How To Write a Novel — Stink Lab

Day 55 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Akram Huseyn 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 55 — Stink Lab

Yesterday I wrote about Charlie trying to find the secret floor sixty-eight by starting on floor sixty-seven. I didn’t expect that it would take so many words for him to actually find a way into floor sixty-eight. When we left him, he was crawling through the ceiling space above the toilets.

Today I therefore need to get him onto floor sixty eight where he finds Miasmus has a secret stink lab that he has filled with all the stolen goods. He is preparing a top secret recipe by experimenting with them all.

I may not get through all the story threads from yesterday plus those from today, but we’ll see how we go.

I’m also trying a change of venue for today’s writing. I’ve come to our local café to have some lunch and work. Some people find the background chatter to be the perfect amount of noise to focus. Usually I like complete silence to write, so this is a bit of an experiment.

It also helps that I only have one screen, and no Wi-Fi — just pairing with my phone to save to the cloud. There are fewer distractions so hopefully I’ll procrastinate less!

Writing can be hard, and sometimes it helps to shake things up. Experimenting with where you write best can help on a day where it feels like a chore. Enjoying an excellent lunch and a coffee is a bonus.

These are the story threads for today, some of which I didn’t reach yesterday.

  • Charlie searches the secret floor.
  • Charlie discovers Miasmus has a secret stink lab full of all the stolen goods.
  • There is a top secret recipe that includes all the stinkiest ingredients. Charlie takes some as evidence.
  • There is a TOP SECRET recipe that includes all the stinkiest ingredients. Charlie takes some of it as evidence.
  • Charlie finds Miasmus’ is planning a bomb. Miasmus finds him and gives chase.
  • Boo and Kay come sniffing round Charlie. He feeds them with the secret recipe — so he doesn’t have any left. They start to parple and force Charlie out of hiding.
  • Charlie learns a bomb will go off at the Launch Event

Against the clock

So that the writing flows, I’m writing against the clock. It turns off the inner critic and encourages the subconscious to the page. I’ll write in three fifteen minute bursts with an aim to write 750 words.

The going was tough on his hands and elbows, with only just enough room for him to wriggle forward. As soon as he thought he was far enough he pried a ceiling tile up and took a peak.

For a moment he thought he was still in the same room, but then he realised there were no urinals in the room below. He took a quick scan round to make sure there was no-one there who would get a nasty surprise, then lowered himself down to the floor.

He brushed his clothes down quickly and headed for the door. He inched it open and saw the security man waiting outside the next door down. The man was checking his watch and a moment later he disappeared back into the toilet.

This was Charlie’s chance. He slipped into the corridor and headed away from the direction he’d come. How was he going to find his way on to the floor below?

He stopped at the end of the corridor which dog-legged into another section. With so many doors to try, where should he start? It wouldn’t be long now before the security guy raised the alarm.

Charlie slapped his forehead. The problem was the solution. He was worried about them raising the alarm and organising a search party to hunt him down, but what if he beat them to it.

It didn’t take him long to find the red square of a fire alarm. In black letters it said to break the glass in case of emergency. Well this was an emergency — he didn’t want to be caught!

He slammed his elbow into the square and immediately a siren wailed into life. Charlie moved away as quickly as he could without running. Soon his false alarm had the desired effect. People started filing into the corridor like ants on a mission. Charlie joined the line as they headed for the fire exits.

It was something that Charlie hadn’t considered before, but all the floors must connect to the fire exit stairs. In an emergency the lifts would be disabled, so there needed to be another way out. He went with the tide of people as they swept though a heavy door onto a metal runged staircase.

This was the tricky part. He wanted to get up to floor sixty-eight whilst everyone else was trying to get out the building. Charlie pushed his way through the crowd, ignoring the protests that he was going the wrong way.

Two turns off the stairs and he reached the next door up. A man in a lab coat was heading through and Charlie held the door for him, then slipped inside.

The room he entered was set up like a giant laboratory. Metal benches ran across the middle with equipment scattered across them. Around the edge stood a rack of shelves filled with objects that Charlie recognised. There was a giant tub of rotting fish that smoked with a grey-green haze of stench. A cheese board hummed with the smelliest cheese he’d ever seen. Brown and orange bubbles of smell washed off it. Eggs, long past their sell by date, pumped black plumes of pig-tail curls into the air.

Charlie headed into the room and approached the nearest bench. A giant cauldron of mixture sat in the middle. Although he expected it to smell strongly, it gave off no smell he could see at all. He walked right up to it and inhaled deeply. Still nothing.

At the side was a sheet of paper headed TOP SECRET, and listed underneath was a complicated chemical formula. Charlie wished he had Staghorn here to interpret it for him, because it made little sense to him. He thought about taking the paper but then whoever was working here would know it was missing. He needed more time to work out what was going on before he alerted everyone, and maybe was thrown out.

Instead he ran to one of the shelves that lined the wall and took a test-tube and cork from a box. There were so many of them that he doubted one missing would be noticed. Back at the cauldron he pulled a rubber glove on and lowered the tube into the mixture, gathering some of it up before he corked it shut.

The alarm siren came to a sudden halt and Charlie heard voices coming from the stairwell.

“No sir. It looks as though it was either set off by accident or someone was playing a prank. A security guard on sixty-seven said there was a young boy who asked to use the toilet, one of those who came in to test the new fragrance, but he lost him when the alarm went off.”

Charlie glanced round the room for somewhere to hide. Apart from the benches and the shelves, there was not much other furniture. He ran over to the shelves. If he crawled behind the box of fish, he might not be seen.


I ran out of time again today before I’d completed the scene, but I have moved Charlie to the right floor and he has found the formula.

Total words so far 26,872.

Tomorrow I’ll write the where Charlie overhears the plans for 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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