Several months ago I was extremely proud of myself. I’d finished my plan for another crime novel, with every strand of the story worked out and every scene, plot point and character woven into a whole. True, as the actual writing developed, things moved about, small holes appeared in the fabric, but nothing too serious. I was happy with the way it was going. Then, a few weeks ago, I became uneasy. Something wasn’t right. Like a truck careering through the ‘bridge closed ahead’ sign, I was running out of road and couldn’t do anything about it.
I’m now a hundred metres from that bridge and disaster looms. I’ve three scenes to write and I’m 40,000 words short of my target size. What seems to have happened is that I’d (foolishly in hindsight) imagined all the scenes I’d planned would be the roughly same length, at around 800-1000 words each. In fact, they’re not. Some are longer, much longer but others are so short they take up the slack in the average and more besides. For example, my item ‘X tells Y that the hammer is his’, only stretches to a sentence or two and has become incorporated into a longer scene.
Solution? Abandon the truck now and save myself? Or, like the plucky hero of a Saturday matinee movie, keep driving and hope something unexpected will happen?
I know what I’m going to do, but I’m not telling – it would spoil the cliffhanger. What would you do?