Work in Progress: Short Extract no.2

Please note: As time marches on, this may end up as a deleted scene instead of an extract. Time will tell.

So, as I mentioned the other day I’m rewriting or throwing out a lot of my current Work in Progress because of stylistic issues. The most difficult character to do this with is Armand, because the passages from his POV are so, well, strangely put together. Even by my own standards, they’re lacking description, intentionally choppy and disjointed and I’m not entirely sure how to go about retooling them. Anyway, I know Armand is going to remain a major POV character but here’s a look at him as he first emerged onto the page, no matter how he ends up in the final draft.

Light. White and blinding. Armand shut his eyes and turned away from it, but it burned through his eyelids and so he woke. He stepped from his pallet and walked to the bowl of water to wash his face. Snoring. The man he was sharing the cost of the room with was still fast asleep. Thoughts crossed his mind, but Armand ignored them, for now at least, and washed himself. With face clean and thoughts ignored he pulled on his clothes and considered if he was hungry enough for breakfast. No breakfast.

Clean, thoughtless and dressed.

The inn was poor, even the shutters on the windows were worn and full of holes, and the food and drink weren’t as Armand would have liked. Money was what he needed, but this place was too poor for anyone except the local lord to have anything of use. Armand sat down to decide where to go next. He was almost out of room in Galle, so his options were to go sideways or to loop back north into the middle. He didn’t like moving sideways, so back north it was. Decision made.

Clean, thoughtless, dressed, not hungry.

North wasn’t good. North was behind him and people knew Armand behind him. Sideways was worse, though. People always looked sideways first. At least backwards might be unexpected. Standing up, he started to gather his few belongings into the pack he travelled with. Noise. Sudden, low, mournful. Armand froze in place, then located the noise. The bed opposite. The man sleeping had passed wind. Armand began to wretch, the smell assaulting his throat and making his stomach twist and lurch. Thoughts. Lots and lots of thoughts. Too many thoughts. Make them stop.

Turning towards the man, Armand crossed the space between them. He waited until the man exhaled, then placed his hand across the man’s nose and mouth, pinching off his air supply. It took him a second or two to wake up, which was a second or two too long, so Armand knew the man was dead. He watched the dead man’s eyes spring open, saw the look of first confusion, then fear enter his eyes and then, after a few seconds of pointless and feeble attempts to push Armand away, the body caught up with the inevitable and died. He left his hand over its mouth until it voided itself, then stepped away to wash his hands again. Hunger, sudden and sharp. Armand decided to get a bag of food from downstairs to take with him as he walked. In a short while, the people here would know him. Leaving time.

Clean, dressed, thoughts emptying again, hungry.

Everyone, meet Armand. Armand, stay the hell away from everyone I know. As stated before, I’ve no idea how he’ll end up, but this is how I first met him.

2 responses to “Work in Progress: Short Extract no.2

  1. Well, it certainly makes for an interesting intro. Sorry to hear about the stylistic issues. As someone with a penchant for rewrites, I can certainly empathise. For what it’s worth, the narrative works for me. It’s disjointed but still coherent, and the simple practicality of it offers a telling insight into Armand’s thought processes. Still, what matters is whether or not it works for you, and if it doesn’t and you’re having trouble retooling Armands’s passages then take a break from them for now and focus on those you have a good bead on. Inspiration will eventually strike.

  2. It’s always interesting to see an extract from a longer work. My thoughts are that without any other reference it works within itself, and indeed if the other character POVs are more normal the style and narrative voice could work very well to mark him as having a vey different mindset (in the best psychotic tradition), so it could work rather well. I’m of the get-it-on-the-page, move-on-to-the-next-bit and only-come back-when-it’s-all-done school. Only because, if I let myself, I’d rewrite the same piece a dozen times then start the second draft and decide I liked the freshness of the initial writing (and your piece has that). Out of context, it seems to have something going, where to next?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s