Muddling Through

The River Ness in Inverness

As mentioned in my New Year post, I’ve been focussing on the completion of my two unfinished novels, and I’m happy to say I’ve actually got to the end of both of them, more or less. Because ‘The Elusive Widow’ is longer and therefore will probably be harder to edit, I’ve now left that one to marinate for a while, and I’m currently trying to disentangle some of the plot tangles in ‘Death of a Delegate’, the third Max Falconer mystery. With a weird synchronicity, or something, this has gone hand in hand with recovery from some wool-related muddles I got into while trying to finish what was meant to be a Christmas crochet blanket. I’m pleased to say it’s now finished, though it doesn’t exactly look like the picture on the pattern – I have no idea why the edges are so crinkly – and I can start some smaller knitted projects instead.

What I’ve learned from writing Max Falconer 3 is something I should already have known, which is that it’s all very well starting on the 1st of November with almost no idea of a plot, and it’s even possible to write 50,000 words without knowing where they’re going, but on this occasion I was left with some serious structural problems as well as the usual crop of characters with two names, scenes where people tell each other the same thing again for no apparent reason, and at least one person who keeps appearing randomly in the text although I have no idea what he’s there for at all except that it seemed amusing to make him resemble a lizard when two of the other characters saw him on a train.

In these situations – yes, I have been here before and not learned anything from it then either, apparently – I find the thing to do is to approach the structural problems first and then keep ploughing through again and again fixing a couple of things each time. Of course during these passes through the document, I often play with the wording too, which perhaps might mean it improves as I go along. Or not. At the moment I’m at the stage of having sorted out the major plot problem by dividing the novel down the middle and writing more words in the gap, and I’ve also addressed the problem of one character having two names and two other characters not having any names between them.

It’s really because of the man who looks like a lizard that I’m writing this now. I can’t help feeling there must be some reason for him to be there but I need a bit of time and space to work out what it is.

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