Camp #NaNoWriMo April 2016: Days 9-13

CNW_Participant

Current Word Count: 13,000 words

A bit of a jump in word count since my last update and that’s partly because my FMC has discovered she has an ability to reap the souls that have become ghosts and send them on. She has also inadvertently released all the souls in a Pandora’s Box type box that were all trapped there by her non-biological family. It mirrors Cardcaptors/Card Captor Sakura a lot and I suspect that is my subconscious doing the “write what you know” thing.

On top of that, she has received her school place offer but at the same time being told she must return home to her non-biological family. The place offer has fallen by the wayside for now whilst my FMC returns and finds herself at odds with everyone, including her mum. There’s friction there and it’s something I can play with.

Story wise then, it is going okay (mostly!) but writing wise, not so much.

The ability and the releasing of the souls is clichéd I know but I like it. Whether it stays should I actually do another draft after this, I have no idea but for now, it’s staying because it fits. It has the added bonus of giving her an ability that links her to her biological paternal family, who are all involved with the ghost hunting world in some form. I suspect I may use that link at least to give my FMC some comfort.

I do suspect though that I might have started the story a little too early in story time. Talking to a friend earlier today has convinced me that I may have enough story to cover the time but along with the fact that I am at 13,000 and the FMC has not gone to school yet, I think I may struggle a little. Yet again, it is something that I need to address should I redraft this. I’ll get there in the end, I know, but it is still going to bug me a little in the meanwhile.

How are things going for you? Good? Bad? Into the meat of your story or languishing at the start? Don’t be afraid to comment below.

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Book Review: Lockwood & Co., The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Yes! It is my first book review in a while!

Image: GoodSearch/Wikipedia

Lucy Carlyle is the newest Agent to join the most ramshackle psychical agency in London. Charged with dealing with the Problem that has plagued an alternative Britain for the past 50 years, she finds herself working with the mysterious Anthony Lockwood and the annoying, rotund George Cubbins to uncover the answer to a decades old murder case and a mysterious screaming staircase in the most haunted house in Britain! Two big cases for an agency that struggles with the most routine of cases…

This book is a fresh take on the urban fantasy genre for children. Whilst still centred on London, the reader is drawn in through the first person narration of Lucy Carlyle to learn about this alternative universe (AU) Britain where ghost hauntings have been increasing for 50 years and children with special Talents (Listening, Sight and Touch) join and train with psychical agencies to vanquish hauntings for people. The novel is split into four parts and does rely on the reader being willing to flip back and forth from the story, to the glossary at the end and back again or having at least a common knowledge base to understand the book. There are two distinct story lines in the book that are satisfactory tied up at the end.

Stroud also seems to be trying to hook readers into the series for the long haul. This book, the first of a series, has some small sub plots that Stroud appears to be setting up ready to be dealt with over the course of a series, particularly revolving around Lockwood and his past. The ending of the book also tries to hook the reader in with a new plot line linking directly to some character develops with Lucy to make sure they read the next book to find out more. This has certainly worked as I have already started looking to getting the next book when I can.

Unfortunately, I am not sure introducing new plot points at the end was a good idea. I will grant Stroud is an established author (he has already found success with the Bartimaeus series) so can probably get away with breaking the rule that says don’t introduce new plots or characters towards the end of the story but I feel that in this instance, it was completely unnecessary and would probably have been better placed nearer the start when set up with Lockwood started.

I have previous mentioned that the book requires a reader willing to either be flipping back and forth between the story and the glossary or have a common knowledge base on ghost hunting and this is something else I have a problem with. It is very hard to initially get into the book because the reader is constantly having to break the suspension of disbelief to look up terms. This could lead to readers potentially abandoning the book before getting to part two of the book where background information, about Lucy, the AU Britain and many other things are explained. This makes the story very badly organised in my view and possibly broken back. The first part is probably Stroud’s attempt to draw the reader in right from the start but I don’t believe it has worked as well as maybe he wanted.

This makes my concerns about having another series of Urban Fantasy books set in London rather redundant.

The Screaming Staircase is a wonderful start to a new series and is very different from other books on the market for both children’s and adults. It draws on the traditions of the genre whilst adding a new twist and encouraging readers to keep reading. I have no doubt that Stroud will continue to deliver interesting novels, develop the characters as they get older and, hopefully, will develop the world it is set in. A series to watch I think.