I was doing my usual Sam stint over the weekend (aiming for 2,000 words, managed 2,103, thank you for asking) when two new ideas came to me about existing characters. I can’t tell you what they are, as they are crucial plot developments, but they forced me to take time out from the writing to consider Big Plot Questions. Both developments, you see, will affect not only “Plank 3” but also the next four books in the series.
Regular readers will remember that I am planning a series of seven Plank books – one published each year, and each one set in a consecutive Regency year (“Fatal Forgery” in 1824, “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat” in 1825, “Plank 3” in 1826, etc.) until 1830. This seems like a good end point because (a) we’re about to go Victorian, and what the world does not need is another series of Victorian crime novels, (b) Sam’s job changes significantly in 1829, when the Metropolitan Police is formed in London, and (c) he’s getting on a bit and would be thinking (or at least Martha would be thinking) about a quieter life than chasing scoundrels and scum around the streets of the capital.
Exciting though a series is, it does mean that I have to think more carefully about any plot twists that I might introduce on a whim. For instance (and let me say at the outset that this is absolutely NOT happening), if Martha suddenly decides to become a milkmaid in Vauxhall pleasure gardens, Sam and I will have to deal with the consequences of that not just for “Plank 3” but for four more years as well. So everything that my characters do or say in “Plank 3” has to fit in with everything they have already done and said in “Fatal Forgery” and “Canary” AND with everything I might want them to do or say in “Planks 4 to 7”. I may need to lie down in a darkened room.
(And for those of you who are wondering just how long we’re going to continue with this “Plank 3” nonsense, please rest assured that I am homing in on my shortlist of five possible titles which, as with “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”, I will put to the public vote on this blog, in July. So get ready to have your say.)