Get yourself unstuck
Published: July 29, 2005
|Before and After|
Before I visited the "scene of the crime," this was as far as I could get with Chapter 2 of my mystery novel Snake Eater before my imagination went dry:
I got to the Northampton District Court on Monday morning for the nine o'clock criminal session. I went inside and waited for Daniel McCloud's case to be called ...
After I sat in the courtroom for a morning, the whole scene unfolded in my mind. Then my job was to select the most telling from all the details I'd observed. Composing a static physical description of the courtroom itself would stall the scene rather than move it forward, so I decided to focus on my narrator, Brady Coyne, and on the other people in the courtroom, aiming to create a sense of the leisurely pace of judicial activity and to make the scene lively and interesting for readers:
I arrived at the Northampton District court on Monday morning for the nine o'clock criminal session. I sat on one of the benches among the lawyers, witnesses and accused citizens, feeling tired and headachy from getting up early and driving the two hours from Boston to Northampton-a long straight monotonous shot out the Mass Pike to Springfield, then a quick jog north on 91.
I wished I'd had the foresight to sneak a cup of coffee into the courtroom with me.
At the table in front of the bench the clerk shuffled a large stack of manila folders. A pair of probation officers whispered at their table.
About ten after nine a uniformed officer led six or eight bleary-eyed men into the prisoners' dock. Daniel was the last of them. He looked out of place among the others, young men all, the weekend collection of lockups. Sobriety test and Breathalyzer flunkies, I guessed.
William G. Tapply