My Work in Progress: 4 Facts & 4 Extracts.


I’ve reached the 20,000 word mark for draft 1.5 of my novel (I consider this to be a quarter of the way through!), and this landmark warrants a blog update and some extracts! Oh, it doesn’t…? Well, I’m posting stuff anyway, in the form of a list! Extracts related to each point are appropriately numbered and stuck under the ‘Continue Reading’ cut. (The formatting messed up a bit with the copy/paste.)

The #WIPmarathon has been motivating me to write every day. The interactive element of it has made it even more valuable to me than NaNoWriMo, and I’m going to be very sad when August is over! Writing is basically my entire life at the moment (I’m still woefully unemployed and trying desperately to stay sane all day while Luc is at work), so if I seem a bit obsessed about this stupid book of mine, that’s why!


1. I knew that the world I’ve created needed a bit of history to explain why it is the way it is, but I didn’t really have a clear idea of what this history would be. Ideas tend to come to me while I’m writing, not before, and this has been true once again with this draft. I’ve come up with a few ideas that I really like, the most important of which is related to linguistics! Having studied linguistics for four years at university, I feel like I have the knowledge and the terminology to make up a bunch of semi-credible-sounding linguisticcy nonsense that might be fun to work with and (hopefully) fun to read. Obviously none of it is true and my intended audience is not a bunch of linguists… I’m just drawing a bit of inspiration from some of the things I read about doing that degree. Now if only my textbooks weren’t at my parents’ house on the other side of the planet!

2. My story is getting sort of dark which, I confess, I do enjoy. I’d be lying if I said I was finding it difficult to write these gory bits. Hopefully none of it is too gratuitous. It has to be there for the story!

3. It’s not all dark! There’s a more-than-friends relationship brewing too, and I’m enjoying this aspect of it just as much and if not, more than the dark side. I always had it in my head that these two characters would have something between them, now I just have to work out what it is, exactly. They’re sort of determining it for themselves though. I don’t want to get too involved and tell them how their relationship should play out. I’ll just let it happen, right? Because they’re totally real people and I actually have no control over what they do or feel.

4. As if my four POVs weren’t confusing enough, I’ve started writing random little omnipotent narrator interlude thingies to handle certain events and bridge the gaps between sections. I don’t know if these will stay, but for now I’m treating my novel a bit like that sort of soup you make when you have little bits of everything in your fridge and you need to use it all up before it expires, so you just put it all in the pot and hope for the best. So far, I think it’s working. Well… I’m happy with it, anyway. Whether or not it’s working is not really up to me to assess.


1. Linguistics. (An extract from a character’s text book.)

Choma was one of the intellectuals present at the summit. He is known as the first outspoken supporter of the Linguistic Chaos Hypothesis, that is, the idea that conflict is rooted in linguistic intolerance and the inability of different groups to understand each other’s languages. He placed this linguistic factor ahead of the more widely acknowledged causes of conflict, such as limited space and resources, power and wealth imbalances, ideological differences, and the misuse of magicore for personal gain.

                Before the Chaos, it is estimated that there were approximately ten thousand languages spoken on Rehta, and countless dialects. Herafes had emerged as the dominant language, but the resistance to it was great and linguistic persecution was widespread. The unrest culminated in the notorious language bannings and subsequent uprisings and massacres of the Chaos that gave credence to Choma’s ideas.

2. Gore. (Berro collects a corpse.)

The discovery, when it happens, is unexpected. He sees a small puddle of blood on the dirt in front of him and pauses, looking from side to side to find its source, but then a drop falls into the puddle from above and Berro looks up to see a broken body in a tree. It’s partly obscured by leaves, with its head hidden inside a strange helmet and a tangle of cords and ripped fabric attached to it. Definitely dead, according to the angle of the neck. One of its legs is missing from half way up the thigh and a branch has pierced right through the torso, and if that isn’t enough, it also appears to be slightly burnt. A change in the air wafts the smell in Berro’s direction and he holds one of his manicured hands up in front of his face.

This is far worse than what he had expected or hoped to find and he takes a few moments to steel himself for the task ahead. Then he starts to climb the tree. He’s not a climber like Birda or Jex, but he’s strong and he manages to hoist himself to where he needs to be, slowly and surely. The smell is intense and bloodflies are already humming around the body.

“Greetings, crosser,” he says when he reaches it. “I’m sorry we had to meet this way. My name is Berrovan and I’m going to take you to the Academy so we can find out why this happened to you.”

He keeps talking as he untangles the body and lifts it off the impaling branch, sending the flies into a frenzy as dark blood oozes over the wood. He doesn’t know why he does it, but he talks to every corpse he collects. They might be specimens now, nothing but flesh attached to artefacts from other worlds, but they were people once.

3. Attraction. (Fuzzy feelings and ellipsis dots?)

“You and your intrigue,” Jex gasps. “It’s probably nothing. I can’t believe I just let a madifer walk on me so you could spy on a friend…”

“Don’t pretend you weren’t curious too.”

He ignores me, still fighting to catch his breath.

“Madifers,” he shudders.

I can’t help but laugh. He looks completely messed up, with smears of woodrot all over him and his hair even more unruly than usual. There’s a leafy twig sticking out of it that he doesn’t seem to be aware of. I get onto a branch level with his so I can run my hand over his chest as it rises and falls with his panting. He grins lopsidedly and raises an eyebrow at me. “But I’m disgusting,” he says.

I smile. “When has that ever stopped me?”

4. An Interlude.

She’s watched it time and time again, the antelope flying across the grasslands with the cheetah, lion, leopard thundering after it. They slow it down so you can see the flinging of desperate limbs, like a dance. Things want to live. It doesn’t matter if life consists of nothing more than eating and shitting and reproducing and eventually suffering and dying and decomposing among the flies. Life is what they have. Life is all they have. She used to rescue beetles from her uncle’s swimming pool. They would grasp hold of twigs and leaves and anything else blown into the water by the raging South Easter and they wouldn’t let go. Tiny rafts to nowhere, battered by tiny waves. They wanted to live. Her blood is loud, her breath is sharp, she thinks about the big cat’s paws clubbing the hind-quarters of the antelope, the wide eyes, the painful cry of failure.

I am not an antelope, she thinks, or screams, she isn’t sure. She doesn’t just want to live, she wants…

There are lights between the trees in the distance now. Salvation. But they’re right behind her. How close? She turns her head for a split second and trips. Their shadowed faces flip and the ground rushes up.


3 thoughts on “My Work in Progress: 4 Facts & 4 Extracts.

Add yours

  1. This is fascinating. I’m not taking part in the marathon obviously, but I like hearing the ‘behind the scenes’ thoughts behind your narrative and the world you’re busy creating.

    You’re such a good writer, and I look forward to following your progress here.

  2. A premise that has an issue with languages sounds interesting! And I love your interlude…made me think a bit. We all want to live, and we can only hope our lives would make some sense…

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