Here are the first 1005 words I wrote of Picture Perfect. This is merely where I started writing, so it’s not necessarily the beginning of the final version.
“You’re not listening to me.” Sanjay took the remote from Dan and muted the TV.
“I was.” Dan grabbed the remote. “You said my sister had a good point.”
“But you are going to ignore her?” Sanjay tried to get the remote back before Dan could turn the sound back on.
“Some thing don’t change.” Dan blocked Sanjay’s hand looked him in the eyes and kissed him. “If I had listened to her, we would not be together. You know that that.”
“So you keep telling me.” Sanjay pushed Dan away from him, got up from the couch and stood in front of the TV.
“Sanj, If you want to distract me you’ll have to drop your drawers.”
“We’re talking a lot of money, Dan. A lot of money.”
“I’m not paying for you to drop them. Now, step away from the TV. I was watching something.”
“You’re always watching something when I want to talk to you. You’ve recorded this anyway, so you can go back to it.”
“You asked me to clear things off the recorder, remember. Now that I’m trying to, you want to talk me.” Dan hit pause. “You’re the reason I don’t think we need a cat.”
“Cats ignore you till you are trying to do something and they are all over you.”
“This is nearly over anyway. Ten minutes.” he unpaused. “Step aside?”
He pressed the back button to rewatch what he’d missed talking to Sanjay.
“What’s it about anyway?” Sanjay sat beside him.
“Missing kids on the east coast.”
“I should have known.”
“Yeah, everything is homework for … hey! That’s me!” Dan hit the pause button.
It was a photo of two boys on the front steps of a house. Arms over each other shoulders, grinning at the camera.
“You sure aren’t missing.” Sanjay said.
“Yeah yeah I know. It’s the other boy Timmy Dunlop. I guess.”
“Guess? I thought you were watching this.”
“You mean, trying to watch. My Dad took this picture. I remember it. It’s been years since I’ve seen it though.”
“Yeah, right. How many photographs have you seen?”
“Enough ,but some you remember. I sort of had a crush on Timmy. We played doctor a couple of times. When we moved I kept hoping to hear from him but nothing.”
“I guess you know why now.” Sanjay stretched. “I’m heading for bed. I leave you to your homework.”
Any reality show dealing with crime was considered Dan’s homework. He saw things in photographs that most didn’t see. His eyes had been trained to discover and recognized what might appear ordinary to the untrained eye.
He went back to the beginning of the program ‘Canada Cold’ that looked at cold cases across Canada. He’d worked such cases with the RCMP and that had tweaked his interested in them. This episode was about a the disappearance of several children in the Maritimes in the mid-80’s. Dan had no recollection of it at all. His family had moved when he was eleven, the same summer of these disappearances.
As he watched he jotted down the names and locations of the children. None struck a chord with him expect Timmy’s. The place name were familiar, Stellerton, Digby, Wolfville in Nova Scotia; ‘Small Town & Port Something- names to be filled in in editing’ in New Brunswick. His Dad had been an itinerant photographer, “Photos By James”, who travelled from school to school, taking class pictures and individual portraits. For summer’s he would take the family with him, spending a day or two, or up to a week in various small towns.
Dan pulled himself out his reflective daze. Replayed the ending of the show again and wrote down the number one was to call if they had any information. He’d call once he had found those photos. Stellerton had been one of the longer stays and one of the last as he recalled.
They’d been their long enough for him to renew his friendship with some of the boys he’d palled around with the previous summer. They left pretty quickly. He remembered being pretty pissed because the Happy Hippo Carnival had just set up and he wanted to so badly to go it.
Moving to Toronto wasn’t as important to him then as seeing the side shows. Even his sister as somewhat disappointed but that was because she was seeing some guy their mother didn’t approve of. He figured that was why they were really moving and for years blamed her for ruining his childhood.
“You coming up or am I coming by myself?”
In the morning Dan ate without noticing what he was eating. His folks must have known about Timmy disappearing. Why hadn’t they told him. He’ d written Timmy letters from Toronto or did those ever get mailed?
“He must have been something special?” Sanjay nudged Dan’s shoulder as he offered to refill his coffee cup.
“Who?” Dan waved the coffee away. “I’ve had enough.”
“The boy in the picture. You are thinking about him, aren’t you?”
“Some but more about why I didn’t know what happened till now. I was so heart sick about him but I let my folks think I was just homesick.”
“How old were you?”
“Still carrying that flame?”
“No! I haven’t really thought about him or those days till last night. I’m surprised I recognized his face.”
“It was you that recognized first.”
“Yeah well there were so few pictures of me, I mean just of me, with Linda lurking in the background. She invented photo bombing because they was no way dad could take a picture if she was around without her getting in on it. Nearly all by baby picture show either her or my mother holding me.”
“So that’s when the rivalry started.”
“Oh yeah, I wasn’t out of the womb before she was making sure she got as much attention s she could. I better get going. Time to open shop. I’m seeing Warszawa this afternoon. I’ll ask him what he thinks I should do.”
With this start I wanted to establish as much as possible without dwelling too long on any one fact. As the story evolves more details get filled in – names of the children for one thing and the exact locations of where they were when abducted.
I needed to sketch in the lover relationship – one that seemed lived in and comfortable, with some sexuality but without being sexual while doing do. Some humour but not too campy. Plus I wanted to show the cosmopolitan nature of the gay world in Toronto. Names quickly create character – Sanjay is such a name. Giving me a wealth of Desi culture to draw on.
I also wanted to set out one of the major plots – the missing children. This was the original seed for the novel several years ago. Taking Dan, this is not a spoiler, back to the east coast to investigate further & also make some discoveries about his own past.
I had to address his present business as well – set up the current family dynamic that would be a constant struggle and a source for conflict as he makes discoveries about family secrets.
Finally I had to hint at Dan’s work with the RCMP (Warszawa) & other police agencies. Later we see him in action as he examines some crime scene photos. The whole nature of this as a profession has changed rapidly as computer technology has became more precise and TV created false ideas of how easy it is to do.
All that in a 1000 words. whew.
November 1-30 – participating – NaNoWriMo 2014 – http://nanowrimo.org
another couch not suitable for my plot