Day 12: Still Playing With Characters

12 Sep

Starting my 2nd week of writing. Last week wasn’t much fun trying to deal with fever/ phlegm in addition to word count and I’m hoping this week goes more smoothly.


1) On one hand I have box files full of notes and clippings and photocopies including a clear outline that goes from beginning to denouement including major clues, red herrings and a nice climax…

2) On the second hand I’ve got a head full of characters that keep multiplying and giving themselves new characteristics and habits–one just gave herself a matriarchal grandmother and another a five month old baby… both essential to the plot, they say…

Sceptical Author : To my plot?

Irrepressible Characters : Well to a plot that will work out even better than your plot. You can keep your storyline, think of us as adding onions, garlic and a stock cube for flavour…

SA: But I like my plot, my timeline, my writing schedule and all the stuff you’re suggesting means more research…!

IC: Don’t you want to write about a grandmother who took over her dead husband’s business, adopted her dead son’s polio stricken daughter (who grows up to be Su Cheng) and sends her to English School because even if she can’t find a husband she may be able to get a job in the Civil Service as a secretary in an age when Civil Servants were demi-gods… the ‘gods’ of course being the Europeans.

SA: I guess…

Over the weekend I went to look at some houses and a lot of photographs of buildings that were around in the 1920’s. And I ‘found’ a great house for my murder site. Except it wasn’t where I wanted it to be so I’ve relocated it…


It was not yet eleven in the morning when they drew to a halt outside the Douglas house on Cavenagh Road. Here, out of the city it was hot and bright, the leaves on the few roadside trees hung limp from drought. They alighted and Su Cheng told the driver to wait outside with the car. The gates stood open but there seemed no one in attendance. The house was a two storeyed bungalow, longer than it was wide. The height of the lower storey was at least twenty feet, probably in an attempt to increase ventilation. Like most European houses built after the Great War it was made of brick below and wood above with verandas that ran along the whole length of the house on both sides on the ground floor as well as the upper floor. Even from the gate there was an air of waiting stillness about the place, as though no servants were on duty mopping, washing, wiping or serving tea.

There were two policemen standing in the shade outside the front of the house. There was no body to be seen but on the driveway just outside the sheltered porch there was a large dark stain where blood had soaked into the gravel.

“Excuse me Mam this is restricted area,” one of the police constables came forward to address himself to Miss Blackmore as the two women approached the porch. He did not acknowledge Su Cheng.

“We have come to help with the girl who died,” Miss Blackmore announced. “I am Miss Blackmore from the Women’s Mission Service Centre and this is my assistant Miss Chen,”

The policeman looked relieved. They had obviously been instructed to keep outsiders away but a European woman who knew about the death could hardly be considered an outsider.

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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Life Happens, Research, Writing Life


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