Blog for budding Sheikhspeares entering National Novel Writing Month 2006

November 15, 2006

Reanimating a corpse

One of the problems with trying to write a mystery thriller is that you have to kind of work backwards and drop clues at certain points. Your heroes need to find out certain things so that they start gradually solving the mystery. Footprints and fag butts are easy, facts are less so.

In the case of my veryveryvery lame novel, the two central characters both need to have heard of the name of the Secret Evil Organisation without realising what it is. When they both realise they've heard it, pennies (or fils) start to drop. With Mark it was easy, he hears it early on. With Phoebe it was less so. I kept wondering if she might hear it in a coffeeshop in random conversation, but that was rather implausible, so I was really struggling to come up with something.

Then a brilliant plan struck! I would reanimate Rasha's corpse, literary-ly if not literally, and have Phoebe find her dying rather than dead. That way I could use that wondrous cliche of detective fiction, the Dying Words. This did sadly mean I had to excise a lot of very purple prose about the horror of finding the corpse with its distorted face and bulging eyes. It also meant I had to swap a length of piano wire (which admittedly is probably not that easy to come by in Dubai, it's hardly Philharmonic City - yet) for a nice little dagger, which I'm sure would be much easier to obtain. Then I had to go back to other chapters and swap "corpse" and "body" for "dying young woman", and tweak a few more things. So for tonight's excerpt, here's the original (written before nanowrimo started, so not part of my word count) with the new:

Phoebe had read of people's reactions to seeing a corpse. Of people weeping, fainting, vomiting. She just stood there, frozen, wanting to look and not look, needing to know she could bear to see it, but wishing she had never had to. The whites of the eyes shone in the darkness. The mouth was slack and a puffy tongue slightly hung out of it.

Her shrieking brain calmed a little, given data to process. Not asleep. Not unconscious. Lifeless. Dead. Corpse. Too late.

And having steeled herself for the full horror of seeing her first corpse, she was stunned to realise it was a young woman, who was still alive but barely conscious.

Quickly she knelt down and cleared more of the litter away. The girl's face was ashen and racked with pain. Her lips moved slightly. "What happened, where are you hurt?"

Paint-by-cliches through and through. But I've hit my word count for the night, and the magical 25k half way mark (2,385 tonight, running total 25,898). And besides if I could write Shakespeare, I'd be being wined and dined by publishers living on a £250,000 advance in some sumptuous mansion, not rotting in the sad squalor of Cell Block G at 5.30am in the bloody morning. So good night, though it really should be good day.


Blogger snow white said...

if i didn't not hate you before, I think I might now (see, I have lost all ability to communicate). You are still ahead of me this morning, yet I finished my 2,000 words when you had written 53. meanmeanmeanmeanmead

15 November, 2006 13:37


Post a Comment

<< Home