How To Write a Novel — Ticking Clock

Day 57 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Djim Loic 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 57 — Ticking Clock

Today is a tough day because our lovely dog Kitsch passed away this morning. He lived a long (15 years) and happy life, and died peacefully, so we are grateful that we could both be with him at the end.

Earlier this week, I purchased a friend’s book just published posthumously. She spoke eloquently and worked on her novel during her treatment for cancer. I am looking forward to hearing her voice again through her words, and remembering her as I read it.

Book cover of two intertwined tree designs in gold and blue for the book Inheritance by Kath O’Connor
Inheritance by Kath O’Connor

When I am confronted by mortality, it reminds me not to waste time on worrying about how people will receive my words. Instead, I should focus on telling the story that wants to be told. The best way to do that is to write consistently.

Today I have a scene between Charlie and Staghorn. Charlie thinks Miasmus plans to set off an almighty stink bomb at the launch of his new fragrance, and that somehow it connects to his vendetta against Charlie’s dad.

These are the story threads for today.

  • Charlie tells Staghorn what he heard — she names it the Weapon of Mass Olfaction, but she suspects him of making it up.
  • She has elaborate plans for the security of the launch event, and won’t believe that anyone could plant a bomb. She will help them escape.
  • Security guard has contacted their dad and asked him to pick them up.

Against the clock

In order to write without worrying about the outcome, I am using a clock to time myself. After three fifteen minute bursts, I hope to have 750 words.

Staghorn escorted Charlie back to the kitchens in a very grumpy mood.

“I should be supervising the last minute arrangements for the launch, not babysitting you,” she said.

“Look, there’s something I need to talk to you about,” said Charlie. There was a possibility that Staghorn was in on the plot he’d discovered, but his instinct told him that she wasn’t. If he could convince her that Miasmus was planning to set off a bomb at the launch, then she might be able to stop it.

“Not now, Charlie. Just get on with these cupcakes. I don’t know what you’ve been wasting your time on, but it wasn’t getting these finished.”

“I told you, there’s something more important.”

“Just get on and ice. I’ll help you.”

She handed Charlie the icing bag and started filling a second one for herself. Charlie started piping twirls of icing, but kept talking.

“I’ve just overheard Miasmus talking to those scientists in the stink lab,” he said.

“Somewhere that you were forbidden to go. There’s a reason your pass only allows access to the prime floors you know.”

“I know, but listen. Miasmus is planning on setting off a bomb.”

“I’ll start this row,” said Staghorn, starting to pipe the next row along from Charlie. She made twirls almost as good as the ones Charlie did.

“Did you hear what I said?”

“I heard you but I chose to ignore your conspiracy theory. Why would Miasmus want to set off a bomb?”

“I’m not sure exactly. But I think it has something to do with my dad. He bullied Miasmus at school and I think he wants revenge or something.”

“By setting off a bomb?”

“Not just any bomb. A stink bomb.”

“So he wants to set off a stink bomb? It doesn’t sound like something he would do. He’s not into practical jokes you know. And even if he did, that’s hardly going to worry anyone is it. It might cause a bit of a stir, but the smell will drift away soon enough.”

Staghorn finished her row quicker than Charlie and started on the next one. He was finding it hard to focus on the icing and getting across to Staghorn the importance of his finding.

“I don’t think this is just any stink bomb. Miasmus is planning something big. Have you heard about all the thefts recently?”

“Your dad mentioned something about them.”

“My dad?” This threw Charlie. When had his dad spoken to Staghorn?

“Yes. We’ve been texting back and forth since you and your sister came here. He wanted to make sure you were being well looked after. I told him you are both fine. He mentioned that he’s been working on the case of the stolen stink stuff.”

“It’s Miasmus. All that stuff that has been stolen is in his stink lab. He’s been working on some secret chemical formula.”

“Do you have any evidence?”

“Now you sound like my dad.”

“Well, do you?”

“I do. I mean I did have. There was a test tube full of the formula that I took, but then it smashed and Kay ate it.”

“So no, then.”

“But I heard Miasmus talking to two scientists and they said the bomb would be ready for the launch. He’s planning on setting off a giant stink bomb. The worst that you’ve ever smelt.”

“A weapon of mass olfaction eh?”


“It’s a posh name for a stink bomb.”

“So you believe me?”


“But you just said,” Charlie waved his icing bag at her in frustration. A dollop of icing flew out and landed on her nose. Staghorn wiped it off and ate it.

“Delicious,” she said, licking her lips.

“We need to find the bomb and stop him,” said Charlie.

“I think you must have the wrong end of the stick. This is Miasmus’ big launch event. His latest and greatest perfume. There’s no way he would sabotage that with a stink bomb. Let’s just finish these cakes.”

Charlie squeezed his bag hard and a great splurge of icing drowned the cupcake in front of him.

“Careful,” said Staghorn, “You don’t want to have to bake any more.”

Charlie iced in silence for a few minutes, forcing himself to calm down. Getting mad wasn’t going to help him. If he couldn’t convince Staghorn, then maybe he could convince his sister. That’s if he could find her.

“You’re probably right,” he said at last.

“Of course I am. You’ve let your childish imagination run away with you. But no problem, let’s just get these done,” she said.

“When we’re finished could I see Sandy please? I really miss her and I’m worried she’ll be missing me too.”

“Miss her? I thought you couldn’t wait to get away from her?”

“Dad said I should look after her. I looked for her at the announcement but I didn’t see her. Do you know where she is?”

“I think Miasmus took her to see the zoo, like she wanted. She’s probably still helping out there.”

“If we get these cakes finished, would you take me to see her please?”

“I’m not sure Miasmus would appreciate you being outside your authorised zones.”

“Please. You told my dad you’d look after us, and I told him I’d look after her.”

Staghorn sighed. “Alight, I’ll take you. But not until we’ve finished these.”


I like this scene between Charlie and Staghorn. She will help, but Charlie’s story doesn’t convince her. It moves the story on as Staghorn agrees to take Charlie to see his sister.

Total words so far 28,611.

Tomorrow I write the scene where Charlie finds his sister.

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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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