C, a friend dating back to the seventies, asked twice to read the recently finished draft of Second Hand. I let her and she said the ending was too abrupt. So I’ve added 10,000 words, including the following:
(Francine) took her purse from her shoulder bag and slid out a passport head-and-shoulders of X. Carrying the photo was a recent decision; she had found it progressively harder to gather all the elements of his face in her mind and combine them. More particularly to envisage the expressions his face was capable of. The photo itself met the rule for passports, notably that there should be no hint of a smile. X looked up at her neutrally, his thoughts unfathomable.
But when was he ever neutral?
Faces in novels are treacherous. Insert more than three details and the reader is lost. Besides readers often envisage a character's face and are outraged if the novel's cover carries a picture that "doesn't look at all like A!" But those who foolishly try to write novels must tackle this problem. Faces must stick. Here's another additional passage:
K (a woman) spoke briskly. “Look, I need you to be honest. Stare me straight in the face and come up with a word. My face isn’t pretty, is it? Not even striking. The closest I’ve come is that of a baby mouse, just delivered, pink and pointed. Not enough skin to go around.”
Meanwhile I'm experimenting, growing my hair long and making my own conclusions. There’s a tendency to romanticise long hair, implying it suggests wildness. Not washing it solves this. In the inset it was, however, washed the day before. Left uncombed and greasy, long hair suggests an old person who just doesn’t care. So what else is new?