What’s the story, Hocking?

It’s been an embar­rass­ingly long time since I updated this blog. The last prop­er entry was pos­ted on the 17th of March. While there are sev­er­al reas­ons for the slow down — a trip to Germany, a ton of stu­dent mark­ing — the chief prob­lem is that this blog is meant to doc­u­ment my writ­ing life and, to put it plainly, I haven’t had much of a writ­ing life recently.

Since the Open University made a decision to move over to an elec­tron­ic sub­mis­sions policy, mark­ing is now a com­puter-based activ­ity, and I’m mind­ful of the ten­o­syniv­it­is that I developed last sum­mer due to too much com­puter work, so I don’t want to spend all my time star­ing at my com­puter. (And, no, going old school — pen and paper — doesn’t cut it for me. I thought hand­writ­ing was a charm­ingly old-fash­ioned idea when I was handed a pen­cil at four years old, and I still think so.)

However, I determ­ined that, this week­end, I would put away the mark­ing. This decision is going to bite me next week but there you go.

This week­end has been a ‘cre­at­ive week­end’. What cre­ativ­ity? Well, my last prop­er entry detailed the shenanigans involved in writ­ing the third Saskia Brandt book. (There are three? you cry. Well, yes. The last one was fin­ished up in September, and my agent, John Jarrold, is busy hawk­ing it. Several almost-bites from a num­ber of pub­lish­ers but, so far, nobody has really sunk their teeth in.) That was 6000 words down the pan; it fol­lowed an earli­er jet­tis­on of 4000 words. So this week­end I’ve been re-draft­ing the story.

It’s look­ing good. I’m try­ing to view the thing for what it is: a thrill­er. It’s meant to thrill. I’m listen­ing, there­fore, to vari­ous Hitchcock movie themes on my head­phones. I want to main­tain a sense of enter­tain­ment and not let — yet — the pro­ject get over­taken by more lit­er­ary motifs that are crowding my brain for atten­tion.

The res­ult of this cre­at­ive week­end: a basic tem­plate for the story. There are ele­ments I’m still not happy with. The end­ing, for one, is quite down­beat, and might be regarded as a defeat for the heroine. And there is an ele­ment of very com­plex plot­ting around the begin­ning of the cli­max. But I’m happy with it.

Now: what for a title?

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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