One week to go, then July is over. I am well on the way to my goal for Camp NaNoWriMo. I have completed the (hopefully) penultimate rewrite on The Day of the Dirigible – now in the hands of beta readers. I now have my headspace back into the manuscript for The Department of Curiosities.
I blitzed almost four thousand words in the first few days of Camp. (Thank goodness for some scribbled a rough outline I made in the middle of the night!) The reader will finally learn more about our Villian, his accomplices and reveal his lair.
Five hundred words into the major scene, I read the dreaded notes in my outline: ‘Tillie reads excerpt from diary (info on father/partner – Mr ??TK -need names- and experiments. Conspiracies? Liberator not happy. Background info and clues to be added here.’
Eep! I could no longer avoid the need to solidify several plot clues and names. (I am still debating a few character names). I began sifting through my box of doodles (did I say doodles?) – I mean notes – and jotted down ideas. Double Eep! How not to make certain revelations sound like an information dump? Maybe I could try writing it as diary entries – hinting at events that linked to our protagonist’s past?
Call it procrastination, or call it accessing my creative brain – I decided to hand write the diary entries with an old (inherited) nib pen. Here is where you may suggest the procrastination part: I spent the next two hours looking for a specific nib pen. Once it was found, it performed its task well indeed. I had the rough draft done – seven handwritten pages later – before the stroke of midnight. Just.
Now transcribed into Scrivener, it just requires a tidy up next month – a lot, it seems. Last Friday was my writers’ group meeting. My fellow writers provided very useful feedback and excellent ideas on how to make a major task more worthy of the protagonist. Once this is added, I have only two more scenes to finish Chapter 6.
The story so far: (– now 38% of projected first draft completed)
- Chapter 1: Of Rivals, Surprises and Escapes
“I think you have something of mine that I accidentally dropped?” The stranger’s green eyes glinted as he smiled back, scrutinising Tillie’s bustle.
“Sir, we have only just met and have not been properly introduced,” she replied curtly.
- Chapter 2: Of Silks, Kippers and Secrets – approx 5400
I have battled with the revisions (especially one scene!) since 18th December. Dilemma #1: how much background reveal is enough/too much?
The smell of smoked kippers greeted Tillie as she entered the dining room. The buffet boasted a full range of delights, many of which were her favourites: bacon, fried mushrooms, eggs, toast and jam. Kippers were not high on her list.
- Chapter 3: The Inventor, The Department and Curiosities.
Dilemma #2: Is it time for some destruction and mayhem?
Favourite Passage (first draft): “As Tillie reached for the banister, a pale grey limb snaked out of the blackness and snatched at her sleeve. Its sinewy talons floundered at the blue silk.
- Not my new silk dress!”
- Chapter 4: Of Diaries, Ghostmen and Dispicible Acts.
Dilemma #3: reworking the events so there is only one explosive event per chapter. #4: A new character was now in the mix necessitating some rewrites to earlier chapters to introduce her – without a background/information dump.
Favourite Passge (first draft):
““Miss Meriwether stood defiantly among them, looking quite dishevelled. She brandished a red parasol, swinging it in her hand like a golf club. Her bonnet hung precariously, held by the remaining hat pin, revealing a less than pristine coiffe.”
- Chapter 5: Of Resurrections, Discoveries and Assassinations/Eliminations (?) first draft.
“Why are you so distressed?” Tillie gripped her ribs as she spoke.
“You screamed,” the Professor replied.
“Did I?” Tillie replied. Maybe the pain has befuddled my brain?
“Most definitely. I thought you may have been attacked or hurt.”
“I have been hurt,” she grimaced.
“… hurt again,” replied the Professor.”
Challenge #5: Having decided to write a scene only from the camera point of view, I quickly discovered exactly what could and could not be revealed to the reader. Cameras do not think; they only record.
- Chapter 6: Of Symbols, Half-truths and Cyphers First draft so far: 4423 words
Dilemma #6: How to introduce important background on the antagonist without sounding like a background dump.
Favourite passage so far:
‘Mr Saunders had shown her how to operate the newfangled electric wall lighting. It made sense not to rely on gas lighting or candles in the underground rooms, especially as the oxygen supply was limited following the cave in. He had reassured her it was perfectly safe. But that was what Professor Allington had said in the descending room. Tillie did not trust his definition of safe. ‘
- Chapter 7: Of Lies, Damned Lies and Treachery
(Now a chapter unto itself, inheriting chapter 6’s old title. Plot notes completed)
- Chapter ?: Of Trains, Dirigibles and Steamships. – First draft: 2100 words so far (incomplete) – This was the first snippet to follow The Guest Upstairs and specifically written for this manuscript. It signifies a significant change in the story.
Manuscript Word Progress:(on hold since April)
At 1st draft only:
Update on Doctor Jack – 1st draft- completed in June, 2014: