Camp NaNoWriMo week 2 was going well… until I read the latest Adirondack Publishing advice on The Story Reading Ape – about Voice.  As you know, I’m re-editing The Perihelix, especially the first ‘half’ which had, let’s call it, ‘deficiency in plot’.  I think I’ve sorted that – it’s probably ready for my beta readers to check out.  I’m also working on point of view (POV), making sure only one character is telling each section.  I do have a habit of doing Pete & the Swede’s POV – and Fred & George’s, and Dylan & Dougall’s – even though I think each has a separate voice within that.  At one time I wondered whether Lars and Pete sounded just like Fred and George, but I think I sorted that out the first time around, and they are even less alike now.

I’m also working on the scene shift: whatever the situation is at the start of the scene, there should be a definable change by the end (bad to good; good to bad).  I got as far as Chapter 6, which is pretty much where I think the ‘second half’ starts and the plot works.  Then I read the stuff on Voice, and thought: I can Do Better.

And as they point out, doing Voice this way can use a lot more ink… so I’m back to half-way through Chapter 1 again!

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Last week I left you with Lars at a cliffhanger.  This week’s 550 word Perihelix extract shows what happened next – in the new use of Voice, although I altered this part less than what went before.  See what you think (and no, I don’t plan to give you this book in a hundred serial parts).

The Perihelix Extract 3

The jet of gas spewed out with the merest microsecond of warning.

In the minuscule time it took to thrust Lars back down the tunnel to crash into the netting, he registered the miracle of missing the rough edges, the need to hang on to the netting with all his strength, and to make sure his suit’s integrity wasn’t lost. He screamed as the force threatened to cut him in two, and squirmed to avoid the blast as the net lost its seatings on one side. He grabbed the threads with his fingers, and fought to control his breathing in fear of decompression. Adrenalin rushed through his system as his tether tightened and he heard Pete’s calm voice saying ‘zed three’ in his helmet. He left hold of the net, crossed his arms across the blackening fabric of the suit, and allowed the auto-retract to take him over the hundred metres to the ship in under six seconds. He rolled into a ball, allowing the capture net to suck him into the airlock but minimise the damage to his soft human organs from momentum change. The hatch above him slammed shut just as his suit threatened to rupture. His vision blurred, but the colour in the pressure gauge still showed red…. green. He breathed. He shuddered. He made himself release his arms. He’d prevented a major breach in his suit, but the burn marks were still spreading where the jet had scorched them. He wanted to curl up with eyes closed, but he had to get out of the suit.

As he struggled with the tough fabric, he realised that Pete was above him, looking through the porthole on the airlock hatch. He gave him a thumbs-up, and a weak grin. Pete responded likewise. One more safety procedure that worked in practice. Lars crawled out of the airlock back into the ship, and curled up in the medibunk to recover.

Two hours later, Pete woke him, having rescued the holdalls with their largest finds, and completed hosing up all the other debris.

“You’re fixed, for now, according to the chart.”

“Damn chart knows nothing.”

Pete just smirked, and went through to the console in what they called the office.  Lars followed, groaning as he moved. Pete took a drink from the beaker of warm flavoured water they tried to imagine was coffee, and rubbed his moustache.

“Okay, then?”

“Yeah. Maybe we need better auto-sealing suits.” Lars scratched his head and looked at the result showing under his fingernails in disgust. “Have I ever said how much I hate this job?”

“Once or twice. Always near the end, though. Maybe we should make the trips one month shorter.”

“We tried that when we finished at Kappa Venturi.”

“Well, next time…”

Lars nodded. “Yeah. My belly hurts.”

“Let’s get Zito to sort us out a real holiday place this time. Take it for six months. A year even.”

“What about a place we could live if we really liked it?”

“Sounds good. After the Amberson of course.”

“Sirtis! When did the entries close?”

Lars tapped the console to bring up the rules of the Amberson Trophy. If they’d missed the entry deadline for the big flyer’s race on Pleasant Valley, he’d kill someone.

“I’ll send Zito a message. Relax, Lars. Go take another spray. Then sleep.”

© J M Pett 2017


I’m still pondering the speed at which Lars can be retrieved from the rock.  A hundred metres in under six seconds is nearly twice as fast as Usain Bolt runs.  Would that be too fast for the momentum change when he reaches the ship?  It’s got to be real fast, since a suit breach in the vacuum of space would boil a body’s internal fluids pretty much instantaneously.  Any thoughts?

Postcard from Camp | The Perihelix Extract 3
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2 thoughts on “Postcard from Camp | The Perihelix Extract 3

  • 15 July, 2017 at 6:13 am

    Great comments on the scene shift, and I’ll have to go read the stuff on voice.

    I don’t know if it’s any comfort, but I’m floundering with my book, too, and in very similar ways. I’d be doing better if I were working at it as hard as you, though.

    • 15 July, 2017 at 6:54 am

      Yes, it does help to set a target! According to the word count, I’m over halfway with it now. Good thing, as we’re halfway through camp 😉

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