The novel-in-progress currently stands at just under 62000 words. Up today is the first death of a fairly major character, but this character was introduced for no other purpose than to kill him off, so I'm not too broken up about it. He's kind of a minor MacGuffin who basically exists to nudge the story toward the real MacGuffin later on (the Grail, of course -- it's an Arthurian story after all). There are deaths to come -- I think -- that are a bit sadder, though. And there's one very major character whose fate I probably won't decide until the time actually comes when I have to either spare him or have the knife plunge into his heart. Decisions, decisions.
Over the weekend, I also dug out the most recent short story that's been sitting around half-completed. This one's driven by an image that came to me a couple of years back -- a homeless man starts waking up every morning with a crisp ten dollar bill in his pocket -- and now it seems to be developing into a weird tale about a secret society of highstakes poker players, who all happen to be homeless. Problem is, I don't know the first thing about poker, so I'm kind-of cribbing small details from every poker scene I've ever watched in a movie of read in a book and generally trying to fend off the nagging suspicion that it really wouldn't kill me to grab a copy of Hoyle's when I'm at the library later today. You know, getting the details right.
And the story keeps veering off into other thematic regions which are surprising me: Would ten dollars a day, every day, have any real impact on a homeless person's life, or would it just be subsistence? And what, to the homeless, would constitute "high stakes" anyway? I don't know the answers to these questions, and anyway, my general approach to matters of theme is to try to suggest it but do no more than that. Heavy-handed message-sending tends to grate on my nerves ("If you want to send a message, use Western Union", the saying goes). I'm more surprised at the direction I've gone after following a pretty-much random mental image that came to me for no reason at all.