I’ve previously posted writing notes for The Mechanical Crown over on Patreon. I’ve now moved away from Patreon, hence shifting notes over to my own blog. I’ll aim to transfer over notes on previous chapters over the coming weeks.

Read this chapter here.

The tensions continue to build. There’s an odd thing about seeding plot threads and characters when writing in a serialised form: you have to live half in the future, and have a keen sense of character arcs and plot beats that are coming way down the line.

Now, that’s not unusual – every author will have an idea of where their story is heading, to a greater or lesser degree, regardless of how they’re publishing. Even ‘pantsers’ have some kind of direction in the moment.

When you keep a first draft under lock and key and go through several edits before publishing, it gives you multiple chances to thread elements through multiple chapters, so that they can register in time before having to work hard.

But serialisation has a unique challenge, in that you don’t get the chance to go back and edit earlier chapters to fill out a previously underserved theme.

In ‘Investigations’ we get a mini-crime procedural, as Roldan Stryke turns detective and attempts to piece together what’s been happening in Treydolain. It’s where we find out about the untruths that have been put forward as reality, and how nobody really knows what’s really happening: for all the impression of control being presented by the court, the valley has never been less stable.

This chapter ties up some loose ends from the Arc 4 chapter ‘The old ways’ and sets Stryke on his next path.

While there was always going to be this moment in the story (or, at least, it’s been in the plan for at least the last arc’s worth of chapters), it’s only recently that I decided to take it down this overtly investigative angle. I suspect that this may not be entirely unconnected to the work I’m doing in the day job at the National Centre for Writing on the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival. It’s the third such festival I’ve got to play with and the all-pervasive crime fiction starts to seep into your mind around about this time. It’s intriguing to think how influences at the time of writing impact on the overall storytelling. That can be seen in the thematic and political framework, but also in smaller ways, such as in this chapter.


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