Sunday, August 13, 2006


With a bit of a lull in the writing currently (I'm outlining what I hope to be a quick-n-dirty horror exploitation spec before jumping back into something more substantial), it's as good a time as any to post my latest first-round piece for The Writer's Arc. Again, the deal is they give you the elements of: (1) two characters; (2) setting; and (3) a prop. The rest is up to you, the only limits being 5-10 pages.

The elements were:

Alex Mackenzie & Parker Lam
a yard
a card

"Prime Minister" is what I came up with.

I knew that with this exercise I wanted to vary it up in terms of scenes, dialog, and story, compared to the one continuous encounter between the two characters that I had done the first time around. For whatever reason, the first thing that the "yard" setting brought to my mind was Scotland Yard. I guess London is in my comfort zone for these things. So with that as my location I decided to make it a sort of political thriller, set against the backdrop of an assassination plot against the prime minister. And I liked the idea of the ringleader walking right through the front door of Scotland Yard to retrieve one of the plotters who had been picked up by the police. That would allow for enough of a dramatic situation to get ten pages out of anyway.

The next issue was who the characters were going to be. Alex Mackenzie I envisioned as the protagonist, a top antiterrorist detective with the city's force. Sort of a younger Helen Mirren's DCI Jane Tennison in the excellent Prime Suspect series. But with just a little bit more touch of Jack Bauer. Parker Lam would be the Jackal-esque assassin who must go into the belly of the beast to deal with the problem of an associate who has been taken into custody.

The prop -- a card -- allowed me to make Parker's associate a master forger who was picked up in the middle of delivering a fake security card that would get Lam into 10 Downing Street. Of course, Parker isn't really going in to rescue his partner as much as to find out how much information about the plot has been revealed and, ultimately, ensure that no more is discovered by Mackenzie. And then it's all just some exposition, interrogation, and Cockney rhyming slang.

Although I did some research, it was just enough to know that there are the Special Branch and SO13 anti-terrorism divisions of the Metropolitan Police. I have no idea if they actually detain suspects in the New Scotland Yard building or where the various divisons are located in relation to each other. If it had been an actual feature-length script, I would have done much more digging but I'm not an adherent to the Tom Clancy school of minutae. And especially for this short sample, plausibility and reasonableness were sufficient.


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