Most of the hour or so today has been spent on sketching out the main characters and coming up with a batch of chapter headings so I know which way the novel will move as it develops.
The nice part about writing chapter headings is that it gives direction and also lets me see where the novel is likely to be too “thin”.
Novel in a month suggests that I start with 20 chapter headings. I’ve done this but have to confess I haven’t totally followed their system for plotting these out. So the chapter summary below is less complete than it should be.
First draft chapter summary
1. Arrival on planet. Introduction to Danny and the other main human characters
2. Exploration of the planet. Initially as normal but a handful of problems occur including communication breakdown and a broken Planet Nav
3. Danny attempts to fix the Planet Nav and makes things worse, opening up the graves of the long-dead planet inhabitants
4. Steph’s story – flash back to her briefing, including breaking the Planet Nav and planting a worm in the computer system to lead Danny to raising ghosts
5. Anthony finds some worrying clues in the planet’s archaeological remains. Things generally go bump in the night, causing glitches in systems. Every attempt Danny makes to mend things only gets worse.
6. Lauren disappears on her regular daily fitness run. The others launch a search and rescue mission, which is secretly thwarted by Steph and the ghosts (but they aren’t working together yet)
7. Mission control on Earth realises something is wrong but puts it down to a regular communication glitch and doesn’t do much about it.
8. Lauren’s dead body is found. With some worrying stuff around it. Anthony tries to trace the planet’s history to decipher the warnings.
9. Steph begins to collude with the ghosts to make things generally worse
10. Zach is repairing the mechanical stuff Danny can’t work with when he contracts a fever. Anthony diagnoses the fever and – since it’s contagious – quarantines Zach.
11. Mission control on Earth starts to get worried. The ghosts intercept their communication and reassure them that all is fine. Despite the foreign accents, mission control are happy to accept this. Marcus gets the report and realises things aren’t right but keeps this information to himself.
12. Zach’s fever takes a turn for the worse. The ghosts now materialise and start taking over the base, causing the others to leave the base and abandon Zach. Steph keeps up her secret collusion with the ghosts, but this is made harder by the distance between them.
13. Danny finds remains of previous, undocumented, mission to this planet and with Anthony’s help (and Steph’s hindrance) begins putting 2 & 2 together
14. Marcus realises things are not going to plan. Begins planning covert rescue mission.
15. Danny, Anthony and Steph begin constructing a new Planet Nav from the abandoned system and electronic debris left around
16. Rescue mission launched by Marcus. Doesn’t succeed.
17. Chapter 17
18. Chapter 18
19. Chapter 19
20. Departure from planet, leaving a big quarantine zone around it and making sure no-one can return accidentally or intentionally.
Main character: ordinary guy, a bit nerdy, gets hauled into fixing things but bodges the fix with unpredictable results.
Profession: IT fixer
Astronomer, keep fit fanatic
Mechanic, odd job man, chef
Important but no-one knows exactly what she does. Thought to be a government spy.
Steph’s contact and “controller” on Earth
I fully expect things to change as I start writing – the plot should become clearer as the characters develop, there will likely be some sub-plots as well.
But it’s a start! Getting this far has taken about an hour today. I need to do some writing as well if I’m going to keep on schedule but will take a break first so that my mind has time to mull things over a bit – I find I work better that way on a lot of things.