How To Write a Novel — Float

Day 63 of writing my novel in public

Photo by riddhesh patil 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 63 — Float

I don’t know that I have written about the process that I go through to produce the words each day. There is the writing against the clock piece, that I mention every day as it has been so important in making sure I actually get words on the page. But there are also two other pieces that are also key to getting myself to write.

The first is that I do a twenty-minute meditation. I have been using the Headspace app for my meditation for the last eight years. It tells me that so far I have done 41,236 minutes of total meditation time using the app. The Creativity course is one way of expanding your mind out into the open feeling that makes being creative easier. I have done this in the past, but currently I do whatever Today’s Meditation is for the same effect.

The second is that I listen to the previous day’s writing. I’m using Scrivener on my MacBook Air and if I select the previous day’s work, I can then select Edit > Speech > Start Speaking and listen to a computer voice read it back to me. The advantage is that I am not tempted to try to edit what I wrote, which I might be if I read it. Also, listening gives you a different perspective on the words. The monotonic computer voice adds nothing to the stark words written, and it is easier to spot problems.

These are the story threads for today.

  • One float is wrapped up like a present.
  • Charlie accuses March of planning something.
  • Charlie’s dad tries to apologise to Miasmus. Miasmus tells him he would never have started Scents of Adventure otherwise.
  • Dad goes off to find one of Charlie’s cupcakes to try.

Against the clock

As always, I will set the timer for fifteen minutes and write until it goes off. Three fifteen minute bursts should be enough to write 750 words.

Charlie spotted a tower that had been erected to support the television crew. The picture was beamed onto a giant screen for anyone too short to see the parade itself. If Charlie could get up there then he would have a good view of the whole parade and the grounds.

With a final push he escaped the oncoming crowds and circled into the area around the TV tower. A ladder clung to the far side and no one seemed to be watching. He leant against it for a moment, checked that no eyes were on him and then turned and began to climb.

Although Charlie didn’t have a problem with heights, the ground was soon falling away beneath him and he had a sudden sense of there being nothing but the couple of rungs beneath his feet to support him. The light breeze on the ground that kept the sun from being unbearable became a stronger pull the higher he climbed. His T-shirt whipped and ballooned as the wind played with it. Beads of sweat dripped down his forehead and into his eyes. He wiped an arm across them and kept climbing.

A few minutes later he decided he was high enough to see across the grounds. Above him the platform for the TV cameras gave a little shade as he pulled himself taught against the ladder and turned his head.

The Pong Parade snaked its way across the showgrounds down a route lined by ropes. Mr Needem at the front had reached the far side of the grounds and was making his way down that side. At the other end of the snake, new floats joined the line. One of these stood out to Charlie. It was wrapped up like a giant present tied with a bow. Miasmus stood alongside it and was doing something that Charlie couldn’t quite make out. His hands were hidden by the wrappings but it was enough for Charlie to be convinced that this was the bomb.

He was just about to start climbing down again, when he spotted his dad in the crowd making his way towards Miasmus and the present. If his dad was the target then he was making Miasmus’ job easy by heading straight for the bomb.

Charlie began to descend faster, his feet skipping every other rung and his hands only loosely grasping on to the bars either side. Once he was within jumping distance, he leapt from the ladder and dropped into a roll on the ground, coming back up to his feet with only a slight wobble.

From above he’d decided on the best route to reach the wrapped present float as directly as possible without having to navigate the crowd, but now he was back on the ground, the going was harder and he had to dodge a family that seemed to consist of never-ending children of ever decreasing size, like a russian doll.

Finally he swung around the father with a tiny baby in his arms and almost ran into the float itself. It was the next one in line to join the parade, though it had not started moving yet. His dad had reached Miasmus and was talking to him.

“Miasmus, look, I’m glad I have the chance to talk to you. I know who you are now. I should have realised earlier, being a detective and everything, but it was such a long time ago,” said Dad.

“March, this is not the best time. Maybe we could talk later?” said Miasmus.

“It will only take a minute,” said Dad. He stepped up onto the float itself.

“Get down,” shouted Charlie.

“Ah, Charlie. I’m glad you’re here to hear this,” he said, then to Miasmus, “I’m sorry Miasmus. I know that when we were kids I said some things that were hurtful. I didn’t realise at the time, but I should have worked it out. All those names that I called you, I’m really sorry. You didn’t deserve that.”

Miasmus smiled and reached out a hand to Dad. Charlie thought he might be about to push him off the float, but instead he pulled him further on.

“Don’t worry March, all is forgiven. If anything you did me a favour. I would never have started Scents of Adventure if it hadn’t been for you. You made me realise how important it is to smell good. I’ve made a business and a fortune out of it. Look, to show you there’s no hard feelings, how about you ride with me on this float?”

“No,” Charlie said as firmly as he could.

“Thanks Miasmus,” said Dad, that would be great.

“No,” Charlie said again. “I want Dad to try one of my cupcakes.”

“They’ll be time for that later,” said Dad, “I’m sure I’ll get one.”

“There might not be any left. You need to go find yourself one now. I’d be so upset if you don’t try one. Do you know how much work I put in to baking them?”

Miasmus frowned, and Charlie thought he was going to object, but then he slapped his dad on the back and said, “Go on March, find one of the cupcakes. Charlie doesn’t want you to miss out and I don’t either. We’ll have a chance to catch up later. Come find this float when you’ve got a cupcakes for us all and we’ll eat them together.”

Dad smiled at Miasmus. “Thank you for accepting my apology. I was worried you would hold a grudge.”

Then he climbed back down off the float. As soon as he was down, the truck carrying the wrapped parcel started and moved into the parade.

A thought struck Charlie and he rushed towards the float. His dad was safe from the bomb for the moment, but Charlie still needed to make sure it didn’t go off. If he was onboard the float, then maybe he’d have a chance of disarming it. He ran towards the float but a man who looked familiar stepped in front of him.

“Where do you think you’re going?” he said.

Charlie recognised the voice as the man who’d shown him the toilet when he’d been trying to find the stink lab. A second later he saw recognition dawn on the man’s face.

“Here, you’re that boy. The one that disappeared when the fire alarm was set off.”

He made a grab for Charlie, but Charlie jumped backwards out of his reach and began running alongside the parade.


There is a lot going on in this scene, as Charlie is not sure exactly of Miasmus’ motives and so is trying to guess what his plan might be. The overall arc between Miasmus and March will no doubt need finessing later, but this is the point where March apologises to Miasmus, who appears to forgive him. Charlie still doubts his motives and thinks he intends to set off a bomb.

Total words so far 33,504.

Tomorrow I write the scene where Miasmus prevents Charlie and Sandy from reaching the bomb.

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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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