If I have to choose between plot, characters and symbols, I’ll take the symbols to work with.

I’ve been working on characters this week, re-confirming on paper and in my own mind who they are, when they were born, where they worked (few of my characters ever seem to go to work), what they think and why the come to think it.  Very little of this will be used in ‘Between the Shafts,’ but it is essential that I know who they are and what they are about.

As for the plot, the plot is simple.  Queenie, around whom everyone circles, gets old and dies.  Most of the family die.  Preen remains, released from the family at last.  She is the last to leave the house and the farm.  She escapes with Queenie’s Airmiles.

I’ve been thinking about the overarching symbol, the dragon, made of clay.  Eastern dragons are mainly good dragons.  Dragons of Western literature always seem to be bad.  My dragon gets damaged and broken and repaired inexpertly.  He survives the family, as Preen does.  In the first pages, a worm is pulled out from Queenie’s back.  It is a dracunculus medinensis, a fiery serpent, a guinea worm found in bad drinking water in tropical places, not in Cornwall.  This is a mystery, since Queenie has never been to South Africa, where Cornish miners were last infected by the parasite.

In Beunans Meriasek, the Camborne Saint’s Play of 1504, the dragon was called an evil worm.

Nobody reading ‘Between the Shafts’ needs to know that either: but I do, otherwise I can’t unify this plot.