Writing My Seventh Novel – Part Nine

It has been almost ten days since my last post, which is not a measure of how lazy I have been but rather how busy. Writing has been taking up quite a bit of my time, thanks to a wife who is both understanding and encouraging. Maybe she just wants me out of the way? The book is coming along very well in such a short space of time. I am now at approximately 59,000 words, still a little short of my target of 70,000, but I feel that I am on course. In fact, I expect to pass the 70,000 quite comfortably.

The story itself is about 90% written. It has a beginning and a middle, and I have an idea for the end. To be honest, the end has always been present in my mind even before I started the book. I have not written it yet because not all of the threads in the plot have been developed to the degree that I want. Although I do not feel it necessary to tie up every loose strand, I do want to offer some kind of conclusion for all the important subjects at least.

Although I say that the story is 90% complete the last 10% is not padding; it is very important. What I have at the moment is a good thriller with lots of action and adventure. It moves along at a brisk pace that is intended to keep the reader’s interest whilst also allowing time for character development. The last is a very important consideration in a book where people are not always what they seem. My heroes and villains are not black and white, in the spectrum sense, but varying shades of grey. It is not enough to just state this, as a writer I have to make it part of the weave of the story. About one third into the book Artemisia begins to reveal another side to her character. Her actual motives begin to become apparent. Her agenda is a little more complicated than being a government agent/ assassin sent to complete a mission. The cold calculating killer is just a veneer, one of many that have been applied to her psyche. She is not alone. Several of the other characters are also going through something similar.

To help key characters develop it is necessary for them to interact with other characters, not all of whom will have a particularly long or even important role in the plot’s evolution. Although key scenes help they would be meaningless, or largely unsatisfactory, without the ability for person to person interaction. However, it is never wise to insert characters just for the sake of having someone for a protagonist to speak to. This inevitably leads to readers feeling that such encounters are entirely contrived. What I mean by that is that if you took the scene out of the book then very little would be lost by its removal. I have read books where this kind of thing has happened. In some cases it often seems that the author added it as an afterthought. Occasionally, it seems that they have realised that they forgot about it and inserted it quite roughly afterwards. These scenes tend to jar. In my experience they often raise questions rather than provide answers.

I will be introducing some new characters into the text. Two of them I consider important in that they will facilitate an examination of a particular theme and also assist the revelation of a key character’s less heroic qualities. The two new characters appear at a very logic point in the story and also in an appropriate setting. They will represent a challenge to one of the key characters in respect of their ability to confront their prejudice towards people of a different colour. It will challenge the man’s attitude to women, which is very much a 1930’s limited outlook, and probably also based on prejudice.

There will be a scene between Artemisia and Doc Hunter. I feel that he has not really developed very much. That might be understandable seeing as he is almost perfect. Doc Hunter is gifted with an impressive intellect and superb physique. People generally believe that he is the result of a eugenic experiment to create a superman. In the story he is employed by the British Empire to act as an agent to thwart the villains of the piece. It would be very easy to portray him as an over-grown boy scout. He opts for non-fatal combat techniques while other characters rely heavily on their guns and knives. He appears to be patriotic. His motives can be read as simple; working for King and Country. Of course there is more to him than that. How to bring it out is the interesting challenge. Doc Hunter originally appeared in ‘Eugenica’ where he filled a very similar role. I did manage to subvert that role, however. I am hoping to do something similar in this book. I do not know as yet whether it will be Artemisia who will provide the inspiration for this. The development of her story as a woman who wants to be totally free of her past has seemed to push her towards Doc Hunter, psychologically if not physically. She seems the perfect means of delving deeper in Doc’s own persona. As I have not yet written this piece between them I do not how it is going to play out. Usually, I turn down the volume on my consciousness and let my unconscious creativity take control. So far, this has given me some excellent results!

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