It’s been forever since I posted, so I figured I’d put something up and let you guys know what I’ve been up to.
I’m happy to say that Worlds Away From Home is going well; I wrote just under 20k this week, which is more than I’ve written in a long time. I hope to keep a steady 15k to 20k for the next three weeks as I finish this draft.
I think I’m through the roughest parts (famous last words, right?), and I’ve got a fairly clear idea where I want to take this. That is, I have a target ending that’s both specific enough to give me direction and vague enough to give me some flexibility. If I’m doing things right, I expect these characters will surprise me before the end.
When I first started this novel almost two years ago, I hit a bad rough patch right around my current spot and had to put it on hold for a while. At the time, I thought it was because of a particularly difficult scene (which I just rewrote), but now I see that the problem was much bigger.
I thought that I was telling a story about a guy who nearly falls for the wrong girl and ends up with the right one in the end, when really the first girl was the right one. Once again, I found myself telling a very different story than the one I set out to tell.
Interestingly, in order to see what I needed to do to fix the problem, I had to write a completely unrelated novel in the same world about the same overarching world events. My problem, I think, was that I spent so much time world building that I stopped paying attention to what the characters were doing.
With the current draft, I’ve discovered that this story is very solidly a science fiction romance. There’s plenty of sf action, but it’s the romance that drives the plot.
While this discovery comes as a pleasant surprise, it also worries me because the potential audience may be very small. Traditionally, science fiction has been anathema to romance, and while that may be changing (as evidenced by this interesting post at tor.com), I wonder how well this book will sell, especially because it’s not your typical romance. In some ways, it’s actually a critique of our typical ideas of romance.
Oh well. I suppose there isn’t anything I can do about it except finish the damn thing and worry about selling it later. These types of thoughts tend to be counterproductive to the creative process, especially when you’re more thank 50k into the draft.
Overall, though, I’m optimistic. I like this story that I’m telling, and while I may cringe at the mistakes I make as I go along, I know that I need to resist the urge to fix them until the rough draft is complete.
Writing for me is like wandering around blindfolded with a Polaroid camera and taking a picture of something that sounds cool. When I take off the blindfold and check the picture, it takes a while before I can see the coherent whole. Usually, though I have some idea what to expect, the end result surprises me.
I love it, though. That element of surprise and spontaneity is well worth the lack of control, because usually (if I handle things right) it helps to give the story depth, meaning, and honesty that my conscious mind simply could not give it.
I’m very optimistic about this novel. Now that the world is solidly built, I can focus everything on the characters, and that’s where the true story lies. I’m currently having a lot of fun torturing them, but I know where their headed with their growth arcs and how all of this ties together (well, most of it, anyway). If I can pull it off, it should be quite satisfying. In the meantime, I’m excited to seeing where it takes me.