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Jeko
April 25th, 2012, 05:07 PM
The second part of this extract has now been added to the first.

‘Mr Scattle’s looking at us again.’ Max said. In the cold, bitter street, three children flicked their gazes to the dirty window of No.5 and saw the pale ellipse of his face, with eyes like unpolished silver scanning them as they played football on the empty road. Few cars ever went by, and even if one did they would see the children like Christmas lights on Christmas night. Max, with his blood-red coat and matching trainers; Tracy and her white anorak with shiny buttons, and Jalie, wearing her faithful red-and-pink-and-purple wool hat snugly over her long, auburn hair.

Tracy stopped the ball under her boot. ‘He’s just a weirdo. Ignore him.’

‘Maybe he wants something.’ Jalie said as she took a second glance.

Max half shook his head, half coughed into the stale winter air. ‘He never talks to anyone.’

‘Maybe he’s lonely, then.’ Jalie mused as she passed the ball wide.

Tracy stopped it quickly. ‘Good. No-one in their right mind would hang out with that creep.’

‘He is such a creep.’ Max concurred.

‘Well... maybe he’s scared.’ Jalie said softly. ‘Maybe...’

‘Of what?’ Max said with a laugh. ‘Does he think we’ll throw rocks at his house and smash up all his windows? Or maybe we’ll smash up his door and break in.’

‘Yeah, and steal all his humbugs.’ Tracy sneered. ‘He’s just a creep, Jalie. Ignore him.’

Jalie gave Mr Scattle one last look, and agreed with a sigh. Then she vowed to never look again.

‘You know, I’ve heard stories about him.’ Max began. ‘People say he’s got no flesh on his hands, and that his fingers are three foot long.’

Tracy said, ‘Well I heard he spends all his time carving models of the people he meets. Makes ‘em real nice, too.’ She almost sounded like she admired the concept.

‘Creepy.’ Jalie simply said, before making something up herself. ‘Someone told me once that he keeps a monster in his basement. All slimy with loads of teeth.’

‘Oh, really.’ Said Tracy, picking up the ball. ‘Who told you that?’

‘A friend.’ Jalie replied sheepishly.

‘I thought we were your friends.’ Max said as Tracy joined him by his side.

‘It was before I met you guys.’ Jalie explained.

‘But Mr Scattle’s only been here a year, and we’ve-‘

‘Fine, I lied.’ Jalie admitted. ‘So did you.’

‘No I didn’t.’ Max said. ‘Can’t say the same for Tracy.’

‘Hey!’ Tracy yelled, kicking his leg with some force.

‘Mr Scattle doesn’t have three-foot long fingers.’ Jalie stated sternly.

‘I didn’t say he did.’ Max said. ‘I just said someone told me he did. They were probably as weird as him.’ Max looked up, and from his expression Jalie could tell that Mr Scattle was still there.

It wasn’t long before they’d had enough of Mr Scattle. Max suggested they go somewhere else – somewhere without him – and Tracy wanted to go to the lake, so they walked there together, happy to leave the strange old man behind. It wasn’t far to Lake Marlman; Windershire was only small, and a lot of people preferred walking from place to place rather than burning money in their cars. It was a beautiful village, too. The buildings were old and whispered history from within, with their bright wooden walls and patterned wooden doors; fuel for the imagination, exploding every now and then when you saw the bridge over the river or smelt fresh bread from the baker’s oven. Jalie loved to get away from all the modern gadgets and gizmos and enjoy the simpler pleasures in life, especially on days when the sun was shining through the soft summer breeze, tickling the trees and their emerald leaves. Not like today, though. Today was miserable, even without Mr Scattle spying on them.

They reached the lake quickly and looked on to the still water, like a giant puddle reflecting what light there was, and the jetty that stretch out from the bank. There was a rough dirt path drawn round, with benches and bins dotted here and there coupled with the occasional tree or pile of bushes standing proud from the ground. Only a few people were there today; a pair walking in the distance and a man sitting on a bench with a newspaper spread across his face. It was quiet, as always.

They gathered under one of the large trees, near the man with the newspaper. Then Tracy said, ‘You know, Mr Scattle might not be that bad. I mean, what if he’s worried about us? That we’ll get hurt or something?’

‘I doubt it.’ Max said. ‘He doesn’t exactly have the face of a kind soul.’

‘Well, my gran looks like a potato, but she’s lovely.’ Jalie said.

‘So’s mine.’ Tracy said. ‘She looks like a walrus.’

‘I don’t think he could be worried about anything.’ Max continued. ‘I don’t think he even knows anything. He never leaves his house. Doesn’t even go shopping.’

Jalie had always been concerned about Mr Scattle. No-one talked to him, and as Max said, he never went out. Jalie had hardly seen anything of the man, if he was a man, and not just some machine scaring the hell out of everyone in the village. He spent his days gazing out of that dirty window, only leaving to go to sleep, or whatever else he did at night. It was probably something even weirder than watching everyone in the neighbourhood.

Max was one of the few children in Windershire. Jalie had been friends with lots of people, but Max was the only boy that was still around. All the others had moved out with their parents. Tracy was a similar case. Sometimes, Jalie wished that some of the old codgers would leave so that new families with new friends could move in.

Jalie and her friends walked over to the lake, chucking a few pebbles in the water and watching them splash. They walked around the lake, trying to talk about more than Mr Scattle.

‘Got any new books?’ was Tracy’s best attempt.

‘No.’ was Jalie’s answer. Max didn’t have any either. The local library didn’t have much for younger readers.

They didn’t take long to get round the lake. Jalie said hello to the couple as they ambled past, and then Max wanted to know the time. Tracy usually had her watch – it was her favourite thing in the whole world (because it was pink) – but had somehow forgotten it today. The man with the newspaper was still sitting on the bench, and Max said they should ask him. They went over to ask him the time, and he lowered the paper.

It was Mr Scattle. His cloudy eyes stared at Jalie as she froze.

He had a thin, white, cracked face, like the flesh was paper-thin and the bone was brittle like pottery. He wore a loosely-fitting trench coat of faded black material, and tightly-fitting black leather gloves that enveloped his fingers, none of which were three or four or five foot long. Glancing to his wrist, he opened his mouth slowly and slowly said ‘half-past two’, before lifting the paper and pretending that they weren’t still standing there.

They stood there for another few minutes before Max began to walk away, tugging Jalie’s arm before she and Tracy followed. Mr Scattle turned to another page, and Jalie and her friends walked home without another word.



For those who haven't read the synopsis I've put up, what impact does this section have on you? How does it set up Mr Scattle?
For those who have read the synopsis, how do you think this sets up Mr Scattle in terms of how it links to what we discover about him later?

Easee
April 25th, 2012, 06:30 PM
There's some things you could do here to make the actual writing stronger, but I'll leave that for now, if you want feedback on that just let me know.

Okay, this is really cool, seeing the first chapter.

I really liked this line;

‘Yeah, and steal all his humbugs.’
Haha nice word play, love it!

Honestly, I think you could do better. The scene where kids talk about the neighbourhood creep has been done, again and again, and it doesn't give us a good sense of Mr. Scattle because it's all hearsay. It sounds like ridiculous rumours based on the current setting (reality) and the characters (normal kids), so how do we know it's not all made up garbage about the neighbourhood recluse?

If I was a fresh reader, with no insight into the characters or world you're working towards, I'd think it's just a few kids making stuff up about a weird guy they live nearby. Unless that's what you want, I'd rewrite this scene from a different angle.

I think a way you could really have a good sense of Mr. Scattle, would be do a piece from his POV. Show his carving his figurines, show us his thoughts, his strange way of thinking that leads to Scape. That would be interesting. You can definitely have the kids doing their thing, but I just think the "I heard..." format has been done, and Scape is really original, you don't want to dumb it down with boring formulas.

Not every scene comes out golden, keep it up, you have a great concept. Good Luck!

Jeko
April 26th, 2012, 04:19 PM
Thanks for the feedback, Easee.


‘Yeah, and steal all his humbugs.’
Haha nice word play, love it!

Ah, that was my favourite bit too.

I wrote this scene in this way (exploring Mr Scattle through distance, reflection and rumour) because at no point in the novel will there be a scene from his point of view. Every scene is from Jalie's POV. The rumour-droping format has been done many times (To Kill a Mockingbird, for example), but I feel that it is one of the only ways I can explore Mr Scattle at this primative stage. It has to be distant, and I have to drop these hints rumours so that the story becomes the narrative that I desire - a tale that evolves as it is read, through reference to past, present and future. Yes, having three-foot long fingers does sound ridiculous... as you said, if you were a fresh reader, with no insight into the characters or world you're working towards, you'd think it's just a few kids making stuff up about a weird guy they live nearby.

Also,


Scape is really original, you don't want to dumb it down with boring formulas.

I wanted to show some contrast here. The world of Scape is yet to come, so why not make the world that is 'real' as real as possible? Often the most important part of surreal fantasy is making the 'real' things that it relates to. If you lived next to a creepy guy, and you were young, you'd spread all kinds of stories and make him far more important than he really is to you. It's the way he's so weird that makes him the centre of attention, even though the scene is from Jalie's POV, and Mr Scattle doesn't speak at all. That's what I wanted to convey, anyway. I hope that this clears some things up - if not, then feel free to raise me on any of my points. Also, if you can help make the writing stronger, then please do!

Thanks again for the feedback.

Easee
April 26th, 2012, 05:30 PM
Okay, I understand what you're going for a bit better now. I also totally get the rational for exploring from a far, and by no means take my "it's been done before" negatively, it can still be fresh. It sounds cool; archetypal neighbourhood weird guy turns out to have his own world. Pretty cool!

Yeah and I totally understand making the world as real as possible. It's a necessity.

I thought I read something that could be fixed, but looking back it's not a problem. It was the frequency of he said/she saids but there actually aren't many at all so forget that haha.

Best of luck with this!! May it come vividly formed in your mind and easily from hand to page.

Jeko
April 27th, 2012, 12:44 PM
frequency of he said/she saids

You know, I was worrying about that too... probably used them more than I usually do because I wanted my dialogue to not constantly be interupted by other words. The focus is on the topics of discussion, and I feel like how it's said is only relevant if the way it's said is important. Although, I'm sure I can replace some of them with other words.

Easee
April 27th, 2012, 04:20 PM
You know, I was worrying about that too... probably used them more than I usually do because I wanted my dialogue to not constantly be interupted by other words. The focus is on the topics of discussion, and I feel like how it's said is only relevant if the way it's said is important. Although, I'm sure I can replace some of them with other words.

In all fairness, you have four characters discussing things here. So it is much more challenging to remove the dialogue tags without inciting confusion and despair in your reader. You did a pretty good job though, describing actions instead of boring tags. Keep it up. Don't worry too much I took back that comment when I reread it.

Jeko
April 27th, 2012, 04:28 PM
Just picked up the book of the movie that inspired this. Wow - I though movies cut out bits, not added to them. This just did a massive chunk in a few pages.

I might try 'less is more' a bit more now...

CRJenkins
April 27th, 2012, 04:45 PM
I like it! I agree that the whole "children making up stories about neighbours" has been done before, and that type of scene, but the irony is that for the most part, the stories are true, which will later be discovered by Jalie. I like the fact she's sympathetic towards him, gives her a reason to enter his house rather than just plain old curiosity and boredom.

The only constructive criticism I have to give is the repetition of word. This line in particular irks me somewhat.


No cars went by – few ever did – and even if one did, they would see the children like Christmas lights on Christmas night.

Because of the 'did' and 'Christmas'. I would recommend using 'had' for the 2nd did, so 'and even if one had' and describe the Christmas lights as something else, such a colourful lights, or sparkling lights. JMO, though. When I was younger my Uncle and I would sit and edit my novels and he would pick all of this stuff out, although it's something that can be done right at the end of the process, so I wouldn't worry about it too much now. And at one point, Tracy says three things in a row, where I presume one of them is meant to be Jalie?

Would love to see where this goes though! Very excited!

Jeko
April 28th, 2012, 01:30 PM
Thanks for the feedback, CRJenkins.

Repetition is one of the things I'm actually trying to improve (one of my writing foci, along with empathy and pacing). I agree that the repetition of 'did' feels a bit off, like a blunt object striking the sentence and stopping its flow. The repetition of Christmas was, on the contrary, one of my favourite snippets. It feels like an echo to me, speaking of joy and brightness while describing the scene in a realistic context.

Ah... Tray does say three things. That is meant to be Jalie. *hastily edits*

I read the book all the way through yesterday, from start to finish (and I don't read that fast). Then I wrote a scene which I'll definitely put up here - when Jalie goes into Mr scattle's house. I'll rewrite a bit of it first.

You know I'm starting to enjoy writing mroe than playing video games. Should be a good sign...

Thanks again for the feedback.

DarkMoonlight
April 29th, 2012, 06:43 PM
I read your synopisis and loved how this sounded and I've got to say I am liking the way this is going.
I like the whole from a far thing with the kids specualting what this MR Scattle guy is like and discussing the rumours they have been told (or making up) about him.
May I ask are you aiming at the teenage market or adults? Either way I honestly think this is shaping up to be somthing special, keep it up.

Jeko
April 30th, 2012, 08:05 AM
I think it's going to end up more for the teenage market, but at the moment I'm trying to write it for a wider audience, so that it might become something that can be appretiated by more than just teenagers. Thanks for the feedback, DarkMoonlight.

Spent the weekend writing lots and lots of stuff. Now to type it up...

AvatarAang
May 6th, 2012, 11:49 PM
Having just read A Rose for Emily, a short story were the town's rumors isolated the title character and twisted the view of the reader, I'm really looking forward to seeing just what kind of person Scuttle is. Is he as creepy and pure evil as the synopsis and rumors seem to imply? Or just really lonely and strange?

Also, because of the fact that I know this is inspired by Gaiman, Jalie officially looks like Coraline in my head.

What? Auburn hair? Nope, doesn't matter. XD

Jeko
May 7th, 2012, 04:31 PM
To me, Jalie looks a bit like Lucy from Narnia. The actor who played her, that is.

Thanks for the feedback, AvatarAang. Great to see this scene getting people interested - should do wonders for the rest of the story.

AvatarAang
May 8th, 2012, 03:07 AM
Awww. That's adorable.

Well, with that in mind, I look forward to reading more! Sounds eerily interesting!

WiredNun
May 9th, 2012, 07:32 PM
Nits make lice. Pick your nits.
"Mr" should be "Mr." or better yet, "Mister".
Abbreviations are seldom conducive to flow.
Ditto "No. 5", "number five" is much better.
Use double quotes, not single. What happens when your characters have to quote someone else? You have nowhere to go.
Check your typos. I found quotes where they should not be.

Jeko
May 10th, 2012, 04:41 PM
Thanks for the feedback, WiredNun.

The list of niggles is usually longer than that... I'm definitely getting better at this writing lark.


"Mr" should be "Mr." or better yet, "Mister".

I don't know if it's just me, but Mr always seems more dark than Mister. Mister has an airiness to it that lightens the verbal and mental pronunciation. Mr sound more deep and heavy. Well, it does to me, at elast. I guess everyone is different.

I think the reason I was opposed to Mr. was that I always felt like I was tripping up on the full stop. My mind naturally says 'PAUSE! NOW!' and even if I ignore it, that still diverts focus. Again, it might just be me.


Ditto "No. 5", "number five" is much better.

I agree with that one. But wehn I put it in, it becomes a bit less clear that it's a house number.


Use double quotes, not single. What happens when your characters have to quote someone else? You have nowhere to go.

That's keyboard habit, I guess. But I do see a lot of famous author using single quotes.


Check your typos. I found quotes where they should not be.

Fixed one of them. Now to find te other hundred I've missed...

Jeko
May 10th, 2012, 04:49 PM
Did a bit of research. In British english, the dot is often ommited. According to the Oxford A–Z of Grammar and Punctuation, 'If the abbreviation includes both the first and last letter of the abbreviated word, as in 'mister' and 'doctor', a period is not used.'

likewise, double quotes for speech are preferred in the United States, and also tend to be preferred in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but single quotes are more usual in the United Kingdom and South Africa, though double quotes are also common there.

TBK
May 10th, 2012, 07:05 PM
For those who haven't read the synopsis I've put up, what impact does this section have on you? How does it set up Mr Scattle?

I love this as an opening. It immediately engaged me. When it ended, I wanted to read more.

I want to know more about Mr. Scattle. From this scene, I gathered he's a reclusive man who watches children kick a ball. I wanted to know if he was watching them because he was some type of pervert, or if he was watching them because he was longing to go outside. I thought he might have agoraphobia, and asked myself what triggered his social anxiety.

Three foot long fingers is a sensible answer for children trying to answer the same question.

While I loved all the questions this opening posed, and I loved all the characters, I did have an issue with your character descriptions. I love a good character description--don't get me wrong--but the little info-dump jarred me. I don't want you to get rid of it, by any means, but I also don't know how to better incorporate it. I love that you gave enough detail about their clothes to set the weather outside on the empty street without directly telling me the weather.

My imagination's running wild!

happydagger
May 11th, 2012, 12:18 AM
I think there is a good amount of components in this story.

To move it along into the next direction /step, I would suggest having one of the kids, accidentally, kick the ball in to the creepy man's yard. Yes, it has been done before. However, what occurs next could bring it into an original interpretation of this scene. Also, it drives the tension further. Kids having to approach something (obstacle) they disdain or maybe fear, depending on the future plot of this story.

Other than that, to go along with the K.I.S.S. method of writing, I would take out 'bitter street' and put just 'street'. There seems to be no extensive reflection or description why it is important to know that the street was bitter after it was provided in the first sentence. As a reader, when I read 'bitter street' I wondered why it was bitter. But those were my subjective thoughts upon reading it, and I may be splitting hairs. Maybe the rest of the story explains the bitterness, foreshadowing etc.


I am looking forward to reading the progression of this story. Thank you for sharing it.

happydagger
May 11th, 2012, 12:25 AM
I think there is a good amount of components in this story.

To move it along into the next direction /step, I would suggest having one of the kids, accidentally, kick the ball in to the creepy man's yard. Yes, it has been done before. However, what occurs next could bring it into an original interpretation of this scene. Also, it drives the tension further. Kids having to approach something (obstacle) they disdain or maybe fear, depending on the future plot of this story.

Other than that, to go along with the K.I.S.S. method of writing, I would take out 'bitter street' and put just 'street'. There seems to be no extensive reflection or description why it is important to know that the street was bitter after it was provided in the first sentence. As a reader, when I read 'bitter street' I wondered why it was bitter. But those were my subjective thoughts upon reading it, and I may be splitting hairs. Maybe the rest of the story explains the bitterness, foreshadowing etc.


I am looking forward to reading the progression of this story. Thank you for sharing it.

Jeko
May 11th, 2012, 03:13 PM
Yay! More feedback! Thanks guys.


I love this as an opening. It immediately engaged me. When it ended, I wanted to read more.

I could post more...


I did have an issue with your character descriptions. I love a good character description--don't get me wrong--but the little info-dump jarred me.

My aim was to set the scene, and then bring it to life, like the world was slow for a moment, and then it returns to a normal, fluid, dialogue-rich pace. It might be less about the syntax and placing of the section and more to do with the lexical choice - i'm still trying to get rid of that other 'did' to stop my mind from tripping up on it and falling head-first into the pavement of progression.


I love that you gave enough detail about their clothes to set the weather outside on the empty street without directly telling me the weather.

I need to keep a list of things I've done that I didn't realise at first.


My imagination's running wild!

You know, I've never really felt like my writing has inspired thought, just presented it. I guess I have Gaiman to thank for that. I've only been writing for three years, and living for fifteen. This is the first time I've ever both been excited about my own world, and excited other people too. Feels awesome.


To move it along into the next direction /step, I would suggest having one of the kids, accidentally, kick the ball in to the creepy man's yard. Yes, it has been done before. However, what occurs next could bring it into an original interpretation of this scene. Also, it drives the tension further. Kids having to approach something (obstacle) they disdain or maybe fear, depending on the future plot of this story.

The next scene is different to that, but later events follow similar guidelines. After this scene, they leave and go to the lake, to generate a further feeling of distance from Mr Scattle. I might append this scene with the next, as they do really flow into each other.


Other than that, to go along with the K.I.S.S. method of writing, I would take out 'bitter street' and put just 'street'. There seems to be no extensive reflection or description why it is important to know that the street was bitter after it was provided in the first sentence. As a reader, when I read 'bitter street' I wondered why it was bitter. But those were my subjective thoughts upon reading it, and I may be splitting hairs. Maybe the rest of the story explains the bitterness, foreshadowing etc.

I wanted to expose an emotional summary of the small world I present along with the temperature. I feel 'bitter' links well with 'cold', implies a slightly more sinister tone to the world and forshadows jagged future events. 'Cold street' feels a bit bare, and that might be useful in presenting the world as bare, but also leaves leaves the narrative feeling a bit empty. That's just how I feel, anyway.

Once again, thnak you for the feedback! Now, I have a scene to write - probably the most important scene in the story... should be fun.

Jeko
May 11th, 2012, 03:49 PM
I have now added the next bit of the chapter.

Red_Venus
May 11th, 2012, 08:23 PM
Liked this. Has a good "kid vibe", like a kid really looks at/ talks/ feels about things. You've gotten a lot of good advice that I would agree with, so will not repeat. However, I am stickler about the punctuation. For instance...

‘Maybe he wants something.’ Jalie said as she took a second glance.

Now the single apostrophe is an obvious, gonna assume you saw that one coming, (:-)) however thoughout you put a period after each remark. That is incorrect. It should be a comma. If you finish the statement with who said it and how they said it, or what they did when they said it, ALL of that is a completion of the sentence that was begun with what they said. Make as much sense as root beer and ice cream?

So it should be: "Maybe he wants something," Jalie said, as she took a second glance.

Otherwise, good job!

RoosterSmith
May 12th, 2012, 08:23 PM
I like the idea, but it an be a little boring at times. All the same, the story itself is intriguing. I'd just work on making the dialouge more entertiaining...

Jeko
May 14th, 2012, 08:31 AM
Has a good "kid vibe", like a kid really looks at/ talks/ feels about things.

That's great! one of my key aims for the first secion of this story is building realistic characters. The greatest power in surreal fantasy is using what is real.


It should be a comma. If you finish the statement with who said it and how they said it, or what they did when they said it, ALL of that is a completion of the sentence that was begun with what they said.

I never knew that... been missing it since I started writing. Thanks for that - no-one's ever told me before.


I'd just work on making the dialouge more entertiaining...

I'm not sure what you mean by entertaining. I can't really add more humour, since the balance of humour in a darker tale is as important as the dark concepts themselves. Moreover, I really want to craft the real word as if its slightly toned down, for comparative purposes in the future, and so that the spark that makes it alive is mostly attributed to the intrigue based around events.

Jeko
May 14th, 2012, 12:13 PM
Just finished writing the first section of my novel to a standard I am very pleased with. It's taken me a couple of weeks to do around 10,000 words. Now things start to get really interesting - Jalie has entered the world of Scape...

Red
May 24th, 2012, 07:48 AM
I love how your characters can easily be seen throughout our daily lives. This is the first of the threads I've read so far that made me express the characters face expressions. That'd be a compliment. I only mimic a character's face expressions when I like what I'm reading, and this was quite brilliant, in it's own little way. The fact that people can relate to the characters helps attract a reader's attention, which is exactly what happened with me. And I could picture all that was happening in my mind, like a little film playing in my head.
I'm pretty sure it was a mistake, cuz you mentioned a "Mike" once, but I don't recall anyone besides the creeper in the window, Max, Jalie, and Tracy. So watch for little things like that. Plus, as good as this work was, it has room for improvement. But otherwise, your story is my favorite so far, and it's barely even begun.
By the way, loved this part:‘I doubt it.
"Max said. ‘He doesn’t exactly have the face of a kind soul.’
‘Well, my gran looks like a potato, but she’s lovely.’ Jalie said.
‘So’s mine.’ Tracy said. ‘She looks like a walrus.’"
I'm a big fan of humor and I actually laughed out loud when I read Jalie's comment.
Good work, and I hope to read more soon!

Jeko
May 24th, 2012, 08:30 AM
20,000 words and growing!


This is the first of the threads I've read so far that made me express the characters face expressions.

That's awesome. If there's one thing I need for this story, it's the reader to empathise with the characters - especially Jalie.


I'm pretty sure it was a mistake, cuz you mentioned a "Mike" once, but I don't recall anyone besides the creeper in the window, Max, Jalie, and Tracy.

oops... his name used to be Mike, but I changed it to Max, and forgot to change that instance of his name. *changes it*

Thanks for the feedback, Red.

Jbrennan
May 27th, 2012, 04:50 PM
I really like this story! :D I hope you finish it :D

Jeko
June 13th, 2012, 03:59 PM
Somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 words now. Did a load of writing over the half-term.

^Thanks! This might just be the first I finish...