04/06/2017
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Under the Microscope extra: Death of a Cornish Innocent

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James McCreet explores a reader's thriller extract in the July issue of Writing Magazine. Read on for his suggested rewrite of the chosen passage.

 

Death of a Cornish Innocent, by Andrew Culliart - original version

His hands were used to different work. This was surprisingly straightforward. Firm pressure. Gradually increasing. Though slightly built, she managed to find strength to resist. Momentarily. A desperate pointless thrashing around. She succumbed disappointingly easily. It was a task well done. A popping sensation at the base of his flexed fingers. Then she was limp. Peaceful. There was a beauty about her now that was absent in life. No one would miss her. A poor broken thing. Broken in a different way from him. She would have spoiled everything.
         *  *  *
Duncan drove over the brow of Pentargan Hill and descended down the meandering beach road, the city of tents and caravans stretching out beneath him in an untidy sprawl. A few wispy clouds hung in an otherwise vivid blue sky. The sun was warm, the breeze light, ruffling his brown hair. He was overdue a haircut. A solitary magpie flew across the bonnet of his open topped sports car. He instinctively ducked as the black and white bird narrowly missed the windscreen.
“One for sorrow,” he said aloud.
At the far end of Pentargan beach people were gathered in a tight circle, like ants collecting around a crumb of bread. As he drew nearer he made out an ambulance and a police car parked on the sand. He stopped next to them. P.C. Stephen Cutts came out of the huddle to escort Duncan back to the cause of it.
“Nothing much you can do I’m afraid, Doc. She’s been dead some time I should say.”
The body was lying on its back. It was a woman, in her thirties. Short in stature, her clothing still in place apart from her missing shoes and socks. Green anorak. The dark blue roll-neck sweater revealed by a half done-up zip. 

 


Death of a Cornish Innocent, McCredited version

His hands were used to different work. This was surprisingly straightforward. Firm pressure. Gradually increasing. Though slightly built, she managed to find strength to resist. Momentarily. A pointless thrashing. She gave up disappointingly easily. It was a task well done. A popping at the base of his gripping fingers. Then she was limp. Expressionless. More beautiful now. No one would miss her. A broken thing. She would have spoiled everything.
         *  *  *
Duncan drove over the brow of Pentargan Hill in his sporty convertible and descended along the hair-pinned beach road, the city of tents and caravans spawling beneath him. Wispy clouds hung in an otherwise vivid blue sky. The sun was warm. The light breeze ruffled his brown hair. He was overdue a haircut. A solitary magpie flew across the bonnet at eye level and he instinctively ducked.
“One for sorrow,” he said to himself.
At the far end of Pentargan beach, people were gathered in a tight circle like ants around a crumb of bread. He saw an ambulance and a police car parked on the sand. He stopped next to them. PC Stephen Cutts came out of the huddle to escort Duncan back to its cause.
“A bit too late, Doc. Looks like she’s been dead a while.”
The body was lying on its back. A woman in her thirties. Quite short, her clothing still in place apart from missing shoes and socks. Green anorak. The dark blue roll-neck sweater revealed by a half open zip.  

Read James' full analysis in the July issue of Writing Magazine

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