Last time I was in touch, I was around 89,000 words into the second draft of the next Anna Scavolini novel, Women Who Kill. Back then, I suggested that, all being well, by the time the May newsletter rolled around, I’d be in a position to report that I was within touching distance of the finishing line. At the time, I wondered if perhaps I was being overly optimistic and setting myself up for failure.
Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong. April proved to be an extremely productive month for me, and not only is the second draft now complete, but I’ve also made a start on and am currently powering through the third draft!
Admit it, you’re impressed. ;)
Draft 2 clocked in at around 151,000 words, which is a good 10,000 more than the previous book in the series, The Shadow Men, but more or less in line with what I was expecting. However, as I entered the final stretch of writing, I was already thinking ahead to the next draft and was formulating a plan that would result in both a significant cut to the word count and a tighter, more cohesive plot overall. I spent a considerable amount of time weighing up the pros and cons, but in the end the choice was an easy one.
I decided to combine two of my secondary characters into one.
This isn’t as dramatic an undertaking as it might sound, though it will entail a chunk of rewriting, particularly during the final third of the novel. The two characters in question never meet, and while their personalities are about as different as they come, with some judicious reworking of the dialogue it should be entirely possible for one of these characters to fulfil both roles. So exit stage left, Detective Inspector Aileas Kirk. Enter stage right, solicitor Pamela Macklin.
Kirk was, I feel, one of the more interesting characters I’ve written – a smack-talking, gender non-conforming anti-corruption detective with a troubled back-story and a fine line in T-shirts with irreverent slogans. In a lot of respects I’m sorry to lose her, but you can’t write a novel without killing one or two of your darlings, and given how her storyline ended up panning out, it would have been entirely in character for her to make the ultimate sacrifice. Perhaps she’ll surface in another book somewhere down the line. I certainly hope so. In the meantime, mousy, skittish solicitor Pamela Macklin has some big shoes to fill, but what she lacks in experience she more than makes up for in sheer dogged determination. And as soon as I made the decision to take an axe to Kirk, I knew it had been the right one – to the extent that I can no longer understand why I ever wrote her and Pamela as separate characters in the first place.
Right now, the plan is to finish the first draft before the end of May, then give it a final once-over to polish the dialogue and tie up any loose ends, before sending it on to my editor, Suze, whose red pen is at the ready. I’ve also reached out to my regular designer, Tim, and briefed him to begin working on the cover art. It’s all starting to come together, and Women Who Kill should be ready to be delivered to your Kindle or your bookshelf at some point in the autumn.
And then, I get to do it all over again! Whether that will be Anna Scavolini number 5 or the standalone murder-mystery I wrote an initial outline for back in December remains to be seen. Hmm, I sense another readers’ poll coming up…