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The Hairy Detective and Other Stuff

November 10, 2018
black pen on white book page

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Ten weeks.  That is how long I have been working through an online writing course, on FutureLearn.  The course itself was eight weeks, plus two extra weeks to finish it.  I am now missing the exercises and assignments, the conversations, and the feedback…it certainly challenged me at times, as part of the assignments included reading, and giving feedback on other people’s work.  That definitely dragged me outside my comfort zone!  But you know what…I will do it all over again if that course is ever repeated!

One of the things that I was already doing, before the course, was keeping a writing journal, but it was an ordinary exercise book, which I kept losing.  The solution – I bought a thick, hardback notebook that is not so easy to lose.  This has been invaluable throughout the course for making notes, character studies, ideas, etc., and I really must try to keep writing in it. 

Before Weekend at the Asylum, at the end of August, I had actually made a start on the first rough draft of my novel, The Hairy Detective, but had to put this aside to concentrate on a colourful patchwork jacket that I was making.  After Asylum came the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, then the writing course began, which was excellent, and I thoroughly recommend it.

So, back to Colin Brown.  Where did he come from?  Who is he?  What does he do?

To answer those questions I will have to go back to the 1990s, when I worked at a school as a cleaner.  There I was, minding my own business, cleaning the assembly hall, when I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by ‘Muchgrott-on-the-Green’ suddenly popping into my head.  Er…what…??  I wrote it down, and carried on with my work.  Over the course of time, this was joined by ‘The Hairy Detective’, and later, Mavis Baggott. 

arranged bookcase books indoors

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Gradually a short story formed, with Mavis telling how she went to the Muchgrott library and found the latest Hairy Detective novel, only to later find that the last few pages had been torn out.  She then sets out to track down another copy, which then sees her traipsing round the village on a wild goose chase. Finally, she tracks down her prize at the scout’s jumble sale.   A happy and triumphant Mavis then sits down and reads the last few pages. 

Later, as other Muchgrott stories appeared, (Portaloo Massacre, Mopaholics Anonymous, and Non Compost Mentis), The Hairy Detective started to grow…it seemed to be telling me that is should be an actual novel, as this was when Colin Brown, and his friend Tony Sharp, appeared to me.  I knew what they looked like, where they lived, and lots of things about them…then Colin’s landlady popped up, too. 

Now all I had to do was work out the story, and how Colin got his nickname…simple, right?  Wrong!  I tried adding characters, scenarios, and different ideas, but nothing worked, so I just put it all away, and forgot about it!  Then a few years ago, I found it and looked through what I had put together, so I had another go at adding to the story…it still wasn’t working.

Earlier this year I had yet another go, and was talking with friends about it, saying that I really needed something to work with, and ‘body in the freezer’ was mentioned, among other suggestions.  Boom!  That was it!  Ideas then flowed, and I now have the story worked out, plot twists, new characters, chronology, the lot! 

As I mentioned earlier, I have started the first rough draft…time to get on with it!      

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2018 9:02 pm

    You will get there, don’t give up.

  2. November 11, 2018 5:41 am

    I love the confusion in all of this and the potential for the great unwrap and reveal, very good luck on your adventure with it to its conclusion x

  3. November 11, 2018 2:52 pm

    There is always confusion where Colin Brown is concerned…and all he wants is a quiet life. Funny how things just seem to happen to him, he blunders in, uncovers dodgy goings-on, and solves the crime (by accident)…and all the while wishing people would just leave him alone. 😀

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