They gave me her shoe—Nike, size six, typical for a twelve-year-old.
As a human bloodhound of sorts, I had been asked to smell a variety of items. A shoe was not one of my favorites. Yet since Amy wore it when she was abducted, it was the best scent source possible.
I sniffed the inside. The odor carried her essence—pungent sweat, a trace of blood … and the scent of her soul.
As I exhaled a stream of white, a frosty breeze sent the vapor up through the glow of a neighborhood streetlamp and into Spokane’s nighttime sky. Through my ski mask’s breathing hole, I inhaled fresh, crisp air and let my membranes absorb the elements. The particles of a thousand Amys filtered in, along with a thousand Alyssas, Aarons, and Andrews, but only one matched the sample. The missing Amy was out there … somewhere.
I turned to the weeping mother. I couldn’t remember her name or the name of the father who held her close, both bundled in heavy coats on this dark night. No matter. I knew Amy’s name. And I could provide them the assistance they desperately needed, a service the police could never hope to provide.
“I can find her,” I whispered.
The mother swiped a tear from her cheek. “You mean …” She swallowed down a sob as her hopeful eyes sparkled. “She’s alive?”
“She’s alive … for now. But if traffickers got her, she’s living in hell.” I pulled my trench coat close. Even with a sweatshirt underneath, the bone-chilling air cut to the skin. “Do you have what I asked for?”
“Right here.” The father extended a small canvas bag. Light from the streetlamp revealed its purple color. “I sold my Mustang to raise this money. Getting Amy back …” His voice faltered. “Well … no sacrifice is too high.”
“Amy’s photo is in there, too,” the mother said. “It’s from just three weeks ago. Also Fred’s business card so you’ll have our phone number.”
I took the bag. “And what keepsake for Amy?”
“A stuffed bunny she named Beans. She sleeps with him every night.”
“That should work.”
This idea came to me as I lay awake on a sleep-deprived night. I have already altered it a bit, and I will reveal the new version next week, but I wanted to show the progress by providing the initial expression of the idea.
In yesterday’s writing tip, I mentioned that it is best to start in the protagonist’s ordinary world. Although this character’s ability seems strange, and his activities are intriguing, finding lost girls is his ordinary world. The text provides the impression that he is accustomed to his abilities, and he takes them in stride, which indicates the ordinariness of the opening.
Notice the essential items I mentioned in yesterday’s post: A hook beginning, questions that are raised, an immediate goal for the protagonist, character qualities and flaws, sparse details for the physical setting that are perhaps sufficient, the beginning of a bridge to the back story. Though I have not discussed all of these elements in detail in the writing tips (they are coming), I hope you can pick them out.
Let me know what you think. What questions are raised? What are the character’s qualities and flaws? How is the back story beginning to take shape? What other elements did you notice that I haven’t mentioned yet?
Also, for the braver souls, what do you not like? What suggestions do you have for improvement?
Categories: Story Development