“Don’t butter your bread on both sides and pretend it won’t hit the floor butter side down.” ~ Mish
Today started off with a bang – literally. Back at the start of NaNo Adam dared me, on the back of the 2011 sex dares, to write a solitary sexual experience. I knew exactly where to slot it in. Then of course one of the characters decided a little self relief in the shower was the order of the day. I thought I’d nicely ticked that box until I rocked up at the page this morning and knew how to wind the original idea into where the new story was headed.
Ahhh, Tabitha what would I do without your wild imagination and your need to escape from real life.
Ramsey strode out onto the page mid-afternoon in all his icky brilliance. I look forward to honing this voice most of all, as it is the most different between the three POV characters. Also to see the world of Dalhousie, his domain, through his eyes.
I wrote what was perhaps the hardest of all the scenes — where Robert thumps Tabitha back into submission when he finds her sneaking back into the house after her ‘night’ at Dalhousie. Where she faces up to what she really wants and makes the commitment to reclaim her life.
PARDON ME, IS THAT A NOVEL YOU’RE WRITING?
What was meant to be a school day, turned into an unexpected writing day (that you will see I milked for the largest possible word count!). A trip to the washing line threw up the next few scenes and around lunch time it dawned on me that BETWEEN PAGES was never going to be a novella.
I had been keeping an eye on the word count and the events as they unfolded. Where the inciting event occurred and how the rest of the events played out around it to make up the first act. And I think I’m pretty spot on. When I overlaid the eight point script progression* (of what I know of the story) it is a snug fit.
Plot Point #1: Opening & Closing Images
I currently have the novel opening with a dream sequence/love letter, from Tabitha to Christian. A monochrome dreamscape of longing and billowing sheets. I do like the idea of thinking of this in a cimematic book end!
Plot Point #2: Inciting Incident
As mentioned earlier, I believe this to be the acceptance letter. This is the event that forces the lives of Tabitha and Christian in an entirely different direction.
Plot Point #3: First Act Break
This where I am almost at and will wrap up with Christian agreeing to go with Tabitha to Dalhousie, though he believes it to be a fantasy Tabitha has dissolved into in the wake of being hit by her husband.
In a movie this is usually accompanied by a change of location and voila… the end of Act One sees Tabitha and Christian move into Dalhousie for the six week residency. (Upon reflection I think the First Act probably ends with Tabitha striking the new deal with Ramsey to allow Christian into the house, which faciliates their move and ultimately her downfall.)
Plot Point #4: the Midpoint
This changes the direction of the story and I think this is probably where Tabitha goes to the sculptor’s room looking for answers to Christian’s bizarre behaviour and his withdrawal from their chamber, only to leave with her new found strength and belief destroyed.
Plot Point #5: the Point of Commitment
When Christian takes Tabitha into the basement and shows her Ramsey’s machine and what he has produced during his secret apprenticeship, Tabitha puts everything behind her to start over with Christian, supporting him to finish his chronometric pulley and her to complete her novel.
Plot Point #6: All Is Lost
Without saying too much, this is where Tabitha is called to honour her debt in a no-win situation.
Plot Point #7: the Climax
There is murder and mayhem, hearts will be given and stolen, two characters will be caught in a frantic game of hide and seek. Three major characters will die, one will be left to attempt an impossible rescue. This is where the short story leaves off with the hope of a happily ever after.
Plot Point #8: the Resolution
The ending will decide what genre it actually is – romance or horror (honestly, this still make me smile until you consider what gothic horror is?) Will the rescue attempt be successful and facilitate a happily ever after? Will the rescue attempt be successful but only to a certain point where happily ever after is a little longer than either anticipate? Will there be no happily ever after, instead history repeating itself?
This effectively means I have a plan. Terrifying from the POV of a panster. Liberating from the POV of the poor sod who redrafts ad nauseum to lay flesh on the bare bones. At the very least the basic structure of the novel will hopefully be solid and the pacing about as good as it can be on a first draft. It’s quite exciting.
I’m writing a novel! I’m doing what I said I was too scared to do alone. And I plan to do it all in November.
Before I skip out for another luxurious night of sleep, a little of what came to the page today.
FINAL WORD COUNT FOR TODAY: 15619
Superstition suggested the paper felt heavy in his hand. A human life weighed in the handful of pulp, squeezed and pressed and dried and rendered blank. The possibility as palpable as Newton’s theory of potential energy transferred to the thumping human heart and stained in the stroke that bleeds ink from the point of quill into the parchment. The thought made the back of is cold hands tingle and then itch beneath the soft leather gloves.
Five blank contracts sat fanned on his desk. He took one and wrote Tabitha’s name in the top of the contract and the date, pre-dated for the beginning of the residency in four days time and pressed the blotting paper in, enjoying the bloom of the pin pricks of ink. The came the name of her novel — BONE DEEP — pulp drivel about love and dinosaurs (if he correctly translated what she’d outlined in her application letter), in the space identifying the project to which she was contracted to complete during her residency.
Nothing else changed from contract to contract. The confidentiality clause, the release clause all the legalese that lawfully bound them and their projects to him in excruciatingly obtuse language that most failed to read or chose not to read.
He checked the time on his fob, straightened his frock coat, fussing over the froth of lace extending beyond the cuff and then rang for Marie. Several minutes later she arrived at his door flustered.
“Curtsey, slattern!” he boomed and Marie awkwardly bobbed, her head bowed to hide the tears welling in her eyes. “Bring me Miss MacLeod.”
“But I’ve only just served breakfast.”
Ramsey stood and loomed over his desk. “Do I need to cut your tongue from your head to ensure you keep it?” The words, barely loud enough to hear, struck with force.
Marie cowered and shook her head, staring at where the hem of her dress met the floorboards.
“Compose yourself and fetch me Miss MacLeod.”
“Yes, m’laird.” Her voice quivered but she rallied to keep her fear from swallowing the words. Another inelegant bob (and he made a note to have Mrs Myers drill her on etiquette again) and she withdrew from the room, until Ramsey called her back from behind the closing door.
“Don’t make me regret giving you a second chance, lassie.”
The door opened again before Ramsey had time to complete the next contract. Tabitha wore the same bedraggled excitement he had grown used to but there was something else in her. Something that made her even more tantalising in person than on paper. He had overheard one of the resident’s years ago remark on the “Quiet desperation” of one of their colleagues. Yet that underestimated what he saw now and what he had observed over night, and what he felt when a jolt of static electricity zapped him when he took her hand in his to kiss it.
“I don’t think I’ll get used to that,” she said, her hand bothering the medallion at her neck when the drew apart.
“Intriguing necklace,” Ramsey said, as he lowered himself into his seat after her.
“A circuit,” she said, “Well it was.”
“A well-loved gift,” he stated and noted the blush rise in her cheeks.
He handed her the parchment. “Your contract.”
Her eyes flicked back and forth over the tiny hand-printed text, then up and down, and then returned to the top of the page to begin again. The delicate line of her brows drew together.
“There is much to take in, but I am a man who believes in action rather than words. You have seen what Dalhousie offers.” She nodded her head but didn’t look up from the contract. “In exchange for six weeks here the Trust asks only for a completed work from you.”
“You will teach me to spin gold and I will offer up my first born in payment.”
Ramsey threw his head back and the howl of laughed startled her.
“Oh, lassie,” he chuckled, wiping the side of his eyes. “Do I look like Rumpelstiltskin?”
“Do I look like someone who will simply sign away my artistic ownership? My intergrity.”
She wasn’t hungry enough, or was she. He remembered the tempered manner in which she’d approached the initial orientation with the house. She had learned to be careful though it wasn’t born of calculating manipulation but…
That’s what it was. Beneath the excitement. Fear. Caution born of the real consequences of her decisions.
“Miss MacLeod, this contract does not assume the right of ownership over the work you produce here. It merely states that to collect all the benefits of the residency you are required to complete what you started. Otherwise—”
He opened his hands and watched the words sink in.
“Many of us begin but how few of us actually realise our dreams?”
“May I take a copy of the signed contract with me?” she asked, putting the paper down on the desk.
“Each is hand drafted and given each resident arrives without the final commitment to enter into the residency, I have only one for each of you. But,” he raised his hand to silence her. “I can assure you that upon arrival here next Wednesday I will have a copy for you to study at length, if that is your wish.”
“No spinning gold.”
“I believe you underestimate your worth as an artist, lassie.”
Tabitha smiled and he imagined her climbing, content, into the palm of his hand to dance on the keys of a typewriter. He dipped the quill into the ink well, wiped the residual from the tip and passed it to her.
“Before you do sign though,” he said, as she lowered her head and the quill to sign. “It would be remiss of me not to point out the confidentiality clause. In signing this you provide your promise to not speak of this, to anyone, until the expiration of the residency. You must understand that this…” He paused and rolled the ends of his moustache between his leather fingers. “If everyone were to know the secrets of Dalhousie.”
Tabitha nodded and scratched her name to the bottom of the document. Ramsey passed her the blotting paper, sighed as she pressed the paper against the wet ink. He took the contract from her, folded into three and warmed a wax stub over the flame of the candle on his desk and drew a small circle in melted wax over the edge of the page. He dressed his ring into the wax and the contract was sealed.
“I look forward to seeing you Wednesday evening at 9pm.” He stood to show her out the door. “Nine o’clock is a suitable time, for your family?”
“I think so,” Tabitha said and waves of giddy anticipation rolled off her and Ramsey flexed his hands by his sides. “I won’t disappoint you, Mr Ramsey.”
“You will be grand, lassie. Godspeed.”
He escorted her through the revolving door and left her to walk, alone, down the long driveway. The green of her dress faded slowly into the murk of the night until she was just the faint memory of a chemical rush washing through his veins.