Greetings, Fearless Readers! I write to you from the depths of the first week of NaNoWriMo! I'm doin' awesome - meeting my goal of 3k a day - I've actually written a little over that and I'm ahead of my goal at 13,547 after only 4 days of writing! (Haven't written yet today.) I've had only one day of sitting and staring at the ceiling, wondering, where the hell am I going?!
I'll tell you what helps me in those situations. Visual cues. Specifically:
Woodchester Mansion, my inspiration for the crumbling setting in my story, called The Wood Hall. This beauty nestles in the valleys of Cotswold, England, and was, in fact, left unfinished. I'm only using the outside, and my mansion is in a very bad state of repair, whereas the real thing is being lovingly restored.
I'll tell you why I used it. That amazing front, with all those windows! What a statement it makes! And then... you're like... where's the door? And to be honest, I find the actual entrance of the house to be a bit of a let down, and a little... architecturally uneven.
See that side on the right, with no windows? I thought that was weird, considering the rest of the house. I made up a story for that blank expanse, and the story is where The Wood Hall gets its name. I thought it would make an amazing arrival for my heroine.
As a condition of guardianship, Lord Colburn is required required to purchase a carriage and horses for Ophelia's use. Being a master of passive-aggression, he purchases a used one. So, my girl arrives in her shabby, secondhand carriage at twilight, rolling down what looks like a new gravel path (he's already making use of the stipend he gets for her guardianship, and of course, he's spending it on himself...) The winding drive brings her to an unlit house of bluff construction, the roof a forest of angles and chimneys. The house blends into a wild tangle of trees towards the back and the lawn is untended and wild. She hopes, she prays, this can't be the house? Then the road curves around and exposes that gorgeous row of double and triple windows, stretching from side to side and ground to attic - what light must stream in on a sunny day! But there's no light now. No welcome. And where is the door? The carriage doesn't stop, but continues on past the silent black squares. A final turn, and here she sees the first glimmer of light. The entrance, of course, she finds a little underwhelming. The door is almost an after thought under a pointed arch, and set on a confusing edifice that staggers in and out with a mismatched array of windows. A single candle burns in one corner of a window. And why are there no windows on the right side of the door?
So there you have it. A beast of a building, its majesty now crumbling, and stories on every side. Just wait until she gets inside.
Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the real place is haunted as hell!
Woodchester Mansion Most Haunted