Friday, February 9, 2024

Driving the Editor Mad.



Does anybody else worry that their editor might try and kill them?

Have I stumbled on a new story line?


I don’t think people want to kill through love, revenge, money or all those things that we writers think people will murder for.

If I was a serial killer, which I am not yet, I would kill those that annoyed me. It’s not the big things, it’s the little things that would enrage me so much I’d be out with the machete and the Gaffer tape.

And who would the victims be?

Those that park their shopping trolley cross ways in the supermarket aisle so that nobody can get passed it. I think a cull of them would be universally popular.

Those folk that spend ages standing in the queue, then still don’t know what they want when they get to the front.

Audi drivers.

People who whistle badly, uninvited and in public. Roger Whittaker is quite safe.

People who wear hats indoors…..?

Rappers who hold their hands as if they have some kind of rheumatic condition, when they don’t.

Folk who fling litter out of car windows.

Ikea--- a migration for retail therapy. Or madness.

Yes, I’m very intolerant which is why I don’t go out much as it probably wouldn’t be safe.

At work I have very long acupuncture needles, so nobody argues with me and everybody is very pleasant.

I wonder if such internal angst drives crime writers in their craft and helps them maintain some stability in a difficult world.

Are any of us guilty of writing something good, then realise that we have described a real human being who left their shopping trolley across the aisle in front of us that morning.

You do have IKEA in the states, don’t you?

(Is it the lack of windows? The wee wavy line on the floor? That feeling of being a wildebeest on a retail migration, slowly moving through the endless departments in massive herds.)


Anyway, I’m pondering if editors have some murderous thoughts about some authors. Do they feel the same dangerous vibe as they open up the 8th version of the novel and find the same mistakes, the comments answered but not in the way that makes the situation any clearer. Do they just drop their head onto the desk and mutter obscenities? Do they reach for strong coffee? The white wine?

Jeff, in case you don't know!

The big issue, the thing I really can’t write, is geography. ( Why can I hear Jeff’s voice saying “Caro, you are wrong there. There’s a lot of things you really can’t write!” ). I have a lot of issues with action scenes and geography. She’s going that way, turning right. He’s behind her then skirts round her to get ahead of her so he can jump out with a machete and the Gaffer tape due to a previous incident in Ikea.

So here’s the thing- it’s an ancient forest. It’s the middle of the night. The moon is right in the correct place in the sky for that time of year. I’ve looked at the map, I know the north and the west, I know where they are heading. It makes perfect sense to me. I have walked through the forest, I know who is going where. I know what’s going to happen to who and when.

It makes perfect sense.

And only to me.

Everybody else who reads it gets totally bamboozled.

And I think that my poor editor will be heading to the fridge.

At the end of The Devil Stone, I had a scene where the goodies are in a RIB in a man made lagoon on /off the west coast. So, the body of water they are on is wide, the water is calm. There’s a narrow inlet/ outlet. The two arms of the lagoon are made from slate from a nearby quarry.

Anyway, the RIB gets overturned by the baddies’ boat, the heroes are in the water…. Lots of tactical swimming etc. I think somebody gets run over by a powerboat. Eventually another boat comes out to rescue the goodies after the baddies have made good their escape.

In the end I had to build wee paper boats and map out the scenes, writing down exactly what was going on, and even then nobody understood it.

In the second book, in the denouement, all parties stand very still, and somebody drops a baby – I mean they are holding a baby, and they drop it in the excitement, not that they give birth quickly and unexpectedly.  Though I am not dismissing that as a future plotline.

It’s a lot easier to write scenes where everybody stands still.

In this new book, I think I have driven my editor totally mad, I think that she’s now lying down in a dark room on medication and dreading the moment that the new version  pops into her inbox.

I have some goodies in a forest, a very dark forest- a bit more dark as it’s the middle of night. The goodies are looking for a young lady in peril. They find her so that’s good, all they have to do is get her out of the woods – if you pardon the pun.

 But when they try to leave the location, the goodies find that the baddies are outside, waiting. They are armed and dangerous.  Some characters hide, some characters run, some characters try to get to the car to find that it has had all its tyres slashed. And there’s much more jiggery-pokery- a lot more jiggery it has to be said.

Four times now, and what is in my head is not yet on the page.

For that watery scene in The Devil Stone, I had friends push the paper boats across the lagoon that I had drawn out on the living room carpet until it was right, much to the consternation of the dog. So if you hear of my arrest while running around a wood in the middle of the night after slashing the tyres of my pals 4 by 4, then you can appear at the trial and plead some kind of insanity.

And being a crime writer.

As it’s probably the same thing.

Caro, not incarcerated as yet.


  1. Replies
    1. To be fair, it's a close call between them and the BMW Posse.

    2. Here, it's the Tesla people. Everytime.

  2. I'm concerned about your usage of the word 'yet'. Three times:

    "If I was a serial killer, which I am not yet..."
    "...what is in my head is not yet on the page."
    "Caro, not incarcerated as yet."

    I fear that you may be headed toward an ugly career, one in which you get arrested for first practicing that career on yourself by blowing your brains out all over your manuscript.

    Or, did I misread your screed?

  3. Dear Geographically Challenged. As one of your sincerest admirers, did you ever realize before writing this brilliant post, that IKEA -- which we certainly do have in the US--holds the answer to all the versions you cast upon your blessed editor? I say that because wandering through IKEA in search of what you know is out there, but others don't see it yet, is the closest thing we have these days to wandering for forty years in the desert before finding the Promised Land.