The Arkship Ulysses – Chapter 21

25 November 2014

Chapter 21: Breakout

Length: 5,342 words

POV characters: Dawn and Stuart


Chaos has engulfed the ship. The unspoken – long the down trodden slave race of the Arkship Ulysses – have risen up as one and are reaping havoc among the God-fearing civilian population for the first time in centuries. The only person who has any hope of stopping them is Stuart Leighton who, thanks to his connection with the ship and the Metapath gene that dwells inside him, has a unique insight into the crisis unfolding below. However, he finds himself frustrated at every turn, unable to work without the support of the woman who is holding him captive who is still suspicious of his motives.

With no tools at his disposal or help on his side, Stuart can only watch as the unspoken sweep through the lower decks. But things are about to get a whole lot worse when the ship’s Master-At-Arms, the arrogant Commander Nathan Hathaway, finally springs a trap he’s been building for months: a trap which involves the Captain and the Captain’s new bride-to-be, and an assassination attempt that will shake the ship’s hierarchy to its very core…


Not much to say about this one except to say that I wrote it from scratch over the last couple of weeks so the writing might be a bit rougher round the edges than some of my more polished efforts.

It’s also worth noting why I haven’t updated you for a while on my progress and despite what you might think, for once it’s not due to any sort of writer’s block but rather the exact opposite. I’ve actually been writing like a mad man over the last couple of weeks, getting well ahead of myself and even forging on right to the end of the novel, which is something I’m thrilled to be able to report.

After this chapter only three more remain and they all exist in at least first draft form. A quick read-through, another week of redrafts for them and hopefully this novel will finally be put to bed.

I’m very excited about it.

The Arkship Ulysses – Chapter 16

11 August 2014

Chapter 16: To the Top

POV character: Dawn

Length: 5,211 words


Down in the bunks, tensions are rising. Following the death of Charity and the New Girl’s disappearance (seen in this chapter), a turf war has kicked off among the remaining capos . Dawn intends to put a stop to it. A momentous day is fast approaching – a planned breakout that will sweep across the bunks and bring down the feudal regime that has given the unspoken nothing but grief for so long – and Dawn intends to be riding at the crest of that wave when it comes. All she needs to do is restore order to the bunks first.

Pulling in every contact and favour she has left, Dawn hits the turf war full on, kidnapping one of the capos, starting a fight with another and causing instant chaos between the warring gangs with the sole intent of bringing the bunks into line. It’s going to be tough to get out of this one alive but fortunately, Dawn has a plan…


What’s this? A brand new chapter? One that didn’t even exist in any form whatsoever as little as a week ago?

Well, yes, that’s the nice thing about redrafts, you see. It’s time consuming as all hell and sometimes you wonder why you’re even bothering with it when you could just be off writing something fresh and new but then there are those moments when it fully justifies itself. Suddenly you find yourself exploring a brand new plot avenue you’d previously overlooked and suddenly the whole novel benefits as a result.

That’s what happened here. In previous drafts, all of the events of this chapter happened off-page, referred to only in expository dialogue from the likes of Commander Hathaway and Abi. It worked but it didn’t exactly make for a page-turning read and their import often threatened to get lost among all the other pages of exposition.

In a way, I blame George R. R. Martin for that. A Song of Ice and Fire has had a huge impact on the writing of this novel, especially with regards to its pacing and characterisation, but that influence hasn’t always been a good one. In the case of POVs, for example. Martin writes with a clear structure: each chapter is written from the point of view of a single POV and one POV only. He has a set of about 20 characters through whose eyes we can see the story unfold and he never deviates from this core.

As a result, it never occurred to me to actually show the reader Dawn’s rise to power simply because Dawn wasn’t one of my POV characters before. Abi, Stuart, Father Estavan, the Captain: these are the heroes through whose eyes my story is being told. The idea of writing just one chapter from a new POV simply never occured to me.

In this case, however, it needed to be done. The needs of the story come first after all. I owed it to these characters and the situation I’d established to show these events first hand.

This chapter was also a chance to indulge myself a little. Keen-eyed readers will remember during my notes for this chapter that I kind of fell in love with some of the smaller characters during the redraft process. At the time I lamented the fact that I’d done all this character building only to never get the chance to show these people again. Well, now they’re all back and their inclusion in this chapter creates a nice capping off point to the whole ‘unspoken’ story arc that started in chapter 2 and finally gets its payoff here.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. If the writing seems a little rough around the edges here then that’s only because it is! At this stage, this chapter is little more than a polished second draft but hopefully it’s a fun one for all that.

Also, hey, it’s a chapter made up almost 100% by women. If this book were ever made into a movie, you can be sure it would pass the Bechdel test.