Author Topic: For new writers: A little peep into the mental processes.  (Read 849 times)

Offline Gyppo

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For new writers: A little peep into the mental processes.
« on: November 06, 2017, 04:55:01 PM »
Sometimes, when an idea is developing thick and fast, I get it down quickly in simple note form.  Particularly useful when you're working on something else but don't want to lose the idea.  Later I develop it into proper prose.

This is John and Frances speaking almost in shorthand about the feral 14 year old who lives in a den in their coppice.

This is nothing like it will appear when finished, but it fixes the salient points in my mind.


Today is not that day.

John:   "You know that thing we both say sometimes, 'Today is not that day'..."

Frances:  "Yes...  One day I may meet someone faster and more dangerous than myself, but today is not that day."

John:  "I accidentally scared Natalie today when she was sharpening her knife.  If I'd been close enough I reckon she'd have gutted me before I could react."

Frances studied his face for a few seconds and realised he wasn't joking.

John:  "She said her uncle taught her how to protect herself."

Frances:  "She's only fourteen."

John:  "Maybe she has cause.  If you don't believe me, why not offer to teach her some of your black belt stuff.  Then ask her to attack you with one of the practice knives."


And this is how the proper scene shaped up in the first draft later...

   "You got a good grinding wheel in your garage, Mister?  My knife needs seeing to."

   John, hosing down the Norton, looked around, startled by the voice.  Natalie was leaning against the garage wall.  The hiss of spraying water had masked her footsteps.  He released the trigger and the spray stopped. 

   "I've got a little steel,"  she continued, "and a small double-sided stone.  But it needs a bit more than that."

   "Yes, I look after my own knives.  Would you like me to do it for you?"  He held out his hand but she left the knife on her belt.

   "No thanks.  I know what I'm doing."

   John unlocked the lean-to shed next to the garage, propped the door open with a stick, and led the way inside.  Okay, wild child, let's see if you really do.  He switched on the three wheel set-up on the small bench and stepped aside.

   Natalie pushed the tool rest to one side, drew her knife, and holding it properly made several freehand passes on the coarse wheel.  Tongue sticking out slightly as she concentrated.  John nodded as the sparks flew.  She wasn't afraid to remove metal, but wasn't blindly ploughing through the steel.

   After checking the edge she moved onto the medium wheel and repeated the deft touches. 

   It was a good knife, with a stacked leather hilt, a short brass crossguard,  a broad blade about eight inches long, and a sturdy point.  What he thought of as a Boy's Bowie, a good all round camp knife.  Plus a guaranteed court appearance if she was ever caught carrying it in a public place.  John smiled, guessing that was the least of her worries. 

   Then she moved to the fine wheel and really grabbed his attention.  Differential sharpening.  The whole edge was shiny and even, but now she paid extra attention to the last couple of inches near the hilt, just feather-light touches against the wheel.  The bulk of the blade had a fairly coarse angle, more suited to splitting logs, even digging holes at a pinch, but those two inches looked like a razor blade in comparison.  Ideal for fine cutting, with delicate control over the otherwise bulky blade

   Before he could ask where she'd learned this trick a gust of wind loosened the stick and slammed the door shut.

   Natalie swirled around, crouched, pale under her tan.  Knife held low and angled upwards.  She looked bewildered, seeing him still stood close by and not by the door.

   He instinctively reacted, moving to defend himself, saw her eyes narrow, and forced a smile.  Kept his hands ready, in case the words didn't work.

   "It was the wind.  Not me."

   She stayed crouched, the newly-sharpened knife unwavering.

   "I'll open the door again.  Neither of us is trapped."  Backing away slowly he reached behind him, lifted the latch which had fallen into place, and rearranged the stick, stamping the lower end into the ground to secure it.


   Colour rushed back into her face and she lowered the knife to rest alongside her thigh, but her knuckles were still white.

   "Where did you learn to sharpen like that?"  He really wanted to know.

   She still looked terrified.

   He moved away from the door and leaned on another bench against the far wall, leaving her a clear exit if she chose it.

   "That better?"  He asked again, and she smiled slightly before sheathing her knife.

   "My Uncle taught me.  Taught me all sorts of stuff.  Said it might be useful one day.  Never found out how right he was.  Saves carrying two knives."

   She walked to the door and stepped outside, took several deep breaths.  Then came back in and sat on a wooden box.

   "Sorry if I frightened you.   Some bastard in Portsmouth locked me into a room a while back.  Just for a second I forgot where I was."  She shuddered and then shook off the memory.  "He was a nasty bugger.  Wanted me to go on the game for him."

« Last Edit: November 07, 2017, 07:14:39 AM by Gyppo »
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Offline Noizchild

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Re: For new writers: A little peep into the mental processes.
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 09:25:26 PM »
It looks so put together in a weird way. I'll read it again later.
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