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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Writing Experiment #14 - Ryann Manuscript Part 11

This is number fourteen in a series of posts where I document the complete process of writing a novella - Day By Day!


I am documenting (via my blog) the complete start to finish experience of writing a novella that I will be releasing for FREE once it is written.

Ryann is the story of a thirteen year-old girl who works as a servant for a tyrant of a master, and longs for the day when she can buy her freedom. The novella will serve as the introduction to a new fantasy series that I will start writing in 2013.

I will be writing approximately 900 words per day and I will post each day's writing the following morning, unedited, on my blog. This means you get to see my draft with all its original spelling mistakes, bad grammar, and clumsy sentences

The timeline for the experiment is as follows:
  • Plotting, Characters and Scene Outlines - April 1to April 20 - COMPLETE
  • First Draft Manuscript - April 21 to May 18 - IN PROGRESS
  • First Manuscript Edits - July 1to July 5
  • Reader Proofs - July 6 to July 25
  • Final Manuscript Edits - July 26to July 31


Today's Date: May 2nd
Progress: Day 11 complete. Following is the day's writing...


“It’s no good Ryann, we’re going to have to do something about your clothes.” Cook ran a hand down Ryann’s dress and made a tutting sound as she did so.
“I just seem to be growing so fast, cook.”
Cook laughed. “Only a few weeks here and you’ve already lost that puppy fat of yours and you’re shooting up like a little sapling. Let’s take a good look at you.” She spun Ryann around and examined her back. “Just about ready to tear at the seams.”
Ryann looked up at cook. “Is it going to cost much?”
“We’ll have to ask the housekeeper, but I would guess probably five copper coins for a couple of new dresses and some other bits and pieces.”
“Five coins? Everything is so expensive.”
Cook ran a hand through Ryann’s hair. “I know, little one. That’s what it is. And maybe we should do something about your hair too.”
“You mean to cut it?” asked Ryann.
“Maybe that’s for the best. Look at it. I’m surprised you haven’t had birds nesting in it by now.”
“But I don’t want my hair cut, cook. I like it long.”
“Then we’re going to have to get you a brush too. That will be another copper coin no doubt. But it’s your choice. Either way you’re going to have to keep it tidier than this.”
Ryann tugged at a few knots in her hair and made a face. “Then I guess I’ll have to. When will we see the housekeeper?”
Cook laughed. “You won’t be, little one. But I’ll see to it later today. I’ll try and keep the total cost of everything to five coins.” She turned back toward the stove. “Now I need to get started with the meals for the day. Run off now and get me some vegetables from the garden. The gardener should have left out some potatoes and carrots. Maybe even a cabbage or two. Run along and go see, will you? And make sure you get the best ones. None of those maggot-filled carrots like last week.”

Ryann got to her feet and trudged out of the kitchen and along a corridor that led to the back garden. Five more copper coins. When was it all going to end? Every time she earned a few coins, she lost more. It was going to take forever to save up twenty silver coins unless she could find a way to earn more. She would have to ask cook later if there was something she could do to earn extra money.
She pulled open the door that led to the back yard and stepped out into the cold morning air. A shiver ran down her spine. She should have pulled on a robe before coming outside. Oh well, as long as she was quick it would all be fine. As she was walking along the path that led to the garden she heard a noise coming from nearby. She could hear shouting and what sounded like the banging of wood.
“No. Higher… Keep your guard higher… Yes. That’s right…”
Ryann crossed between two hedges and came out into an open space. She laughed. In front of her, stripped down to his undershirt and pants, Kieran was practicing, with a wooden sword, against a very old man. The man was obviously a lot better than Kieran as he was already very red in the face and panting for breath.
“Higher, boy… Concentrate.” The man shouted at Kieran again.
Ryann stopped, took a step backward, and leaned against the hedge, semi-hidden, to watch. When Kieran had said he was going out to practice she hadn’t realized what he had meant. Now it was obvious. He was learning the sword in his spare time. Perhaps he wanted to fight; to be strong. She ran a finger through her hair and pulled out a few knots. He wasn’t so bad after all, this Kieran. He was going to turn into a real man. She blushed as she caught herself staring at his bare arms. He was definitely showing a few muscles already.
“Vegetables,” Ryann said under her breath.

Reluctantly Ryann turned away from Kieran, crossed back between the hedges and re-found the path that led to the gardens. She soon found the gardener and he loaded up a barrow for her with potatoes, carrots, cabbages and a few leeks.
“You alright with that, lassie?” he asked, smiling from ear to ear.
“I’ll be fine,” Ryann replied, struggling to lift the barrow and push it back along the path.
“Just you take care now.”
Ryann continued to carefully push the barrow, ignoring the laughs of the gardener behind her. If Kieran could make himself strong then maybe she could do the same too. Maybe she needed to do more physical work to build up her strength. She would have to ask cook about that as well when she got back.
As the path ended and turned to grass for a little distance, Ryann stopped to regain her breath. She looked toward the sky as a few drops of rain landed on her head. She hastily picked up the handles of the barrow and pushed it forward again, but it caught in a little rut in the grass and tipped to one side before Ryann could steady it. The barrow fell to the ground and the vegetables rolled in every direction. Just then the rain started to fall in anger.
Ryann righted the barrow as quickly as she could and ran to and fro gathering all the vegetables together. As soon as they were all safely back inside, she lifted the barrow up again and managed to push it forward across what was fast becoming very marshy grass. She stopped for a moment and wiped her brow with one hand before continuing. She was already soaked through to the skin from the rain and she was starting to get very cold too. Still, only a few more yards until she reached the path again. With a final push she managed to get the barrow up onto the path and she steered it toward the back door that led inside.
With a final sneeze and a sniff of her nose, she reached the door, set the barrow down and pushed the door open.


  1. Interesting experiment - good luck!

    I am curious... why tbe break from May 18th to July? Trying to forget the manuscript to examine with fresh eyes? Six weeks seems like an awfully long time.

  2. At least a month is recommended. Six weeks is a pretty good time for letting the manuscript 'cook' as I call it. It also fits in with the rest of my writing schedule. Lots to do and no rest for the wicked!