Tag Archives: Chapter 13


I’ve done it! I’ve finally done it! Chapter 13 is complete!!!!!!!

It took an arm and a leg and literally years off my life… Ok that’s an exaggeration but it has taken the whole of March to get to this point and most of my Easter weekend to get it finished.

It ended up being an amalgamation of the two versions I had written. Alby remained Alby but I made him a little more erratic. I managed to slip in some of the lovely dialogue that Albert had said without it jarring with the speech that was already there. It has turned Alby into a slightly more unstable version of himself, but that’s what he was always intended to be.

I like how one minute he comes across as a relaxed, chilled out, almost high hippy who’s take on life is to just take it how it comes, and the next he flips into an uptight, frantic, almost deranged man who likes everything in its particular place.

These characteristics don’t often go together, but here they seem to work…

In order to get him to be credible he had to become the hippy, but in order to plant the seeds of plot for this and future books he had to be unhinged. This is a unique balance of the two. I hope.

I love Crystal’s reaction to Alby. She somehow manages to understand him in a way that Leo and Elsie just cannot. She sees Leo’s concern and deliberately pushes it and him to one side. She is so determined to get the information from Alby that she almost becomes reckless. She doesn’t quite cross that line, but it does feel like she gets close. Exchanges between her and Leo in this chapter are mostly silent; looks and glances and head shakes. And I love that. He tries to get her to step back because they don’t know this man. They don’t know if he is to be trusted or even if he’s dangerous. Elsie thinks he scary. She tries to keep up her glib and sarcastic nature for as long as she can, but eventually cannot hold it back. When Crystal sees how scared Elsie has become, she realises its time to pull back.

There is a point in the chapter where Crystal, Elsie and Leo are lead to a back room or sorts where Alby has promised to “show them something really cool”. This is where Alby turns. He is no longer that high-on-life hippy, or even that jumpy obsessive; he becomes something different. Something scary.

Here, Alby threatens them and is adamant that they have come to test him. He believes they have been sent by the Collector

It’s been a difficult chapter to say the least. I’m looking forward to reading it again this afternoon after my night away from it. And I hope it reads well.

When I go back for a read after some space from writing a chapter, I always read it out loud. It is the only way to get a feel for it, to understand your characters and make sure what they say is innately them. Remember if it doesn’t sound like them, make it.

It’s also a great time to get a feel for sentence structure. A reader has to understand the sentence structure first time, so make sure they aren’t too fragmented or overly complex. Saying them out loud is such a good tool.

So that’s where I am. It’s now April and I’ve finished chapter 13. I haven’t quite kept up my 2 chapters a month plan, but at least I’ve written 5 chapters this year. 3 months in and I’m still happy with my progress. Yay!

Emily and Me

Aunty Ann and Marc

Dan and Mason

Mam Battling with Scarf!

Aunty Ann and Mam Keeping Warm

Chapter 13: Take 2

Hello faithful readers, how the devil are we?

Almost a week since my last post and despite having been in work all week, I have actually managed some writing.

Chapter 13 is becoming a bit of an epic battle. I have finished my second go which saw Albert become Alby and whilst I am feeling good for having finished it, and relatively pleased actually with how it turned out, I’m still not convinced it is right.

It may be purely because this version wasn’t my plan, or it may be because I haven’t finished the original version and its hanging over me…

I stopped because it was too dark. But I’m still not entirely sure it wasn’t right.

I have two things that I want to do. I need to finish that original chapter. I need to see it to its natural conclusion. Just for my piece of mind more than anything. It may still end up being too dark. It may still end up not being suitable. But what if it doesn’t? What if it works?

Once I’ve done that, and depending on the outcome, I sort of want to write a third draft. This third try would be an amalgamation of the two.

Alby is great. He is more accessible than Albert. So perhaps the answer is to move Alby into Albert’s chapter and see what happens.

I have also realised that in making Albert Alby, I have made a more coherent character. And his cohesive mind means that he hasn’t been able to set up the future plots as I had intended. Some of those lines of dialogue were my favourites so I’m looking forward to having another read and seeing if I can finish the original version.

Albert is holding me back!

One of the things I really like that I put into the Alby chapter is a little disagreement between Crystal and Leo. It slipped in at the end and whilst it was always planned, it wasn’t supposed to be this early. Thrilled to bits though. It only happened sooner than planned because of Alby. He provoked them to disagree which is fab! And actually it is better than my plan.

Proof that a plan is just a guide!


Clarity from Craziness

This chapter is kicking my ass!

I’ve written 6 pages and I might think that it’s all crap. I say ‘might’ because it may just be me and this mood…

It’s a chapter that has a function. It is a rare-book shop, or more importantly, a rare-book shop owner, who is a little shall we say ‘off-the-rails’. This man has to instruct our heroes into the next clue.

I do like writing people who are a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I like the random nature of the dialogue, and how erratic their disposition and thought processes are. This is all good.

But for some reason this chapter isn’t working. It’s supposed to be dark and creepy, and move the plot along. But it feels like it’s slowing the plot down. I can’t quite put my fingers on it…

It’s difficult too because this loopy-man is actually setting up some things for a future book. So I’m trying to get those parts right, whilst not bogging down the narrative with seemingly random and meaningless dialogue. It has to flow.

Maybe that’s the problem, that this chapter has to do too much. It’s a funny one because this man isn’t in the rest of the book, but he has to make an impact. He has to be memorable. But also, he’s actually quite scary.

Our heroes are at the back of this shop with a lunatic – and I use that word because I’ve written him as very unstable – and it feels properly scary. Not in a evil-magical-nemesis kind of way, but more a this-man-is-actually-mentally-unstable-and-anything-could-happen kind of way. And perhaps that’s another failing on my part; maybe it’s too real.

I feel uncomfortable reading it back because I am worried about what this man will do…


Does that mean I’ve done my job right? It should feel uncomfortable; it should feel scary. But have I crossed a line? Am I now in adult fiction rather than young adult? Perhaps it’s the very adult nature of it that isn’t sitting well with me. Perhaps it’s that underlying worry about what this man is capable of that scares me. But maybe only I am reading it like that; maybe I am reading too much into it because I am too close to it.

I think I’ve hit the nail on the head. I think I’ve made it too adult. I think I’ve gone to too dark a place. I have to keep in my mind who my reader is most likely to be. I have orchestrated this novel to be for a specific audience, with a broader appeal so that anyone can read it. But I don’t want to alienate my intended audience…

I am going to attack it a fresh. I’m going to cut it up, because there is some good stuff in there too, and patch it back together before smoothing out the cracks. I don’t often re-arrange chapters. They normally sit as written. But I think this one will benefit from rejigging; perhaps giving the chapter a nicer conclusion, with a bit more hope.

It’s the absence of hope; that’s the problem!!! It feels hopeless and confusing and crazy; the whole chapter feels unhinged, all because Albert is unhinged. But this is a book about Crystal. Crystal needs someone to make things clear, and clarity isn’t often found from a crazy person. Albert has to almost fight for his own clarity, forcing his own foggy-mind into coherent thought; he has to gain his sanity back to help make things clear for Crystal.

That’s what Albert gives. He points her in the right direction. And you definitely should think that he knows more than he’s letting on…

I need to focus the perspective more; bring it all back to Crystal. I think I’m going to have a break now and resume writing later on. I shall return!