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Day 5: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

No work on the novel on Day 4.
Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.

At 18:31Office
... if I use Leänne instead of Leanne how will people react...
esterday was Sunday and I took it off, plus I was dealing with some mental health issues. I know this story is something that is simply a matter of putting in the time to make it happen. I’m supposed to be working on it as much as I can but I haven’t been doing that. Two main reasons. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on a story. Then there’s the issues of my mental health. Things happen. I get down and it impacts on my writing. I might be using it as an excuse, but it’s clearly something I need to deal with. I have to find a schedule I can work with. Perhaps I need to put this first and cut out other things. Not sure but I will figure it out.
A name for the hero came to me. For the moment going with Leanne or is it Leanna? Should be Leänne. It’s a diphthong [with two sounds so use a diaeresis—and that will confuse some people, alienate some etc]. I may go with another name. Not critical at the moment.
Wondering if I should start writing the draft. I have some scenes. Won’t know what follows until I get into the details by writing [by starting to write] the first draft. But I’m feeling some trepidation and I shouldn’t be. Start writing the draft and when I hit a wall do some research etc. And I know I can do that. And should I write some crap, so be it. I can rewrite. One issue with writing long hand is I won’t have a word count so I can’t track my progress. I’m not going to worry about that. Write as much as I can.
At 20:00
Okay I have a notebook for writing the first draft set up. [Decided to use a large spiral notebook instead of loose leaf because it keeps it together. And yet, I find using a spiral notebook awkward. Ugh.]
The fist chapter is her on the boat. Make it clear she’s in trouble and it ends with the mast snapping back into the cockpit and she goes unconscious. Other than riding it out, what does she do? She’s trying to loosen the backstay.

At 21:19
I wrote five pages and I have a first chapter. It took some doing to get back into a writing-fiction mode. I wasn’t quite in a zone. A lot of going back over and edits. Trying to not do that. And I have to turn off the music. I found it distracting. But able to write and I can feel it now. A bit like taking a drug. There’s a high. It’s a good feeling.
Need a name for her sailboat. It has to be reflective of her. Maybe the name of a Greek goddess…I like Nike as a name but... [no one thinks of the reference to Greek mythology]. I’ll get something.
It’s time to eat some food. Afterwards I’ll work on the outline for Chapter 2 etc—plot these out and do more writing. You could say I met my daily quota, but I’m not working that way. I want to write this as fast as I can. So plotting and thinking then writing.
At this point, it’s all long hand. Nothing in the computer. I haven’t even created a folder for it. The questions is when do I type up the daily writing? I haven’t decided. When I worked on The Protectors, I saved all the [loose-leaf] pages and started the computer process when I was done the first draft. That ended up being a long process. I think it makes sense to type up material as I go. And edit as I go. [As of March 16th, I haven’t typed up any of the draft pages, but will soon. My original approach has been modified. Until I get back on track.]

At Midnight.
I want to work out what happens in Chapter 2. I think I’ve already done it in these notes. Time to review them.
Okay. I read them and I think I know what’s going to happen in Chapters 2, 3 & 4. 2 & 4 are on the ship. 3 is back with Leänne on the boat.
Chapter 2. On the bridge. 2nd mate on watch. Captain and 3rd mate off watch. 2nd mate is on his first voyage for this ship. Lots of experience elsewhere on smaller ships and he knows nothing about what is happening onboard [vis-à-vis the kept women]. He’s on the bridge when they pick up the SOS beacon. He wants to respond because that’s the right thing to do. Calls an alarm, but the Captain overrides it. What has to happen is the feeling the ship isn’t going to stop [to help her] but we know they should stop. [Create some tension.]
Sidetracked with an electrical issue. Power bar died.
I seem to have too much happening in Chapter 2. I can focus on the radar screen. Leänne’s boat comes into focus then goes out of focus. So it’s a tease. The ship is a potential rescuer.
I feel I need to know where this ship is. Where is it going? And where’s she? She left Newport, Rhode Island for round the world. Heads south to round South Africa then up and around Australia. Over to South America and back up to RI. That I can live with. It’s plausible. [I think they traverse the other direction. My memory is failing me on that. Have to research.] And she’s near the ship in question. And why would the ship be there. Making a trip from Hong Kong to South Africa. It goes every 2 or 3 months. But what does it bring back? Maybe gold, but that’s a small quantity. And not ore, copper, diamonds…Not it would have to be food, leathers, wood. Not sure. It matters but it doesn’t. It’s not that important.
Then I’m wondering about some specific about the crew on the bridge. Or is it a wheelhouse? I need some details on that. And the names of these Chinese. I feel I should be doing some research…

At 04:47
Where did the time go? Anyway I wrote Chapter 2. Five more draft pages. That’s about two and a half in the book. So five pages. Perhaps 1000 words. Maybe less, but it is pages [written]. It’s something I can work with. But I do have doubts. Is there enough detail? I’m paring it down to the minimal amount. And I’m trying to create tension. I think I am but there’s doubts. It doesn’t work if people don’t care about our hero. (Or heroine). So far I’ve shown her to be adventurous and daring. A fighting spirit. Not easily put down. These are admirable characteristics. But more needs to come out. That will happen. Fill in as needed.
So what’s Chapter 3 about? I originally thought it was about her waking up and dealing with day break.
I know what will help. Surprises. When things happen that aren’t expected by the reader. That will make a difference. [Obviously.] So far, nothing that’s unusual. I need to get there. Hint at the Captain and his imprisoned women. The utter outrage: The crew knowing there’s a ship in distress and not offering assistance.
Chapter 3. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s take warning.” I thought I’d throw that down. I might use it. [If you hang around yacht clubs as I have, you will hear sailors repeat this adage.]
For this chapter, back to Leänne on her boat. I was going to have her conscious, but she could be still out. We get an overview of the dire shape she’s in. End with her waking up. [Obvious point of view issues here. If she’s unconscious and there’s no one else there, who’s telling the story? Problem to avoid.] When she comes to, she felt the pain shoot through her body. I like that. I feel like drafting it but I also feel like going to bed. It’s late. I can let the scene percolate in my mind. And other scenes.
I can see why Patterson’s book have short chapters. You’ll read a chapter because it’s short but by the end of the you won’t want to stop. You see the next one is so short and you keep going. It also helps for people who read on a commute. Easy to pick up and put down [sort of]. [I’m not explaining it as well as I have it in my head.] It also reflects the nature of people today. People who are looking for a quick buzz followed by another. [Hence the popularity of smartphones connected to various social media and news sites. At least that’s a plausible explanation.]
Chp. 3 is about her. Chp. 4 Back on the ship. I was thinking the Captain comes on watch. And then what’s I’m confusing [I’m confused]…no…there’s too much happening. Picking up the distress beacon. Ignoring it and then responding. And events aren’t matching up between A and B. [Not sure what I meant.]
Here’s the thing. I want the potential for trouble from the Chinese ship to be evident as soon as possible. Oh yes. The Captain does something to check on the women. That will create mystery….
[See I could start the book with life on the Chinese ship and the perils of these women. That creates mystery and curiosity. But at the same time I’d like to start the novel with our hero. I can’t do both. And the hero starting point isn’t that interesting or unique or something else. Ugh.]
Time for sleep.

James Piper
Kitchener, Ontario
Posted 2017/03/25 at 07h16ET in The Deep Blue Hold | Writing A Novel


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