Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Homecoming Progress Report

I know that all five folks who read this blog have been waiting with baited breath for an update on how my new novel is going.  Well, there's lots of news on that front.

First, the good news.  I'm up to about 14,000 words and still project the first draft to be complete by the end of September.  I've found an interesting angle, and although I don't yet know the full path of the book, I'm enthusiastic about where it's headed.

Now the news that kept me from having more done.  To start with, after getting nearly 10,000 words in, I scrapped what I'd written and started over.  Why?  The simplest reason is that I wasn't happy with what I'd written.  Writing 1,000-2,000 words per day was starting to feel like a chore.  Further, what was on paper wasn't inspiring.  In fact, I could feel it reaching to hit the desired effect.

I spent several days trying to figure out why that was and I eventually settled on the point of view.  I was writing it from the point of view of a ship's captain who was tangentially involved in the action.  Sure, there could be lots of stuff that he could do, but he'd never be directly involved in the big decisions, and trying to put him in a place where he would be was so far of a stretch that I think I threw my shoulder out.  I grimaced as I realized that what I'd written was near worthless, but knowing that finishing it, if I even could, would produce crappy work, I decided to start over.

I changed the main character from an action oriented observer to an actual observer.  I'm still writing the novel in a journal format, but it's being told by a historian.  The mission to reclaim our homeworld by a far-future human race is so big in the novel's world that surely the fleet would want it recorded for future generations.  I made Shalliko Kai a person selected by those in charge for his historical expertise, and it's his job to watch what happens with mankind's expedition and prepare his journal to become a history book that will be read far and wide.  However, his journal is but the first draft - an important one to be sure, but still a first draft that will capture the raw emotions and action of the situation, as well as Kai's waning enthusiasm for the mission as reality starts to set in.

The book's world opened up when I made that switch.  I found storyline possibilities that were closed to me when I limited the character's world.  Now, Kai has to be at the center of the biggest parts of the story - that's his job.  He can be with the space faring fleet as it fights its way to Earth, and then he can transition to resettling our former world as people start to land.  Additionally, as humanity has to deal with the remnants of both its former enemies and an unexpected human population that still resides on Earth, the main character can watch and report without interfering in the action.  Sure, his thoughts and feelings will still be recorded - in fact, they're essential to portraying the changing nature of the expedition - but they won't get in the way of what happens.  It really has me excited about it again, which is something I thought I was losing after I trudged through the first few chapters.

Next thing I need to do is just sit down and focus on writing.  On my business trip to the mainland, I had the time to write.  In fact, I had little to do but write.  Upon my return, the realities of life have again intruded, from work to family to just being able to sleep, and I haven't been able to write as much as I might like.  However, I also have another week and a half business trip - this one to Europe - coming up shortly, and I'd like to return to Hawaii with over 40,000 words done.  If I can do that, I'll stay on track.  If not...I'll finish it when I can.  Only time will tell.

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