Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Reaching the end

This is the height of the summer, and up here in Eastern Canada, we've been enduring an unprecedented, prolonged heat wave. What is it with 2020 anyway? Being an arctic species, we Canadians fall into a stupor once the temperature soars above 30 degrees C. Usually this is accompanied by enough humidity that you can wring out your hair after a five-minute walk.

I've been writing the first draft of my next Inspector Green novel in fits and starts for months. Humming along nicely in February and slammed to a halt in March by the pandemic. Spent two months obsessively reading news, checking numbers, sewing masks, and listening to our PM's daily briefings. Picked the novel up again in May when I found I could concentrate enough to write a coherent paragraph. And then in June to July, turned to a sloth by the heat. BUT... Drumroll...

This afternoon I finally wrote THE END on the final page of the first draft of Green #11. It weighs in at 89,050 words and 352 pages. That will no doubt change, with the paring down of blubbery prose and the fleshing out of characters and subplots I didn't know I needed. There is much work to be done yet, but at least I now know it's a book, which is a tremendous relief. It is a story with a beginning, middle, and end. There are characters who can be tweaked but who know what their job is. And it now has a title that may stick around! THE DEVIL TO PAY.

One of the challenges I face in the rewrites is that because of the pandemic, I wasn't able to do much of the research I planned to do or discovered I needed as the book went along. So I had to rely on Mr. Google or make stuff up. I made a lot of stuff up, like the procedures the Ontario Provincial Police uses when investigating a homicide, or the protocols followed for bail hearing in the Ottawa courthouse. I want to avoid being contacted by an astute lawyer reader who says "That's not how it's done at all." I'd like to talk to the OPP, I want to visit the courthouse, but neither are feasible right now. I also don't know how protocols will have changed by the fall of 2021 when this book hits the shelves. Will there still be masks and physical distancing, or will we all be rejoicing in our post-vaccine freedom?

So for now I will research what I can, contact my police friends and other experts to answer the questions that have cropped up, and make a note of what will have to wait until the book is in the final editorial phase with the publisher (like the vaccine info). I may also have to live with some of the stuff I made up. It is fiction, after all.

So I have printed the draft out, and as of tomorrow, I turn from THE END of Draft One to Chapter One, Draft Two. And begin to tear the whole thing apart, with the file of notes and questions compiled during first draft at my elbow. But for now, I'm going to pour a glass of wine. And do a little jig. (Photo not provided).


Rick Blechta said...

You're my new hero, Barbara! I've been facing the same sorts of struggles and so far haven't really found ways around things. With my revelation of the past week, perhaps I've found a way through it all -- but you've actually DONE it! Wow… Hope the new novel sells a million (or two) copies.

Mar Preston said...

I look forward to the next Inspector Green and his quest for justice in my new home town, Ottawa. But I shouldn't presume it's set in Ottawa.

Congratulations. Doing any sort of concentrated work has been like dragging an anvil through the dirt these last months.

Good wishes always,


Sybil Johnson said...

Congrats on getting to the end. I have yet to do that with my WIP. Should have finished it a couple months ago, but life seems to have interfered.

Barbara Fradkin said...

Thanks, Rick and Mar. I agree it's been a struggle for most writers - both being able to escape into the story and also wondering if it's relevant or trivial. Yes, Mar, it's mostly set in Ottawa, as well as the countryside around.

I hope you are hanging in! Best wishes.

Barbara Fradkin said...

Funny thing, that, Sybil. Life in spades.

Donis Casey said...

Congratulations! I'm just beginning a new book myself, and only have 50 pages of draft 1, and I'm having the same research problems you are. I'm just making stuff up right and left and hoping that the day will come that I can see if what I wrote has any relation to reality.