Losing the plot

Wood

Do you ever reach the point where you can’t see the wood for the trees?

Until this week, I’d always prided myself on seeing the big picture. (I’m ignoring the Cliché Police on Robservations this week.) As an environmental health officer and manager, I was always better at seeing how plans would pan out rather than the detail of how to get there.

But this week at Crouch Corner, I became so immersed in the details of my latest Kent Fisher mystery, No Remorse, I literally lost the plot.

Let me explain.

No Bodies coverNo Remorse is book three in the series and the storyline lends itself to revealing more of Kent Fisher’s character and emotions. In the first two books, No Accident and No Bodies, he simply gets on with the job and deals with the surprises and developments thrown at him without fuss. It’s his nature to ‘play the hand he’s dealt’.

So in the latest story, I thought it would be interesting to reveal more of his background and why he is the way he is.

It was a struggle at first because he’s not the kind of person to go on about his past or his feelings. The only emotion you see concerns his love of the environment and desire to protect animals from cruelty and neglect – subjects he’s passionate about.

But there’s a hint of romance, love and jealousy in No Remorse.

And this is where I started to lose my way a little. Getting Kent to reveal his feelings was tough work – and I created him. He’s not the most forthcoming of people, but I persevered and got to know him a whole lot better as a result.

But something didn’t feel right.

As an author, I’ve learned to listen to my inner voice – the one that tells me when something isn’t working. It’s usually, though not exclusively, a problem with characters. Maybe I’m expecting too much from a character or forcing them to behave in a way that helps the plot, but isn’t true to their nature.

So, encouraged by my inner voice, I delved deeper into the story, rewriting and revising for almost three weeks until it finally felt right. All the character behaved as they should, the conflict was strong, and everything was going wrong for Kent Fisher.

Relieved, I moved onto the next chapter, sailing through the editing. Then I started the next chapter and groaned in disbelief. Had I not tinkered with the original story, everything would have flowed and worked out. Now the story veered off in the wrong direction.

In my efforts to improve a few details, I’d forgotten the main plot.

How did that happen?

The original chapters, though not perfect, were generally fine. So, back I went and started to revise again. Only this time I kept one eye on the bigger picture, making one small, but significant change to satisfy my inner voice.

Yes, us authors spend a lot of time talking to ourselves, our inner critics and the characters we create, but that’s a discussion for another blog.


If you’re interested in the Kent Fisher mysteries, please click here to check my Amazon page, where you’ll find more details and reviews from readers.

You can also check my website at http://robertcrouch.co.uk, where you can sign up to the Kent Fisher Reader group to find out more about No Remorse and the characters.

 

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