Ten Day Book Challenge: The Final Run
It looks nice outside. I wish I was there.
While I’ve been entombed in the flat, locked away like a lighthouse keeper, summer has kicked in, late this year but welcome. London is hotter, bizarrely, but here there is silence. I live in the old town where there are no cars, so the only sounds that intrude are the swifts outside the window and the kid upstairs.
As a result I am, to my amazement, on course to finish this draft before I have to go back to England for a wedding. It will need a final pass but the threat of missing my delivery date has receded.
One of the things I kept an eye on in the book was the Bechdel test, the method for evaluating the portrayal of women in fiction that asks whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. I pretty much always have done, but it’s something to be aware of.
Most conversations in mysteries are connected to the case, but I try not to do that all the time. Here I once again take my template from Galton & Simpson’s radio series ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ (and perhaps ‘The Simpsons’, which used a more extreme version) in which the lead characters start with tangential conversations that have little to do with the plot. Part of that is giving wider rein to the female characters.
These flights of fancy reveal personality and connect with audiences who can share their feelings. Hancock and Bill Kerr shared a lovely little grumble about the ageing process and the way mirrors work before one of their plots started, and these moments shorthand character beautifully.
However it’s Arthur Bryant who dominates as the unlikely hero, and because of his age and his habit of drifting off-course in investigations I’ve found I can have him visiting, say, a defrocked priest at the eleventh hour without frustrating readers too much.
So with the main body in place, I’ll head back to the UK and continue for the next fortnight before delivering. I’ll have worked seven days a week from 9am to 2am with two one-hour breaks every day.
But when I get back, you can bet the first thing friends say is; ‘Did you have a nice holiday?’