The big news of the season – as far as my writing is concerned, anyway – is that the second draft of my work-in-progress standalone psychological thriller, Without a Trace, is now complete. Previously, I set myself a target of finishing it by the end of 2021 – or, failing that, early January. As it turned out, I ended up typing “THE END” just after midday on December 30th, having begun the draft on October 19th. Given that a significant chunk of it was written from scratch, with at least two-thirds of the previous draft tossed into the garbage, I consider that a pretty decent achievement.
My plan is to keep the draft in the drawer for the next couple of weeks, giving it time to percolate nicely, then dig it out and give it a read-through to find out what sort of shape it’s in. Experience has taught me that my novels tend to need to go through three drafts before they evolve into something approximating their final form, though I’m hoping, this time round, to be able to get away with the odd nip here and tuck there as opposed to another full-blown re-imagining. Either way, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
In the meantime, over the last week or so I’ve been turning my attention to my next major endeavour: the early planning for Anna Scavolini book 4. As it happens, I already have a decent idea of what this one is going to be about, and even have a title that I’m fairly sure will be the final one (though I’m not going to be sharing what it is just yet). The idea for the fourth book actually predates the first draft of book 3, The Shadow Men, and for the last couple of years I’ve maintained a document in the Notes app to act as a brain dump for any and all ideas relating to the project that came to mind while I was working on other things. I was quite shocked, when I pasted the contents into Word at the beginning of January, to discover that I’d amassed nearly 20,000 words’ worth of ideas, snippets of dialogue and other assorted musings. Of course, a lot of them are non-starters, and the fact that I hadn’t re-read the document until recently means that a lot of what seemed like original ideas at the time are in fact duplicates of ideas I’d already entered into the file at an earlier date. Still, there’s a lot of good material here, and I’m really looking forward to trying to mould it into some sort of order and starting to come up with an overarching plot structure. (As you can imagine, what’s there at the moment jumps around all over the place.)
First, though, I have a bunch of preparatory reading to do, researching the major topics that arise over the course of the story. While I’m not ready to talk about the plot just yet, the “shopping list” below should give you something of an early indication as to what it’s going to be about: