Writing Exercise: Cutscenes & Backstory

Three things that I want to accomplish here.

1. Dialogue that brings out character, instead of useless fluff.

2. Inserting a cut-scene of a different character to the storyline without deriding it too much.

3. Inserting backstory  / more character descriptors without boring the audience

Please let me know if this short passage works for you, and let know if I did something very wrong here.

Into the Fire V1.1

There was a knock on the door.

“We’ve got a problem detective, best if ya come and take a look.”

“Get Patrick for crying out loud! I’m busy!”

“We tried Sir, but we can’t find him. The boys fished out a body from the East River an hour ago. The chief wants you on the scene.”

“Ah Christ, hang on, I’m comin’!” Erik shouted before turning back to the matter at hand. “Sorry sugar, but duty calls.”

“Dammnit, what about me!” Marie hissed.

The detective grinned. “If you want, I can get that nice man at the door to come in and keep you warm.”

Marie slapped him hard on the chest, “Now I know why I didn’t marry a cop.”

“You didn’t marry a cop because your daddy wouldn’t let ya. Now get off me so I can get to work.” Erik replied, rolling rolling his buxom companion onto the other side of the bed. “Now where’s my pants?”

“Here!” Marie snapped as she threw the pair a khaki-colored trousers onto his face before hiding herself under the sheets and pouting angrily at the detective.

“Hey. don’t get mad baby, I was only teasin’,” he said softly, crawling in beside her to plant a long wet kiss on the lips of his lover. “I’m sorry. If it makes you feel better, help yourself to the wine, I’ll be back soon I promise.”

Instantly, Marie’s frown disappeared. She loved wine almost as much as she loved the dashing detective. For all of Erik’s manly gruff, he was also one who knew his Merlots from his Burgundies. And thankfully, he was also well-stocked. “Don’t take too long sweet cheeks,” she said as she got up to browse the wine cabinet. “My husband will kill me if I’m not home by midnight.”

“Don’t worry hon’, dead bodies are easy to deal with. It’s the ones still breathing that make life a living hell.” Erik replied as he laced his shoes. “As for you, do me a favor and put on some clothes if you go outside will ya. Mr Jones saw you through the window last week and you almost gave him a heart attack.”

“Oh, stop being such a pissy about it. I’ll just wait until his bedtime, then I’ll walk around as naked as I want.” Marie answered, smirking to herself as she poured a glass of vintage red.

You little devil,” Erik grinned, giving her a playful squeeze as he got up to leave. “But seriously now, keep your eyes open. This city ain’t as safe as it used to be. Shits really starting to hit the fan with that killer still out there.”

Marie made a face. “You mean that psycho in the news? Don’t worry, I know where to cut to make a man bleed.” she said, jabbing a finger into Erik’s groin. “Besides, I’m sleeping with a detective. He’ll protect me, right?”

Erik kissed her again. “Just promise me alright. I’ll really hate to lose you now.” He said, hesistating for a moment. “I think I’m really starting to like you.”

“Yea, yea, whatever.” Marie replied, deflecting the confessions of the lovesick detective. She downed her wine in a single gulp and poured herself another. “I was raised in the streets remember. Ain’t no man gonna…”

“Errrm sir? We really should be going now,” came the voice from outside the door.

“I said I’m coming! Jesus, it’s just a dead body, not the end of world.” Tucking his shirt tails into his pants, he gave Marie a quick peck on the cheek before walking out of the bedroom and opening the front door. Outside, Williams was standing alone on the porch, decked in the navy blue of New York’s finest.

“You need to come quickly sir, forensics is already on the scene, they…” Suddenly Williams forgot what he wanted to say. He was staring at the beautiful girl who just walked into view right behind Erik, wrapped in a skimpy little towel with a glass of wine in her hand.

“Hello boys,” Marie teased, winking playfully at Williams and giving him a little toast, before slipping back inside the room.

Erik followed where Williams was staring, “Oh for crying out loud!” He shouted before turning back to the rookie. “One word about this to anyone and you’ll be pulling all-nighters for the rest of your life, do you understand.”

“Yes sir,” Williams replied with a broad smile on his face. Detective Erik always had a reputation for being a hardhead, but apparently he has quite a thing for beautiful woman as well. The boys in the station are going to give him hell once they find out.

Slamming the front door shut, Eric tried to turn the conversation back towards official business. “Well, carry on then!”

A visibly flustered Williams recovered his senses and gave the detective his report. “Forensics is on the scene sir, and they found traces of blood on the body that might belong to another person, possibly the killer. Chief wants you there now to head the investigation.”

“Where’s Patrick? Ain’t he the detective on duty?”

Wiliams shrugged. “Can’t find him sir.”

“Damn that man, probably off hustling the hookers down at the Meat Packer’s district again.” Erik replied as he walked to the waiting squad car. He took out his phone and tried Patrick’s number. “What else you got for me?”

“Chief thinks it’s our boy.” Williams answered, getting into the driver’s seat. “Same strangulation marks on the neck of the victim, no other wounds. And from the state of the body, I’ll say the girl was killed first then dumped into the river a couple of hours later.”

“Look kid, just stick to what you know for sure will ya. We’ll have the lab report from forensics soon enough.”

“Yes sir.” Williams mumbled.

Eric cursed as the call redirected itself to Patrick’s voicemail. “I need Patrick to back me up on this, he’s the one who’s been handling the investigation on our mysterious killer so far.”

“We can’t wait for him sir, chief wants that body out of there pronto. He’s afraid of another media circus.”

“Well, I don’t blame him,” Erik answered, remembering the fiasco that rocked the city just a week go. “The Mayor’s been really cranking up the pressure since that reporter posted that shot of the last victim. Damn near caused a riot.”

“Don’t worry detective. We’ll find that bastard soon enough. I know we will.” Williams said with a smile, brimming with the  kind of optimism that Eric had long lost hope in.

“Try looking into the eyes of the victim’s family and telling them that,” Eric replied snidely, watching the rookie wilt like a flower right in front him.

“I’m sorry sir, I didn’t know…”

Erik raised a hand to stop him, “Forget it kid. These are the truths we need to deal with as a cop. Better learn to deal with it fast, before it gets to you.”

“Yes sir,” Williams replied again, deciding that it would be better to keep his opinions to himself from here on out.

Back in the house, Marie was drinking herself drunk as she sat on the couch watching reruns of Real Housewives on television. Somehow, the tragic comedy and pompous interactions between self-serving woman was a cruel reflection of her own life. Between an unhappy marriage and her long standing affair with Erik, she felt like a living embodiment of the hit TV show, living two seperate lives all at once. The dutiful wife at home, and the wilful mistress when she was with Erik.

She loved Erik, which was why she freaked out when he started confessing his love. Erik had been the first man in her life who saw her for who she was beneath all that pomp and makeup. He saw a girl with daddy issues that never quite grew up, and embraced her for who she really is. He rode roughshod over her life of lies, and exposed a tiny seed of truth, one that he has carefully nurtured over the years.

She was just about to grab a second bottle when she heard someone banging on the door in the kitchen. Slipping into the bedroom. She put on one of Erik’s oversized shirts and grabbed a baseball bat before going out back to see who was at the door.

What she saw, scared her. There was a man, lying on the ground in front of the door. She quickly opened the door and went to the aid of the man.

“Hey, you alright?”

The man didn’t answer. From the wound in his abdomen, Marie could tell that he had lost a lot of blood. Quickly, she went back into the house and dialled 911.

“911 emergency services, how can I help you?”

“I need an ambulance. There’s a man lying in my backyard and he’s lost a lot of blood, he’s…”

Marie heard a noise as she turned around and looked at the open door swinging in the kitchen. The man was still lying there in  a pool of his own blood, but there was something here that felt very wrong. She could feel it, another presence in the house.

“Hello? Ma’am, are you there?”

But Marie did not answer. She was staring at the figure sitting on the sofa, draining the last drops of wine from her cup. Her mouth went dry as the figure stood up and walk towards her, kissing her full on the lips.

“Ma’am?”

“I’ll call you back.”

Erik tried the phone again, still no answer from Patrick. He was getting worried now, and random thoughts rushed to his head. What if Patrick already knew who the murderer was and wnt to look for him? It would be just like him to act on a hunch when there was insufficient evidence to prove the crime.

That was what a real detective would have done anyway in the past, and Patrick was the last of a line of hard-nosed detectives who had learnt to trust his intuition over what was in front of him.  To Patrick, things were never as simple as they appear to be.

But that was all in the past. The geeks run the show now, and  nothing gets done until the labs gets a crack at it first. In the past sixteen years that Erik has been on the force, science had taken a lot of the guesswork out of the investigation process. Why send out a posse to run around connecting the dots, when all you needed was a single hair or bloodstain to prove any guilt beyond doubt. This has become the modus operandi of the modern police force.

Detective work now played second fiddle in the force. No one wanted to stick their neck out anymore on a wild hunch, when more often than not, the science would be there to prove overzealous detectives wrong.

Some considered forensic science as the breakthrough that the  antiquated realm of police work had been hoping for all this time. There had hardly been any innovation to the way investigations were carried out  since fingerprints were first accepted as evidence at the turn of the century. And criminals who were savvy enough played the system.

Erik hated it. He disliked change. When the force had switched from memos to email, he had struggled with the biege-boxed computers that constantly died on him. And now with the advent of smartphones, he struggled to make a single phone call without his fat thumbs tapping on something else. He was fighting a losing battle.

“We’re here.” Williams said, as he turned his car into the parking lot.

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