Imagine a beautiful woman on killer heels standing unsteadily under a lamp post in a dark street. She’s got lost on the way to what may be the most important engagement of her life. It is six fifteen on a July evening in Oxford, England. See what I mean about a really nice bit of novel-in-progress that simply has to go? Take away the dark street and the street lamp and it just isn’t the same.
Continuing through my first draft I have found and killed off: ducklings in February, May blossom ditto, ‘late roses’ in June,and a shoal of winter tadpoles. Oh, and a loveable cat who jumps on to someone’s lap after having died three chapters ago.
I’ve had my good friend Professor Nora Crook to stay. She has an eagle eye and an amazing memory. She pointed out that a modern GCSE would not feature Thomas Hardy, and she also knew the date of the film of ‘Jude the Obscure’ and even the names of the actors. More of my darlings had to be killed. And she reminded me that children in the nineteen sixties did not do parsing nor learn the strict and silly rules about writing essays that I was taught in the fifties by an elderly English teacher. More dead darlings!
Just when I though my novel (appropriately called ‘Makeover’) was nearing 80,000 words it has got a lot shorter again. And I fear my killing spree is not yet over.
And talking of killing, I’ve just had my first try at describing a fight (sort of). Dr Keith Crook, husband of aforementioned Nora, knows where people put their fists and what their bodies do when punched, even though he is not at all an aggressive man. So with Keith’s help I have managed to turn a physically impossible scenario into something a bit more plausible.
As I turn my attention to love scenes, I’m a little more confident. I was once a sex and marital therapist, you see.