July Edit – part 2 – Hampstead reccy

I’ve made some actual progress this week. It feels like I’ve hit the brow of the hill and can see what’s left to do. I’ve just started on Chapter 24, so only 9 more to go! (Unless I decide to write some more new ones!)

The good thing about getting lots done on the edit is that your subconscious joins in and works on it when you’re not. I had a strange dream last night where I made lots of really good decisions about the end of the book, but I can’t remember any of it now! But I’ve had a phrase nagging at me from the back of my head for the last few days: lagrange point. This has proven to be very useful! Thanks, sub concious!

I think it was also vey useful to go and reccy another London location. You might have read my previous update on London locations here. Both trips have been invaluable, adding in some much needed first-hand knowledge, and even sparking story-point ideas! The main target for this trip was Hampstead station, the deepest tube station on the network.

Hamstead entranceHampstead station sits at the top of a steep hill – part of the reason for its platforms being so deep is because the station is so high! I walked the hour-long route my characters would take, finding some really useful visuals along the way. The station has two entrances, but one is shuttered up. If you ever read The Death of Goldilocks you might spot that it’s this second ‘entrance’ that my characters use. (That’s presuming the book gets published and this bit remains intact. Who knows?)

The side entrance

IMG_8852The ticket hall is small, which suits my needs. When it came to writing this scene it was so much easier once I’d been there, had taken these photos and looked about the space. It might seem a bit self indulgent to visit a place like this but it’s amazing how many extra things you can use once you’ve stood there! I’d highly recommend this as part of your writing process, if you’re a writer. If you’re a plumber that’s cool too, I’ve a leaky bath that needs looking at.

IMG_8853The station has lifts down to the platform but I took the stairs, as my characters would. There’s more than 320 of them!IMG_8862a

IMG_8854I really enjoyed being alone down here on the stairwell. It was so unused and dirty, just loads of grimy pipes and cables. Heaven for a writer. Hell for an obsessive compulsive with hygiene issues. IMG_8855

Hampstead station stairwell 01

IMG_8856Little details really help to conjure up a narrative picture: security cameras covered in dust, those amazing metal riveted walls! But these numbered plastic wallets was unexpected. They seemed to indicate the number of flights of stairs. This one was the last one; number 16. But there was one or two more flights after that before I was on platform level.
IMG_8874aDid I mention it was dirty? This was my hand after using the handrail for just a few flights of stairs! Yum!
IMG_8873And look at the encrusted detail on the pipes and concrete! Everything was painted in charcoal!
IMG_8875Even the wall! Look at the water streaks, spots of soot and ash. Grime everywhere!IMG_8876

hampstead stairwell01Finally, the end was in sight! 300+ steps later and a layer of dirt over my entire body and I had made it!IMG_8877The platforms beckoned. Here’s a few panorama picture I took with my iphone. These really helped me recall the geography when I came home to write it all down. (I also use an app called Photosynth which can be helpful if you need to build up a larger picture or a 360 view.)IMG_8882a


IMG_8893There are just two platforms at Hampstead. It’s a quiet station, which was great for me to explore. I found lots of little details, like a bunch of old alarm bells that probably haven’t rung in years! IMG_8885



IMG_8904Here’s the platform in all its glory. So many details that a writer can use: the posters, the bins, the patterns on the floor, the shiny wall tiles, the electric signs. Or course I won’t use it all, the trick is to drop in some of those little details which make the place feel real without overloading or boring the reader. But it really makes writing easier if you root it in something you know. If you’re struggling with writing a scene, go visit it, or some place like it. It’ll be worth the trip.IMG_8886a

Hampstead platform 01







Writer & Artist based in the North East of England.

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