More to the story: wordcount

Another 3,285 words written on my novel last week. Mostly it consists of a full chapter that resolves a major plot problem I’d had.  Like last week’s non-novel writing, it’s all thanks to a blast-from-the-past piece I found while sorting old files. (And a big screaming whooshy bird.)

The Plot Problem(s)

In my boy-meets-robot novel, boy loses robot. In this case, the robot is stranded on a forbidden island and the boy is being monitored. It seemed obvious to me that he’d need the help of an associate (a feminine cross between Long John Silver and Shane). But how does he get to the island?

Additionally, I was having trouble with the tech-heavy scene I planned to show how Wall (the narrator) gets his robot home undetected.  How would I incorporate much exposition and description without dragging down the action?

A Blast from the Past

When I was in high school, I attended a summer program with at the nearby community college. The teacher wasn’t a hippie but more like a hipster – before it was cool, naturally – and he invited a performance hippie artist to be the guest lecturer for poetry. The class was my first taste of how eccentricity and poetry can work together!

But I digress.

The instructor introduced us to freewriting while listening to instrumental music. He chose some ethnic music that put me in mind of exotic locales, so I wrote the beginning of a first-person present-tense adventure story. He wrote the comment: “This reminds me of Indiana Jones!”

Reading the one-page draft, I recognized that it’s not very good – except the end, which is fun. The narrator arrives at an airfield, anxious to catch a flight. But the plane is missing. She questions a harmonica-playing old man who keeps her talking long enough for someone to grab her from behind and stuff her in a sack.

The Solution

I thought I’d transcribe that bit into a document and toss the yellowed original. As I started to write, the drunken idiot neighbor was shooting off bottle rockets in broad daylight. And hit my house.

As I was walking over with the evidence in my hand, a couple Warthogs (aka A-10 Thunderbolt II planes) whooshed overhead. I had a mean thought:

Wouldn’t it be nice if a plane could destroy JUST his house? Then I wouldn’t have to deal with him.

Eureka!

My narrator doesn’t deal with the problem of robot retrieval. Instead, his dubious “helper” steals a plane. He arrives too late to stop her, and then two minor characters keep him hostage until she returns.

I had a lot of fun incorporating aviation slang and giving the minor characters distinct personalities. And a bonus: there’s foreshadowing.

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