This is part of my ongoing series where I’m documenting the development of my serial novel, Razor Mountain. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead! You can start from the beginning here.
I added detail to two of the chapter summaries, tracking cliffhangers, episode arcs and mysteries, and adding notes for when I write the chapter.
Chapter 2 Redux
After my last post, I kept thinking about where I had left chapter two, and I wasn’t very satisfied. The raid on his people provides some action, but he isn’t really involved. His arc for this episode is weak.
God-Speaker’s theme for most of the story is his escalating fear of death and the lengths he goes to as a result. I’m thinking the raiders attack God-Speaker directly, and he only survives thanks to the intervention of another person in his tribe. This brings fear of death front-and-center.
I also thought that this will mean more if it’s someone important to God-Speaker. I’m thinking it will be his mentor, the one who taught him about spirits and gods and other supernatural things. I’m tentatively naming this woman Makes-Medicine, and she’s something between physician and priest for the tribe. When she dies protecting him, God-Speaker feels guilty that he didn’t somehow do more to save her.
Christopher wakes in the bunker, injured, but alive.
He finds room with ten bunks, the beds made up, but dusty and long unused. He finds a storage room with shelves of canned and boxed food bearing labels with a mountain symbol he doesn’t recognize. The storage room also contains camping and wilderness gear, and rifles and ammunition. Everything looks old. In the back corner is a strange machine that looks like a 1950s science-fiction version of a geothermal heat and power station.
In the main room, there is a dining table, couches, and a writing desk with a radio. He turns it on, and finds only static. He checks his injured leg, then eats an MRE from the storage room.
As he’s finishing his meal, a voice comes on the radio and speaks a series of numbers, followed by a set of beeps. Then static. He returns to the desk and cycles through frequencies, but the voice is gone.
Next, he goes through the drawers. He finds a folded map with several locations marked, but no legend for the markings. The voice comes back for a few more seconds. He cycles frequencies again and finds it once more. It seems like the voice is constantly jumping frequencies.
Christopher opens the bunker door and looks out across the lake. All he can see beyond are dense pines and mountains. He writes down a message at the desk that tries to describe where he is. Then he reads it out over the radio on several frequencies.
- 3.1 – Who built the bunker and stocked it so thoroughly. What is the geothermal technology that seems to power it?
- 3.2 – What is the numbers station signal on the radio?
- 3.3 – What are the landmarks on the map?
- Christopher wakes up and takes care of his injury and hunger. Climax: he hears the numbers station. Resolution: He sends out a radio message to try to get rescued, but it doesn’t seem hopeful.
- After the first two action-filled chapters, this one is a little slower. I need to build tension through the mysteries of the bunker.
- Research what sort of food is likely to be in a mid-century MRE.
Christopher wakes up late in the morning, from dreams of hiking through snowy mountains. He gets an unexciting brunch from the store room and eats it at the table. He plans his day in a notebook that he found in the desk.
It is day four at the bunker. He plans to make a signal fire and scout the area around the lake. He thinks his leg may feel slightly better. He reviews notes that he made previously, trying to remember all the details of his ill-fated flight. He remembers two other passengers and the pilot, but no details that offer any explanation for his bizarre situation.
He collects slightly oversized boots, warm clothes, and a hatchet from the store room. He goes outside and chops pine boughs. Then he uses a flint and steel to light a fire on the shore of the lake and burn green branches to create a column of smoke.
He hikes slowly around the shoreline. It is incredibly beautiful, but he sees nothing apart from empty wilderness. There are no signs of people, no planes overhead. After a couple hours, he stops to snack and just take in the beauty of his surroundings. It’s cloudy, and it begins to snow heavily. His leg hurts. He makes his way back as it’s getting dark. His fire is burnt out and covered in a layer of snow.
Inside the bunker, he eats dinner and lays out his notes and the map. He has notes on the numbers and how they cycle through frequencies. He has his notes on the airplane passengers. He has his cell phone, dead after the plunge into the lake.
Having been in a foggy daze since arriving, he suddenly feels panic. He may be trapped in this little bunker, in the wilderness. Eventually, the food will run out and he will die. He lays down in the bed, but he can’t sleep.
- More building on mysteries from chapter 1.
- Reveal some additional information about the passengers and pilot. Something about their looks and clothes were slightly off, slightly old-fashioned.
- Christopher has settled into a routine. He is trying to figure out what happened to him and get rescued, but so far has had little success. Climax: the numbness wears off and he panics over his situation.
- This is the first time in the book where I get two chapters in a row for Christopher. At this point, I can really start to build him up as the protagonist. The setting and situation have been set, and this chapter can really focus on his thought process, and how he’s going to react.
I made some adjustments to the chapter two summary and expanded chapters three and four.