July 23, 2016

Time for a New Manuscript

I'm still reaching out for beta readers on my most recent project and waiting (impatiently) to hear back from the agents and publishers holding onto copies of my first manuscript. I'm going a little crazy with all the waiting both those activities entail.

Obviously, it's time to start a new manuscript! My son is home for the rest of the summer, and my daughter is going through a clingy phase, not to mention social obligations picking up, so I don't really have the time to draft a manuscript, but when it comes to something I love, I make time.

At first I thought about doing a story with a fantasy bend, because my idea is planted firmly in the 'speculative' realm. But, so far, I'm really loving the science fiction and near future worlds I've been writing in, and decided to stick with that. I might one day do an urban fantasy story, but for right now, I feel it's best to stick with a genre while I'm starting to build a readership.

So instead of fay creatures, my manuscript will feature aliens. Instead of being firmly planted on soil, the action will take place on a space ship. Partially because the protaganist is losing his grip on reality, so when he starts messing with the things around him, stakes need to be pretty high. As I brought out the crayons and coloring books for my daughter to play with, I grabbed a blank piece of paper for myself and started charting out the solar system my story will be set in. With crayons. Because that's how I roll.

My writing process is maybe a little different than that of other writers. Using George R.R. Martin's gardener and architect metaphor, I'd say I start as a gardener and finish as an architect. At least for the past three manuscripts I've drafted, I start with an idea and a protaganist and hit the keyboard. With only an inkling of where I'm going and a fervor for getting my idea down, I can't quell my excitement by stepping back and charting a story board. I need to just write.

Once I'm a few chapter in, I've got a great setting, a cast of characters, an inciting event for some cool plot lines, and a serious need for direction. I won't say at this point that I've lost motivation. On the contrary, there are so many cool directions I could explore, if I want my manuscript to be it's best, I need to sit down and plot out the rest of my novel. Yes, there are aliens, and we're already on course to find them, but are they good aliens? What will their motivation be? Perhaps it's just the one alien. At this point, word count isn't really wracking up, but the foundation is laid, and the framework for the rest of the story has to up.

Nothing like having a nice outline to really motivate me to get back to pounding on the keyboard. The bulk of the manuscript comes pretty quickly, and even if I make small deviations, I know what the ending's going to look like, which makes it that much easier to actually get there.

On my newest manuscript, which I'm calling Lola for now, at least until a cool title comes to me, I've gotten a few chapters in and now need to step back from writing and build the architecture. Looking at my process, I'm amazed I stay motivated somehow throughout. Drafting is hard. Putting down 60,000+ words on a single story is a daunting prospect for anyone. But like any journey, it starts with a single step.

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