Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Were we going to edit this ...

... before we published it? Just wondering.

Citizen Exemplar ignored the persistent knocking on his door.

He was home Tuesday in the Back Creek Forest neighborhood near UNC Charlotte, studying for an MBA degree. He peeked outside and saw a car with a stranger in the passenger's seat.

"Study for" has a couple different ranges of meaning, which are conflated here. You can move to the UNCC area to "study for" an MBA (a long-term prospect), but when you're home on Tuesday night, it's to "study for" a particular test (short term). Pick one.

Exemplar grabbed his Glock pistol, but left it unloaded.

Grab: "To grasp or seize suddenly and eagerly," sez the OED. Does he keep the thing next to him when he studies?

The knocking finally stopped, the car drove away and Exemplar returned to his books.

A few minutes later, the knocking resumed.

Exemplar was scared. ... He put in a round of bullets.

Bartender! Erm ... no, he didn't. Doesn't the stylebook still have a "weapons" entry?

Exemplar is 41, an engineer, and he is fed up with crime. If he could stop one thief, he wanted to try. (Is this starting to suggest a question that ought to be answered?)

All right. Let's skip a lot of prose, some of it in longish sentences. And some not. Exemplar calls the cops, there are some thuds at the back door, then nothing happens, then a car screeches away. Cops pursue, nab, etc.

... Though officers believe Exemplar might have deterred any thieves by making them aware he was home, Exemplar believes there would have been no arrests if he had scared away the people charged in his case.

Uh, OK. Why was it they left in such a hurry, then? You mean if he'd let 'em in and waved the Glock at them, thus scaring them away, they wouldn't have been caught on the same schedule? What is it we're trying to say here? Who is it that he didn't scare away (notwithstanding that they fled) -- some unidentified people who tried to break in, or the people identified in the preceding graf, who(m) the paper has just declared guilty of almost everything they're charged with?

But soft! The protagonist is going to speak again:

"I had decided, 'This is going to stop here.' This will be their last job, period. If not, they would go on to somebody else's house."

Did we ask him what he means by that, please? I'm starting to form an idea, but -- are we implying because we don't think we need to ask, or because we forgot to?

More prose. Then a conclusion:

This time, Exemplar said, the good guys won.

But they did steal one thing: his sense of security. And how do you ever replace that?

Those damn good guys! Always running off with someone's sense of security.

I'm at a loss for why this should have been considered a story in the first place. But if we're going to run it, could we at least clean up the rough spots and loose ends?

2 Comments:

Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Looks like an ill-conceived attempt at narrative to me.

3:48 AM, April 17, 2008  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Forget whether it was conceived well or not, it's an ill-written attempt at narrative.

And I wonder, too, why it was ever considered news.

5:50 PM, April 17, 2008  

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