Things don’t always go as planned. When I started this manuscript project I had a title, a heroine, a mysterious object and a basic story line. It was based on my short story - The Guest Upstairs - inspired by a random steampunk photo and the concept of the Turk Chess Machine. It very quickly changed form and has been growing organically since then.
My next step was to jot down a dirigible (airship) scene that had been filtering into my dreams. I had read articles suggesting it was useful to begin by writing a ‘middle chapter’ – to get the feel for the characters. Returning to write the first chapter later would produce a stronger first chapter. Not a bad idea.
As I continue to write, adding and shuffling around the story’s event timeline, that second chapter seems to be sliding further towards the middle of the book and a major rewrite. The events in chapter 3 have spilled over to chapter 4 (and a much more satisfying end to Chapter 3). Characters, motives and endgames have changed. So have the Chapter titles. All is in flux as the characters reveal themselves and their plans.
Chapter 4 – has begun with a 11 hour writing marathon and about 1500 words…
Here is an updated summary for The Department of Curiosities:
- Chapter 1: Of Rivals, Surprises and Escapes -approx 2500 words
“I think you have something of mine that I accidentally dropped?” The stranger’s green eyes glinted as he smiled back, scrutinising Tillie’s bustle.“Sir, we have only just met and have not been properly introduced,” she replied curtly.
- Chapter 2: Of Silks, Kippers and Secrets - approx 4800 words.
I have battled with the revisions (especially one scene!) since 18th December. Dilemma #1: how much background reveal is enough/too much?
The smell of smoked kippers greeted Tillie as she entered the dining room. The buffet boasted a full range of delights, many of which were her favourites: bacon, fried mushrooms, eggs, toast and jam. Kippers were not high on her list.
- Chapter 3: The Inventor, The Department and Curiosities. First draft: 4950 words. Dilemma #2: Is it time for some destruction and mayhem?Favourite Passage (first draft):
“As Tillie reached for the banister, a pale grey limb snaked out of the blackness and snatched at her sleeve. Its sinewy talons floundered at the blue silk.
Not my new silk dress!”
- Chapter 4: Of Diaries, Ghostmen and Dispicible Acts. (not confirmed) First draft: 1500 words so far.
Dilemma #3: reworking the events so there is only one explosive event per chapter.
- Chapter 5: Of Assassinations, Resurrections and Discoveries. (title may change)
- Chapter ?: Of Trains, Dirigibles and Steamships. – First draft: 2100 words so far (incomplete) - This was the first snippet to follow The Guest Upstairs and specifically written for this manuscript.
At 1st draft only:
Chapter 4 begins.