Rubicon, Redux


One week ago, I posted about how I’d reached a particular milestone in Homefront, and how things were going to get better for the characters from then on. I mentioned a bit about how if I piled more on their fictional backs, I’d be horror instead of science fiction.

Now before my compatriots in the Horror Writers Association gather up pitchforks and torches, I state here, now and unequivocally that I like horror. I write it, I read it, I crave that creepy feeling when you just know that something awful is going to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it.

But that wasn’t exactly the story I sold to my publisher/editor, and even though he specifically asked me to take the gloves off in terms of the characters’ safety, I didn’t want my novel to become a tale of existential terror, in which everyone was afraid and everything else was to blame.

I mention this today because I’m finally ready to start writing this book. It’s an odd feeling,given that I started writing in earnest on December 7th (which now counts doubly as a day that will live in infamy). What have I been doing for the last month if not writing? Last night I crossed the 80,000 word mark, and the manuscript does in fact appear full of chapters, scenes, characters and plot.

No, I have been writing, but now I’m ready to WRITE this book. I’ve got all the easy stuff out of the way. I’ve finished my research on who and what my characters are, and my hope is that you as the reader (you’re reading this from the future, I can tell, and are surely following along in your signed, first edition copy) understand them at least as well as I do.

Today, I renter the world of my synopsis. There are between 10 and 15 chapters remaining in the story I want to tell, which oddly enough is exactly the same number of days I’d scheduled for writing the rest of the book.

But what, you say? What have you been doing that’s not plot-related since we last visited?

Building relationships, that’s what. The final chapters of a book not only complete the story you’re telling, but also set up the next one. All your principals need to know not only who they are, but what they feel about the people around them.

So in answer to your question, for the last week I’ve been expanding on the following 52 word paragraph to make sure that all of the above was possible.

_______ and the _______ manage to get an _______ _______ _______ operational, and the group sets out for the ruins of _______ _______ to find the _______. While traveling, _______ explores both her new status as a _______ and her relationship with the _______, and _______ and _______ come to an understanding.

It took me 8 chapters, 20000 words and nearly 100 manuscript pages to feel like I’d done the job. And it’s not filler, not by a long shot. Tons of STUFF HAPPENS ™ in that section of the book, which is comprised of five separate scenes, about 1000 kilometers of travel time, and four distinct points-of-view.

And although I know what happens next, you, gentle reader, are gathering with your friends outside my windows and sharing around pitchforks and torches. Because there’s more than a little horror in those words.

So, you might say I’ve had a pretty good week, or possibly a bad one. 30-40 thousand words from now, I’ll have had an incredible month, and seeing a big smile on my editor’s face that’s not caused by alcohol (not that there’s anything wrong with that) will be worth every bloodless stone in my discard pile.

So I’m signing off for now. If I write any more on this topic, I’ll start writing the next chapter, and I’m saving up my good words for later. And for my future fans, I’m glad you’ve stuck with us this far. Sorry about that thing I wrote that you didn’t like, but trust me, it will all work out in the end.

Or not. Still a little fuzzy on the whole good-bad thing.


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