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Day 6: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.

At 20:44—Office
... Lost at sea, she's rescued by a ship and wished she had never set foot on it....
othing new on this story. Nothing came to me while I was sleeping or when on my errands. I thought something would come about, but nope. So be it.
I have two chapters written. Not sure if they are any good but they are there. And so Chp. 3 to write. And I don’t see the scene because I’m not sure what should happen. The question is what is the cliffhanger. Nope. 3 about her, not the ship and crew.
And I’ve already written the last line of the chapter. She wakes up and feels immense pain. Not sure if I should mention blood in the water. This chapter or the following.
So it’s early dawn or not quite sunrise. And she’s in the cockpit unconscious. But how do I write it from her POV if she’s out. Hmmm. I can do it but should I do it? And I don’t want to go into her mind as a dream. I’m not going write about any type of dream. I don’t like them [in stories]. Too fanciful [weird, surreal] and a cheap trick. Keep it grounded in the real world. I know I can have her go in and out of consciousness. [That makes more sense.]
At 21:49
That went well. I wrote 5 pages for Chp 3. I had something to go with and went with it. In reading it I see the first part is summary hence a touch boring but it’s short. You can’t write everything as action. There’s going to be summary [somewhere at some point]. And I stayed in her POV. She was conscious but intermittent. In the chapter it was a period where she awakes but we end with her discovering she has a gashing [maybe I meant gash] on her head then blacks out.
What now for Chp 4? It’s the crew and ship. They don’t know she’s out there. (Quick note. I did enjoy writing the chapter. I was in the moment and felt better as a result. I think that’s a god thing. It’s encouraging as I want to keep writing. In fact I wanted to keep writing more of the chapter but I’m consciously [purposely] keeping them short. That’s the way I’m crafting this story. [And it departs significantly from my previous novels where chapter lengths varied from a few pages to tens of pages.]
Time for some food and I will continue.
At 01:30
I’m feeing mentally good at the moment, but also a bit exhausted. The was was some exercise.
I had good results working on the novel. I wrote Chp 3. I enjoyed the process. [I’m repeating myself.] And now I want to get back to it but I’m feeling tired and exhausted. Muscles are aching. So I’m torn. Go to bed or push through? I probably can’t do either.
[Wherein I needlessly get sidetracked…]
I used the Panini press to make dinner. It worked but I actually “pressed” the fajita… It was an interesting result. Warmed, compact, and the shell a bit crispy. Usually I make them with soft shells. The one had beef and cheese and I unrolled it to add sour cream and salsa. Not the best approach. For the 2nd I added the sauces before cooking. Ugh. It leaked out the ends. So neither worked.
Ugh. This notebook isn’t my journal. I’m writing in the wrong place.
At 02:15
Back to the novel. It’s not unusual for a European captain to work on ships all the over the world. [By that I mean employed by ship owners all the world.] At the moment I envisioned a Chinese crew, at least Asian because the ship is run by Chinese. But what if the 2nd mate [or first officer] was Dutch or Norwegian? Possible. And it would better explain why he’s not in on it. And why he would help and why he would end up dead. [Well, maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t.] And here’s a reason he’s on the ship. Insurance. He’s got experience on ships. The insurance a customer would have to pay to ship with a Chinese shipping company is [would be] higher. Jettison insurance. Possible. Most insurance comes from Western companies They can offer better rates with a Dutch captain but for show, for pride, the Captain is Chinese. So that’s possible but it telegraphs his involvement. So I’m not liking any of this.
I had an image of her in the infirmary on the ship recovering. She wants to get in touch with her family. They allow, don’t allow it. Fake it. They could say they are awaiting her arrival in Hong Kong. No way to get in touch before hand. Perhaps the 2nd mate does ty but others sabotage…
One thing to work out is how to keep the 2nd mate from find things out. It almost feels like a comedy. Ugh. Maybe he’s only given watch. No wandering around to check out how things are going. That’s possible. [but highly unusual.]
Nothing terribly original has happened in the first 3 chapters. I need to get it happening in Chp. 4. We learn something about the woman trapped on the ship. Here’s something I’m seeing. The captain wakes up and there’s a girl in bed. He takes her to a ‘cell’ and locks here in. That would be unexpected. And how to present it in the least offensive way possible? I don’t want people to be revolted. Turned off. Disgusted. Hard to say how people will react. There’s a lot worse happening and reported in the news. These days the boundaries are pushed. People can deal with it. And it would create a train wreck in anticipation. What I mean is they now know bad shit is happening on the ship. And certainly in the blurb that is hinted at. “Lost at sea, she’s rescued by a ship and wished she had never set foot on it.” Already have thought about the marketing. Has to be that way.
Back to Chp. 4. So it’s dawn, morning on the ship. The captain is waking up. He’s in his cabin. With him is a young Asian girl. She’s naked in bed. Sleeping. He has to get her out and back to her cell. Getting locked up. That’s the twist to end the chapter. And what if she’s not supposed to be in bed still. She should have left. He barks her out. Someone else has to take her to the cage. That means a shift in POV. That’s okay. I don’t personally like the Captain being mean to this woman. It’s something that’s not in me. But it shows the nasty side of him. [Show he’s a baddie.]
Would there be a cabin steward? Maybe. Normally the captain would take her, but he’s rushed. And what clothes does she put on. A pair of mechanic overalls and cap. Hide her body to a certain extent. [These days, a commercial ship is not the sole domain of men. There are women crew and officers. And in the military. The chief engineer for the HMS Invincible (Royal Navy aircraft carrier) Major (I forget her name) is a woman. Major position of responsibility. And bravo to her.]
The other question is where do they keep these women. It could be the captain wasn’t in his quarters. He was in the special area. He’s still going to leave her locked up. That’s another approach. That makes more sense. I’ll go that route.
Not happy with my output rate. If have 75 chapters with three pages per that’s only 225 pp. Need at least 250pp I think. 80 is 240pp. 85 is 255. Right now it’s been 1 chapter a day. Three months to complete. Need to pick up the pace. Need to write a least 2 chapters a day. [And with the three month hiatus, the time table has shifted. Less concerned about going all out but instead focusing on getting it done right.]
I have the details for Chp. 4 [in my mind]. And I know Chp. 5. More with Leanne as she struggles to deal with her wounds. It ends when she finds the first-aid kit and everything is a mess and useless. Then she has to get off her distress beacon that’s the next chapter 6. I think 6 should be about her family back home. They are checking her status, the mother, and knowing something isn’t right.
Some back-story. Leanne has sailed and raced sailboats all her life. Dreams of the Olympics but couldn’t beat the men. She joins a crew on an around the world trip. That was a success. Then she tried to do a solo around the world but first did the race across the Atlantic. That was a success. Onto the round the world. It failed. Why? She became ill. Discovered it was cancer but she licked it. [Cliché]. Now this second trip. She had something to prove. [Why? To herself? To her parents? To other sailors? Need some interesting motivation there.] She wants respect. She wants the pride of saying she did it. Another reason. [I guess I did think of it. But really it should be because she loves being at sea. That would be the best motivation. It reminds me of a quote from the movie Cool Runnings where the John Candy says, ‘If you’re not good enough without a gold medal, you’ll never be good enough with one.’ In other words: Be humble and enjoy the journey.]
On the crew race, perhaps someone was lost at sea in the “roaring forties.” Life [two words I can’t read and it’s my own handwriting!] and washed away and no chance of finding him. [Based on real events.] That could be something that haunts her. Realizes it could have been her. Maybe it was bother, boyfriend. Being near the spot brings her near [nearer the person]. Maybe she wanted to drop a wreath. [Maybe she has suicidal ideation.]
Now who is the family back home? Moneyed. Instead of money from a company, maybe it’s money from some type of patent. Maybe a drug. AI. [Artificial Intelligence] Something to do with farming or food or… Something that had helped people. I want that to create sympathy. And money is needed for the ending. [Also explains the ability to spend so much on sailboats and equipment.]

James Piper
Kitchener, Ontario
Posted 2017/03/29 at 19h43ET in The Deep Blue Hold | Writing A Novel


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