The ‘Teens Can Write, Too!’ blog chain this month will be about writerly research, and whilst you won’t be hearing from me for another two weeks, it got me thinking. Not about the specifics of my research, but about the lack of attention I give it.
I guess this is simply because, for When the Clock Broke, researching physics and time is something that is not out of my way. I would have researched those things anyway.
“She rotated the miniature clock in her hands, pink nails tapping any diminutive cog or screw she found of interest.” (chapter 24)
I happened to be editing WTCB yesterday and, though I explicitly have a clock broken open and investigated, there were certain details I’d kept from the neglected first draft. For instance, in the above. Cogs: fine. All clocks have cogs. But screws? Research was needed online. Or – in very worst case scenario – I could crack open my own, personal carriage clock to pick out its innards.
But I wasn’t going to do that. Surprisingly, though, there aren’t that many images of dismantled carriage clocks on Google.
And that’s when (for the second time), I came across this beauty.
Yes, it’s a carriage clock. It’s huge. Oh, and it costs £500,000.
I tell you what, though, I was more amused by the little the article on dailymail.com said.
Any fan of science fiction knows that time is a complicated thing.
But rarely do you get the chance to put something that could easily have been sprung from the innards of the Tardis on your mantelpiece.
Yup. Time is a complicated thing!
Beyond the sci-fi, it runs out so quickly, and the seconds are fine sand.
As shown, though, time can be ornate. Living time is a theme (and, ultimately, plot-device) of WTCB, and each clock encountered offers something different. Aidelle’s carriage clock is elegant but fragile and a little odd, like herself. The clock in her bedroom, forever not working, is set with diamonds; perhaps this subconsciously suggests the merging of upper-class with a middle-class home. Each Costello brother was given a neat pocket-watch, half-palm sized, for their eighteenth; the fact that only some of them have their pocketwatches remaining is key to the theme.
And, of course, Zara’s special wristwatch is the most living of them all (until I debate with myself otherwise!).
I could argue that even the timepiece in the Costello’s entrance hall has a life. Its regal and doesn’t stop for anyone.
“The slight second hand of the ornate clock above them juddered, caressing ivory numbers every five seconds. It was very precise time. The hour was ten, and the minute was exactly a quarter to the next hour: eleven of the marmoreal board. The date looked as though it was stamped below, but was, in fact, part of a marble flip-chart that rotated with the rising sun; and the boys read the date displayed as the 28th of August.” (chapter 25)
The sad thing is that even I take the use of time in my novel for granted. Yes, I have come to scuffle with it during editing sometimes – to increase pace and add continuity I had to make the whole novel set over the events of only a twelve-hour. Nevertheless, I do come to appreciate it. The Costello hallway clock may only appear once, but without its time, the brothers would not really be able to head to the conclusion of the story.
In this way, though some clocks matter and some are trivial, all clocks matter.