Some years ago I wrote a sort of spy story too long to post. It had a few half-good ideas but it rambled and ended inconclusively.
Recently I (significantly) re-read it on my Kindle and was horrified by its meanderings. I slashed it, rewrote it, added a very specific and completely new ending, making it much darker. "It hangs together," said VR who has read it three times. "But it's very sad.”
Normally I don’t ask VR to read my stuff, it’s up to her. This time I needed some reaction
Now it's much longer (6300 words). If this extract interests you I can send the whole thing as an email attachment. If you’d like to tell me how it works as a story (ie, don’t bother about participles) I’d appreciate it.
The Little Black Book (extract)
(Matron said) “You lasted six years in Berlin. No one else ever did three. What price did you pay?”
Most agents he knew hated working with women. Especially women with authority. This had never troubled him. “Sex wasn’t a snag. I could rent whores who’d been checked out by doctors from the west. What I lacked was the company of women. Especially in summer - women wearing light-coloured dresses showing their shoulders and bare arms. Sitting outside a café with a glass of beer, asking a literate woman about being a woman, that’s what I dreamed about.”
Matron seemed unsurprised... She asked, “How did you control fear?”
“At any time – awake or half asleep - there are times, dates, locations, physical data, faces, passwords that must be remembered. I’d go through them, counting my beads. It didn’t stifle fear but it brought back my training. It said I was a professional, if that meant anything.”