Anatomy of a Near Miss

The life of a writer is a weird one. I plot out in advance of actually writing. I’ve never recorded my time, but I’d guess that staring at a blank page, typing fresh words is probably only 20-30% of the time I dedicate to creating a book.

What do I do the rest of the time? It is split between planning it out before the first draft and editing and polishing it afterwards.

If you read my other blog, The Penguin’s Knee, you’ll know that I’m also a house-husband. This involves housework, shopping, driving and other tasks that don’t engage a lot of my brain. So I daydream. This is where my plots and characters come from. The journeys which feature me thinking, what if? (My boys are all school age, so a lot of my time is my own. I don’t day-dream when I’m with the children.) What if you had a character like this? How would they react if this happened to them? On and on.

Anyway, I’m currently finalising the plan for my sequel to The List. This is a police based crime novel set in South Wales. The protagonist, DS Jonah Greene works in Cardiff. But for this novel I wanted to branch out and decided to set it up in the Brecon Beacons. I was at the stage of having more than 30 scenes plotted out, and a good idea of the ending.

When the thought struck me. Are the Brecons in South Wales Police area? Thankfully, I now work in the age of Google. Unfortunately I was right – most of the Brecon Beacons fall under the auspices of Dyfed Powys Police. But, because I had an outline, not a first draft, I was able to catch it. And add a new layer of complexity with inter-force co-operation and all the conflict that implies!

So, that’s what put my schedule back by a week, but (hopefully) made the book a bit better!

That being said, I ought to go back to polishing the plan ready to start writing new words next week.




  1. Yes, you definitely move your central character out of their zone of influence at your peril. I’ve just realised that in Book 3, Harry’s going to have to liaise with another coroner. But that turns out to be good because it provides more conflict.

    1. I was also saved when I started Googling the areas that Coroners operate in and found out that the whole system is in a state of flux with plans to institute a senior coroner supported by assistant coroners and their officers, but several posts are vacant. And yes, I’m using it to make Jonah more unsettled as he’s off his own patch!

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