It started with a dream. And a very strange dream it was (*read the dream at the end of the post). It jumped around and didn’t make any sense and yet seemed real. I thought about it as I went through my morning routine. On my drive to work I wrote a little story in my mind based on the dream. By the time I pulled into the parking lot I had it pretty much down. I also realized it was more of a single scene than a standalone story. i was thinking four, perhaps five, parts. I took a break from work midway through the morning and cranked it out as fast as I could type. The scene was in my brain, I just had to type it out. I took less than 30 minutes to type and post the more than 1800 words of “The Halley Branch (Part 1)”.
For a few days it continued like this. I would think of the next chapter as I drove to work. Half way through the morning I’d take a half an hour break to write up what I had planned on my drive and post it. After the forth part I realized the story was going to be a lot bigger than originally planned, perhaps book length.
After about the fourth or fifth part I started doing a lot of the writing at home in the evening.
Relatively early I made some decisions on where I wanted to go with the story. I hadn’t planned it out, I was still letting it run naturally, but I did push it in certain directions. After about the 10 part, which in my mind I had started to call “chapters”, I did a quick run through in my mind of how I want to go. I was still writing every day and pretty much by the seat of my pants, but I was doing more at home, taking longer to think things through and more effort to create a unified whole.
At part (chapter) 15 I decided I needed to plan the rest of it out. With pencil and paper I made a quick chart, one short sentence per chapter. I pretty much followed the plan, though I combined 2 chapters at one point and added a new chapter at another point.
A couple of days later, after writing Part 17, I decided to just finish it. With the plan in hand I decided to just write. I wrote most of the last half in less than a week. That meant I sat on some of the later chapters for almost a month before I posted them. In fact, I started by writing the climatic showdown chapter before going back and picking up from where I had left off. So yes, I did go back and revise some of the later chapters before posting them. After everything was complete I decided to add a beginning, intro chapter (not posted at this time). After I wrote that chapter I did some more revisions to the last few chapters.
That is how “The Halley Branch” was written. If you read the story as I was posting it you were seeing the first draft of a book being written in real time, at least up to the half way point. After the half way point you still saw the rough draft, only it had been written in advance. And with the last few chapters you saw a slightly more polished version.
Did you read “The Halley Branch”? Did you enjoy it? I hope this little peek into the author’s mind was fun.
* The Dream (in part) – After being chased out of a small private graveyard, a police officer stopped and gave me a ride to a large cemetery. He pointed out an open grave. I walked over. A town officer was digging in the grave. They were exhuming a body for evidence in a crime. I jumped into the grave to talk.
When I landed I found myself in a crypt, not a grave. The people had all changed, becoming “family”, but not my true-life, waking family. There were rock shelves that had skeletal bodies each covered in a single shroud. A few skeletons were sitting in chairs. I couldn’t tell if there was cloth dripping from them or if it was flesh. I didn’t look closely! The bodies seemed to be in a different position every time I glanced at them as if they were moving on their own. The living people were going through some type of ceremony that I more than half ignored.
I looked through a door and saw another crypt full of living people and skeletal bodies. The people were mostly African American. They were performing the same ceremony as the people in “my” crypt. There was a feeling that both crypts were part of the same extended family.
Someone said something and everyone filed up a steep stairway to a room decorated in Victorian fashion. For some reason I was the last one up the steps. I called out to the room if it were OK to lock the door. Someone said “yes” so I closed and locked the door to the crypts. As I was walking away I heard pounding and screams. I walked back and unlocked the door. An African American girl, perhaps in her late teens or early 20s, was standing at the top of the steps. She ran into the room and collapsed. A woman, obviously her mother, and a blond girl about her age ran to her and started comforting her. I turned back to the stairs and saw a man half way up them. He was short yet powerful looking. Very light blond hair. He was wearing mid-nineteenth century clothing. I was about to step down when a woman grabbed my wrist and said “no”. I looked closely at this woman, an older (80s? 90s?) African American woman. She seemed almost desperate to stop me from following. I closed and the locked the door again. When I turned back to the room I found there was nobody around me. I don’t know who told me not to investigate the man.
The above depiction of the dream is a little simplified, but gives the main idea. If you read the first part of the Halley Branch you can see I borrowed quite a bit of this dream.