How To Write a Novel — Tasting

Day 46 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Icons8 Team 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 46 — Tasting

Each day before I write the next scene, I listen to my computer read the previous day’s work back to me. Having it read to me means that there is no temptation to edit it yet. There will be parts that make me cringe, but it always gets me ready to write on to the next page.

Today I realised that there is something vital to the plot that is missing. Eventually Miasmus will use the cupcakes to make everyone who eats them smell terrible. So he needs to add his secret ingredient before the cupcakes bake.

I can set this up in this scene. Miasmus comes to check on how the work is progressing, the result dissatisfies him. He just wants Charlie to make the mixture and not worry about baking them.

After he leaves, this gives Charlie the opportunity to follow him.

These are the story threads for this scene.

  • Staghorn doesn’t know the password to the penthouse.
  • Miasmus is unhappy with the cupcakes and insists on taking control of the baking after they make the mixture.
  • Charlie follows Miasmus.
  • Charlie tries to see Miasmus getting into the penthouse
  • Miasmus catches Charlie trying to see his password. Miasmus says curiosity killed the cat.
  • Sandy knows the password to the penthouse. Says she has been having a chat with Boo and Kay, and they squealed.
  • Charlie agrees to take Sandy with him to the penthouse.

Against the clock

In order to get the words down as efficiently as possible, I’m writing against the clock — three fifteen minute bursts to produce 750 words.

Charlie and Sandy made their way to the kitchen floor in time for Staghorn’s arrival. Staghorn showed Sandy the process to get the mixture into the cases and then into the oven, whilst Charlie created another giant batch of the mixture by using his standard process. Sandy worked hard and soon the cinnamon clouds of smell drifted round the floor.

Charlie kept a close eye out for Kay stealing the precious cakes, but it seemed that the games of hide and seek and created a bond between Woofy and the pigs. Sandy said they had all gone to play together in Woofy’s small garden off his bedroom.

Just as the fourth batch of cakes came out of the oven, they had a visitor. Miasmus strode into the room and Charlie stopped stirring.

“Don’t mind me,” said Miasmus smiling, “Just wanted to check on how things are going. I’ll just pop next door and try one of your creations if you don’t mind?”

Charlie did mind. The cakes weren’t iced yet and, although he knew that they would taste great anyway, he really didn’t want Miasmus to taste them half finished. He put the spoon down in the bowl and followed Miasmus into the baking room.

Staghorn and Sandy were slipping the last of the batch onto cooling racks.

“Miasmus, what are you doing here?” asked Staghorn.

“Just thought I had to see this for myself. When you told me about your brilliant idea for scaling up this young man’s production I was sceptical but it looks like I was wrong.”

“Only finding a way of getting them made,” said Staghorn, “It’s Charlie’s genius in making them that counts.”

“Do you mind if I try one?”

Staghorn glanced at Charlie who pulled a face. “Maybe you could wait until they are iced?”

“No doubt the icing on the cake will be impressive, but I just want to make sure the texture is just right. No point in baking ten thousand only to find something needs adjusting is there?”

He picked up one of the hot cakes and juggled it on his fingertips from hand to hand, blowing gently to cool it. Then he took a bite. His eyes closed and an expression of pure joy lit his face. He opened one eye and saw them all staring. He swallowed and frowned.

“There’s a problem,” he said.

Charlie crossed his arms. “They’re the same as all the ones I make.”

“I think the mixture is probably good. At least it seems that way. I would say it is more in the baking of the cakes.”

Staghorn came forward. “We have been following the timing to the second. The ovens are calibrated to within a tenth of a degree.”

“And yet, they don’t taste quite right.”

Charlie said, “Maybe you should have some water, try another.”

“No. There is definitely something odd in the baking. I think I need to take control of the process. I’ll set something up in my lab. If you, Charlie, focus here on creating the mixture, Staghorn you arrange to transport the mixture to the ninety-first floor where I will oversee the baking.”

“What about all these we’ve made already?” said Staghorn, clearly annoyed.

“Send them to Boo and Kays’ nutritionist. She’ll introduce them into their diet.”

Staghorn’s mouth opened to protest but Miasmus was already striding out. When he was gone Staghorn let loose.

“I don’t believe him. All this effort wasted. There is nothing wrong with these cakes. He’s an idiot.”

Sandy sat her down on a stool. “At least it means you don’t have to work so hard.”

“That’s not the point. He just needs to control everything.”

“But you’re head of security, you’re the one that’s really in charge,” said Charlie.

“Exactly. If I wasn’t here he’d know it. The place would fall apart. You don’t find Pensa members queueing up to work in a place like this.”

“I bet you even know the combination to his private penthouse,” said Charlie.

Staghorn turned to him. “No. That’s one thing I don’t know, actually.”

“But surely the head of security needs to know?” Charlie pressed.

“I told you, he likes to control everything and particularly his penthouse. He’s paranoid someone will steal Boo and Kay.”

“I’d like to see them try,” said Sandy.

“I need to calm my nerves. I’m going to get my knitting,” said Staghorn and walked out.

“I bet Boo and Kay know the password for the penthouse,” said Sandy.

“Don’t be ridiculous, they’re pigs,” said Charlie.

“Pigs are very clever. And good at hide and seek. A few times I almost didn’t find them.”

“Forget about the penthouse,” said Charlie. He had a plan to follow Miasmus and discover the code but he didn’t want his little sister on his heels.


After adding in the extra part about Miasmus tasting the cakes, I naturally came to where Charlie dismisses his sister’s suggestion that Boo and Kay know the combination. I didn’t get to the next part where Charlie tries to shadow Miasmus, which was most of the story threads for today, but I’ll move them to tomorrow’s scene.

Total words so far 18,558.

Tomorrow I will write the scene, that was supposed to be today’s, where Charlie trails Miasmus.

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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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