I realise I haven’t written much about my progress in writing my novel The Body Orchard recently, but that’s for one simple reason – I’m still working on the details of some of the storylines.

The main item I’m currently wrestling with is re-orienting a couple of the plot threads to avoid what the late Blake Snyder referred to as Double Mumbo Jumbo – that is, having too many coincidences or instances of magic or the like; an example, to my mind, would be Spider-Man 3, where the Venom plotline seems to exist solely on the basis of coincidences.

Whilst I don’t have many coincidences in the story, I was suddenly aware that there were – as fans of the film Sneakers will understand – too many secrets. Not in the mystery element of it, but secret enclaves of people doing secret things to a secret agenda, and that basically put so many veils between the reader and the reality of the situation as to make it impossible for them to have a guess as to who the baddie might be. And I feel quite strongly that you should play fair when it comes to the reader having a go at solving the mystery.

So I’m re-working the nature of the crime – or, at least, aspects of the criminal – and then when that’s all smoothed out, I’ll be able to wade into it properly; I wish I could just start and then sort it out as I go along, but (to draw an analogy I recently heard) as with a rocket it’s much easier to make adjustments to the trajectory before launch.

That said, I now feel very happy with such a vast amount of the story it’ll be less a case of sitting and staring blankly into space and trying to guess what comes next, and more a case of running the events through my mind and reporting on them.

Minutes from meetings that never happened, as it were… but doesn’t that definition cover a large amount of fictional writing