About the author

Conrad Williams is the author of the novels Head Injuries, London Revenant, The Unblemished, One, Decay Inevitable and Blonde on a Stick; the novellas Nearly People, Game, The Scalding Rooms and Rain and a collection of short fiction, Use Once then Destroy. He lives in Manchester, UK.

All content on this site is © Conrad Williams.

Sunday 18 April 2010

Day Thirty-Seven... Southwick to Amsterdam

2038 words

No, actually, it was 1038 words. But I also wrote 1000 words of a new short story. The novel also crept over the 50,000 word mark. All in all, a very good day.

One of the problems of writing a first-person narrative is knowing when to leave your character to his or her own devices. For example, the main character in Loss, Paul Roan, is currently travelling by train and ferry to Amsterdam, a logistic nightmare of a trip (have any of you ever tried getting away from the Suffolk coast without the aid of a car?) involving a bus ride, three train changes, an overnight ferry, another train and a tram. It's quite tempting (especially from a word count perspective) to sit next to your hero every step of the way and describe, in excruciating detail, the minute-by-minute travails of such a jaunt. The ticket colours, the quality of the stock they're printed on, the view from the window at any given moment...

You can't do that. Well, you can, but don't expect that sequence of your book not to be skim-read. It's important to truncate in some situations. I've actually written more than I might in this sequence, simply because his epic journey is hampered by his serious injuries; I find it interesting to see how he copes with the strain. Also, a key element of the plot is highlighted by what he witnesses during his trip. So I've managed to get away with a bit more scenery than I would under normal circumstances.

So I missed out on thousands and thousands of extra words because of the necessary lacunae of long-haul travel. The change of scene, however, provides a fresh impetus that's allowed me to open up the throttles a bit. But I can't help but gaze wistfully at my notes. How much more might I have written if Paul was to have travelled to Odessa, as I'd originally intended?

Listened to: The Didsbury avian choir.

1 comment:

Adele said...

well, even though I am a total transport geek (by profession) I don't think I could have got excited by the different paper stocks of european tickets.Probably just as well to leave it out. ;p