When to let go..

I'm often asked how much detail I plan the tvdetective books in? Whether I just have an idea and let it run, or work out the minutiae before I start writing.

The answer is that I'm a compulsive planner. I take months working out a structure - I like to know where the plot is going at every stage, and what comes next.

Except! I've now decided to be bold and do something I haven't tried before.

I'm letting go.

I'm working on the next book, I'm about half way through it, and I've come to an important scene. It's going to involve a big row between the characters - the usual suspects, Dan, Adam and Claire - and I was about to start planning what would happen when...

I suddenly had a thought that might not be a good idea. Why not just let them slug it out and see what happens?


This is my reasoning.  If I plan it too much, I might try to force the gang to act in ways that aren't truly them, in order to reach the outcome I've decided upon.

Whereas, if I just set them the problem, it might be more interesting - more lively and realistic - to see what they make of it.

I write some crazy things in these blogs, but that has to be one of the strangest. They're my characters, so how can they possibly do their own thing, without me guiding them?

You may well ask.

The answer, I think, is this. After six books, I'm finally starting to feel a little more confident about this writing lark.

I know my characters so well that they actually live for me. So I can believe that I can almost stand back, as an observer of the scene and report what they do, rather than actively write it.

I'm finding this an enticing prospect. It makes me think I must be learning something about being a writer, and also that I'm still up for trying new things - and it's part of the Hall genes to innovate.

So, tomorrow I shall give it a try and see how the team get on.  If my next blog isn't a lament about trying to be original and failing, then you can probably assume it worked.

Finally for this ramble, because you may have thought you'd escaped it, here's something to scare you -

Simon at Meavy school.jpg

It's me talking about the Secrets of Storytelling to the youngsters of Meavy School. Everyone was very kind and I had a great time, so thank you all.

I also received possibly the greatest accolade a man could wish for - the kitchen staff were sufficiently impressed by my efforts to bake me a jammy dodger, all of my own.

Now that's what I call a compliment.