This Week in Novel Writing

This Week in Novel Writing

I worked on my novel 5 of 7 days this last week. Time-wise, most of my work was editing of the first draft written in November. In terms of impact, yesterday’s work was the homerun. When I wrote during NaNoWriMo, it was fast and furious and often a decision I’d made days or weeks prior didn’t support what I wanted to do on a given day. I knew when it came time to edit and revision my chapters into Draft 2, I’d have to reconcile those differences. Yesterday, while working on a major reveal in Chapter 14, I had to pull what I’d done in November in line with the work I’ve done in editing. In addition, I’d been wondering how to pull some other strands together that lead to the big climax. My writing in November was low on those details which is fine in the first draft. This time around, though, I needed every chapter pulling in the same direction. That was the big win from yesterday’s work. I worked on the antagonists, the bad guys who made the mess my protag has to wade through. I’m really pleased with how this is coming along now: I’ve got some false flags, some drama and a big finish. Having come up with this set of scenes and characters, I will also go back and plant some hints and foreshadowing in previous chapters.

To celebrate my progress, I will share a snippet or two without spoiling the surprises I have planned.

Over the previous month, the two had been out to the park four or five times, each time going to the fortune teller’s building and each time finding nothing but the wrecked, present day reality. No amount of asking, begging or entreating brought either ghost out into the open. It was discouraging and for Erika, gave more strength to the growing idea that it had all been some weird hallucination. 

Erika didn’t expect anything different on this day. Spring was in a wrestling match with winter, moments of warming sun punctuated by sudden surges of cold wind. This was the time of year that no matter what you chose to wear out, you regretted it at some point. Erika was wearing heavy socks, hiking boots and an insulated puffy jacket, topped with a stocking cap. Within two blocks, they regretted their choice, unzipping the coat and stuffing the hat into a pocket. After another couple of blocks, a sharp, crystalline wind blew the open jacket back like bat wings and Erika felt as though their nipples would freeze right off.  Larry didn’t seem to be having any trouble in his lightweight jacket. 

Not long after, they were stepping around puddles on their way to the back corner of the park. Erika made a deal with themself: if no one appeared offering help, they were done. If WW wanted them to solve the mystery, they should be willing and eager to help. Otherwise, it just wasn’t worth it for Erika. 

Larry and Erika stood in the vestibule, neither reaching for the inner door. Despite Erika’s resolve to quit if they didn’t get additional help, they weren’t sure now. Though this quest had been aggravating it had also been exciting. It had helped them through the roughest part of this year, giving them something to focus on besides harassment at school and the rejection of their father. If they walked away without solving the mystery, would they feel relief or failure?

Erika bit their lip and looked at Larry, “You first.”

Larry nodded, not knowing exactly what was going on in Erika’s head, but having some idea. 

They stepped inside. Nothing happened. Not a glimmer or shimmer of transformation was evident. Wind whistled through the hole in the ceiling, the smell of moldy cloth was an almost physical presence and Erika felt deeply disappointed, rather than relieved. 

“Dammit”, they said in a husky whisper.

Larry blew out a long breath. “Well, I guess that’s it. I don’t know what I saw that one time, or what you saw, but I think it’s gone. Whatever it was.”

Erika shouted at the empty room, “You asked me to figure out who murdered you, you want me to save the park from the wrong people, where are you? We haven’t found anything that isn’t publicly known, no leads, nothing. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I can’t do this for you. I don’t know why you chose me but I can’t do this. I quit.”

Erika turned and walked back out, shoulders slumped, tears in their eyes. It wasn’t just a dream, it wasn’t a hallucination. I know something happened here, why wouldn’t they show themselves? Why have they abandoned me?

Erika’s head was down and that’s why Larry saw what had happened first. His sharp intake of break caused Erika to lift their head. 

“Oh my god”, was all they could say in response to what they saw.

The magic that had previously transformed the inner room from wreckage into Madame Esmerelda’s parlor had been let loose on the park outside the room. The swirling breeze carried the smells and sounds of the amusement park to them. People strolled around, looking at booths, lining up for a visit to the House of Horrors, sitting at picnic tables eating carnival food. A colorfully dressed stilt walker came around the corner from the main area of the park, juggling, a small band of children trailing behind. A man and woman, dressed in old fashioned clothing, walked right past Larry and Erika as if they weren’t there, and stepped into Esmerelda’s parlor. Erika watched them and wondered if they should follow, but Larry tugged on their sleeve. 

“Look!” he said.

Erika turned in the direction he was pointing. A half dozen yards away, holding a package of hot peanuts, was WW Fairview. He smiled broadly at them and waved them over. 

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