Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.

Friday, April 1, 2011

21st Century Noir

Comments: Read yesterday's post first if  you haven't already. I revised my first draft to be more consistent with modern suspense writing where you want to open with a strong hook. I'm writing hard boiled suspense so the hook has to grab the reader. I upped the ante on the suspense, adding teasers related to the character's love life, the purpose of his current mission, and the state of his health. I expanded the details to paint a stronger picture.

In the early noir stories, it was okay to say your character carried a 45 or a 38. Today's readers are more sophisticated. They want to know the  make and model of the weapon. Details breathe life into the story. I chose a Walther PK380. Knowledgeable readers will know that it's a limited edition, highly refined product of German engineering, imported by Smith and Wesson. This clues the reader that our main character is a professional. What I haven't told you is whether he is a professional hit man or a professional good guy. I also haven't told you if the writer knows his character's occupation. The research on the weapon took about 10 minutes with the help of my friend Google and the detailed content of the Smith and Wesson website. Enjoy.

For critique: What is the correct use of the verb form for "don't" in the last sentence? Should it be "don't" or "didn't?" How does switching the verb form change the story, if at all?

21st Century Noir
Phil Tankerton shifted his husky torso to relieve the pressure caused by the Walther PK380 stuck between his left side and the inside of the bus. The Walther, stuffed into his overcoat pocket, had a way of shifting in the wrong direction whenever he sat down. He tried to remember how many shots he had fired. One, two, three, four, five. That meant four bullets left. He relaxed.

Outside, the darkness closed in like an assault team as the night sky sunk to the level of skyscrapers. Clouds boiled and rolled like flood waters from a deluge.

As the CTA bus made its way down Michigan Avenue toward the river and Wacker Drive, Tankerton watched for Tomlinson’s men. A large flowered red umbrella blew inside out in the November wind that also lifted the owner’s black skirt near Ontario Street. A man in a tan London Fog stopped to gawk at her.

Tankerton turned his attention to the backpack on the seat next to him. He rested his hand over it like a protecting mother eagle and smiled. It was worth five shots fired in anger. He glanced back out the black window. Neon lights painted a cityscape abstracted by the rain drops splashing against the bus window. The girl with the upside-down umbrella and flapping skirt was gone like all the other women in his life.

Blood dripped now from under his coat and over the back of his left hand, running between his fingers. If they don’t raise the bridge, he had a chance, but up ahead he could see the bridge lights blinking in the rain.


  1. Your PK380 threw me -- I was thinking of the Walther PPK chambered for .380, which Smith & Wesson also imports. I enjoyed comparing the two entries! A fun exercise ...

  2. Thanks for checking it out. It's the PK380. I chose it because it's a limited edition which suggests my character is a gun aficionado. I wanted something more than a Saturday night special.