Best and Worst of the First Week

8 Nov

So, it’s going ok for me as a novel writer.  My second shift job and I have kind of a system worked out in which I get up late, write for an hour or two, do some eating and showering, go get a pop, outline/write in my car for fifteen minutes before work, work, come home, write for another hour or so, go to bed.

So that’s been serving me pretty well.  Except the last couple nights I haven’t made my word count.   But that’s ok because I’ll catch up on Friday or Saturday, and also, whatever close enough.

Plot-wise, it’s coming along as well as anything I write does.  I’m the kind of girl who really digs structure and outlines and academic papers.  I’m not so great at fiction because I’m too lazy to actually do all the outlining that would really suit me.  I usually just like an idea a lot and start writing it and like the taste of it under my finger tips and start really caring about the characters and end up with basically nothing for a plot.  Blech.  Plotless sucks, but it’s where I’m at, most of the time.

So here I am now.  I’ve got a couple characters who are trying really hard to move the plot along, but then they end up being lame.  And I’ve got the characters I like who would rather just talk and interact with each other.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the Best and Worst of My First Week of National Novel Writing Month.


Our narrator in this section, Chief Engineer Henley, has just gotten a call from the Admiral telling him he’ll be put on administrative leave pending investigation.  His wife (the “she” in the first few lines) is talking to him about it.

“Administrative leave pending investigation,” I said finally.

“Paid?” she said.  She stepped a little closer.

“Yes.”  She stepped a little closer still.

“You know,” she said.  “Even if you get fired, you’re better off than a lot of those people.  You know how to make an engine run!  You can get scores of jobs.  What does Martel know how to do?  Fix her hair so it doesn’t touch her collar and bark out orders?”  I laughed, maybe a little more bitterly than I’d wanted.

“I’m going out,” I said.

“Ok.  Be back for lunch?”

“No,” I said.  “And don’t count on me for dinner, either.”

I decided it was time for a walk.  I’d better tell the truth this time.  Nobody would lie for me in a Mission Review Board; it’s too close to a Court Martial for any fraternity.

Maybe the review board would see that my actions had been justified.

This is the worst because 1. It’s boring. 2. Henley is my least fleshed-out character.  I have no idea about who he even is half the time.  3. I’m trying too hard to create suspense with the last line.  I don’t even know what his actions were.  Cheapest.


Our narrator in this section, Lead Investigator Kinjo, has just been rousted out of bed and taken to a diner by Vice Admiral Charbonneau–the (spoiler alert) guy who is pulling all the strings and is kinda shady.  They discuss what Charbonneau wants Kinjo to do.  Notes: Tripod = Kinjo’s three-legged Martian dog; Stoljarov = prim rear admiral leading review board; Dr. Earth = Martian Alcoholic Beverage

After coffee, the hangover that was producing the sloshing started to subside, and the sloshing instead became a faint rolling sensation.

“Well, get on with it, Charbonneau,” I said.  He looked at me for a moment, sipped his coffee.

“You’re a drunk and a louse, but you’re nevertheless the best,” he said.

“What’s the job?”

“Hear anything about The Persuasion?” he said.

“I try not to keep up with Space Service news.”

“Me neither,” our waitress said as she brought us our steak and eggs.  She winked at me and left.  He narrowed his beady little eyes.  It was hard to tell when they were narrowing both because of the beadiness of them and the fatness of his face.

“But have you heard anything about The Persuasion?” he said, more forcefully this time.

“Good name for a ship captained by Martel.  Lady could persuade a steer to give milk.”  I took a bite.  My eggs were undercooked.

“Yes,” he said.  “She just got back from Mars–”

“And boy are her arms tired?” I said.  He always interrupted me; I felt it my duty to do the same.

“Yes,” he said.  “Jeffs is dead.”  I put down my fork.

“She killed him?” Jeffs and I had worked together right before I had retired.  He had been a lieutenant then, angling to get promoted, angling for a spot on Martel’s crew.

“I didn’t say that,” he said.  “I need you to find out what happened.”  He put another creamer in his coffee and looked at me.

“There’s more,” I said.

“Yes,” he said.  I scooted my plate to the side.

“I’ll take the job.  Tell me what you want me to do.”

“The Persuasion left a month ago to secure an agreement with the governor of Rho-Beta to sell Consolidated Terran his portion of a xylenium mine.  Jeffs died… in an ‘engine accident’ shortly after they disembarked.  Martel appointed a lieutenant from security as her XO.  The engines failed.  She used the Red Line to land.”  He paused and let me absorb that.  Complete engine failure, unfortunately, was not that uncommon on ships as old as The Persuasion.  However, an investigation always followed use of the Red Line.  He continued, “Martel left most of the crew with the ship and took five crewmen with her in a Rover to complete the mission.”

“Sounds like standard Martel to me,” I said.  Stuff that wasn’t exactly right but wasn’t exactly wrong always sounded like Martel.

“The mission was not completed.  There may have been fraternization with Martians.  There may have been undue force used with Martians.”  Undue force I could understand, but fraternization with Martians did not sound like Martel.  She was an old Confederate; she’d have to be getting something pretty good out of the deal to let a Martian look at her, let alone touch her.

“And what do you want me to do?  Reinterview?  Go to Mars?” I said.  He set his jaw.

“I don’t have the funds to send you to Mars, and even if I did, what Martian is going to want to talk to the likes of you?”  I laughed.

“You bring up a good point, Admiral.  And that is the subject of funds.  What kind of funds do you have to pay me with?  Tripod can’t live on scraps alone.”

“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Kinjo.  I’ve got enough funds for that.”  He looked at his watch.  “I have to go get ready for the ball tonight.  You coming?”  I laughed.

“Why?  You need a date?” I said.

“No, but Stoljarov might.”  He laughed.

“Don’t tempt me.  I’ve done worse than Stoljarov.”

“See you tonight, then?” he said.

“I have an appointment with Dr. Earth,” I said.

“And Dr. Earth doesn’t like to be kept waiting.  Just don’t drink too much of him; you’ve got a job to do in the morning.”

 This is one of my better sections because it gives us exposition and builds suspense organically and also gives us information about characters organically.  Also, Kinjo is based on my dad, who is the best.


Current Wordcount: 11556

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