Thursday’s Children: The Isle of the Dead

This week was particularly hard for me to think up a topic for Thursday’s Children. Why? I was over thinking.

Sometimes, if you over think something, you wind up shooting yourself in the foot. That’s precisely what I was doing with a recent chapter in RELIC THIEF (my YA high fantasy WIP). The chapter is composed of intensive traveling. It’s going to take my two MCs a total of nine days to reach their destination on foot. Because there’s so much, well, just plain old walking, I was stressing over how to make this chapter interesting.

Finally, I sat down and mapped out my entire chapter. I broke it down into three major scenes. I planned what I wanted to happen in each scene and what the purpose was behind each of those. Some of the scenes are about characterization, others worldbuilding or backstory (or a combination of all three). Then I decided exactly how much time was passing between each of those scenes.

The first scene opens with them just starting their journey. It focuses on characterization through the two of them bickering. Then three days passing are summarized. The next scene opens at the end of the third day, with them getting stuck in a severe thunderstorm. The two rather hate each other, but they’re forced to cozy up to each other to stay warm and dry. This scene focuses on characterization and backstory. The heroine also glimpses something in the night in a flash of lightning. Three more days pass. The final scene opens at the onset of night on this sixth (accumulative total) day. They happen upon an abandoned hamlet, and with the weather still dreary and constantly raining, they take shelter in an empty house (despite the heroine’s better judgement and bad feeling about the place). The two characters get into a bad argument and the heroine storms off. Her “bad feeling” is justified when she’s attacked by a monstrous creature that’s been stalking them throughout their journey. This chapter focuses on worldbuilding, backstory, and characterization.

The next step was finding music that would help inspire me to convey a sense of dread and building tension throughout the entire chapter. For that, I give to you The Isle of the Dead, Symphonic Poem Op. 29 by Andrew Davis (this piece was apparently inspired by a painting in turn titled The Isle of the Dead):

For a list of all those participating in this week’s Thursday’s Children, click here!



  1. Wow, sure sounds like you were successful in dissecting your chapter. I totally agree with how important it is to make sure to identify the purpose of each scene. And I didn’t listen to the whole track, but I can see what a great inspiration this music would be for this kind of chapter.

    1. It definitely helped to plot everything and decide what the purpose was behind each scene. From there, I could determine where I wanted their conversation to go and help better define their relationship. Of course, this approach won’t work for everyone (especially if you’re a pantser!).

  2. Sounds like you moved from thinking to doing and I suspect you’ll find even more interesting details when you start working on the scenes. Great inspiring music–and I adore the painting.

  3. Another writer who uses music to guide them along! I absolutely love soundtracks for my characters and scenes. I am fortunate enough to have a musician husband who likes to compose special music to the scenes I describe. 🙂

  4. It sounds like you’ve made it really interesting Rachel. I always struggle to liven up certain scenes where my characters are travelling or something similar. Or sometimes I just lose momentum in my writing and can’t seem to enliven it. Great post.

    1. Thanks! I hope showing how I broke my own chapter down will help you in turn! Chapters with tons of traveling are always the hardest for me, in part because I don’t want it to be boring, but also because making sure the transition scenes aren’t awkward is rather hard for me.

  5. Wow, you are methodical! I don’t think I’ve ever dissected any of my chapters/scenes to that extent, but now I might just try it.

  6. Great job at breaking down their journey!

    It’s funny, but those scenes — travelling scenes, between point A and point B — are often the best time to do a bit of characterization, backstory, and world-building. There’s isn’t any immediate threat or action, just your characters, a road, and the time it takes to get there.

    Think about going camping or driving to another city — it’s often the journey there that’s more memorable than the actual destination!

    Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    1. Thanks for popping in!

      You’re absolutely correct! A lot of relationship building can occur during the trip there. So those types of chapters definitely have their uses. It can’t all be action action action.

  7. I just sitting here in absolute awe of your organization and writing process! I’m also loving the music. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you loved the music!

      I’m a 100% plotter. I have to map everything out in a connect-the-dots fashion, otherwise I’m left flailing as to what to do next in the story. Lol.

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