7 October 2011

Blind Alleys

I am indebted to the estimable Bernard Cornwell and the interview he gave recently to the Telegraph. In it, he described his job as putting doors in blind alleys. He would have his hero, Sharpe, up a blind alley with no means of escape then, hey presto, a door appears and he is saved. The clever bit is that his readers already know about the door because he casually mentioned it a few chapters before. The even cleverer bit is that Bernard stuck this information in only after he realised he needed it.

So, to someone like me who writes chronologically, without plotting anything in advance, this has come as a bit of an eye opener. What's written already can be changed, modified, added to or even deleted! I use the exclamation mark to denote the sharp intake of breath I was forced to make when I realised the implications.

I am putting what I fondly imagine will be the final touches to the second draft of Due Diligence. The first draft ended a little too abruptly, I have to admit. The magic 75,000 words had been reached and, well, there was a decent novel's worth there already. So I rather skimped on the ending, leaving a few items unclear. Mainly because I was unsure about them myself, after all when I write in first person, I can't be expected to have all the answers.

Now Bernard has come to the rescue. A couple of lines added to Chapter 1 and suddenly it all makes more sense.

The ending is much more satisfying, I feel good about it now. My readers will certainly get their money's worth and will not have to guess or speculate.

Thanks, Bernard.

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