tonight’s writing lesson

Do not end your day’s work with a line like this:

Lord Rossmere was not speaking to inform us, though; all that was prelude to his next statement.

Because when you come back to the text, you will not remember what that next statement was supposed to be. (Possibly I never knew, and that was just me reminding myself to justify the “as you know, Bob” dialogue that precedes it. I haven’t worked on this bit since before my NY/DC trip, so I really don’t recall.)

On the other hand, I am pleased with this line:

I did not say to him that I had kept the information secret precisely to avoid our current situation. First, because it was only true in part; and second, because Tom was stepping firmly on my foot.

Would you believe that Tom was originally a throwaway character invented solely because somebody like Lord Hilford wouldn’t travel alone? The stuff about his working-class origins came later, so that he and Isabella wouldn’t be nonentities to one another. And then I decided, almost on a whim, to have him become an actual colleague, at least to the extent of going to Bayembe with Isabella. Next thing I knew, he was a fixture of the story, and one of my favorite characters in the entire series.

It only looks like we plan this stuff. Half of it happens by accident.

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