Thursday, December 01, 2005

Half Of My Promise

A Quick Note Before A Long Entry: Everyone here probably remembers that I said I would write some plot summary a while back and that I have vowed to describe the experience of NaNoWriMo (writing a 50,000 word novel in one month). I have also been saying for more than a month that I will post an article about Mike Pence. Travis and Aaron, I have not forgotten this. I simply have not had time to put one together. I would want such an entry to be well thought out, understandable and persuasive. My brain just has not been able to keep up with that as well as do NaNoWriMo. At this time I will keep half my promises and write up the NaNo stuff. Perhaps this weekend I will sneak my husband's laptop away from him for long enough to post a Pence article. My compy will be on its way to another state for repairs.

NaNoWrimo, what can I say? It was exhilerating and fatiguing; challenging and too easy; enjoyable and painful. Yes, NaNoWriMo covers a host of descriptive words. So I will stop boring you with them.

When I signed up to write a novel for NaNo I had a specific plot idea in mind. Years ago I used to come up with plot ideas for fun (that's why I have almost never been bored in my life). I was just a kid then. One of my ideas was a sort of space opera. I believe I had been watching too much Star Wars at the time. It involved a main character who was a general of some space army and a trained assassin who befriended him. I ended up refining the plot a lot over the course of NaNo with the help of my husband who knows a whole lot more about sci-fi than me and who will definitely get technical credits if the novel ever sells. Pardon me, because I am going to be extremely vague as I go into more depth on my plot.

I have to be very vague indeed and say almost nothing substantial. I really don't want my plot and ideas stolen, you understand. My book is science fiction. I would not describe it to be a space opera anymore, but since it is more about the characters it could fall into that category. There are no aliens, though, and they are an essential part of any space opera. Still, when I'm finished I intend to have a lot of the technical details worked out so in some respects it might be hard science fiction. I am not one for inserting sex scenes, however, so it's not really hard science fiction. I guess it doesn't have a real category other than science fiction. I know, it's good science fiction, that's the category!

The book concerns earth humans several thousand years after they have left earth due to some nuclear disasters. The nuclear disasters involved the War on Terror getting out of hand. Essentially, things were really bad and some impending destruction caused everyone to decide to leave earth rather than find a way to live on it. By that time space technology had grown a lot so a lengthy journey on a huge spaceship stocked with terraforming equipment was not out of the question. In the end, people ended up on several different planets in a far away solar system.

My story's main character is a general who is asked to wage an unjust war on another planet. The antagonist is the person who wants to wage the war: a manipulative, Machiavellian character. He was the first genetically modified human and intended for some major experiments, but he got a little out of control. Then there's another genetically modified human who was presumed dead by those who designed her. Years later she was found and trained into an assassin and now she's a really messed up person meant to show certain contrasts within the scheme of things. So, essentially, the plot involves a revolt and a lot of sadness. But it's action packed and mildly psychological in the Russian novel sense if I do say so myself. It needs a ton of work as my writing style sucks through most of the novel. There are a few good moments, but for the most part, I need to put in some more effort.

Thematically it has a lot to do with bioethics and where I think we're going in that area. Yup, I'm your typical pessimist. I really don't like the idea of experimentation on people in certain major ways. Not that I'm against progress, but, well, you'll have to read the book if it's ever published. It will probably explain my opinion better than I could right now. There is also a major theme on questioning one's life and deeds and trying to discover some sort of meaning. You know, the answer to life, the universe and eveything type stuff: i.e.42.

NaNo has been a bittersweet experience in all. While I enjoyed learning to just sit down and write and write and write, I have seen the results of this method and they are bad fiction. I will spend hours and hours repairing my novel. I expect that in the end it will turn out all right, if not good. As Steven King would say, I might be a "competent writer." (If you're wondering, no I've never read a Steven King novel, I just read his book "On Writing," which is very good.) The fact that I could write 50,000 words in one month has impressed me at the same time as I have been upset over the quality of my work. It's really fine though, because I'm a pretty ruthless editor of my own writings.

I think the most disappointing part of the journey has been the character development. I take great pride in characters and settings. Perhaps more so than my pride in plot creating. I want my characters to be real to my readers. Sometimes they are and sometimes they just plain suck. Sometimes they do things that are totally against their nature. I have not had time to go back and fix those things and that upsets me immensely. I believe that J.R.R. Tolkien used to write out his books by hand. If he got something wrong he would throw out the whole book (or chapter) and start over from the beginning. Similarly, I am that kind of purist. I want to trash it and start over, but I know that I would never remember everything and that would be incredibly unwise. Besides, computers are mighty convenient pieces of equipment.

On the other hand, the most enjoyable part of the journey has been those moments when the characters shone with depth. I very much enjoy the scenes where they acted like themselves. I read and reread those parts even when I did not have the time, just to give me some encouragement and to make me remember that parts of the book are good.

Furthermore, I have finished 50,000 words of a novel. That's 175 pages. That is a lot of writing. And a triumph indeed. I really think I can keep up a pace and pull off writing novels now. It almost makes me want to attempt to become a famous author instead of a politician.

1 comment:

little-cicero said...

May the Force Be With You!