Couch to 80k Week 7 Done and dusted

Let’s see. To recap day 4, a pause on writing and a little chat about building an ideal schedule, with a 10 minute window to write one out. These are the sorts of things I’m never sure I’m right or wrong – born partly out of the fact that there isn’t really a right or wrong way to do them, and partly because sometimes I’ll do something so quickly I’ll spend 8 minutes staring at it thinking “surely I’m wrong on this”.

So, a schedule of sorts, I think if you’re a long time reader of my blog, you’ll know I’m half obsessed with schedules. I mean, I never manage to stick to any of them, but I don’t half spend a long time thinking about them. So when Tim asked on day 4 about your perfect schedule it took one minute to write out my answer. And it’s this:

I mean, it’s not ambitious, I don’t think, and it’s pretty doable. Real life gets in the way, of course, and I get in my own way. But that would be as good a day as you could hope for. The Drawing in the schedule is my day job though, but I typically draw until 1am, so 12pm is a good stop point for me. And 2 pages of comic writing SHOULD be achievable within 3 hours (it’s wildly unambitious if anything) but doable.

Of course, I will never ever get to do it. But you know, live in hope.

Day 5 was a rewrite of the Day 2 climactic scene of my novel (remember, it’s all about writing a novel, even if I had intended to do just do this course to help me build up to writing a comic, I ended up having to come up with a novel – it’s not brimming with originality, if anything it’s basically the Masters of the Universe film or John Carter – normal schlubb finds himself the centre of a galaxy wide revolution and with the help of aliens, a princess and robots has to destroy the creature taking over the universe, then he goes back to his day job. The only unique point is, in the remix, the hero really leads the dullest life imaginable, and goes back to it a changed man).

Anyway, day 5, rewrite, that was fun, taking the final scene and giving it a different spin starting with the words “that’s not how I remember it…” (and, for your reading pleasure, or for you to completely ignore, that bit is at the end of this longish post)

Day 6 – today’s task was to write five scenes that are important key points in the novel. Remember, I’m not coming to this bootcamp with a novel fully formed, my main ideas are comics, so I’m making this on the fly, but even so, I was happy with some of the scenes.

Kind of mad I’ve been at this for 7 weeks (a little longer if you count some of the mid-week gaps therein).

Week 8 will be basically timed writing, taking this first steps and moving towards a full length novel with them. I’ll do that last week, though I’m not convinced I have a novel in me.

After that, as per various recommendations, I’ve bought Ursula LaGuinn’s “Steering the Craft” (such a great title) and will hope to spend a similair amount of time per day doing the exercises in that book.

Anyway, here’s the rewrite (forgive typos, dangling threads, changes of voice, etc, it’s a draft zero)

That’s not the way I remember it…

He came in, the Accountant. Weedy and desehevevilled. In his right hand he’d forged a sword out of some sort of iron rod that looked like he’d been adjusting a fire with. He really did look ridiculously out of place in the great majestic hall of Aucheron, above him, through the glass ceiling you could see the twin suns revolve around each other, vast streams of energy intermingle.

And in front of him…

Well, my Lord, you stood. Towering over him, senew, muscle and energy, crackling. Majestic in your strength. Armed with eight curved swords, ready to battle against the human to save the great palace, and everyone in it from whatever foul deeds his otherworldy nature would perform.

I saw you confront him, calling him the coward he is, challenging him to best you, in all your powerfull glory. But he could not, and I heard him admit as much. At least, he could not on his own.

I saw him call forth the cowards and traitors who had been, until now, rightfully banished to the edge of the world, they poured in, numbers the likes of which I have never seen. But you were undauted. What where they but as an insect to the tail of the Mighty Orayax.

To my shame, I witnessed the treachery of the Princess – A hex on her name – YOUR VERY DAUGHTER – channelling her energy through him, using your own power against you.

But you were, of course, too cunning for the human. He may hold dominion over the numbers of the sheet, but your power is of such vastness that it dwarves him and all how ally to him.

“This ends now” snivelled the coward, little realising the end was for him, not you.

It was my great honour to be in your presence when you redirected the power flowing from the Princess, to him and then to you. Using their own energy to take out the ragtag group of treacherous villains they had assembled.

And now, five scenes from today’s workshop.

1. Peter’s in the office. This is our first view of his life. It will be a montage scene, of an entire year. His world is small. He goes to work, watches the seasons pass. He sits at his desk. His eyes light up when Julie walks past, he goes home to a small empty flat and opens a tin of beans and decides to just eat it cold. Peter’s life is empty except for the scifi that he loves. A room full of toys. A bookcase full of scifi novels. A set of DVD of classic old british scifi.

2. A dimensional breach, an new world beckons, in the bathroom of Fleming, Fleming and Fullerton. Peter was in the loo, trousers by his ankles, when a princes, a robot and a beastman, beckon him, they need him, they need his help. He runs forward.

3. He’s on a precipace, to the left are the armies of the evil lord, to the right are the new friends that Peter has made. He has to make a choice, sacrafice himself to save his friends, or save himself. Peter chooses, and somehow makes it out alive. But from here he will never be the same.

4. The climax, Peter versus the great monster. Peter’s friends trust him, the princess trusts him, Peter has to win this battle. But he’s not strong enough. Until he is.

5. The return. Peter decides that he doesn’t want adventure, he doesn’t want airships or princesses, or robots or monsters. He goes back to Fleming, Fleming and Fullerton. But he’s changed. He won’t take any more nonsense, and he asks Julie out and ends with a promotion. But that’s not enough and soon he’ll start his own accountancy firm, a changed man.

Couch to 80k Week 7 Day 3

I won’t apologies for missing days (as much as I want to) you may well be enjoying the breaks.

A recap of Day 2 : Recall we’ve started a novel (I mean, it was right there in the blurb of the podcast that this is the whole point of the thing, but it still surprised me to be asked) and day 1 was a bunch of “Maybe’s” about what that novel could be about. Well, day 2 was “let’s write the cover blub”. This felt like torture for me, especially since I hadn’t really settled on a novel, though it feels like I’m basically – from my maybe’s and blurb – rewriting John Carter. Except my John Carter is an accountant, and this is probably going to be a(n attempt at a) funny novel. (Though fair warning: my heart isn’t in this chunk of the podcast, since my focus is and remains with writing comics, so I’m trying not to get too worried about the large amount of cliched plots I’m going to regurgitate).

So, recap down, day 3 is … let’s take the climactic end sequence and write it. Can’t know where to start without knowing where we’re ending, right?

I only decided today it might be a funny story, yesterday it was serious, I really am making this up as I go along – can’t you tell?

So, that said, usual caveats apply, there’s stupid repetition, it’s appallingly unoriginal, and wears its influences on all eight of it’s sleeves, here’s the climactic battle scene in “The Call” (or, possibly, “Called to Account”) and it tapers off since my 10 minutes were up, and there’s no way I’m working past the bell…

Peter stood, finally, in the great hall. The obsidian columns lined the marbled flooring. Above him the stars of an unfamiliar galaxy. Home was nothing but a distant memory now. He stood, white shirt, shredded. Power surging through him from the Galoga Root, in his hand he held the Sword of Antimon. He took off his broken glasses. The root not only gave him incredible power, but increased his senses, he no longer needed his reading glasses, so tossed them aside.

Prince Astoria held her breath near the doorway, in the corner of his eye he could see her chest raise and fall slowly, channeling her psionic energy through him.

Gone now, where the memories of working in the Accounts Department of Flemming, Flemming and Fulton.

Gone too, was Peter Aaronovitch.

Now there was only Peter The Great.

Peter The Great, and the Monster.

“Hahaha! You pathetic Worm, so you’ve tasted the root of power, at last, and you think you can best me”

Its voice grated through him. The creatures eight arms bulged and crackled with energy. Each held a sword and it raised itself to full ten feet tall. Stretching the arms out, holding the swords at length, bristling and ready to fight.

“I can’t best you…”

“Not on my own”

Behind Peter the swelled ranks of the armies of the Avalon Guard poured out from doorways lining the hall. Surrounded Peter and the Creature.

The princess continued to concentrated, Peter bowed his head slightly before snapping his head up, and blasting the thing with beams of pure energy from his eyes


The creature stumbled back, the army stepped forward ready to attack, waiting for Peter’s word.

Then, suddenly, the creature expanded it’s arms out, the energy swirled around him and poured out to the crowd, blasting through them, exploding people left and right, he’d been tricked. The creature was using Peter’s own power against them all.

He tried to stop, he thrust his arm in front of his face, hoping it would stop the energy, but just as he did so, the Princess collapsed, exhausted. It had been too much for her. And too much for the allies that Peter had spent the last year building up.

Dead. All dead.

Except for Peter and the Monster.

It relaxed, and walked towards him. Still towering over him, this thing with tusks, and arms.

Couch to 80k Week 7 Day 1 Gaze on my Works ye Mighty

(I promise this title is less a brag and much more a “oh look, is there any way I can slip the word “might” in to some sort of pun based title)

Couch to 80k podcast is a writer’s bootcamp with daily exercises by Tim Clare and is part of his Death by 1000 paper cuts blog.

Glad your still with me, if you are, and if you’re one of the few people I’ve chatted to tempted to do this bootcamp too, tell me how you’re doing!

Ok, this week we finally take off the training wheels and begin the nitty gritty of actually writing a novel. NOW… I’m not that interested in writing a novel, I don’t feel I have any great big long form work in me (maybe we all have one book in us, I don’t feel like that – I do feel like I’ve hundreds of stupid stories in me, well, mostly stupid, and that’s fine by me).

A recap of what the bootcamp has covered so far…

Week 1 lists (enjoyed this)

Week 2 Timed free writes (enjoyed this)

Week 3 Using Personas / Masks can unlock content (struggled with this)

Week 4 Stylistic Choices (struggled with this)

Week 5 Emotions (ho boy, this was tough)

Week 6 Metaphors and Similes (struggled with this)

If you know me, you’ll know, my long term aim is comic writing, and I started this bootcamp simply to build the confidence that I could do that. I’ve currently laid out the plot of a 40 page Bondian adventure that I’m chipping away at (I’ll either pitch this to Dynamite or turn it into my own super spy adventure)

But a novel? Nope, no interest.

That said, it’d be a bit of a cheat to get this far in the bootcamp and abandon ship now (though I have form on this).

So today Tim asked us to type up a bunch of things that we might consider our novel about and if you don’t already have a novel, maybe some things a novel could be about. Prefacing each statement with the words “it might be…” so we don’t end up too fixed in our ideas. We want the flexibility to move and change as the writing progresses and to be open to other, potentially contradictory possibilities.

I hard to start with something… and so I began with what I know

(And feel free to ignore the rest, but these are my novel notes… lame, unimaginative, idiotic and raw and ready to be abandoned at a moment’s notice)

It might be a novel about a man whose life is very like mine who goes through an extraordinary adventure and ends with him realising that he has the best life already.

He might work a dull job, as an office clerk, in accounts. Possibly he’ll find something or something that shouldn’t happen will happen to him. Something that suggests the world is deeper and more complex than he assumes (maybe despite his longing for a more interesting life he’s long since settled into assuming it’s never going to get that interesting). He might be a game player, someone whose day time is spend dealing with numbers, he may well keep fantasy figures at his desk. He might be single. Or separated. He may be 30, He may be a virgin.

He might open a doorway to another dimension, or unexpectedly find himself the nexus of some great prophecy, a hero to an entire universe.

He might be required to save the kingdom, the girl, and become king.

He might return to his own world, changed, but glad that things aren’t just as nuts.

His name might be Peter.

He might love a work collegue called Carol-Anne or Caroline, or Carol or Carrie. (Maybe carrie, which he likes because it’s the same as Carrie Anne Moss from The Matrix)

Maybe creatures arrive on earth as he’s walking to work and he has to help them.

He might be an engineer, and maybe this skill will be what saves them?

He might reject the princess. He might sweep Carrie off her feet.

He might have a mild stammer.

He might be glad that the universe is simpler where he’s from.

He might have to fight the mighty villain. (this might be, basically the plot of He Man)

He might say something like “Jesus, what the hell am I supposed to do, I’m just an accountant. I’m not even sure how the coffee machine works!”

And the princess might respond “No, my name is not “Jesus”, nor do I know what a coffee machine is, but you are aCountANT! Hero of my people”

He may be part of a propecy, he may have accidentally altered their future, he may have accidentally altered their past.