(Successful) “Win” – Enrich your writing

“Win” by Harlan Coben

 Created using images from: Pexels.com – Cottonbro.

This excerpt is taken from “Win” by Harlan Coben. A crime thriller published by Cornerstone Digital (2021).

Chapter 3
Young and Lopez want an explanation. I start with the complete truth: I had not seen the suitcase in many years. How many years? Here my memory becomes foggier.

Many, I say. More than ten? Yes. More than twenty? I shrug.

Could I at least confirm that the suitcase had belonged to me? No, I would need a closer look, to be able to open it and look at its contents. Young doesn't like that. I didn't think she would. But can't I at least confirm the suitcase is mine just by looking at it?

I couldn't for certain, sorry, I tell them. But those are your initials and your family crest, Lopez reminds me. They are, I say, but that doesn't mean someone didn't make up a duplicate suitcase. Why would someone do that? I have no idea. And so it goes.

Simplification (the "bare bones" of the text):
Young and Lopez want an explanation about the suitcase: it’s been missing for many years. They interrogate me. The suitcase has my family crest and logo on it. Why can’t I confirm it?

Rewrite the excerpt to give the impression that all the characters are successful in some way

What would it feel like being interrogated by 'successful agents'?
What would the office of successful agents look like?
What would be evidence of a successful businessman?

I looked up to the walls. It was a who’s who of crime busting. These two officers – Lopez and Young – were a real supremo double act of crime-fighting. They had some real moxie. They were big names on the wall, too. For example: Big Ernie the strangler; Light-fingered Jerry the city’s greatest pickpocket; and Nine-toes McGubbin, the second greatest crime lord north of the river.

I was sitting in the same chair that they sat in when they broke. Where they were grilled like a ham and cheese sandwich, but without the delicious taste. I imagined them there. Sweating. Doubting. Just waiting to be found out.

It was commonly spoken in the force that they were the best. And they had built up quite a fearsome reputation. They were almost worshipped by the junior officers.

“So!” boomed Lopez. “We have you at last, my slippery friend.”

“Um… I’ve not really been anywhere” I reply.

“Ah, you top business executives are always jetting off to places though, aren’t you?” Young piped in.

“Well, our company has clients in a handful of different countries. They want to hear from the chief officer now and again. It’s important. But I haven’t left the country for a few months. All my travels recently have been mostly local with a few out of state.” I’m trying to counterbalance their ‘slippery’ comment.

“…and then there are the vacations, aren’t there? Tropical islands, is it? Or maybe a bit of skiing in the Swiss Alps?” Lopez imagines out loud.

“I took a family vacation at Christmas. Guatemala. I don’t think I’ll have another till this Christmas. We’ve had a swelling of customers – a really fruitful year.” I try not to miss any details.

“Hmmm… Yes, sounds lovely. Not just family you were with though, was it? In fact, we picked up a notorious gentleman with suspicious items. Is this your suitcase?” Young and Lopez both looking a bit smug now. The thing is, it really does look like my suitcase, but I haven’t seen it for years!

Over to you, faithful student!

Rewrite the excerpt to give the impression that the two agents and the man are very successful.
Aim for 150-250 words.

Click on the speech bubble to join in (Comments on all 3 exercises will appear at the end of the lesson.)

When students have submitted work, the teacher will choose examples to show here along with corrections and suggestions.

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