Thursday, October 20, 2011

Corvette Scene Part II

Last year I talked about a problem that I have. It's a problem I've noticed in novels. I named that problem the Corvette Scene, after the scene in the Star Trek 2009 where young Kirk steals a Corvette and runs it off the famous canyons of Iowa. Corvette Scene I

The problem with that scene, and a lot of scenes in my writing and other novels, isn't that taken alone they are bad. The Corvette Scenes tend to be really fun, well done, and if taken out of the novel (or movie) they stand up nicely on their own. The problem is they take the reader out of the novel and only the author can see how it is related to the rest of the story.

In Mind Thief I found my Corvette Scene, and I had to cut it out completely. (Sniff) Through flashbacks I was showing the life of my bad guy. As I did the body count in each flashback grew higher. I didn't want my bad guy to be just a mustache twirling stereotype, so I threw in a scene where he accomplished something on his own. The idea was to show that he was a competent professional as well as an evil bastard. The problem was even though I felt the individual scene was good, it came at a time of rising tension and took the reader out of that.

Maybe I'll find a way to recycle it in to some other book.

The set-up is when Howie falls asleep he dreams of being the bad guy Harriman:

Harriman checked his compass readings of his Aeromarine 39B biplane to see he was on course, beneath him was just open ocean. He knew he was coming up on his target soon and scanned the horizon for the dot he was looking for.

He glanced down at his fuel gauge and realized he had better have been right about his bearings or he was going to be awfully wet for quite a while. He said out loud, “Your bearings are correct, the target must be just over the horizon.” Before any more doubts could creep into his mind he saw a small dot appear in the distance.

He eased back on the throttle as the dot grew bigger and he confidently approached his target. He could see it grow bigger and bigger, first a dot then a small box and finally into a ship.

He turned on his radio and announced, “USS Langley, this is Bravo One, I have you in visual. Over.”

“Bravo One.” The tinny speaker crackled, “You are cleared for landing. Paddle on deck ready to bring you in. Over.”

Harriman flew his plane closer, easing back on the throttle the whole time. Finally he saw the bright orange spot on the deck of the USS Langley, “Paddle spotted, tell them I’m coming in. Over.”

Trust Murphy, he won’t let you down. Harriman thought as he concentrated on the orange dot on the deck of the carrier. The orange dot grew and soon he could see it split into the two large orange flags that Landing Signal Officer Murphy was waving.

Murphy waved to the right of the carrier.

Block everything out but Murphy. Harriman thought. He relaxed and let Murphy guide him away from the ship.

When he was far enough to the right of the ship and much lower Murphy started waving him back left and Harriman could see what he was doing. His original approach was slightly off the small target at the back of the carrier, on land he could compensate for it in the last few feet of the landing. On the carrier that little mistake would send him into the drink.

At first the approach Murphy had him on looked good and he followed it as the edge of the carrier grew. Then he could see the carrier bobbing up and down on the waves and nagging doubts started to come back.

The Curtis OXX engine that powered the plane began to sputter, if he slowed down any more it would stall. Murphy signaled him to slow down more as the rear of the carrier lifted up and Harriman could only see the gray rear hull of the ship.

Harriman panicked, hit the throttle and pulled up on the stick. He shot up in the air as the rear of the carrier dropped down. He flew over the heads of the flight deck crew.

“Bravo One, that’s not in your flight plan. Over.” His radio squawked.

“Just doing a dry run,” Harriman radioed back. “Coming around for a second attempt. Over.”

“Roger, Paddle is waiting on deck. Over.”

Harriman maneuvered around and tried his landing again, but had the same result. He trusted Murphy right up to the last second then panicked.

“Harriman, you’re pissing me off down here.” Commander Benson growled. Harriman could practically see the cigar bitten in half. “You do what Murphy tells you damn it. I don’t care if you run out of fuel and drown in the crash, but replacing that bird will be damn near impossible. So get on deck now.”

“Roger,” Harriman told him. “Coming around for a third and final attempt. Over.”

This time when Harriman faced the rear hull of the ship he cut his engine completely composing Benson's letter to Daphene in his head: “Dear Mrs. Harriman, We regret to inform you that your complete idiot of a husband, being the most incompetent pilot I've ever had the opportunity to command, pranged his kite into the America's only Aircraft Carrier causing more damage to our Navy than the Kaiser could ever dream of.”

As Harriman glided towards the big gray wall of steel, it dropped as the carrier hit another wave in front and the deck came down. The wheels of Harriman's plane kissed the flight deck in a perfect landing. The plane traveled several feet before the tailhook grabbed the arrestor wire on the deck and forced Harriman forward into his safety harness.

The force threw Howie forward in his bed and he woke up in a sitting position. Totally disorientated, he knew he was Howie, a freshman Astrophysics major, but for a minute after waking up he knew he was also Lt. Harriman one of the Navy’s first pilots.

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