East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

5 Days Novel, day two

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As Styx used to sing, nothing ever goes as planned, and it really is worth saying. The wasted morning turned into a confused afternoon. But now, after six hours of intensive writing, six quarter-hour walks and a light dinner, we are cruising decisively towards 20,000 words in two days, which is not the expected 30,000, but what the heck, who am I to complain?

Meanwhile, things are happening – as it always does in these cases.

The first unexpected event concerns the outline which on day zero was a 175 word thing structured according to Max Landis’ classic 3 x 3 model, while on day two it became a 400 word thing – each of the nine points of the first outline expanded, and now the sequence of events is more precise and structured.

The second interesting thing is that a villain has made an appearance. Now this is a real unexpected event, because the way the story is structured does not require a human antagonist. But why not put someone on the page that’s nice to hate?
In this way we do not risk that the story will feel too vague and metaphysical …

Mayumi came in and again did the walk, bow and carry the tray trick. Had she been trained for this, I wondered? What was she? A ballerina, a contortionist? Why was she working for this scumbag?
We waited for her to be gone before we resumed our discussion.
“We will need to hire an operations expert for this job,” I said.
“I guess it can’t be avoided?”
“You have my crew’s specs, and my ship’s, and you run a freight company. Are you really asking me if we need an extra crew member to take care of the setting-up and deployment of your payload?”
“Will this take long?”
“A couple of days.”
“This is unpleasant,” he said.
In fact, I had scanned through the want ads on my way in, and I was seeing a suitable candidate as soon as I was out of that place. But he did not need to know that.
“Two days,” he finally nodded.
“We’ll need to cover our expenses for these two days. For services and berthing. And to cover the fifth crew member.”
He put down his coffee cup. “That’s your problem.”
I stared at him. “Pardon?”
“My company’s offer is clearly stated in the contract you have accepted. Extra expenses like those you mention are your business.”
“The extra crew member is an implicit requirement of your contract—”
“You’ll have to hire a cheap one, then,” he smiled, “because my company’s not paying for him.”

Third surprise, two characters ended up having sex, but it happened offstage, and the thing is resolved in a paragraph. But it was interesting, because the event arose naturally from the behavior that the two characters had repeatedly held in the pages written yesterday.

And finally, on balance, eight new characters appeared out of nowhere and settled into the plot, with various functions. Managing so many characters (fifteen at the moment, plus five non-human supporting characters) will make the revising phase very… interesting.
And a new vessel has also appeared, which makes Saturn’s subsystem very crowded.

In general, I don’t know what will come of it, and I don’t know if the five days will end with a job ready for publication – I doubt it.
But I’m discovering some interesting things, especially with regard to the “emerging” elements of the story – as the plot becomes complicated, the structure adapts by reorganizing itself.
It’s interesting.
And even if the result is a thirty-five thousand word story that will take me two weeks to review… well, throw it away.

And now, are back to writing, while Styx, at full volume, resound in the Astigianistan night …

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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