one, too; you wouldn’t let Jack McRobb keep a secret like that.”

“Alright, but-” Suddenly he dove sideways and scooped the gun off of the bar, “ALRIGHT! HANDS UP!”

Looking surprised, the stranger raised his hands to the ceiling.

“Your gun; drop it.”

“Hang on-”

“I said drop it!”

He could feel it in the weight of the gun but he quickly checked anyway. It was fully loaded. He grinned.

“Don’t make me tell you a third time.”

With a glare, Silver let his gun fall to the floor.

“Ok, now walk towards the door.”

With his hands over his head, Silver turned and walked slowly towards the door.

Homer smirked, “See you in Hell.”

Silver looked over his shoulder with his lazy grin as Homer’s finger tightened on the trigger. There was a loud click.

“That’s Vic Ohv’s gun you’re holding,” Silver said a moment later. “Thing jammed on him, up in the mountains. If it hadn’t, you four would’ve been lying in your graves long before now. Seems fitting, the gun that killed Vic’s gang should also kill Jack McRobb’s.” He drew a second pistol from his belt and levelled it on the lonely bandit. “If you’d thought, you might have wondered why I left my gun on the bar where I was sitting with your friends.” He smiled a lazy smile, shaking his head, his eyes fixed on Homer, who was tentatively raising his hands.

“It’s a shame, isn’t it?” Silver drawled, “You’re about to lose out on a lot of gold, because you didn’t properly check Ohv’s gun.”






(I'm really sorry; I tried to resist but I was weak...)
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to need a few more days, if that is at all possible. I haven't had any time to work on my writing this week, as my son is visiting. ^^;
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Asa



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't win by default, the rest of us ask for extensions. Razz

I'll need some time - I know exactly what I want to write, but I've run out of time on all of my school essays at once, so I need to concentrate on that for right now. Can has extension plz?
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BS: "...then insist you eat a brownie."
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm requesting an extension as well. ><
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Talps



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asa wrote:
You don't win by default, the rest of us ask for extensions. Razz


Curse your foul logic!
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Will next Friday be enough time for all of you? Smile?
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