June 19, 2024

Daynote - Wed 19th Jun 2024

Back to writing today after a couple of days off. Monday was spent with my family with an early start, and yesterday involved an early morning drive to take my wife for an important appointment, so I didn’t write either day. I don’t sweat missing a day or two these days - what’s important is starting again. And I worked Saturday and Sunday anyway, finishing off SHARD, so I’m not behind’ in any real sense. Also, over the long term of a writing career, there is no getting behind’, there’s only the body of work.

I was also very chuffed to be included in this Mayhem, Murder and Long Dogs blog post looking at the upcoming crime, thriller and spy fiction releases for July to December.

ON DECK: Astonishingly, NOT working on SHARD! It’s done and off to my agent, so today was spent noodling with an outline for a potential sequel to A RELUCTANT SPY. I’ve written the pitch already, but it’s full of question marks (literally, the pitch has a bunch of questions in it that I don’t yet know the answer to) so now I’m expanding things into an outline. I added 348 words to the outline this morning. Outlining is probably the slowest, lowest-word count writing activity I do, because I’m essentially doing a skeleton, miniature version of what discovery writers do in their first draft - making up the story. I do a lot of staring into space, swearing under my breath, muttering no, that’s a crap idea’ and hitting the delete key.

My outlines used to be extremely detailed but I learned the hard way that leads to hugely overlength novels, so now it’s just a list of bullet points with the chapters/scenes separated into novel parts and a couple of sentences describing what happens. A typical outline will end up being 2-3k words overall and usually takes me a week or two to write. It’s frustrating because it feels like I should have more for that amount of time spent, but it’s also some of the most cognitively demanding writing work I do because I’m forming the book in my head and trying out a whole bunch of narrative dead ends to get to the one I want.

Also, outlines change a lot. The outline that I used for A RELUCTANT SPY didn’t include the entire London plot arc, which is literally half the book. That happened during drafting (and required a heavy rewrite of the outline after I’d written 38,000 words when I realised there was a whole other plot there). But for me, writing that first version is an essential first step that I can’t really rush.

LISTENING: Back to the Bicep Essentials playlist this morning. I need stuff without lyrics as far as possible when I’m outlining.

WATCHING: Re-watched TETRIS last night with my brother, because he hadn’t seen it. We got celebratory pizza in (because I signed a thing and to celebrate handing in PROJECT SHARD) and really enjoyed it. Although now I know the USSR scenes were mostly shot in Aberdeen, I can’t unsee it.

READING: Still working on FLESH AND BLOOD, it is such a good rewrite.

UP NEXT: It’s going to be outlining for the rest of this week and probably most of next week too. Then, I may well write a short story or three, as a treat.


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Daynote - Sun 16th Jun 2024 It’S Done - Finished GIFfrom Finished GIFs And that’s a wrap on PROJECT SHARD. It’s been sent off to the beta readers who said they wanted to read
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Daynote - Thu 20th Jun 2024 I realised this morning that there are twelve weeks left until my book comes out. That’s literally nothing. Nearly single digit weeks! Ahhh. You can

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