Tag Archives: Chapter 10

Shivers Down My Spine

I wish you guys could read what I’ve just written.

Shivers down my spine!

I cannot express how satisfying it is to write a scene where the characters somehow take over your mind and speak for themselves. I knew the gist of what had to be said but I didn’t know they would say it the way they did. And it is good!

I just re-read it, just to make sure and yes, it is good!!!

It’s such a delicious, tiny scene. I sort of want to add more dialogue, but I must hold out and remember my previous post Screaming in Silence… sometimes there’s too much talking.

Silence is just as good; and here, it is epic.

I love ending a chapter with speech. No ‘he said’ or some kind of description; just close speech marks and end. There’s something so satisfying about it. And actually it makes for an even bigger cliffhanger because the reader is left to interpret the speech on their own.

I have read many blogs and websites discussing the use of said, replied, asked, answered, shouted, exclaimed, sobbed etc etc and the description of how speech is said; for example:

“No more secrets?” asked Edna in a melancholic-tone and with a longing smile.

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“No more secrets?” asked Edna.

The basic argument is that if you have done your characterisation right, then you shouldn’t have to describe her tone or her smile. The reader should be able to put that smile onto Edna without any prompt from the author; and they should know the tone already.

I don’t entirely agree with this argument. I think there is a time and place for a specific instruction to a character’s emotions and actions, and there is a time to let the reader decide. I think that  a balance between these is what I am trying to find.

I have, however, learnt that publishers see it as ‘juvenile’ to use all the different words for ‘said’ (like the ones listed above). Which is completely ironic because at school we were taught to never repeat ourselves; we were positively encouraged to use the different ‘said’s’ as that made us more intelligent; or just mark-able at a higher grade.

Anyway! I am not just using the word ‘said’ in my novel. There is nothing wrong with the word and I’m getting a fair bit of usage out of it. But, I am allowing myself to use some of the other words too.

I DON’T CARE IF THAT MAKES ME JUVENILE IN THE EYES OF THE PUBLISHERS.

I think ultimately it’s about finding your own style of writing. Sometimes, a character says something in a very specific way; and that needs to be described.

And sometimes I just get bored of the word ‘said’, he said.

PS This marks the end of Chapter 10! Hooray!

Screaming in Silence

The smell of toast hit her in the face. The warmth inside made her whole body tingle; she hadn’t realised just how cold she had been. She heard the kettle finish boiling, the whistle soaring through the house and then the hot water being poured into a mug.

            She walked through the archway and into the kitchen. Auntie Edna put the kettle back onto the hob with a slight wobble. Auntie Sis shuffled in her chair. Neither of them said a word. Crystal looked at the floor for a while before lifting her head and facing them. She looked into their worried eyes and felt something she wasn’t prepared for; anger.

            As tears began to build up inside her, she took a deep breath and controlled them.

“I’m not going to apologise for running away,” she said. “I needed… I needed some air.”

“All right,” said Auntie Sis.

“Did you… find the air you were looking for?” said Auntie Edna.

“Yes,” she answered.

“Good,” said Auntie Sis and continued as she got to her feet. “Well we should probably…”

“I don’t want to talk about it!”

“But I think you need…” started Auntie Edna walking towards her niece.

“I want to go to bed,” said Crystal firmly. Auntie Edna stopped short.

            There was silence for a moment.

“I think that’s a good idea,” said Auntie Sis.

            Crystal turned and left the kitchen. She felt a mixture of satisfied that she was able to steady her nerve and successfully managed to avoid the conversation that she wasn’t ready to have, and guilty for abandoning her aunts and staying out all night allowing them to worry about her.

            But she had to sort through so many things. Her anger was subsiding at the thought of her challenge; the task that felt like a huge black cloud hovering over head. Where to even start? Then there was the obstacle of keeping it secret from her aunts, knowing what damage secrets can do.

           The climb up the stairs was difficult. Her limbs felt like lead, but she forced her way into her room. It looked different.

           She tried as hard as she could to stay clear of the shrine to her parents and grandparents. She didn’t think she could take much more; it had been all so much. The idea of looking at smiling photos of them all opened that hole in her stomach. So she turned and made for her bed.

As soon as her head hit the pillow she was gone. 

That’s a scene I wrote last night. It comes at the end of Chapter 10 once Crystal has returned from her strange and magical and terrifying encounter in the wood.

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There was supposed to be a considerable conversation here between Crystal and her aunts airing out all of their issues. But when it came to it, I just wasn’t up to it. Physically I was shattered. It was the end of a long working week and as much as I wanted to write I also just wanted to go to bed.

More than that though, she wouldn’t be up to it. After all of that, she wouldn’t force herself to stay awake even longer and talk about her feelings. She is tired and cranky and in desperate need of her bed. This also brings with it the chance to mull things over and put her thoughts in order. Sometimes it’s best to plan a potential argument…

This scene is actually one of my favourites that I have written so far. There’s something extremely interesting about three characters in a room dying to talk about something but choosing silence.

Crystal’s choice here is important. She doesn’t want to say something that she doesn’t mean, and doesn’t want to upset her aunts needlessly. She also wants to make them understand just how hurt she is about everything, and how scared she is about what the truth means.

Sis here can see the distress that her niece is in and so allows her to retire without talking to them. She is deeply, deeply wanting to talk to her but appreciates just what it took for Crystal to chose not to.

I don’t think Edna can decide if she is more upset about Crystal not wanting to talk to them, or that Sissy lets her not talk to them; she’s practically screaming in silence!

These are the points that I hope this passage illustrates.

It must be quite difficult to read these blogs and not really know the context of the novel. I hope this isn’t too boring a post. I just felt proud that the silence in this scene is the most important part.

Sometimes there can be too much talking.

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A Quick Pre-Work Post

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How dedicated to this blog am I!?

I am currently sat in the canteen at work and my shift starts in 20 minutes. The roads weren’t as bad as expected so have arrived a little sooner than originally planned.

Although I had a productive morning. Dishes done, bins changed and put out, beef in slow cooker ready for tonight’s feast along with my normal getting-ready-for-work jobs.

But the real reason I’m blogging is because I actually did some book work last night. On a work-night!

Am very pleased that I was able to open Chapter 10 and do some editing. I wasn’t quite up to some actual writing, but the read through and little edit helped me to focus on it rather than just watching telly as usual.

I did some good work. Rather than just changing sentences, words and structures, I added notes into the margin. I haven’t done this before, but I am preparing for a future blog post where I will be dissecting my writing process on a whole other level.

The notes I made are thoughts, feeling, choices, decisions and a general commentary on what I’ve changed and why I’ve changed it.

Much happier with it.

So I’ve called that my Second Pass and have realised that the Third Pass is going to be adding more descriptions which will set the scene a bit better. For example, so far I have focused on the main characters and their conversation. But I need to make the secondary characters fit in more.

Looking forward to it!

Right, work is calling.

 

Lord of The Wood

Chapter 10 is a strange one.

I often find that when I’m writing a chapter based on ‘the plan’ the amount of story that I have allotted for that chapter spills out into others.

For example, a few chapters back I had an important conversation planned between Crystal and her aunts. It is a vital scene and it ended up being a very long conversation… In fact, I think it ended up taking almost an entire chapter.

That sounds like a lot but remember this is a children’s book.

I love that conversation. The characters really found their voices. And for that reason it stands alone from the other narrative that I had planned to accompany it. The same thing has happened here.

When I restructured the chapters to allow the Hobbit-type-hole to be relocated, ‘the plan’ has morphed with it, and consequently Chapter 9 did not include the meeting with the Lord of The Wood, as intended.

The Lord of The Wood has become a chapter in itself; he says before having actually written it.

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It’s going to be an important chapter that really gives Crystal her driving force for the rest of the novel. Which is why I am going to give it the proper amount of words and time to do it justice.

I am looking forward to writing for the Lord, although I am unsure of his voice yet. I find it helps me as a writer to hear a voice in my head that reminds me of that character. I’m thinking a gravelly Ian McKellen… I’m also unsure if he is Welsh…

This sounds strange but the novel is set in Wales and has a Welsh flavour about it, but these magical/mythical characters trouble me; would they sound Welsh? Or is it a safer bet to assume they would sound like Ian McKellen? More British and expected, I suppose.  I know it sounds strange but if he is Welsh, his speech patterns would be entirely different to that of an RP-English-Posh man. I always assumed he’d have that sort of voice…

At this point, my plan is to also include the conversation with her aunts (that I cut from the start of Chapter 9) at the end of this chapter. In fact I think it will be better there.

I’ve come to the late confusion that sometimes writing conversations between characters is easy; writing silence between them is much more interesting and difficult. When Crystal returns from quite a traumatic night in the woods where she has been utterly changed as a person and has been given a quest and a purpose, the last thing she would want to do is have a domestic with her aunts; despite the fact that they’ve been up all night worrying about her. So I think a short scene with less talking is right for them. I like that idea.

I am concerned though of the chapter after this…

It is mainly due to the restructure. After the chapters in the forest, Crystal has a purpose. And the next time that she acts on this purpose is half-term holidays. I have to move the narrative through 4 weeks of school and home life to get to the next important plot point.

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Having said that, those 4 weeks could be a missed opportunity for some great character moments.

I guess what I’m having trouble deciding is whether to indulge myself in writing those character moments, or whether to just get on with the story. It would probably be the opinion of a copy-editor to just skip it; if it doesn’t move the story forwards…

Perhaps I am missing something in those 4 weeks that will move the story forwards…

Something I haven’t thought of yet…

This is a typical writer’s problem. I’ve got a document open in front of me entitled ‘The Lord of The Wood’ and I’m worrying about the chapter after that! I have enough worries about this chapter, let a lone the next one!!

But I can’t help myself. It has to be right. I have to know EXACTLY where I’m going to write where I am.

In fact, sometimes it’s worse having a plan for a chapter because it seems less interesting, less spontaneous, less exciting! There is something to be said about making a story up as you go along… Although can you imagine that!? Just jumping into a story with no plan? I don’t think I could do it…

Sometimes it’s easy for the author to think and feel that the book that is planned (which for me is in a notebook) is old and stale and is just not worthy of bringing to life. But the life-giving part is so reassuring and reaffirming that all you are doing, all that I am doing, will be worth it.

More self doubt; great.

I think the right thing to do for the narrative is just jump ahead 4 weeks. But I think the right thing to do for the characters is to experience some of those 4 weeks with them.

This might be a fantastic opportunity for me to create a new part of the story that until now I didn’t know that I needed. It may end up being brilliant! Utterly unthinkable to not have it in there! It might feel like I’ve lost the plot; literally.

I sort of want to spend a little time with a notebook scribbling away things that might happen in those 4 weeks, to see if there’s a story there.

I don’t think I’ll be able to write Chapter 10 with this on my mind.

And sometimes allowing yourself to be creating again, rather than just following your own instruction, will liberate you and inject much needed enthusiasm back into what you’re writing.

The Lord of The Wood deserves my enthusiasm.