RERUN WEEK #6: Write with half an eye on the market

The Darknight Academy for witches, wizards, troubled vampires and tragically abused children was just waking up when the screaming started. Secret Agent Sam Glowingly sprang athletically from his bed and immediately reached for his pistol. He had been undercover for three weeks now and this was the first sign of trouble, unless you counted the theft of the Holy Grail the previous week, which he didn’t.
‘McSleet. Wake up,’ he hissed. His grizzled, cynical, alcoholic yet oddly sympathetic Scottish colleague mumbled an unintelligible curse at him and went back to sleep. Fine, thought Glowingly. He would just have to tackle this one alone, with only his gun and his mysterious otherworldly powers to help him. He knew he could do it. He had faced seemingly impossible odds before, like that time his wife had been forced to choose which of their two daughters to donate a kidney to, even though the girls were twins and one of them had accidentally killed their younger brother in a shocking yet poetically haunting accident at the old lake.

RERUN WEEK #5: Learn about syllepsis, then refuse to stop employing it

Joe Stockley was in an expensive sports car and deep trouble. This time, he had really let his mouth and his exotic foreign lover run away with him and it was getting beyond a joke and his immediate circle of friends in the form of rumours and speculation.
As he ran a red light, the conversation back in his mind and away from his troubles, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of rising panic and the soft matte finish of his hand-stitched leather steering wheel. Angelica had been absolutely right and his wife for fifteen years, so why was he running scared, these kind of risks and this deadly gauntlet of illicit entanglements?

RERUN WEEK #4: Find the bone mote

As he sat discomfortably on the chase lounge, Dan realised he was the centre of attraction. Something was a rye. He had a feeling that in this particular click, he was to be the scrapegoat. Had it been wreckless to come into this den of thiefs? If the worse came to the worse and the yolk of responsibility rested on his shoulders, wherefore would he turn for assistants?
When he had set out on this long sojourn, he’d known it would be risqué, but no one had appraised him of just how risqué, or even eluded to it. Even if they had, he would have been suspect of them having an anterior motive. But that was a mute point now. These viscous criminals would test his medal irregardless of weather he wanted them too – he just had to keep his moral up in the mean times.

RERUN WEEK #3: Describe the wrong things

Carol stands absolutely still. In front of her, not more than ten feet away, is a fully-grown black bear. The ferns beneath its feet are crumpled and slightly browning, their delicate fronds pressed into the thick, wet mud of the forest floor. Carol hesitates. Slowly, very slowly, she looks around for a possible escape route. The light falling through the canopy of leaves has a pale, thin quality to it and the air is brackish with a faint scent of the stagnant water from the nearby estuary.
She decides to make a dash for it. Her shoes are slightly too tight, pinching at her toes and digging into the soft skin just above her heels. If she had put on thicker socks this morning, this wouldn’t be a problem, but in her haste to leave the house, she had grabbed a thin white cotton pair designed to sit low on the ankle, hidden below the line of the shoe. Seeing her move, the bear leaps forwards. A plane is flying directly overhead and the sound of its engines is like the rumble of a distant washing machine. It is a passenger plane of some sort – most probably an old 737 with a good few years of service still ahead of it. The bear eats Carol.

RERUN WEEK #2: Start your novel at least three chapters before the first significant event of the plot

Alan picked up his slice of toast and bit into it thoughtfully. The crescent shape left by his teeth was like a smaller version of the shark bite Julia would suffer next week, but at the moment, Alan knew nothing about that. Wiping the crumbs from the corner of his mouth, he reached for his coffee. As he lifted the mug, the surface of the drink rippled like a deceptively calm ocean which, any moment now, sharks would come leaping out of. He slurped it, completely unaware.
So far, today had been disappointing. The arrival of the post hadn’t brought the parcel he’d been waiting for – the new scuba mask with anti-fog coating which would eventually (although not for some days) save his life. There wasn’t even a postcard from Julia, despite her still, at this point, having enough fingers to write one. He wanted to know what the weather was like out on the west coast before he set off to join her there on Thursday.
Of course, today was Monday, so there was still plenty of time. Maybe a postcard would come tomorrow, or the day after. Until then, reflected Alan, he just had to get through his last few days at work, which promised to be mind-numbingly repetitive and predictable, exactly unlike a shark attack.

RERUN WEEK #1: Skip blithely between tenses

I sit at my desk with my head in my hands and sighed. It is only three days until the deadline, I think, and I’m going to have had to finished everything before then. If only I have finish this now, I thought and lean back on my chair. Just then, the phone has rung. I am answering it.
‘Hello?’ I am going to have said. It is my editor; he was angry, but not as angry as I remember him being when I am handing in the work late, four days from now.
‘Is this work going to have been finished when it is currently the deadline which, at present, is in the future?’ he demanded. ‘I am planning to have been waiting for it, as I presently am.’

Use your characters to work through your problems

‘I know, I know,’ Dash Gallant sighed, running a muscular hand through his perfectly coiffured hair. ‘The truth is, I just haven’t had the time.’
‘Time?’ Doctor Hadrian laughed. ‘Captain, with the Temporal Reflux Engine on this ship, you’ve got more time than you think.’
‘That’s not what I mean and you know it. The Mhal-Evol’Unt hyperborder has been breached, saboteurs have infiltrated the fleet and Fumblebot is still missing.’ He grimaced manfully. ‘With all that going on, how am I supposed to find time to update my spacelog?’
Doctor Hadrian thought for a moment. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘if you were to accelerate to five times lightspeed and slingshot around...’
‘Wait.’ Dash silenced him with a wave of his hand. ‘I’ve got it. For the time being, I can republish old spacelog entries. Just for a week or so.’
‘A spaceweek.’
‘Yes, a spaceweek. That’s what I meant. Rerunning old material will keep things ticking over until I’m less busy.’ He turned to the plexi-viewport and smiled. ‘Well done, Dash old friend,’ he whispered to his reflection. ‘You’ve done it again.’

Throw in a few red herrings

Gutanga crept up to the dust-covered plinth and reached for the lid of the golden pot. She could feel the power radiating from it, a strange tension in the air around her. She lifted the lid and peered inside. It was empty. She hesitated. Where was the idol of Sultar? The map had led her here. It had to be...
She pushed the pot aside and swept the dust off the plinth beneath it. A secret compartment! She opened it and looked inside. It was empty. But that meant...
She stamped her foot down on the base of the secret compartment and it crumbled away. A false bottom! She brought the flame of her torch to floor level and saw a small hole in the dirt below. It was empty. That only left...
She scrabbled at the dirt with her hands and uncovered a small metal box buried deep in the hole. She prised it open. It was empty. That could only mean one thing...

Explore motivation

The grizzled old prospector adjusted his hat, partly to shade his eyes from the searing California sun and partly because he took pleasure in making his appearance as symmetrical as possible – the last vestige of a tendency towards obsessive-compulsive behaviour which had largely been beaten out of him by years scrubbing around in the dust of dry riverbeds in search of gold.
‘Can’t say as I remember,’ he muttered. With a sigh, Lorenzo tossed another coin on the ground between them.
‘That help?’ he asked. The sigh had been as much genuine exasperation as the show of exasperation he had intended to make in order to give the impression that he was frustrated enough to walk away without having bought the information he was after. The casual flick of the wrist he had affected in order to drop the coin had been carefully calculated to convey an ease with money and disregard for its value. The words he had chosen – “that help?” – were deliberately curt and laced with a certain contempt which he hoped would shame the old man into cooperating.
‘Might just,’ said the prospector, with a yawn. In part, the yawn was an attempt not to be outdone in the presentation of a casual demeanour, but it was also a way to put this inquisitive stranger off his guard in case a sudden act of aggression was called for. In addition, the movement of his facial muscles when he yawned allowed him to squint without appearing uncomfortable. As well as this, the air which the yawn drew into his lungs, hot as it was, refreshed him. Also, he was sleepy.

Have your characters talk up your plot

‘So the secret of Old Istanbul isn’t a place at all,’ gasped Susan. ‘It’s a person.’
‘That’s right,’ replied Lord Dington, smiling. ‘And I think you know who.’
‘You?’ Susan laughed. ‘But when you said the diamond was hidden...’ Lord Dington patted his pocket.
‘We had it with us all along.’
‘That’s an amazing twist,’ smiled Susan. ‘I never suspected a thing, despite the many clues which make sense in retrospect.’
‘That’s right,’ he supplied. ‘I was careful not to say too much and give it away, but also to provide you with just enough information that you wouldn’t feel cheated when the twist was revealed.’
‘Gosh,’ Susan beamed, ‘you really are a master spy!’
‘Yes,’ confirmed the gentleman, brushing a speck of dust from his sleeve. ‘And a decent storyteller, too, even if I do say so myself.’