I stayed up late last night working on Murder by the Mile.
Here's a quick update on what happened to the story. Originally when I wrote the first draft, I wrote about 25 percent of the book from the murderer's viewpoint. Then I realized it was a mistake. For one, I didn't enjoy being in the murderer's head, a thoroughly nasty place to visit. Two, I had to play coy with the reader and withhold names and information, which made the writing stilted. And three, I realized that the murderer had to be a different person than I had first thought and so I had written a fifth of the book that had to be discarded.
Well, that's what I've been doing -- discarding words.
It's been painful, but the story is clearer and narrative cleaner. I am regaining my enthusiasm for the story.
But I thought you might like to see some of what I had to discard. Here's the first scene from the murderer's viewpoint. Or who used to the murderer. This will not be in the book:
He thought hate would carry him through this.
Certainly the first murder hadn’t bothered him. He had even enjoyed it. But this old woman had been tough on him. She looked like the picture of every kid’s storybook grandmother.
Her eyes were so soft and gentle. And she smelled of powder and cinnamon.
He had told her what she did in an attempt to keep his hate strong, but she only looked baffled. Said she didn’t remember, pleaded with him to let her live, and pointed out the pictures of her children and grandchildren.
He was tempted to let her live. Perhaps not all of them were equally guilty. But she had seen his face.
When he advanced on her, she tried to run and then tried to fight. He killed her as quickly as he could, strangled her aged throat. He had to turn his face away and not watch her die.
Now as he stood over her lifeless body, he felt guilty. And sad. If only they had done the right thing all those years ago, none of this would be necessary.
It wasn’t his fault.
It was theirs.
They were reaping what they had sowed. He had to believe that. He had to hold on that, the truth behind all the lies.
If hate couldn’t propel him forward, then justice would.
Just four more to go, and then he could see what else the world had to offer besides justice and sorrow.