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Small Town Thriller Premise, Help?

I'm fascinated with small town, middle America. Always wondered what goes on in these places with 500 people, and only a few businesses. I'm also a sucker for a story where "someone comes into town, does something and inadvertently unearths a secret that will have dire ramifications for all those involved.


Lots of discussion going on here, and thanks for that. Here is the opening I've been working on. I'm open to any and all critique.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZPdTTK-XNlTOPzgi7NKFoQPZUdOHUU1D
 
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indietalk

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Don't kill Dale off! I was getting hooked as you wrote. No no no!

And don't have him turn himself in. Stage the accident where the sheriff is killed as a total accident or the sheriff's fault so Dale can play a hero, after he discovers the money in the trunk.

His job back home is a reporter for a large newspaper. He sees the money and takes a mobile phone pic and flees the scene, knowing how small towns work and that he would be framed because he already suspects corruption.

Another driver takes his plate number so now he is wanted for murder, but the cops know he is investigating them since the money was exposed.

Then onto your trafficking story.

A Simple Plan/The Fugitive-esque
 
Don't kill Dale off! I was getting hooked as you wrote. No no no!

And don't have him turn himself in. Stage the accident where the sheriff is killed as a total accident or the sheriff's fault so Dale can play a hero, after he discovers the money in the trunk.

His job back home is a reporter for a large newspaper. He sees the money and takes a mobile phone pic and flees the scene, knowing how small towns work and that he would be framed because he already suspects corruption.

Another driver takes his plate number so now he is wanted for murder, but the cops know he is investigating them since the money was exposed.

Then onto your trafficking story.

A Simple Plan/The Fugitive-esque

Well that's another movie altogether! haha, thanks for the tips.
 

indietalk

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Well I think it's more suspenseful to have Dale trying to solve the crime while the local law tries to frame or kill him, instead of the other cop doing his job basically. Way more at stake/suspense/tension.
 
Well I think it's more suspenseful to have Dale trying to solve the crime while the local law tries to frame or kill him, instead of the other cop doing his job basically. Way more at stake/suspense/tension.

I'm completely open to what perspective to take here. The only real problem having Dale be hunted by the cops is that the town is so small, he'd be easily found and disposed of. Also, the Sheriff and the other Deputy weren't aware of anything nefarious happening in the town, especially not one of their own being involved. The only way I could make what you suggested work is if I have all the police be involved...and go from there.


I'm still considering ideas and angles.
 

indietalk

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You could have all the force on the take but they don't know where the money is coming from they are just paid to ignore violations at the small airport and etc. but one cop finds out about the trafficking and morally cannot accept anymore money so he becomes a Serpico that the rest of the force suspects and you could also tie in a sex slave related to a cop... etc. etc.

Cool man I like your story.
 
You could have all the force on the take but they don't know where the money is coming from they are just paid to ignore violations at the small airport and etc. but one cop finds out about the trafficking and morally cannot accept anymore money so he becomes a Serpico that the rest of the force suspects and you could also tie in a sex slave related to a cop... etc. etc.

Cool man I like your story.

Thanks for the help!


Actually what about if Dale was searching for his little sister that went missing some time ago, then things led him to Harper.
 
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indietalk

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Also, I'm picturing a sort of relationship like Abbey and Graham in The Pelican Brief...

Dale being the reporter in this case, but teams up with one local cop not on the take, perhaps a female that has no knowledge of the corruption because they only allow the "boys club" to partake.
 
That works too. :)

Keep at it.

This is where I'm going, and thanks for helping me brainstorm...


Dale enters Harper in search of his little sister who was kidnapped maybe a year prior, something like that. I'll figure out how he lands on Harper somehow but once he's there, he asks people around town but doesn't directly ask the Sheriff because he wants to find the people/person responsible himself...I guess some street justice is what he's seeking.

Dale quite easily realizes something strange is going on in Harper and finally goes to the sheriff because he now believes he has evidence. This is when it's revealed the Sheriff and his deputies have been paid to "look the other way" whenever this one particular person lands his plane at the airport.

From there we learn of the family at the meat packing plant, and how the Sheriff is willing to let this operation go down as long as the people of his town have jobs and are oblivious to it all.
 
Also, I'm picturing a sort of relationship like Abbey and Graham in The Pelican Brief...

Dale being the reporter in this case, but teams up with one local cop not on the take, perhaps a female that has no knowledge of the corruption because they only allow the "boys club" to partake.

Damn I haven't thought of that movie in a long time. Nice pull.
 
This has echos of "Sharp Objects"...except it's a female protagonist (journalist) investigating in her small town in MO (where her family owns the Big Farm/Slaughterhouse that employs half the town) the disappearance/murder of two girls. She becomes involved with the LEO from St. Louis assigned to the case and on a personal level has to deal with the demons of her past re: Her mother, her sister's death and her new spawn of satan younger sister.

Oh and she also used to be an extravagant "cutter".

I'd add one other "twist" to your setup.

Dale hits the patrolman's car and discovers besides the money, an actual human trafficked girl who was knocked out due to the hit but comes to and bolts into the woods. Gives you a nice side plot of two sides searching for the girl and a key, along with the money, of the corruption. The dead LEO never called in picking up a girl so why was she in the car? Who was she?

Just some brainstormin'
 

indietalk

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Maybe not even money in the trunk. Maybe a bound and gagged girl he takes with him.

Man this is getting good. ;)
 

indietalk

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Potentially you could leave the slaughterhouse totally out of it and have the cops running this on their own.

It makes it more personal and less convoluted.
 
This has echos of "Sharp Objects"...except it's a female protagonist (journalist) investigating in her small town in MO (where her family owns the Big Farm/Slaughterhouse that employs half the town) the disappearance/murder of two girls. She becomes involved with the LEO from St. Louis assigned to the case and on a personal level has to deal with the demons of her past re: Her mother, her sister's death and her new spawn of satan younger sister.

Oh and she also used to be an extravagant "cutter".

I'd add one other "twist" to your setup.

Dale hits the patrolman's car and discovers besides the money, an actual human trafficked girl who was knocked out due to the hit but comes to and bolts into the woods. Gives you a nice side plot of two sides searching for the girl and a key, along with the money, of the corruption. The dead LEO never called in picking up a girl so why was she in the car? Who was she?

Just some brainstormin'

Jesus Christ. I just looked up the show and saw it was based on a book. I had no idea what Sharp Objects was about. I hate when this happens.
 
Jesus Christ. I just looked up the show and saw it was based on a book. I had no idea what Sharp Objects was about. I hate when this happens.

Gillian Flynn of "Gone Girl" fame.

The HBO series is moving so, so slowly...too slowly.

I think it did need to be more than a movie but shouldn't have been anything more than 3 or 4 hour long episodes at best.

It's 8 hours of Amy Adams driving around seeing things and drinking as much as it's about the actual novel and story.
 
Gillian Flynn of "Gone Girl" fame.

The HBO series is moving so, so slowly...too slowly.

I think it did need to be more than a movie but shouldn't have been anything more than 3 or 4 hour long episodes at best.

It's 8 hours of Amy Adams driving around seeing things and drinking as much as it's about the actual novel and story.

My story is obviously different enough, just an odd coincidence that a current HBO show takes place in small town Missouri and follows someone trying to find out what's happening.
 
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