How To Write a Novel — Truth

Day 67 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Luis Alberto Sánchez Terrones 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 67 — Truth

Only four more scenes to go and I can’t believe that the first draft is almost done. The writing gains greater import again as I near the end, as people will remember this part after they close the book. Like when I wrote the first chapter, it is important to not let the stakes in the writing get too high. Instead, I need to focus on getting the first draft finished, and worry about making it the best story it can be in the revisions.

These are the story threads for today.

  • Charlie worries the birds will eat the cupcakes, but Sandy says they are not that stupid.
  • Miasmus tries to get Charlie’s dad to eat a cupcake.
  • Charlie reveals he can see smells and knows his cupcakes are dodgy.
  • Sandy backs up Charlie about him being able to see smells. Says she has always known.
  • March calls Miasmus’ bluff and asks him to eat the cupcake. He does so and becomes a parple machine.
  • Charlie finally convinces Staghorn that Miasmus is no good.
  • Dad and Staghorn tackle Miasmus to the ground.

Against the clock

In order to keep the writing flowing, I will set a timer for fifteen minutes and keep going until it finishes. Three fifteen minute sessions should give me 750 words.

Each bird had grabbed four or five and disappeared with them over the horizon.

“I hope they’re not going to eat those,” said Charlie. He imagined a great bird parple that washed over the earth, destroying all the plant life in its wake.

“They’re not that stupid,” said Sandy, “They’ll probably dump them at sea.”

Out in the crowd there was a great murmuring of disappointment. Everyone had been looking forward to biting into Charlie’s cupcakes and having them snatched out of their hands had been a shock at first, but now they felt cheated.

Up on the stage Miasmus grabbed the microphone back off Sandy and shoved her to one side. He put an arm round March, who had been standing quietly to one side, and pulled him forward.

“I’m so sorry everyone. It would appear that the cupcakes appealed not only to all of us but also to our feathered friends as well. I expect they’ll be some rather podgy birds wobbling round later. But before you get too disappointed, I have here the friend from school I was talking about. This is the man who has made today possible. I owe everything I have to this man and what he did for me at school.”

March had a bemused expression. He was used to be the observer not the observed and he looked lost under the spotlight. Charlie wanted to get out of there. They’d stopped Miasmus’ main plan, but he didn’t look defeated. He was still smiling.

“I know that you would want to all thank this man as well, for all that Scents of Adventure has done to make your life smell better. So I have kept a cupcake aside, and I think you would want me to offer it to this special person. Yes?”

He pulled a cupcake from the inside pocket of his white suit and held it up. Charlie wanted to rush forward but Staghorn stood between him and the stage and had a knitting needle poised.

“March, I owe you so much and can never truly repay the debt. But I would be honoured if you would eat this cupcake, the only remaining one, and tell us all what it tastes like. Your son has poured his heart into making them and I just want him to hear, from you, how proud you are of him.”

Miasmus’ words seemed to have hit a new nerve with the crowd who now cheered on March as he took the cupcake from Miasmus.

Charlie shouted, “It’s a trick. Don’t eat it Dad.” But his voice was lost in the swell of “Eat it, eat it, eat it,” as the crowd began to chant.

Dad looked up and smiled at Charlie, who shook his head vigorously, shouting as loud as he could “Don’t do it.” His sister Sandy’s voice joined his own and between them they tried to counter the general chant of everyone else.

His dad took the mike from Miasmus, and a great hush fell over everything. “I would like to say a few words, to my son Charlie, and to his sister Sandy.” His voice sounded small, even though amplified all around the showgrounds, and there was the catch of emotion behind it. Charlie’s body tensed. “I know that I have not been the greatest Dad since your mum left. She was everything to me and without her I have managed to lose myself in trying to find answers to all the world’s problems except my own. Instead of listening to my children, I was reading my phone and hoping that the answers there. But I was wrong. I should have just spent time listening to you both. Your mum is an incredible person, and I can never live up to her enthusiasm for life. But in you two I still have a part of her with me every day. Both of you are very special in your own way, and that is her too. Completely unique.”

“Great, thanks,” interrupted Miasmus, grabbing the microphone back off Dad, “Now just eat the cake.”

But March just held out his hand for the microphone again. He wasn’t finished.

Miasmus scowled but he passed the microphone back.

“My son has been trying to convince me that you haven’t really forgiven me, Eric,” said Dad. “I wouldn’t blame you. Earlier I tried to apologise for all the names we called you at school. All the times that we made you feel like an outsider because of the way that you smelt. He told me that you were planning something today, some sort of a revenge plot, and I didn’t want to believe him. But I think, before I eat this cupcake, that we should hear what he has to say.”

He beckoned Charlie forward, and Staghorn dropped her needle and let him, Sandy and Woofy up onto the stage. Charlie took the microphone from his dad.

“I might have got this wrong,” he began, suddenly nervous at hearing his own voice echo back to him, “But I think that these cupcakes that Miasmus made me create for today have been poisoned.”

Miasmus put on his biggest beaming smile and shook his head as though Charlie had been out in the sun too long.

At his side, his dad whispered to Charlie, “Tell them why you think it.”

Charlie took a deep breath. “I think they have been poisoned because they don’t have any smell. That sounds weird, but to me it makes sense because I have a special ability. I can see smells. Other people can only smell smells, but to me they have colours and shapes and I can see them. That’s why I know that these cupcakes are not right. The ones I made smelt delicious. Like a beautiful picture. These ones smell of nothing.”

Miasmus made a grab for the microphone and shoved Charlie aside.

“He’s clearly been out here too long. Did you forget your sunscreen today? Seeing smells what nonsense. There’s nothing wrong with his cupcakes. They’re delicious. Go on, try it for yourself March. You’ll see.”

Dad took the mike. “No Eric. I think I’m not that hungry. But if you want to prove that my son is mistaken, there’s an easy way. Just eat the cupcake yourself.”

Miasmus’ face froze and Charlie saw a cloud of green barbs drift from his underarms. He began to back away but the crowd had started to chant again. “Eat it. Eat it. Eat it.”

The video camera zoomed in on Miamus’ face and beamed it out large on the screens. He tried his best to smile but it looked more like a grimace. Dad handed Miasmus the only remaining cupcake.

If the cake had had a smell, then by the look on Miasmus’ face you would have said it was milk that had gone off. The crowd was jumping up and down now, still chanting for him to, “Eat it. Eat it. Eat it.”

Miasmus tried to edge his way to the back of the stage but Staghorn stepped up and jabbed him with one of her knitting needles. She seemed to be on the side of finding out the truth.

Miasmus shut his eyes and took a small bite, chewing the cake and swallowing it down. Then the delicious flavour must have tickled his tastebuds as he began devouring the rest, spraying crumbs over his suit.

The crowd cheered and danced. Charlie grabbed his dad with one arm and Sandy with the other and dragged them off the stage as quickly as he could.

A few moments later there was a sound like the world’s biggest balloon had been released. It was so huge that Miasmus was thrown forward and onto his knees. The smell that fanned out from his bottom looked like a giant red octopus with tentacles flying out into the crowd. Someone started screaming as they reached out over the people and hit them with its full force. It was like a giant game of dominoes as people dropped to the ground overcome by the horrific stench.

Miasmus’ face was still being beamed large onto the video screens, a great red swollen angry baby face.

Dad said, “I think the parple has spoken.”


I was worried about writing this scene, as it was clear in my head what would happen, but I wasn’t sure it would make sense on the page. Certainly I think there is plenty of room for improvement, and bits that make little sense. I would like to know more about Charlie’s reaction to admitting to his ability to see smells. But I have written 1,375 words today.

Total words so far 37,183.

Tomorrow I write the scene where Charlie and his sister talk to Dad about their powers.

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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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