11 PM | 31 Mar

Back On Track: Writing Update 3/31/13

When I left off last sprint, I had been forced to go into a different direction with my novel. I had an interesting new idea but had not yet fleshed it out. For the first sprint of the new version of my novel, there were questions to ask. Could I develop a story around this idea? What work from the previous idea could be preserved, and what would would be lost? Could I fully engage myself in the reworked story? Was I on the right path? The answer to those last two questions turned out to be a resounding “yes”!

Before I could start writing, though, I needed to flesh out a story. I started by trying to retrofit ideas from my previous iteration into this one, but I could not find a way that didn’t seem awkward and forced. In the end, exactly NO writing I had done previously will be used in the new novel. None of my planned scenes will be in it as well. None of the names or other research will be relevant. In fact, of the content I’d worked on only one plot device remains – fortunately, the most significant one – and it has been reworked just a bit.

That is the bad news. The good news is, once I let go of the old story, the new story flowed out of me like water out of a cracked dam. I was able to take the skeleton of an idea and turn it into a fully flowing, plotted storyline with a beginning, middle and end, even if it’s not fully fleshed out. Knowing the direction, the words came easily. I have written nearly 8,000 words this sprint, completing the draft and first revision of the prologue and chapter 1. It is easily my most productive sprint so far.

What I have found is that this story is extremely personal for me, in a way the previous one could not have been. It is not dark like the former one; it has no violence, no disturbing imagery. It contains themes and plot devices that coincide closely with many of my chief interests: religion, science, science fiction, human nature and Asperger’s syndrome. It even contains a hint of romance. More importantly to me, I have never read or even heard of any novel remotely like what I’m doing.

I am extremely excited going forward, but I have a lot of work to do. Here are some of the things I need to keep in mind going forward:

  1. It’s great that my novel is so personal, but to be honest, I’m weird, and if it’s presented in too personal a way others will have trouble connecting with the characters.
  2. I have two main characters who are extremely similar. I need to ensure they each have a unique voice. That will take some tricky writing to accomplish.
  3. The science/science fiction elements are quite complicated, but I’m not writing (necessarily) for a science-literate audience. Can I explain things simply enough so that less technical people can follow the plot conventions, even if they don’t completely understand them? Can I do that without sacrificing the “real-ness” of the science fiction elements, as so many other authors do?
  4. The story is told in non-linear fashion, which makes it difficult for many audiences to follow. It is using a fairly unique plot device to deliver history, so perhaps it won’t be as hard to pull off.

Those are just a few of the issues I’ll have to deal with. I’m excited to start chapter 2 next sprint. I hope to have it, plus at least the first draft of chapter 3, done in two weeks. It should be no problem if I can be as productive as I was last sprint.

As far as the previous story  – well, it’s on the shelf for now. Perhaps I’ll revisit it someday. Perhaps I’ll find some new way to deliver the plot that allows me to tell the story more uniquely. Doing things the Agile way may have provided some help here – it’s forced me to organize my information in a way that should be easy to recover in the future.

Back to writing!



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