Well, it took slightly longer this time than it did with either BROKEN SKIN, or DYING LIGHT, but after three days of proper writing time I've started deviating from the plan. I know there are those out there who will be throwing their hands up in horror and making startled farting noises, but that's just the way it works for me. In Casa MacBride, a plan is an indication of intent, not a cast iron thing that MUST BE FOLLOWED!!! If something more interesting comes up while I'm writing, I'll go with it. Often this is where the stuff I'm happiest with comes from.
I should say that the latest deviation isn't a huge one. I'm only marginally deviant. But it's a change from what I was planning on. I think it works a lot better too.
In the early hours of this morning however, I was convinced it was the most steamiest pile of old scrotums there was. Half past three in the morning and the thought struck me: 'It's all garbage! It's all slow garbage! AAAAAAArgh!' But today I reread it and it's actually OK. Bad late night / early morning brain! Naughty!
Part of what I've been fighting against with this part of the book (chapter the first) is the urge to heft in a big shovelful of cast members. It's a particular problem with series books -- I know all the characters, a lot of the readers will recognise them too, so why not just lump all the bastards in at the start? You know you want to...
No -- I -- Bloody -- Don't!
When people say to me, "Stuart, you sexy hunk of a bearded man you, please give us your writing tips!"... actually that's never happened. Well, maybe once. Ok, so it was once, and I made up that bit about 'sexy hunk of a bearded man'... And they just wanted to borrow money...
Anyway, it is my unconsidered opinion that if you don't establish a central character fairly strongly early on in a book, it makes it a lot easier for people to not give a shit about what happens to them. At least it does for me: when I'm presented with a cast of thousands in chapter one, I usually end up shouting at the pages, cursing the author, his/her naughty parts and suggesting that a cheese grater enema be applied.
This might be down to my having a brain like a sieve: it's going to take me long enough to remember your protagonist's name without confusing the issue. So I go through, paring back the named characters to a bare minimum, at least at the start of the book. I think BROKEN SKIN has something like 72 named characters (not counting Logan and Jackie and Insch and Steel and Rennie...), so it's not like I shy away from using names for people, but I try not to overload them at the start of the book. Not till I've got Logan established as MR CENTRAL CHARACTER MAN!
Well, it works for me anyway. And before you get worried, no: 'tips from the bearded write-ist' this won't become a regular feature. We'll be back tomorrow with our regularly scheduled 'people in supermarkets should have rabid weasels forcibly inserted into their personal cavities' post.