It’s Day 10 of Camp NaNoWriMo! And I’m way above my daily target, which is awesome, as well as past my halfway point. My real deadline is actually the 25th rather than the 31, because I’ll be at camp the last week of July, but I think I’m doing all right on that front as well. The last few days I was losing it a bit, but I think I regained my stride this morning. I decided to take a break from my struggling middle of the plot, and write some of the backstory. During the process of writing that, I not only captured the origin of a particular character, but also came up with more detail for his sister’s story, which enabled me to go back to a scene later on and add in more there.
The following is the beginning of the scene, a rough draft that’s been only slightly edited to give the fruit a name and so it makes grammatical sense. I chose not to post the whole thing because … well, it ended on an even bigger cliffhanger.
“Come on, Mirry, keep up!”
Maxie didn’t wait for his sister to answer, but plunged further into the woods. He loved Mirady, she was his best friend in the whole wide world, but little sisters were so slow.
“Maxie, wait for me!”
“We’ll never get there if you don’t keep up!” he said, irritated. “I want to see a Quinya tree!”
“You’re too fast!”
Maxie stopped with a heavy sigh. “All right, all right! We’ll never get back in time at this rate. Come on, I’ll give you a lift.”
Rustling undergrowth and panting breath announced her getting closer to him. Once Mirady reached Maxie, he lifted her up on his back, giving her a piggy back ride.
“Oof! You’re heavy!”
“I am not!”
“Let’s just go. I don’t want Father finding out where we went or he’ll be livid. Hold tight. No, not that tight! I still need to breathe!”
He jogged off into the wilderness, as fast as he could with an eight-year-old hanging on his back, arms clinging around his neck. It slowed him down, but hopefully without having to stop for her shorter legs to catch up all the time, they would get there quickly enough to be able to return before Father’s important meeting ended and he realised they were no longer playing in the street.
He panted, his ribs and back starting to ache. At eleven years old, he was much bigger than his little sister, but she was still practically a dead weight. Father would not approve; he would say Maxie needed to practice at being a man, meaning, among other things, being able to carry heavy loads. Except he wouldn’t say ‘Maxie’—only Mirady ever called him that nowadays, ever since their mother had died. Now everyone save his sister called him by his full name, Maximilian. He didn’t like it, he much preferred Maxie.
“Are we nearly there yet?” Mirady asked from somewhere above his shoulder.
“Yes, nearly!” That was a guess; in truth Maxie thought he might be lost. The conversation they had eavesdropped on (not on purpose, of course; well behaved children should never listen in on adults’ conversations), Father’s colleague had told him where he could find the Quinya tree, and she had said to leave the path at the lightning struck oak and head north. Since Maxie had no compass, he had had to work out the direction from what he could see of the sun’s position, which was not easy and he was not positive he had got it absolutely correct.
But on the plus side, at least Quinya glowed when it was still attached to the tree, so hopefully if their direction was a bit off, they would be able to see it anyway.
Maxie was excited. He had only ever seen Quinya before when it had been processed into Quops, small drops of golden jelly, and then it had been the most fascinating moment of his life. He had had trouble believing that such a tiny thing could be overflowing with magic, and that anyone who ate one would be able to pull off the most complex and powerful spells. Quinya was the most powerful magic source, and the rarest, and he had only ever seen one single Quop. Father dealt in magic sources, but most of the time he kept his goods to himself.
Magic had always fascinated Maxie, even more than it fascinated any child. He wanted to be a magician when he was grown up, but only the luckiest people got the training for it. Father wanted him to follow his footsteps into dealing in magic sources, not using them himself.
As Maxie hunted for the tree, a crazy thought came to him. Maybe if he could prove he was cut out to be a magician, Father would reconsider. If Father was on his side, and approved his dreams, he could get him the training he needed to achieve them. But to do that, he needed a magic source to begin with.
Maybe if he picked one of the Quinya …
“There!” Mirady squealed suddenly, almost deafening Maxie. He couldn’t believe she had seen the tree first—he had been too engrossed in his daydreams to realise they had reached the end of their quest.
The tree stood alone in the centre of a clearing, and gave off a kind of aura. It wasn’t the fruit alone—although the Quinya were indeed glowing a yellow-pink colour, Maxie could feel the power radiating from the tree from about twenty feet away.
He dropped Mirady, who yelled, “Ouch!”
“Sorry,” he said, but his eyes and thoughts were fixed firmly on the fruit. He stared, entranced.
“They’re amazing,” Mirady said, but she didn’t seem keen on getting any nearer. Maxie, on the other hand, was all too keen on it.
“Maxie?” she asked hesitantly and he began walking forwards. “I don’t think we should get too close. Father says they’re dangerous.”
He barely heard her, too intent on getting one of them. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he didn’t care. He felt drawn to the fruit, as if it were deliberately pulling him in, whispering promises that it could help him achieve his dreams.
“Maxie!” Now Mirady sounded frightened. She also sounded very far away.
Maxie reached the tree, and reached out a hand, brushing the skin of one of the Quinya. It was soft as a peach and sent tingles all through his body, as if he had been struck by lightning.
Someone ran up to him and grabbed his arm, trying to pull him away. “Maxie, come on, let’s go!”
“Not yet,” he grunted, shaking his sister off of him. He grasped a Quinya and pulled.
“What are you doing? No!” Mirady cried as he lifted it to his lips. “You can’t! It’s too strong, it has to be processed! MAXIE!” She tried to pull it out of his grip, she tried stamping on his feet, even punching him, but he pushed her away so hard she fell down hard with a crack. She began sobbing.
Maxie ignored her and bit into the Quinya.
From the moment a single drop of juice touched his tongue, his mind exploded.
In addition to the above scene, I also have a new scene posted on my NaNo profile.