Why The End is just the beginning

There can’t be a writer in the world who doesn’t feel that thrill when you write those two little words. But even as I type them, I know this is just the beginning. The manuscript is a mess.

In this current work in progress, I have characters that change their names, people that disappear, and personalities that evolve, mysteriously, into completely different personas. Everyone is glancing, shrugging and shaking (will I ever learn?!) and the middle third is not only soggy, but filled with gaping holes.

But I know who these people are now. I know their sacred flaws*, their habits and their loves. And, more importantly, I know what the bloody story is.

It takes me writing these 70,000 words to work these things out. I’m a plotter by nature, but without the pantsing of the base draft, I haven’t a clue. I just can’t work out the detail until my fingers touch the keys.

So now, out come the post-its. Plotting the entire story in detail: what reveals go where, the twist and turns that make the story really fun. As an example, here’s what the last book looked like:

(Nowhere to be Found, Orion, out autumn 2020.)

And from here, I have seven more books to read for research, and a slew of technical information I made up, just for the speed of getting words on the page. From medical conditions, drugs names and forensic pathology, to IP addresses and blood spatter patterns, I have to call on these brilliant experts to try and get it right. Busy, patient geniuses, who tolerate my constant questions and whom I love all the more for it.

But it’s worth it. Good grief – I love this story. It’s dark, and violent, but so much fun to write. I so hope people out there will love it too.

*For more about sacred flaws, have a look at The Science of Storytelling, by Will Storr. Worth a read for any writer.

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