Black Powder Brigade: 20,000 Word Update

I finally crested 20,000 words in the first draft of my flintlock fantasy novel, Black Powder Brigade. Only 100,000 more to go! I have to say, it’s taken me far too long to get to 20,000 words. I’ve been working on this draft long enough to where I should be closer to 40,000. But, oh well. If I had a time machine, (or if I were The Doctor!) I would go back and change it. But, alas, it is what it is. Nothing to do but push forward.

Part of the reason it took me so long to get to 20,000 words is because I got hung up on a particularly difficult scene. It was supposed to be a rescue attempt, and it took me about two weeks to write it. But, once I got past it, the words began flowing again, so it all worked out.

What I’ve learned so far:

At 20,000 words I think the main thing I’m learning is about pacing. I’ve never written anything of this length before, so I have to make sure I don’t reveal too much too soon. However, I don’t want to reveal too little, otherwise I risk my main character not knowing enough and not being able to move forward in the story.

That being said, here’s a little teaser you’ll hopefully enjoy!


(Have some context: This is the first attack by the Bruta on the Black Powder Brigade camp, and the first many have ever seen of these creatures: The Bruta are, essentially, man-like creatures wrapped so tightly in bandages that even after death they continue charging forward, bayonets lowered. They have glowing red eyes, and fight until either victory, or until the last one is dead.)

This was it. This is what she was looking for. The excitement built up inside her as she wrapped her finger around the trigger of her musket. She almost smiled as she listened to the battle commands sound throughout the camp. As the cannons were rolled into the position and loaded.

“Take aim,” someone shouted. It sounded like John. Victoria looked left and saw him with his rifle trained on the attackers.

The boom of three firing cannons shook the ground beneath Victoria’s feet. The cannon rounds crashed, spraying grass and dirt into the air in front of the charging attackers. “Hold,” John shouted. They were getting closer. The cannons fired again, blasting through the right side of the advancing party. The smell of gunfire filled Victoria’s nostrils, further propelling the rushing excitement that coursed through her body.

The attackers were close now. Victoria saw the glowing red of their eyes.

“Fire,” John shouted.

The cracks and smoke of the muskets filled the air. Victoria half-cocked her rifle, rested the butt on the ground and poured the gunpowder down the barrel. She didn’t even look to see if any of her shots connected. She tore off the top of the charge with her teeth, put the ball into the barrel, and then shoved the wad she tore off down after. Victoria shoved the ramrod down into the barrel, and then added some gunpowder to the flash pan. She raised her rifle, cocked it the rest of the way.

Only five attackers remained. She took aim, but saw not everyone else was fully reloaded, and wouldn’t be by the time the strangers would reach them. Victoria fired her musket and watched as it struck one of the attacker’s in the neck. Dark-red blood poured from the wound, and Victoria stared as he still charged, his eyes dim, and his rifle lowered, ready to impale anyone who got in his way.

Victoria charged forward, knocked the musket aside with her own, and stepped out of the way. She jabbed another in the stomach, and then bashed him in the face with the butt of her rifle, knocking him over backward.

Three remained.

Victoria turned around and saw many of the men about to fire. She dove to the ground as the cracks and smoke of gunfire once again filled the air, and the remaining three attackers flew backward onto the ground. She stood up and stared at John, who was staring back at her.


Hopefully you enjoyed that! I’ll be posting these updates every 20,000 words, and I’ll be doing a few character interviews from the story. First up will be Katya Mikhaylov, Russian sailor, so be on the lookout for that.


4 thoughts on “Black Powder Brigade: 20,000 Word Update

  1. That was good Chris 🙂

    I’m about to dive into a novel with my writing partner that will hit about 100,000 words when it’s done (hopefully) and we’re very thoughtful of pacing and not overloading the reader with too many details early on. It’s a delicate balance to get it just right which I’m not expecting to get right first time around.

  2. Really nice teaser. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the story (and hopefully more teases!) I churned out a 120,000+ word novel and it was in one part a failure as I did nothing with it and one part incredible learning experience. Timing, self-control, cutting out useless words, working with a beta reader, etc.. Given your prior experience, I am sure you will fare much better. 🙂

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