Why it’s Wise to Stay on the Right Side of Romantic Novelists… by Milly Johnson
Whilst doing a final edit on my new book, I was awoken at stupid o’clock by something in my subconscious delivering the message that there was a plot hole that needed filling. It had been sifting through every word I’d written with the express purpose of hunting out stuff that shouldn’t be there. It questioned everything, made sure it all worked and details were present and correct. The next morning it woke me, in much the same way, to warn me that a Travelodge had suddenly become a Premier Inn a couple of pages later. Sure enough, when I checked, it was right. I know I’m not the only writer that this happens to. I know a few who write in my genre with this Strange Parasite present inside them. I know I am not alone in this madness – a great comfort I must say.
This SP made me realise that with efficiency like that going on internally, romantic novelists such as myself would make genius crime lords. Had we been on board the Great Train Robbery, it would have run like clockwork with no need for anyone to get hurt. We would have planned and plotted it down to the last detail then slept on it, and any flaws in the logistics would have been spotted by the aforesaid SP who would have nudged us awake in the wee small hours with a ‘Nope, that wouldn’t work. Don’t rely on someone you barely know to get rid of the evidence. Do it yourself.’ We’d have got away with it. And the Brink’s Mat. Tsk. Amateurs.
This SP is cold and heartless. Indeed, it has just planned the perfect crime for me in a separate project. It has dotted all the ‘i’s and crossed all the ‘t’s. It’s yelled at me, ‘Don’t be a tool, woman, of course he has to die for x to happen. If x doesn’t happen, y will equal z which will trigger off q and cause j… and no one would ever believe j!’ This is the sort of super-forward-planning chess geniuses would kill for, but the SP only does plot-holes and cares not how to trap a king between two rooks in six moves.
The SP does not feel like part of me. It’s too methodical, calculating, cold. And a psycho. But, boy am I glad it’s taken up residence in my head. Maybe it’s always been there and I woke it from its dormant state when I started writing my first novel and needed its services. Maybe I absorbed my twin in the womb who would have grown up to be a proper nasty piece of work. It rudely disturbs my sleep choosing to inform me of my writing errors at times not convenient and it isn’t very complimentary when it speaks (‘Idiot, how could you have made that mistake?) But I want it to stay around.
So you might think it’s just the crime lot who have SPs, but ours stay hidden very deep inside us and you wouldn’t know to look at us that they’re there, but, trust me, we can churn out a plot every bit as complex and twisty-turny as they can.