The NaNoWriMo Post

Inspector Maigret

Georges Simenon wrote seventy-five Inspector Maigret stories in his career as a writer. He would allow himself eleven working days from initial idea to finished work. Admittedly these are not long stories, most are novellas at best, and I don’t suppose he started the series this way. It’s likely that he developed this compressed writing timescale as Maigret gained in popularity and demand for new adventures rose.

Inspector Montalbano

Andrea Camilleri found himself in a similar position when his character Inspector Montalbano became a runaway success. One year he wrote eight novels to meet the demands of the production company turning the books into a television series. And this following his retirement! Eventually Camilleri had to dictate his novels as his sight deteriorated, but it had little impact on his productivity, or writing style.

Inspector Bassé

In 2019 I had my own inspiration for a series of novels centred on a detective. I planned five books and decided I would channel the energies of both Simenon and Camilleri; if I didn’t have the talent at least I could emulate the discipline.

I started with book three. It was a psychological trick I played on myself. I thought I might make all the mistakes in the middle book. This way I could resolve any issues that arose and do effective foreshadowing when I wrote book one.

I bought five hardback A5 notebooks and wrote chapter headings every ten pages up to chapter twenty-one. On the last page I wrote a chapter list. Each book would have the exact same structure, a flashback chapter, a multiple POV comic relief chapter, a multiple POV ‘conspiracy’ chapter and a final chapter rounding off events. Everything else would be first person.

At the back of each book is where I wrote up a cast list in order of appearance, so I could keep track of who was who. Eventually I got an A4 hardback notebook so I could cross reference everyone.

The Inspector as a young constable in Paris!

28 Days later

I wrote the first draft of book three in a month around my full-time job. The rush of satisfaction was like nothing else on earth. Buoyed by this achievement books one and two followed rapidly. Book four got left behind on a cross-channel ferry so it took a little longer as I had to retrieve it from the nice people at the lost property office in Dieppe, France.

Transcribing the notebooks into word documents began when I was one chapter into book five. The next stage was printing the second draft and adding to it with hand-written inserts before typing again.

It’s 2022. What to do?

So where is the project sitting today? Well, book one is almost ready for querying, having been beta read and reworked. Book two is on revision three, pre-beta readers. Book three is being typed up (draft two) and book four remains on the shelf, waiting.

And what of book five? It remains stalled at the beginning of chapter five! The Inspector has embarked on a half-dozen short stories, two of them are even in anthologies. Meanwhile, the fifth notebook sits dustily on the shelf.

In my defence I have had to spend time on a book deal for a different project while coping with chemotherapy and major surgery. The good news is that my fantasy folktale ‘The Legend of Zonza’ will be released soon, and my recovery is continuing at pace.

So, what’s next? November is known in some writing circles as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It’s an online event where you can pal up with other writers to encourage each other to complete writing goals. All I need to do is fill five pages of Inspector Bassé and the Long Shadows every day and by the end of the month the draft will be done, and another satisfying milestone will be achieved.

Come and join me on the NaNoWriMo website, and let’s get this job done!


About 14thcenturypoet

Author of The Legend of Zonza, an historical fantasy based on traditional Italian folk tales...
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