When I say that I don’t plan, that it all happens at the keyboard for me, that is perhaps a little bit Inaccurate. I do have vague plans in my mind that are usually related to images. There’ll be something there for a conclusion to a book somewhere off in the misty future and then plans for the nearer future when I start writing and consider what section to write next. The ‘happens at the keyboard’ bit is what determines how or if I bring them to fruition. Sometimes I do, sometimes I destroy them completely and go in a different direction. Sometimes I find something I’ve completely missed.

Take for example some highly dangerous and irascible assassin drones. These actors were on scene and, while I was concentrating on other matters, I left them twiddling their thumbs … or perhaps other more lethal appendages. You can’t do that. Yeah you can provide some make-work but that’s pretty difficult when the characters concerned are so effective. The thing to do then is throw them into the fray and see what happens.

It’s a bit like strategizing a battle between horse cavalry then having a tank roll onto the scene, then deciding to make some of the horses pacifists and then have all of them sprout wings when you abruptly turn the battlefield on its edge, and then note that the tank has Velcro treads. The word I’m groping for here is protean. I make plans and I plot but the work in progress is often derailed and always falling into a new shape. Corrections and new ideas constantly alter that shape. Sometimes I chew on the edge of my desk in frustration. Sometimes a solution and epiphany appears in just one sentence, like, for example:

She had just rail-gunned the prador fleet, and the other Polity ships opened fire a moment later.    

I wonder what the shape will be after that?

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