Sunday, June 04, 2006

Off Duty

Cripes, has it been more than a week since I posted anything here? Well, I have been ‘resting’ after spending the last three weeks polishing Players, which has now been delivered to the publishers. It needed rather more work than I first thought, and as always, at this stage, I was fully immersed in the work. I find that spending as much time as possible working each day is the best way to get the entire book inside your head, so that when you tweak one part you instantly know which other parts will be affected by the change. So when I realized that Carl Kelley would need to tell Dirk Merrit about the plot to rob him, because it gave Carl the perfect excuse to head off to Los Angeles, I also knew that Dirk Merrit would be in on one of the subsequent deaths, and that this would later affect a couple of paragraphs in the closing chapter. And because I had everything in my head, I was also able to work put exactly where I needed to sharpen and underline the motivations and feelings of just-promoted hotshot detective Summer Ziegler, and make sure that her scenes were always from her point of view. I could also see which scenes were too long or too short, and prune out a couple that were actually unnecessary. And I realized too (it’s obvious; I’m stupid) that it really is better, in a murder mystery, to keep chapters short and focussed on one character rather than switch back and forth between parallel scenes.

All of which sounds as if I didn’t really plan this out or think it through before I started writing it, which isn’t quite true. But I tend to be a seat-of-pants writer and like to find out things as I go along, even at this late stage, rather than exhaustively plot and plan everything; it means a lot more work, but I also have a lot of fun exploring alternative plot lines. I’ve thrown out what must amount to about 50% of what ended up in the novel - an opening sequence in which Summer rescues a street kid from a beating, for instance, chapters involving her confidential informant, and scenes set at her deceased father’s half-built house - but I think now that what’s left in is absolutely necessary.

Anyway, it’s a glorious day today, and I’m off to snoop in some of the neighbourhood gardens which are open for charity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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July 20, 2006 11:39 pm  

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