An Origin Story
With my current project, I’ve made it to the end of the next run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’. And it’s a short story, so shouldn’t take too long. The only difference this time is the importance of the story. One of the central mysteries of The Darkwood Mysteries is what Darkwood’s mother and father did with the guide-stone they left her as inheritance, and this story will explore the beginning of the Darkwood relationship with the stone. Peeling back the curtain on a central mystery is daunting. An info dump is not satisfying, but with my trying to keep each story in the series as standalone as possible and through their not really being in chronological order it’s equally difficult to sprinkle in clues and red-herrings which build to a climactic reveal. So, I have set upon having one or two stories per run deconstructing the central mystery.
I’m entering the last writing sessions for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (16): The Rise of the Dragon’. It’s all been going smoothly. The joys of being a plotter! I have each character figured out, and each chapter planned out, and pretty much each week I manage to get through a chapter in a writing session.
The writing regime of a minimum of 3000 words a week is pretty easy to hit. I get up at 6:00, and I’m normally at the keyboard by 06:30, and I’m often at the 2000 word stage by 08:00. Some of my writing time is revisiting the last section from the week before and tweaking it for anything stand-out bad. I tend to be done by about 11:30 and then it’s lunch and whatever I want to do for the rest of the day.
Thanks to my husband cooking up a super-virus and then giving it me just when I was boasting a year of good health, I haven’t been in the greatest frame of mind for writing this past few weeks. Thankfully that target of 3000 words minimum a week seems pretty easy to achieve within a lazy morning, so despite being ill I managed to hit my weekly targets. ‘The Darkwood Mysteries: The Rise of the Dragon’ has now reached 40,000 words and I’m a little over half way through, so this is already in novella territory.
Making a Villain
I’m enjoying writing the return of my my reocurring villain, the Mandarin–now in his third plot. I’m finding he is a shadowy threat. Being a master of disguise and mesmerism, he is present even if not apparent, as he can be other people or influencing other people from afar. It makes him quite a palpable and formidable threat, but a game player. He’s not one to sweep the board clear, but to play the board to keep himself safe, and his plans moving.
This is only my second writing related blog post of 2019. And it’s April. I know, I know. Seems like I’m slacking, but anyone following me on social media will know that I have been a busy manboy. So far this year the first draft of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries: The Book of Lies’ has been knocked out, and I have been busy plotting out ‘The Darkwood Mysteries: The Rise of the Dragon’. I have now made a good start on ‘Rise’ and am about 10,000 words in. Not too shabby. That will leave one more Darkwood Mystery to write and I will then have twenty titles in the series. Woohoo!
It’s not all been actual writing either. I have been rethinking my blog and have cleared out pretty much all my non-writing posts, clearing up tags and categories, and going forward I am going to commit to two blog posts a month. One post near the beginning of the month and on writing, where I will be blogging about projects, plans, and sneak peeks (like this one–please note the funky new image); and another post part way through the month on what I’m enjoying, what I’m doing and inspiration (wait until you see the image for that one–it’s funky-adorable). I hope this will give my blog a bit more of an identity, and with only two types of post, you will know what to expect and what you want to follow. If either of them!
Why the change?
The first draft of ‘The Rat King’ is done. It needs some work, and will definitely need a polish, but I’m happy with the result. It has a real ‘X-Files’ monster of the week vibe to me, and writing the next run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’, it was nice to write something where I didn’t have to think too hard on its place in the Darkwood world–which has been an added trial in writing those next tales. The experience of writing this Victorian period story was sharpened by reading the fantastic book ‘Voices from Dickens’ London’ by Michael Paterson. I picked it up from a bargain book shop ages ago, and realised the other day I hadn’t read it. It’s not quite the setting for Darkwood and Hobbs as it’s largely early to mid Victorian, whereas my stories are late Victorian, but it uses writing from the time to paint a picture of Victorian London–and not the sanitised Christmas card Victorian London either, very much a warts and all Victorian London, which I love.
The blurb tease for ‘The Rat King’ is:
“Death by rat? Darkwood suspects foul play in the death of charity members. But can rats really be the cause? And if they are, who, or what, is driving them–and why?“
I have had a pop at doing the cover–and it looks awful, so I’m not sharing that here just yet. It needs work. It actually needs me to be an artist, or to have a budget for paying for a professional cover artist. Neither of those are likely to happen, so I will have to see what I come up with and hope people truly don’t judge a book by its cover.
As for the writing though, if you want a sneak peak of the beginning of the first draft, then read on…
The stand-alone serial nature of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ has given me the platform to get a lot of story ideas to the page, jumping around the Victorian era and the lives of Darkwood and Hobbs. However, as certain events have taken place I have had to put together a time-line to avoid having continuity issues. Deep into writing the second run I have come across another issue which I haven’t had to worry about before–balancing the elements which make up ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’.
The first run was essentially a ‘mystery of the week’ style format, and easily introduced Darkwood’s aunt and uncle, the long-suffering reluctant ally and eventual friend of Darkwood and Hobbs, Inspector Duggan. The series ending with the introduction of the first story arc element in ‘The Conspiracies of Shadow and Fire’, which served as a prequel and continuation of the series, and established the two main players vying for Darkwood’s guide stone–the Shadows and the Hellfire Club, and one of its villainous members, Lord Balmoral.
In my head, Darkwood and Hobbs have more friends and allies, and they need time to appear and become established as reoccurring characters. There are also returning villains, and not to forget the ‘deeper mystery’ of what happened to Darkwood’s parents, and the history of the guide stone. Plus there are certain character and relationship developing events for and between Darkwood and Hobbs. All of these has required some placement or element of story arcs within the stories I have planned. This has also started to dictate the stories I want and need to write.