His Path of Darkness

Shadows & Ink 2024-06-17


It’s me! It’s still me! And it’s always me!


No music this week as I’m still obsessively listening to Autechre and, as much as I love them and their cold electronic sounds, there are no lyrics I can swipe and pretend reflect an aspect of the human condition.

Instead, I’ve used the quote from James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner which inspired this book what I is working on.

“It is the controller of Nature alone that can bring light out of darkness, and order out of confusion. Who is he that causeth the mole, from his secret path of darkness, to throw up the gem, the gold, and the precious ore? The same that from the mouths of babes and sucklings can extract the perfection of praise, and who can make the most abject of his creatures instrumental in bringing the most hidden truths to light.”

James Hogg

#Last Week

A bit of a short week as I was away for a few days, but great to switch off and do something different for a bit. Had two pretty much perfect days.

Otherwise, it was just a case of working away on this effing book. Over 43k now, which isn’t a whole heap of progress, but still pretty solid actually so I’m trying to take that as a victory. I am closing in the halfway mark, after all – just another eight chapters to go to hit that. Sigh. I’m trying a different approach with this (which I may have alluded to last week), where instead of the tick-tock of day-to-day editing/writing, I’m writing the whole “sequence of scenes” (think of it as being half of one of the four acts in a 3-act structure) (that’s right – there’s the first act, the third act and the second act, which is half the book and which has a midpoint right in the middle of it) before I edit the whole sequence in a batch. That previous approach was slowing me down and made it feel like I’m wading through this book rather than swimming. And I want to optimise for speed and efficiency a bit more just now. And it went pretty well on the “Fun & Games pt1” section of the Save the Cat beat sheet – meant I was making good progress when writing and optimised my working time on the train pretty effectively.

#This Week

It’s just a case of battering on with Marshall. Hopefully I can get the sequence up to the midpoint written by Wednesday, then spend Thursday and Friday editing that. That method seems to be working quite well so far.

Reader, a bit of honestly – I’m finding writing a bit of a struggle just now. I mean I’m over 43k into this book, so it’s going well but I’ve done a few of these British/Scottish crime books back-to-back now (Marshall 5/6 this year, OPERATION HIGH CONCEPT and the expansion of Dodds 1, as well as doing a self-structural edit on all three Max Carter books), so I feel like I need a change of pace after this.

First, I think Marshall 7 will be early next year rather than late this. Maybe going to a six-monthly cycle on those books will be fine for both sales and my mental health.

Second, I’ll be picking up an old sci-fi idea I had. It’s pretty cinematic but also political and thriller-y. I got inspired while I was in London and spent a bit of time thinking through the biggest problem I had – the villain motivation. In my experience, any story can only be as satisfying as the villain’s motivation is solid and understandable. Think about DIE HARD – that’s mostly Hans Gruber’s story and his plan, including the twist; all John McClane does is mess things up for him.

For this book – let’s call it OPERATION MOONSHOT – I had some stupid crass stuff which didn’t make any sense. I had a brief moment of inspiration that’s unlocked the whole thing for me. I had done two passes of a full outline for the book, but the crapness of the villain’s side meant it just went a bit boring and stupid. It might be quite repetitive, but I can pick and choose the best stuff from both, confident that I’ve got a really solid ending now. Or at least a solid villain motivation – that’ll give me the stuff I need to work through to getting a solid ending. And maybe inform a bit of the worldbuilding too. The trouble with writing police procedurals is you get so much stuff for “free”, in terms of the protagonist’s wants and goals etc, that you have to devise all these things.

I feel inspired again and that’s good. And it’s definitely hay fever season; the nosebleeds have started!



or to participate.