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?

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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