Days 13 #nanowrimo

day 13Words for the day: 1344 (target was 2.5K)
T-shirt: Another bikini day
Best music vibe: Dire Straits

Bianca: Behind every engineer is an awesome woman who is probably smarter than him anyway. Just sayin’
Stacey: Except if that engineer is a woman. And then it might just be her mother behind her!

It’s actually Day 14 and I am trying to remember what the hell happened yesterday, other than Dave came home and the quietly and hardly cultivated routines all fell apart. Thus its 6am and I’m playing catch up before I go and dissolve into the novel.

Ahhh, yes. I remember. There was an outstanding spat between Tabitha and the Sculptor to engineer. And it was the toast the Ramsey give Tabitha that sets it off. Her rally against ‘the woman behind the scenes’. Like a few days ago, I was able to draw on information from, of all things, an Engineering documentary from 10 years ago and insert some feminist righteous anger about Emily Roebling who was the wife and daughter-in-law of the original designers. She is merely a footnote in the story of the Brooklyn Bridge even though she oversaw the construction of the bridge for 14 years (until completion), taught herself calculus and advance engineering design, project managed it from the day to day onsite issues to consulting with politicians, other engineers and the workers.

While I try and find my feet again, take in a little of Tabitha’s righteous anger as the scene is set up for these two to tear each other to pieces in the not too distant future.

NB: After getting all excited that I could roll out my second dare today, it’s been put back to another dinner party conversation.

* * *

“It’s a good thing, Christian’s not here,” the sculptor leaned in and whispered in her ear as the food arrived, placed at strategic locations along the shorter table.

“And how is that,” sneered Tabitha.

“Your opinion wasn’t asked for.”

“My opinion wasn’t, what?”

“Just saying.”

She glared back at him. “Just saying, what?”

“It’s not the time and place for it.”

“And where would be the time and place for it?”

All those times she’d sat back and said nothing. Hell, she would not sit back and say nothing. Or worse, apologise to this bohemian fossil.

“Your art.”

“My art,” Tabitha spat. “You are telling me I should sit here and allow terrible things be said about me and wait to write them down, deal with them when I get to the page, because… because then no one is upset by a little passionate debate.” Tabitha took a moment to catch her breath. “The very act of that, of waiting for the right time to bring it up, perpetuates all this shit.”

“Just saying.”

“So you said.” She took the lid off the turine and filled her bowl, thinking soup would be kinder on her stomach folded in on itself like a flattened origami figurine. She replaced the lid and turned to the sculptor who was helping himself to the warm bread rolls. “Perhaps you can do us all a favour and just say nothing unless you have something to add to the conversation.”

“It’s the typical response isn’t it, to batter down any dissenting opinion.”

“When your dissenting opinion is relevant and adds to the debate, I welcome your views. But you know what, I live day-in and day-out the dissenting opinion and I can tell you it does nothing to add to my life, or that of my best friend, or my daughter. Patriarchy is –”

“I was under the impression we were talking original thought. The patriarchy –”

Tabitha pushed her bowl away and the clear vegetable soup slopped onto the starched tablecloth. She pushed her chair out and stood.

“I’m feeling unwell,” she announced and walked out the door without a backward glance, her stomach erupting with hunger as the smells of dinner followed her down the hallway.

Day Twelve #nanowrimo

day 12Words for the day: 2144 (target was 2.5K)
T-shirt: 2010 Official ‘Snakes and Ladders’ NaNoWriMo t-shirt
Best music vibe: UNKLE

The love of a woman will undo a man’s very sanity. It will pick him apart at the seams and restitch him in a way that only he can feel. And the world will carousel around him as if nothing has changed. But different he is, for to love is to gain and lose the entire world in a heart beat. ~David Ramsey

As a storm bears down on my corner of the world, just as there’s also a storm brewing in Dalhousie.

Today I reached the midpoint of the novel. Coming in at 36.5K this means the novel will be somewhere in the vicinity of 75K when finished. That means I am literally in the middle and if I keep writing, there will be time aplenty to end this before the month.

Today I got to delve into the other side of Ramsey and I was surprised at what I found. All manner of truly smart things come out of his mouth (and Christian too making me realise more than ever how much of a CHANNEL I am for characters. I couldn’t think this stuff up if I tried!)

David Ramsey is modeled on a real life man from the mid 17th Century. He was the first master of the Guild of Clock and Watchmakers. He was Clockmaker to James the First but fell from favour, ended up in debtor’s prison and his death is recorded as a post script in a letter from his son.

While Ramsey loved his cogs and springs, he like most of the other scientists of his time made all manner of ‘instruments’ and was deeply interested in the occult. When I stumbled across him back in April looking for information on clock making I had no idea he would end up front and centre of my story.

And now, after all this time, I know what motivates him. Plus, how it is possible that Christian may become the next Ramsey.

The scene that ran through my head in the depths of the night, I’m not sure if it will play out just the way I saw it. It’s a bit like the scene with Tabitha and the Sculptor. It came to me in the dead of night and I thought it far too awful to work within the story. But I made it happen and I suspect, given it’s the same antagonist the same will happen with Christian. But that’s all saved up for tomorrow.

Yesterday I gave you a look at the Brothers Hammond, today it is my pleasure to present Ramsey!

* * *

“Do you love Tabitha,” Ramsey asked, swinging the lamp off the bench and holding it beneath him so the light played tricks with his face.

“I am afraid to know my heart.”

“Afraid you should be.” He caressed the music box briefly and turned back to Christian. “I loved a woman. Her name was Antoinette. That was Antoinette’s silhouette in the music box. There is another of her buried somewhere in this house, a portrait, painted by Paul van Somer, not a silhouette.

“Why not put it front a centre where everyone can see it, such a fine painting that it is? To do so would be to place it where I would pass it every day. Two, three, a dozen times a day. Do I wish to say to the world this is what I loved a lost. To relive each time that loss as I gaze up at her. No. I took her painting and put it somewhere safe. And as long as I live, so does she. To die is to truly lose her forever because only I am left to remember her.”

Ramsey looked up and realised he was talking aloud.

“Where did you meet her?”

“I applaud you Mr MacLeod either as an ignoramus of merit or an astute scholar of time. For you ask where and not when. Good, good.”

He began to pace and the lantern threw chaotic shadows against the walls. The machines at the back appeared to momentarily live and then die.

“We are not so un-alike, Mister MacLeod.”

He stopped pacing as though he needed to halt the forward momentum for his thoughts to catch up with him.

“Where? Yes, Where? I met Antoinette at the King’s court. She had come to be lady-in-waiting to the Queen. And both Paul and I fell passionately in love with her. Only I was married and Paul wasn’t. The painting, it is his. Forever am I tormented to see her through the eyes of the man who was my friend, who did not have the tenacity or imagination to be her lover for all time.”

He began to pace again and his mechanical minions lived and died by the swing of the lantern.

“I lost everything to try and win her: my commission at court, the small amount of money I had saved, my house, my reputation, everything until I was thrown in debtor’s prison. And it was there she finally came to me and confessed her love. By the time I had bought my way out of debtor’s prison, it was too late. She was dead from a fever. Paul had returned to Brussels and I was alone again in a life I didn’t want to be part of.

“I was old before my time. Worn out. Prison had leached from my will to live. I thought I was dead inside. Rather than go home and attempt to resurrect myself I died in a fire. Easy enough to do back then, not so much poking around in the ashes to decipher the who, what, when and why. And David Ramsey, the first Master of the Clock and Watchmakers Guild died and I was born in his ashes.”

He lifted the wick of the kerosene lamp and unlocked a door on the far wall, motioned for Christian to follow him.

“I have spent the rest of my life experimenting with the parameters of time…” Christian stepped into a huge circular room. The light bounced off a massive clockwork mechanism in the middle. “…trying to find my way back.”

Day Eleven #nanowrimo

Day 11Words for the day: 3817 (target was 2.5K)
T-shirt: No t-shirt today, it was write from home in your bikini day
Best music vibe: “War Stories” album UNKLE

My NaNo stats tell me that at this rate I will finish in five days time. On Saturday I will have reached my goal. If only my goal was just 50K.

I joked that I like days like today. Days where writing does not feel like opening a vein that refuses to bleed. Conversation always drives my stories and when you put seven people in a room together, there is going to be plenty to say, thank you very much.

Plus the last 24 hours has had a few good reveals. I know who Marie is now. The boys in the band with Becca revealed themselves in brothers (The Brothers Hammond) and I finally worked out the narrative link that gets Christian down into the basement with Ramsey.

What has been most interesting has been revisiting the midpoint. As the word count midpoint came closer (and I relented and wrote down everything that needed to occur between where I was at and where the midpoint would be) I realised that perhaps I’d got the midpoint wrong. After all it is the pivot. It turns every 180 degrees.

The midpoint is not Tabitha going into the sculptor’s chamber. Something has already happened to make Tabitha rethink going to the sculptor. By that point Christian’s behaviour has taken a weird trajectory away from her and that is the impetus for her to go to the sculptor.

So I now think the midpoint belongs to the scene where Christian goes down into the basement with Ramsey and is lured into service, in what appears at first to be a little innocent tinkering, but becomes Christian’s obsession as he is able to extrapolate the potential the opportunity presents in the long term.

Which brings me to today’s extract. How about some characters we haven’t seen too much of yet?

In Act One Gordo arrives at the Orientation Evening in a 70’s shirt and pinstriped pants. His brother Ham in a tweed jacket and too-tight jeans. Gordo is the younger brother, plays guitar, does the electronic loop, sings a bit. Ham is a 3rd year medical student and plays the drums. And he’s another lurking character with an interesting back story and arc.

* * *

“Is she always such a loud pain in the arse?” Christian said to Gordo.

“She does the whole bad girl, righteous anger thing well. Underneath it all, she’s not so bad. You know Chrissy Amphlett, the whole school-girl get up. The bitch thing is Becca’s costume.”

“It worked great until we come out of it on the wrong side of the street press,” Ham butted in.

“That was once,” Gordo defended.

“And the whole Jayden as Voldemort thing.”

“Let the Jayden thing go, okay. He left because he wanted to.”

“He left because of Becca.”

“You know about the Rolling Stones, yeah?” Christian said slicing into the middle of the brothers’ argument.

“Everyone knows about the Stones.”

“But about the Stones, about being bad boys.” Gordo and Ham looked liked they’d been cut free from the moorings of the conversation. “There couldn’t be another Beatles, right, so management created the Rolling Stones’s image as the anti-Beatles,” Christian explained.

“But over time they became the bad boys of rock and roll; a self-fulfilling prophecy. And they copped it badly. Where the Beatles waltzed from country to country, gig to gig, and were generally the darlings of the press, the Rolling Stones had gigs turn into riots and shut down, they were hounded and misrepresented by the press, harassed coming through customs and that was before Keith and all the shit with drugs. Then there was Ultimo. You want to be careful what you are creating today. It might not be who you want to be tomorrow.”

Day Four #nanowrimo

Day FourWords for the day: 5240 (as a pretty much an all-day slog)
T-shirt: Ninja House Party
Best song vibe: “Run to You” Bryan Adams (1985)

“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?

In Summary

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.”

“No m’laird.”

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.

*For more info on the eight plot points see:
How to Write A Script Outline
Step Outlines Can Be Fun