Monday, August 31, 2009

Revisiting

I hate to disappoint anyone who may have been searching for Movie Monday (though considering I never get comments on Movie Mondays, I doubt anyone is actually disappointed), but it's on hiatus today. I have other things going on.

What other things?

Well...

A few years ago, I was writing a lot. Writing short stories and trying to get them published (and even succeeding a few times). Working on a Digger novel. Joining writing groups, both here at home and on-line. In the last couple of years, though, I've written very little. I didn't seem to be progressing, really, and working futilely on Hero Go Home to no success really took a lot of wind out of my sails. Throw in my marriage disintegrating and job stress and buying a house and buying and losing a business, and you have the ingredients for deep depression, not productivity.

But

Lately, I've been kicking something around. Something different from most of what I've done before. A novel, something short and definitely not sweet, something geared to a publisher like Hard Case Crime. I'm thinking about pounding it out fast, old-school, like Walter Gibson or somebody. Or new school NaNoWriMo, if you will, only not in November. I've got a few interesting characters, I think, with actual backstory (which has never been a strong suit for me), and I've got a very bare bones outline. I've got to fill in the third act better (I always say this, and never do it, but I'm doing it tonight), but I think I'm ready to start writing it tomorrow.

September First is the launch, and I want to have it finished by the 30th. I'm unemployed, so I've got the time. If I do get a job between now and September 30th, I'll cry all the way to the bank, but I'll still try to finish by the thirtieth.

So yesterday, I dug through some old manuscripts and found the first act of a novel I started in 2004 or so. I was just publishing Blue Falcon through iUniverse and looking toward my next book. That next book was going to be a big science fiction thriller titled Angel Baby.

The premise: a United Nations project to establish a grid of orbital power satellites is about to come on-line, providing free electricity to everyone everywhere in the world. It promises clean power, improving the environment as it improves the quality of people's lives. A new age of peace and prosperity.

But on the eve of the final satellite launch to bring the grid on-line, a woman working on the project, an atheist, has a vision of an angel. And the angel tells her that the global satellite grid will bring about the end of the world.

Ooh.

I wrote the first act fast, and then petered out. Even though I had an "outline" for the rest of the book, it wasn't very specific, and I found I was having trouble converting that outline into specific scenes. The biggest problem was that my outline of the second act basically jettisoned most of the characters from the first act, leaving me little material to work with.

I went back and reread that first act last night, and I've got to say, it has problems. There are sections that are very weak, where you can tell I'm faking the funk. Especially the exposition scenes where I'm trying to get out basic facts while also working in themes and distinctive character bits and foreshadowing and you can see the seams showing and none of it feels real or sincere.

But there are other scenes that work pretty well, and the plotting is actually pretty tight. Things work together, actions by one character push actions by another, and by the time I reached the end, I really wanted to see where the story went.

It gives me some confidence. I had lost that confidence in the wake of Blue Falcon, when I attempted three different novels, only to end up stymied on all three. This one will work out, I think.

Of course, I could be wrong. Ask me again in a month.

5 comments:

sargon999 said...

This is a test. This is only a test.

TheyStoleFrazier'sBrain said...

Did I pass?

sargon999 said...

I was just seeing if my LJ login worked through here, to see if I did it right.

I'm in kind of the same boat. Since I got fired in March I've been hung up creatively, unable to really invent because of all the stress and alternating depression. Plus I vowed to get my finished novels ready for submission to agents with synopses and pitch letters and all before I let myself work again. At this project I have had only very limited success.

TheyStoleFrazier'sBrain said...

Well, considering you've got like 800 novels*, maybe you could just do one. Get one sub out the door, then let yourself breathe a little.

And though I have had like zero success in pitching my own books (or maybe I should say limited success--Blue Falcon never sold, but I did have both an agent and an editor request the full MS before rejecting it), I'm willing to help in any way I can. Even if it's just proofreading or licking envelopes or whatever.

* Okay, I know it's not quite 800, but seriously, you write A LOT.

sargon999 said...

I have 5 saleable manuscripts, and two more that are sequels that are essentially useless unless someone buys the original, despite how much fun I had writing them.

Susan Ward has been helping me write synopses and such, since she has an agent and has some experience doing it successfully, but I wouldn't say no to another reader to run stuff like that past.