The Ghost of Novels Past

In quasi-honor of that triad of quasi-holidays this weekend – Friday the 13th, Pi Day and the Ides of March – a look back onto that early novel, albeit unfinished, I had wrote written roughly two (!) decades (!!) ago, entitled The Golden Dagger Inn Mystery.  The origins of this first attempt at novel-writing came about one summer, borne out of an idea to expand upon a short story (which bore the same title), after that same short story produced plot bunnies that resulted in an adapting  the essence of that short story into a one-act play.

It’s always interesting to revisit earlier works to see what was written, the pacing and such; it’s also amusing and horrifying at the same time. As The Golden Dagger Inn Mystery was written before the advent of personal computers (or at least before I owned one), having been written using a word processor, the first task at hand is to transcribe the narrative into Word, having printed out a hard copy from the aforementioned precursor to the personal computer. Printed out this initial (unfinished) novel is 50 pages long (single spaced), divided into 25 chapters – the longest example of actual!writing I’ve ever produced.

As I began the transcription process, I discovered that at some point in time (I’m not quite sure) I had embarked on revising this early work, revising the first chapter and removing the three subsequent chapters, resulting in a significant gap in the narrative flow (not to mention the sudden change in character names). Foolishly, I neglected to keep the original draft of those chapters, yet I had the wherewithal to write (and retain!) detailed chapter summaries of that novel. Though I don’t recall if I wrote the summaries first then the narrative or if I wrote them the other way ’round – it doesn’t really matter (much.)


As I’ve spent much of this week transcribing this early work, which will be finished, edited and revised (though not necessarily in that order), I’ve put my current WIPs on hold, though this early work will [somehow] find its way into the MASC Chronicles – where exactly remains to be seen. So far I’ve transcribed 20 (printed) pages, with the word count (thus far) sitting at 7,469. I’ve noticed a whole host of grammatical errors – misuse/overuse of semi-colons, erroneous tense changes, and overly descriptive/unnecessary dialogue tags; the overall story meanders into mild melodrama and inaccuracies (especially in terms of basic knowledge of English geography). The temptation is to edit/revise whilst transcribing, but (thus far) I’ve resisted that temptation (as well as running this text into the Hemingway app, which analyzes readability, pinpoints passive voice, adverbs and such). Aside from improving my typing skills/speed, transcribing this work (and that one-act play) helps recall the mindset of my past writer self, and serves as a marker of how my writing style has changed over the years/decades.

Perhaps one of these days I’ll write that meta story about the mystery writer attempting to write a novel series and include the Ghost of Novels Past (or in this case, novel and one-act play).

Perhaps that one-act play will be expanded into a full length play or screenplay.

Perhaps this nascent first attempt at novel-writing will be the first actual!novel completed and published.

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps.

Meanwhile, onward I transcribe (and attempt not to cringe too much at the inaccuracies and inconsistencies). I’m also curious to know the final word count of this unfinished novel, and whether or not it’ll actually make sense.

After all, novel-writing and story telling is a grand adventure.


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