Thursday, May 9, 2013

Schism Complete!

As you know, I've been diligently working on my newest novel since the beginning of January.  The last little bit has been challenging, and certain events in my life haven't aided completion all that much.  However, I am now proud to report that Schism is finally in the bag!

I finished up the final act just a couple of days ago.  It's entitled "Act IV:  Restoration of the Republic," and it came in as the longest part at 41,751 words.  Once done, I calculated the whole thing and discovered that I'd written a 158,611 word novel in 127 days.  Not to pat myself on the back too much, even though I'm going to, but that's a heck of an accomplishment, and one I'm very proud of.  Granted, this is just the first draft, with no editing or revision as of yet, but it gets me to six books that should be ready to go once I start publishing them.

Act IV presented quite the challenge.  I had to show what the results of a military coup following a civil war would look like.  Then I had to figure out how to bring about a satisfying resolution that didn't leave America in the hands of an unelected government.  That in itself could have been a separate book, but I needed to do it in a relatively short timeframe that allowed it to flow seamlessly into the rest of the work.

The act began with the imposition of a new order and the attempted rebuilding of America after the Second Civil War.  The general in charge directed all resources toward putting the pieces back together and preventing a new conflict.  Doing so required the restriction of several freedoms we take for granted.  Initially grateful that the violence is over, the American people gradually awoke to the new reality, and some had to come to terms that their own hatreds and apathies brought this about.

There are several things in the work I agree with, and several other things I had to write against type for.  Authors have to make leaps of faith in their work, and I'm no different.  I'm a pessimist by nature, and I could easily see the first three acts actually happening, especially in this environment of hyperpartisanship.  We all get so entrenched and emotionally invested in our "own side" that we often fail to independently evaluate each situation, relying instead on whether it comes from a person we support or oppose.  Additionally, there are so many apathetic people out there who care more about the latest version of the iPhone than they do about how the intricacies of the law affect them that I wonder if they could get involved enough to prevent the extremists on either side from pushing us over the edge.

The biggest leap of faith I had to take was in the way the country rallied to take back its government.  I have serious doubts that enough people give enough of a shit to get so involved and would be prepared to commit to the necessary sacrifice.  This is an area I fervently desire to be wrong about - I'd like nothing better than for the masses of America to once again get involved in the political process and hold both our leaders and our extremists to account, but little that I see in public discourse gives me hope.

In Act IV, it took the actions of a few motivated and inspired individuals to pull the rest of the country along, and maybe that's how it would happen.  Act IV is all at once depressing and hopeful, showing both the inevitable corruption of concentrated power and the potential of the American people to rise up and reclaim their destiny.  I wonder whether it would take something as dramatic as losing our freedoms before people decided to get involved.  Would it be too late at that point?  In Schism, the people pull this back just as things really begin to get bad, and they're aided by a cohort of people in the new government who still have a conscience.

Schism will be the third novel I plan to release.  It's a standalone that I think will satisfy both the political junkie and the person looking for a fast moving action story.  The book is more story driven than character driven, although there are several characters essential to the plot.  However, I had to work hard to not forget about people who were big players early on in the story but whose importance faded as the plot developed.

While I enjoyed writing Schism, I'm going to hold off a few months before I start a new novel.  This one became exhausting near the end; so exhausting, in fact, that I'll need to recheck it down the road to make sure I didn't rush the ending.  It also occurred to me that along with Canidae, which I finished only a few short weeks before starting Schism, I've been writing more or less continuously for the past nine months.  That fact really struck me the other day, and I need a break from novel writing.  I plan instead to work on editing Wrongful Death, as well as branching out more into short stories.  This should keep me sharp without worrying about the daily grind of getting to the end of a novel since I can write a pretty coherent short story in a day.

But that's all once I take a short break to focus more on family.  I mean, it's not like I can start another outline with a new child in my arms...or can I?

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