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New Beginnings

March 28, 2010

Well, I’ve done it.

Okay, nothing is done, but I’ve started doing it.  I have made my selection from the scattered array of unfinished novels in my drawers (sounds like I keep them in my underwear, doesn’t it?) and I have decided to attack my YA SF novel.  An interesting choice since I had so little written already (only about 5000 words) and was really stuck on where to take it when I put it down.

I could have gone with the military clone novel which had six well-received chapters written.  Or redrafted the (finished) YA fantasy that was my very first writing project.  Or the fantasy novella that I was in the process of expanding to novel length.  Or that novella’s prequel that was showing more promise despite less progress.  Or the Roller Ball-esque SF sport novel I started eons ago.  Okay, the sport one was no more logical than the choice I made, but there are real arguments for the others over the one I picked.  So let’s reason things out.

The reason I didn’t run with the military novel is, well, I have no military experience.  Sure, “Poison Inside the Walls: was somewhat militaristic, but I really think I may save the clone one for a collaboration project.  (Brad, you taking notes?  Just saying…)  I also feel like I have a better track record with science fiction than with fantasy, so that’s the road I’m paving first.  Still, I’m not abandoning fantasy; that’s what got me writing in the first place.

I feel like I have a fairly solid perspective for writing this SF novel.  As a teacher, I have an interesting perspective for viewing teen behavior.  And the fact that it’s going to have a lot of scholastic settings (not so unlike Harry Potter, but on a sublight ship rather than in a magic castle) will give me that much more perspective.

The problem with my first draft was that it started too slow and too fast all at once.  There was no action to speak of, not on-screen action, but I tried to catapult froschool boy to space cadet in a single chapter.  Whew.  Again I’m taking a page from J.K. Rowling and letting the story set up a little while I draw out the drama of going into space.  (Relax, my similarities should end there.)  I was thinking like a short story writer and not like a novelist.

So today I got to work on the rewrite of the first chapter.  I only finished one scene, but it was a good three pages or so, nothing to sneeze at.  I open with my main character getting bullied rather than having him whisked away from school in a police car.  (Yeah, yeah, HP gets bullied in the beginning too.  So what?)  The drama in the old draft was too far removed from my protagonist.  Now it’s in his face.  Literally.  A rough outline of events will get the story to where I had previously left off, but the character will be fully developed by then and that point will mark the beginning of his change.

I’m setting myself a goal of 5000 words per week to get this done.  At that rate, it should take about a month to get the story where it left off before and another twelve weeks to get the draft finished.  80,000 is a good word count for young adult, isn’t it?  So that puts me into July.  However, summer should provide ample opportunities to speed up the process.  With luck, I’ll be celebrating my first draft on the same night everyone else in America is setting off their own fireworks.

So it’s a new start, a new first chapter, a few new goals to meet.  C’mon muse, don’t fail me now.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 28, 2010 3:14 am

    Sweet! Good luck with it, Oso 🙂 I’ve been working on a fantasy middle grade myself (it’s one of the 5, and the shortest, so it might get done first). I have no qualifications to write about kids though, except for having been one. Oh well.

    I look forward to hearing more 🙂

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