Monday, July 18, 2011

Transcendental Detective Update (redux)

I have finally written Chapter Eight ("The Grieving Widow") of my detective novel. It was touch-and-go there for a while. Last week I wrote about 1000 words that I ended up cutting and rewriting because the final scene in the chapter just wasn't working. My story needed to go due west but the writing was going north-northeast and, while it was interesting stuff, it was the wrong stuff. So snip snip snip out it went. Happily, on Saturday morning Mighty Reader listened to me whinging about the trouble I was having and made a simple suggestion that allowed me to work it all out properly. Such is the brilliance of Mighty Reader, such is her way with Gordian knots, etc. Anyway, last night I sat me down with my notebook and pen and rewrote the reimagined scene and even though it needs a bit of work still, and will require some work in earlier passages of the story (but what doesn't at this stage?), I'm ready to move onward to Chapter Nine, where a Second Corpse will be proclaimed! Hurrah! About time!

Is it cheating to present the detective's thoughts to the reader but not explain them? Does that violate Chesterton's rules of engagement? I don't think so. Misdirection, as they say, is good.

Anyway, I'm at about 50,000 words right now. I imagine that the first draft will roll in at about 70,000 words, and will bulk up somewhat during revisions. We'll see. Blah blah blah boring work-in-progress blah blah blah apologies.

In more interesting (possibly) news, I am close to finishing Henry James' The Ambassadors. Poor Strether has been kicked to the curb by his fiancee, though he admits now to several people that really it was never about love and was a lot about status and money but that's all gone away now. Strether has no real skills and no real job aside from being factotum to the wealthy Mrs Newsome. Which puts him on the street, basically, with no prospects. How he'll work that out will be interesting to see. The Pococks from Woollett have delivered the message of disapprobation from America and are leaving Paris. Chad Newsome is expected to follow them back to Massachusetts, but he's announced to Stether that he has no intention of leaving his beloved Madame Violette. The thing about Chad, though, is that you never really know what he's thinking. He's very much about appearances, very much like his mother in that way. He could disappoint the Paris contingent in the end. We'll see. I can't wait to read more over lunch.


  1. I don't think it's cheating, so long as there is a sufficient revalation at the end and/or the logic holds true, and knowing you I have no doubt that you will honor the logic inherent to your story.

  2. There's no plot manipulation, but I think it's a cheat to hide facts from the reader in a mystery. Alas, I might plan to hide a fact from the reader. I might plan to hide a couple. Yes, Agatha did this sometimes, and yes I am primarily trying to tell a good story, but still. I wonder.

    Oh, logic. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers that smells bad.