How To Write a Novel — Exploring

Day 43 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Patrick Hodskins on Unsplash

I’ve started something scary here on Medium. It’s something I’ve done before, but never in public. I have a process that I’m going to follow, and I’d like to share it with you.

If you want to follow the journey from the start, go here.

If you missed yesterday’s, you can find it here.

Day 43 — Exploring

Sometimes it is good to look back at where you’ve come and forward to where you have to go. I started writing this book six weeks ago and I am approaching the middle of the first draft. If I continue at this pace, then I should be done with the first draft by the end of February, in about four weeks’ time.

Up to this point, I have been writing every day, and I love the momentum that this creates. It is hard to get started from not moving, but once you are going, it then becomes harder to stop. We have just been on a brief break to Sydney, however, and it proved difficult to find the space and time to write. I could have done it, but decided that it would be more beneficial to take a break. So I allowed myself three days off.

Now I’m coming back to writing again, and I know it will be harder to write today because I haven’t done it for a few days. But I will put in the extra effort and get moving again, because I have a novel to write!

In this scene, a variety of different story threads come together. It is a transition before Staghorn solves Charlie’s problem of how can he make enough cupcakes, and Charlie investigates the penthouse.

  • Charlie despairs he will ever be able to make enough cupcakes.
  • Sandy tries to cheer Charlie up.
  • Charlie flatters Staghorn and asks for a tour, but she refuses.
  • Staghorn tells them to keep themselves busy.
  • Sandy is playing a game of hide and seek with Woofy, Boo and Kay
  • Staghorn is very mysterious. There are many deliveries going up and down the lifts.
  • Charlie discovers the lift to the penthouse.

Against the clock

Today, more than ever, it is important for me to not procrastinate. In order to make sure I write and keep going, I’m going to set a timer for fifteen minutes and write against the clock. Three bursts and I’ll have my 750 words for the day.

The next morning Charlie found it hard to get out of bed. He’d dreamt he was in a cloud of flying cupcakes. Every time he tried to catch hold of one it drifted away from him. No matter how hard he tried, he could never collect any of them.

When he woke his bad mood made him pull the covers over his head and hide. Eventually Sandy knocked and came in with Woofy, Boo and Kay in tow.

“Hey Charlie, want to play hide and seek?” she asked.

“No, go away,” Charlie grunted from under the bedcovers.

“Or I could help you make cupcakes? Staghorn said it would take two weeks with just you, so we could do it together in one.”

“Doesn’t work like that. You don’t know how to make them.” Charlie was getting hot under the covers. He threw it off and scowled at his sister, “Just go play and leave me alone.”

She looked hurt but Charlie just wanted her to go. Woofy barked and she herded the three animals out the room. “Alright, I’ll go play with these three. Come find us if you change your mind.”

Charlie lay there until his stomach forced him up and he went to find something for breakfast. At the lift he had to wait as it was busy. When it arrived, the doors opened but a pile of large packages were crammed into the roller-coaster seats and all round the sides. Staghorn’s voice came from behind them, “You’ll have to get the next one.”

So Charlie stood waiting whilst the lift whizzed upwards, then it stopped for a long time on one floor and he assumed Staghorn must be emptying the boxes out.

Whilst he waited he decided he needed to do something to get out of the slump he was in. He couldn’t face the cupcakes again, but what if after breakfast he investigated the penthouse? After what the cleaner had told him, his curiosity about what dead thing Miasmus was keeping up there had been kindled and it would be a good distraction.

The lift returned, the doors opened to reveal Staghorn slumped in one of the seats. Charlie shuffled inside and sat next to her. Looking at the red faced Staghorn gave him an idea. He knew the penthouse was on the top floor, but it would be easier if he had a good reason to be there.

“You look like you are doing something very important,” he said.

Staghorn took a deep breath as the lift began the countdown to its descent.

“Nothing for you to concern yourself with,” she said.

“Maybe I could give you a hand?”

“No need. Why don’t you go play with your sister. She was hunting for something on 71 I think.”

Charlie was shocked that Staghorn wasn’t urging him to get back to the cupcakes, but maybe her memory was bad. She looked very preoccupied.

“I was thinking that I don’t know my way round here very well. Perhaps you could give me a tour?”

Staghorn sighed. “Maybe another day. I have a big project on today,” she said.

“I was particularly interested in seeing the penthouse. Miasmus’ rooms are there aren’t they?”

“Just stay away from Miasmus. He’s also very busy and he won’t like you snooping round. Play with your sister. Keep her out of trouble.”

The lift plummeted downwards to the ground floor and Charlie realised he’d forgotten to press a button for the restaurant. Staghorn stumbled out into the lobby where a mountain of other boxes waited for her.

Charlie had offered to help, and she’d already refused so he decided he’d let her move them herself. Besides, if she was occupied then it would give him an opportunity to investigate the penthouse without her knowing.

He launched the lift back to the restaurant and ate a quick meal of toast and tea. He could have had his choice of anything but the toast made him feel better. Then he called the lift again, pressing the button for floor 101.

When the lift doors opened he faced another wall of boxes.

“You’ll have to wait,” came Staghorn’s voice from behind.

Charlie waited, along with a group that gathered with him whilst the lift stopped on the floor above and Charlie imagined Staghorn staggering out with all those boxes. Eventually the lift came down with just Staghorn. She lay on the floor in the corner, breathing heavily. They all piled into the seats and the lift flew down, the others getting out at various floors until they reached the ground floor again.

“Are you sure I can’t help you?” Charlie asked.

“Just roll me out,” she wheezed.

Charlie helped her roll out into the lobby and left her there as the doors closed and he finally had a chance to press the button for the top floor. As he strapped himself in and the countdown began, he realised this was the biggest ride he’d been on, all the way from the ground to the top. The lift surged into the air and he felt like an astronaut. He was starting to get used to the acceleration and when the lift abruptly stopped dead, he wished he could keep going up into the stars.

The doors opened onto a small reception area. To one side was a soft couch and on the other a window out from the top of the tower. Charlie stepped forward to a pair of ornate double doors ahead. A keypad, like the one to his bedroom, sat halfway up the wall on the right.

Charlie didn’t expect his key to work, but he tried it anyway, pressing it against the pad. A buzzer sounded and the pad flashed red for a moment but the doors didn’t open. He remembered that Staghorn had told them they could enter a code if they forgot their key, and the keypad had the digits one through nine in a circle.

He wiped his toast-sticky fingers on his jeans and tried pressing some random digits. After pressing four, the buzzer sounded, and the pad flashed red again. Charlie took a deep breath. He didn’t have any clues about the correct number, and the task seemed as impossible as baking ten thousand cupcakes.

If he wanted to explore the penthouse, then he was going to have to find out the code first.


I didn’t feel that this scene had a lot going for it, but it is an important transition between Charlie trying to make cupcakes and Staghorn offering her solution to the problem. It also sets up Charlie investigating the penthouse and gives a first attempt at getting in. Overall, I’m happy with the 1,065 words I wrote today.

Total words so far 16,009.

Tomorrow I write the scene where Staghorn reveals her solution to the cupcake problem.

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If you want to try the process with me and write your own novel, I’d love to have you join me on this journey. Put in the comments on how you went with this step.

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