Guest Post #3: Counting the Writing Stitches by Bernie Steadman (author of Death at Dartmoor)

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Life is good for DI Dan Hellier until the discovery of two headless, handless bodies buried in a bog on Dartmoor. But how can he identify the victims when nobody has reported them missing?

The tension mounts when the death of a young man plunges Hellier into the murky world of the Garrett family. Could the peaceful, family-run Animal Rescue Centre really be a cover for murder and other criminal activity?

Hellier is about to learn just how far people will go to get what they want.

And this investigation will challenge Hellier’s decisions as he races to catch another murderer before it’s too late.


Writing a book is not that simple as it might seem. Especially when you reach the middle section of your novel and find yourself going a bit off track. Today on my blog, I have author Bernie Steadman talk about the tricky middle section of the novel which every author will have to face one day.



Counting the Writing Stitches


I was having a go at repairing a piece of knitting the other day that I had lost my way in. It’s a complicated lacy scarf pattern – lovely but fiendish, and I was led to thinking about my latest work in progress, and how the process of completion can be similar, whatever the project.


I’m at that stage in the process where the middle of a novel can get right away from you. It’s like when you start a piece of knitting, full of good intentions about following the pattern and not going off on your own thing.  All the stitches start out even, you’re checking the pattern and counting the rows, and you’re clam and in control. The tension is good, and something pleasing is beginning to take shape.


Then, around 40k words in, half-way through your new scarf/novel, you think you’ve got it. The story is flowing, you don’t bother checking anymore, you just let rip – be free, be creative you tell yourself… The characters come to life, and actually take over; suggesting exciting new diversions you could take, even altering the pattern without you writing the change down. Oh, yes, it all goes wrong at this moment!


Interesting ideas of the, ‘ooh, that would be a good idea, I’ll add that in’ variety dominate, and your piece of lovely knitting gets, well, saggy. Rows are different lengths, holes appear in the plot, there are too many stitches in one row, not enough in another. The ends do not tie in. Tension; gone, pace; loose…


That’s where I am at the moment. I have all the plotlines running around in my head but I’m in danger of sagging in the middle like the damp gusset of my childhood knitted swimming costume. Oh, yes indeed, too much extra stuff and not enough stern control can destroy a project, if you let it.


The solution is simple, of course, and always worth it – I must unravel the middle and do it again. Yes, it’s hard to see your words disappear as fast as a holey scarf into the charity shop box.


But, the next version of the middle of this novel will be taut and beautifully evenly stitched. Tension will be perfect, and every word will count. There will be no saggy middles here.




Thank you to Bernie Steadman for taking out time from her busy schedule and gracing my blog with her presence.


Author Bio:

Bernie taught English for many years but only dabbled in short fiction and poetry until a few years ago when she took to writing full-time.  She completed her debut novel, Death in the Woods when she escaped the classroom and could finally stop marking essays. This was the first in the West Country Mysteries series featuring DI Dan Hellier and his Exeter-based team. There are now three in the series, Death on Dartmoor and Death on the Coast completing the series.

Bernie lives in a small village in East Devon and her novels are set in and around the ancient Roman city of Exeter, which has seen its fair share of murder and mayhem over the centuries. The books explore the beauty of the area, but demonstrate that even in the most charming of settings, terrible events may occur.

When not glued to the laptop, Bernie is a keen yoga fan and enjoys walking and cycling in the Devon countryside with her husband. They share their home with two large, black cats which came from the animal sanctuary where she is a volunteer and trustee.

You can also find her on her social media:

Twitter: @BernieSteadman

Facebook: Bernie Steadman


Thank you to Bloodhound Books for letting me take part in this blog blitz.

Don’t forget to check out the other blogs who are taking part in this blog tour!

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