How To Write a Novel — Launch

Day 61 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Jeremy Straub on Unsplash

Day 61 — Launch

I realised today that I have written 100 articles on Medium over the last three months. When I wrote my first article, I struggled to put something out into the world because I feared the reaction. Today I’m starting the climactic build on the novel I’ve been writing for the last couple of months and posting the first draft words each day.

This week I have been having discovery coaching calls with clients and hearing about stories that some people have been working on for years. These are intensely personal, and they are driven to complete them. I admire their commitment and dedication to a single project.

I am promoting my services as someone who can help frustrated storytellers complete their stories sooner. Does the pace at which I complete something matter? Is it inherently better to spend longer on something? Is quality compromised by being rushed?

My take is that it depends on why the project is taking so long. Some projects are more ambitious than others. They will need more research, more time to develop the complex interplay of storylines. My problem is that I need to make sure that I don’t use the difficulty of the task as an excuse for not completing the work.

So I’ve deliberately limited what I’m writing. I’m writing a middle grade novel, which immediately reduces the number of words required from 80,000 down to around 40,000. The process I’ve followed to design the novel has been short and sweet — 26 days to plan it out before I started on the draft. I’m writing against the clock which prevents me from editing, or even overthinking, as I go.

In a couple of weeks, I will finish that first draft, and then I’ll be able to start the revision process and work out what I have. Until then, I’m keeping the momentum going.

Here are the story threads for today.

  • Charlie tries to alert his dad about the bomb and needs them to go to the launch event.
  • Charlie’s dad enters all the data into his MyPI app and it comes up with a 99% chance there is not a bomb.
  • Charlie tells his dad that his mum left because he wasn’t adventurous enough. He needs to go to the launch event.

Against the clock

This has been the single biggest thing that makes sure that I get the words on the page. I set a timer for fifteen minutes and write until it goes off. Three bursts of fifteen minutes to write 750 words.

Charlie tried to cheer his dad up the next day, but he didn’t succeed. Dad wandered round the house, occasionally tapping something into his MyPI app and sighing. Eventually Charlie gave up on trying to persuade his dad to eat some toast and turned instead to trying to get him to go to the launch of Miasmus’ perfume.

It was difficult because Charlie was not completely sure that he wanted his dad to go. He feared that Miasmus was planning to target his dad because of the bullying, and that somehow the stink bomb would be his revenge. On the other hand he didn’t think he’d be able to stop Miasmus on his own, and he really wanted his dad’s help.

In the end he decided that his dad would not be good on his own right now, and if they worked together then surely they could stop Miasmus in time. They knew what he was planning, and all they needed to do was find the bomb and disarm it before it went off. It sounded easy in theory.

In practice his dad was far from convinced.

“I think I’m just going to stay here,” he said.

“But Dad, you can’t. This is your chance to do something big,” said Charlie. “You can stop the bomb going off. Everyone will know your name if you prevent this. The jobs will come rushing in.”

“There is no bomb, Charlie. It doesn’t make any sense. Miasmus might be mad at me, but this is the launch of his biggest perfume in years. He’s not going to risk that by setting off a stink bomb. That wouldn’t look good for him.”

It was the same way Staghorn thought, and Charlie didn’t really know why he believed otherwise, but he was convinced that Miasmus was going to do this. He’d heard him discussing the bomb with the scientists himself and all the smelly stuff he’d collected. It had to be a stink bomb.

“What does the MyPI app say?” He picked up his dad’s phone and handed it to him.

“It says your mum is not coming home,” said his dad.

So that was what he’d been doing on it. Feeding in data about Mum and the Bendy Girls.

“What does it say about Miasmus and the bomb?” said Charlie.

His dad couldn’t resist. Charlie waited whilst he fed all the information into the app. When he’d finished, the spinning magnifying glass did its thing.

“Well?” said Charlie.

“It says there is a 99% chance there is no bomb,” said his dad.

“But that means there is a 1% chance that there is. Isn’t it better to be sure that nothing happens. Come with us to the launch. Please?”

Sandy and Woofy bounded in from the garden.

“Of course he’s going to the launch,” she said, “Aren’t you Dad?”

“I’m still thinking about it,” he said.

“Mum said you’re only playing at being a detective. Is she right?”

“Maybe. I don’t seem to be doing a very good job,” said Dad.

“She’s not right,” said Charlie, “You are a detective Dad. You might not be the best one in the world, but you’re trying your best. Nobody can do more than that. If you want to be a detective then you have to detect. Follow the clues. I know you think this bomb thing is just a hoax, but there is a chance it isn’t and that is worth an investigation.”

“And you can make up with Miasmus,” said Sandy.

“It was a long time ago. I don’t think he’s interested in making up,” said Dad.

“He is,” said Sandy.

“How do you know?”

“Because Boo and Kay told me. You think that it was just kid stuff but Miasmus hasn’t forgotten. He talks about you all the time to them.”

“And besides, we haven’t seen you in ages. We want to spend some time with you. Please?” said Charlie.

Dad gave a small smile, the first one that day. “Alright, I’ll come with you.”

Sandy kissed him on the cheek and headed back out with Woofy.

When she’d gone, Dad asked Charlie, “Who are Boo and Kay? Friends of Miasmus?”

“Yeah, something like that,” said Charlie.


Today I only managed 703 words. I could keep going and work on the next scene, but I think it is better to stop where I am. The words today didn’t flow as easily as other days, and it is not worth forcing them when they don’t want to come. I’m also not sure about the end of this scene where Dad doesn’t know or remember who Boo and Kay are. I’ll have to look later at how likely that is based on what happened in the opening scenes.

Total words so far 31,647.

Tomorrow I’ll write the scene where they visit the Pong Parade.

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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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