Friday, July 17, 2015

Appearing in issue #28, July 13, 2015

Title:  The stick-up

By Author:  Aimee Deschaine

MINUS 5 STARS. What was WW thinking?

Tag line:  When the reporter Cora Willoughby heard about the bank robbery in town, she got right to work!

Police characters:   Officer Mason.  Officer Francisco.
The gist:  Getting a tip that the bank was being robbed, reporter Cora ran over to the scene and started talking to the employees and customers.  (I almost cannot go on… this is so absurd.)  Customer 1 said: one robber took Todd, the security guard, and hauled him in back.  She figures Todd was locked away. Then the back door opens and they let in another bad guy. 

Bethany, a teller, said the alarm didn’t work when she pushed it.
Another customer said there were three of them, all wearing jumpsuits, gloves, and full rubber masks. He couldn’t see any skin color.

The bad guys robbed the bank and the customers.
Annie, a customer, said she walked in on the robbery and that there were five customers, three robbers, and one teller.  (And a partridge in a pear tree.)  She said that they stole her diamond bracelet she had borrowed from her aunt and she pleaded with him (she said his voice was male) to not take it, but he did anyway.  She didn’t see the bank manager or Todd the security guy.  Bethany told her, and anyone else that was within hearing, that the manager wasn’t there because he leaves at 11:30 for lunch, and Todd was being held in the back.  WAY TO SCREW UP TESTIMONY THAT NOW CAN’T BE USED IN COURT.  DUH.

Cora saw the police come from the back with Todd, the security guy.  The officer nodded at Cora.  THE POLICE WERE THERE!  IN THE BACK.  NO COPS OUT FRONT MAKING SURE NOBODY LEFT OR CAME IN.  ARRRRRRGGGGHHH.  (I’m starting to yell, aren’t I?)
This dumbass cop talks to another dumbass cop and tells him, in front of God and everyone, that Todd was in the back bound by his own handcuffs.  He said he interviewed him back there where it was a little less hectic.  (My right eye is starting to twitch.)  IT’S LESS HECTIC BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T SECURE THE *&^%^ SCENE!  (Now look what you made me do.   L  An exclamation point.  Tsk-tsk.)

The bank manager rushes back from lunch.   Chaos breaks out as everyone starts talking.  (Banging my head on the keyboard now.)
Annie, the lady who got her diamond bracelet snatched, asks if she could leave now. They let her go. Before she left, she touched Todd on the arm and said, “I’m really glad you weren’t hurt, Todd.”  Todd smiled back at her and said, “Yes, you should go, your aunt is going to be worried.” Cora tells Todd to give up the names of his two accomplices.  (Well, it should be three.  Let’s not forget Annie, the piece of crap that she is, who stole from her elderly aunt.  Which, by the way, will get her and Todd an enhanced sentence.)

Gawd, I’m glad that’s over.  (Going to get some aspirin now.  Be right back.)
Crime scene:    The real crime scene is the solve-it-yourself mystery in this issue.

Clues:    Todd knew Annie’s aunt might be worried.  How would he know that if he wasn’t out front when the robbery took place? 
That was the big clue, folks. 

He was in the back when she talked to EVERYONE.  Of course, EVERYONE was talking, excited and probably loudly, and he could have heard that from any single person in that room because the police let them all get together and kibitz.   Also once he got back in the front, according to the story, chaos broke out again as everyone started talking.  Another chance to hear her story. 
Suspects:  I think the author did it.

Red herrings:  I guess having the Keystone Cops on scene could have been a red herring. Maybe the cops did it.  It would have been more interesting than this drivel.
Solution:  The solution was one column long.  A long, boring ramble about deactivating the alarm, pretending to struggle with the robber, him then putting on a jumpsuit so people would think the one bad guy let in another bad guy but it was really Todd.  Then he went in the back and undressed and redressed and they put handcuffs on him.  (Are you asleep yet?)

My two cents:  Well, thank goodness we have reporters like Cora to handle situations like bank robberies.  That frees up the police for other more important crimes.  There’s not one, NOT ONE, statement that could be used in court.  This is a defense attorney’s wet dream.
First of all if the bank just got robbed, there’s no way a civilian, even a reporter, can just enter and hang around and talk to people.  The cops show up fast, within minutes, and separate everyone.  People can’t be allowed to hang around swapping stories.  Cora’s lucky she didn’t get arrested for obstruction. 

Why did Todd have to pretend to be a robber?  Isn’t two robbers enough?  He could have sat in the back handcuffed while the other two guys grabbed the loot.  But, of course, that was his downfall, as, according to this ridiculous story he was out front “robbing” Annie while she “pleaded” with him to not take her aunt’s bracelet.  I guess a whole vault full of money wasn’t enough.  They had to take everyone’s money and jewelry too.  Morons.
Clue:  That was the weakest clue I’ve ever seen.  And it’s sad but true that it would have worked if the cops had separated everyone.  Also, it’s the kind of clue where only the bad guy knows a detail.  Yawn. How original.

Motive:  Who cares? 
Police Work:   Pretty much the worst I’ve ever seen.

Writing :  Don’t get me started.  How much aspirin do you want me to take, anyway?
Characters:  I’m speechless.  And that doesn’t happen often. 


Mary Jo said...

Jody, are you under the impression that WW has an interest in correct police procedure? The editors would probably picture all the hubbub in the bank and considered it an entertaining scene. Poor old security guard was probably worn out with all those quick changes.

Now you can write your next story with the inside guy simply cooling his heels off site while the actual crime proceeds. Just make sure there is a lot going on. Give 'em what they want, kiddo.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. One of the first things they teach you in creative fiction writing is to write fresh, write clean (meaning use as few words as possible and choose darn good ones), and write realistic scenes. Nothing takes you out of a story quicker than a scene where you scratch your head and say, huh, that can't happen? I read a story once about a woman who dumped a whole pot of boiling pasta water on the front of her body and she was upstairs picking out something pretty to wear to go to the hospital. Are you kidding me? Has that author never burned her finger, never mind half her body?

So, yes, I assume that the editors, who all have degrees in some kind or other of writing/journalism, would know the basics of good story construction. Many times Johnene will send a little note to authors saying, sorry, this just isn't believable. But THIS is? Ay-yi-yi.

I can't make myself give them what they want. Might as well ask me to write erotica. Just can't do it. Although with erotica at least the folks could have bigger than life --- well, you know. Or the guy could last ALL night. haha

Elizabeth said...

LOLOL at this stupid story & your brilliant deconstruction of it! Maybe the author was trying to write something unpublishable on purpose & then Woman's World turned around & published it anyway?

What happens if you show up at the bank during a robbery ... I once went to the bank during normal banking hours & the door was locked. There were one or two police cars in the parking lot at the time. The manager saw me through the glass, came to the door, opened it a crack & said they were having some sort of emergency & couldn't let anyone in. She _never_ said the word "robbery" & most certainly did not invite me in to pass the time.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Elizabeth. This story needed more than deconstruction. It needed some lighter fluid and a match. The author should have gotten just ashes back in her rejection envelope.

My bank, Bank of America, has an armed guard outside the front door during banking hours. It's not in a bad area. Zup widat? Maybe they've been robbed before. Or maybe they want to make their customers feel comfortable, but it does just the opposite. I don't see any badges but I'm thinking it has to be an off-duty police job. The guy/girl wears a bullet proof vest and has a big ole sidearm. Maybe I'll ask them next time I'm in there... but they probably won't tell me, yeah, we've been robbed 4 times... finally had to get some heat out there. haha

Kathye Thornton said...

This was the best read I've had all week. Thanks for the laughs.

Tamara said...

When I read this story, I said to myself, "Jody's column will be fun after she sees this one," and it was. Thanks, Jody.

Chris said...

Ouch. ouch, ouch. I loved your analysis of the story but, boy, I do feel for the author. I hope she doesn't read this column, it would be so demoralising to have your story published and then drop by hoping to see something nice being said, only to find it's been ripped to shreds. Not saying you said anything I hadn't already thought when I read it, but still, I'm wincing.

(Did laugh out loud at the partridge in a pear tree, though. tee hee)

Tamara said...

That always occurs to me, too, Chris, and I realize it could happen to me. In fact, when I discovered first Kate's blog and then this one, I was intimidated for a brief moment and lost a little steam in terms of creating these stories, but I got my momentum back quickly. Kate wasn't fond of one of my romances, and I felt a little sting. I've decided these critiques are part of the game and if my mystery currently being considered by Johnene (I hope) is published, I'll be braced. I have a romance coming out in the next issue I believe, one I didn't expect to make it.

Chris said...

You are right, of course, Tamara, criticism goes with the territory and over time we learn to grin and bear it. But I do remember when I started out, more years ago than I care to admit to, that my confidence was wafer-thin. Had there been a blog site for any of the British mags I wrote for then, and I'd seen one of my stories torn apart in this way, I'd have been really affected by it. That's always what worries me about such frank discussions, with no pluses offered at all (MINUS five stars?), that we destroy confidence rather than build it with support and advice as to how to make things better next time. I know Jody does do that, explaining about crime scenes, correct police procedure, etc., but I still feel uncomfortable occasionally reading it.

You could argue that any author who is paid a nice fat cheque for a published story doesn't need any help from us on how to 'improve' their writing; they've already achieved. But unless the name is familiar to us from previous successes, we don't know how experienced these writers are, and that's my concern. My amusement at this very funny critique shouldn't be at the expense of someone else's self-esteem.

Congrats on the story coming up next week, by the way. Well done, I look forward to reading it.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. "My amusement at this very funny critique shouldn't be at the expense of someone else's self-esteem."

Well, that's always the rub, isn't it? That a human being wrote this story that got bloody this week. It's not always the author's fault when a story falls apart. WW does a pretty good job of ruining it sometimes. It's the story as it was published that is getting the criticism. So many things are out of the author's control. We know that. The authors themselves cringe when they see what happened to their nice little story.

No one would read a blog that is all rainbow poop and unicorns. How boring. They read the blog to see a bad story "get it". That you feel bad for the author shows you have a heart, something I've been accused of not having, but bad reviews are all part of the business. They make you stronger. Sure they sting. I've been stung. And you can't please everyone all of the time. Anyone who comes to this blog expecting to hear something nice about their story, better have their big girl panties on. Or don't come at all.

The fact that you found this 'review' amusing doesn't make you a bad person. You're enjoying my antics and my antics are out of your control. A story or two ago was by Tracie Rae. I like Tracie Rae, but that story? Come on... I couldn't just gush over it. It's the story. Not the person.

Yes, minus 5 stars. Not only was it lacking the criteria for the star system, it went backwards.

I don't think the author visits this site. If she does, she's never left a comment. I always take the high road when my work gets a hacking. I pout a bit but I don't get defensive to the critique writer ... just tell them thank you and that their comments were interesting... or some such drivel. Yes, I'm sure a new writer may view things a bit differently, not having the experience. But this author is an old pro.