Back when I was starting out with this humble blogspace, I had an idea for something I tentatively referred to as Creativity Quest. It was intended to be a kind of outlet for me to discuss what I was creating, how I was doing with it and so on, and hopefully in doing so also motivate me to continue creating.
That’s been, er, partially successful, I guess? On one hand, it’s been a while since I wrote any fiction; on the other, I have been fairly consistently blogging about a variety of topics and I’m quite happy with this being my creative outlet.
I am, however, feeling that it might be time to start the next novel.
Friends of the show (a term here meaning ‘people I know in the blogging community’) may be aware that I occasionally write novels. So far in my life, I’ve written three: two that are now lost to the winds of time, which were rather bad fantasy novels I wrote as a teenager, and one that I actually quite like. As far as I’m concerned, I have written one novel worth mentioning! I also got about halfway through another one, which stalled when some Big Life Changes happened, and I have some ideas floating around for a third.
As an aside, I have also done some much smaller works of fiction right here on this very blog: I shared a short story that I’d done independently, and I also wrote something for one of Gamers United’s writing prompts, which was fun!
Anyway, back to the novel stuff, I thought that perhaps it might be a good idea to set out what I’ve done so far and what I’m hoping to do in the near future here, in the hopes that perhaps friendly people might help with ideas, beta read some stuff, or just lend some friendly words of advice or support. Without further ado, then, let’s take a look at novel number one.
This is the one about which I’ve written the most on here, because it’s the one that’s sort of finished. I would recommend taking a peek here for full details of the plot, including some ‘fan-casting’ in which I attempt to imagine what my characters might actually look like, and here if you would like to actually read the entire thing because it’s currently on the internet for free. Please do let me know if you do decide to read it; I’d love to get your thoughts.
Stargirl is currently in its second draft; I wrote the first for National Novel Writing Month 2015 and rewrote the entire thing over the next however-many months. A couple of you may even have read one or both versions already and helped out with that! There are a few very significant differences between drafts and a lot of very minor ones, but overall I think the second draft is quite a lot better than the first, which is obviously the way you want it to go. I do think there will need to be a third draft because I’m still quite keen to explore how Stargirl might eventually be Properly Published and On Sale and Stuff, and there’s still work to be done before it’s ready to get there. So anyone who wants to lend a hand with helping me get it there, I’ll be very grateful!
The story is about… a bunch of nerds finding their place in the universe, I guess. I think of it as a kind of love story, but not necessarily romantic love, and a fantasy story but one set in a world that’s mostly the same as the one you and I live in. (I often cite Neil Gaiman and Haruki Murakami as examples of writers who create similar universes, though obviously I wouldn’t presume to put myself on that level!) A lot of things happen that are very peculiar and not really possible in the literal sense, but I’ll always defend the stance that in fiction, something can be both impossible and completely true in a profound way: inexplicable but thematically consistent events are fine by me. I hope that the characters are strong enough that the very-tricky-to-explain plot manages to stand on their shoulders, as it were, but let’s have a very quick crack at selling this story:
Two struggling inventors meet a girl from the stars, who really wants to learn how to be a person. They teach her the only way they know how: video games, confectionery, pro wrestling, the occasional battle of the bands. She learns about friendship and stuff from them, while they contemplate wider universey things as a result of knowing her. As it turns out, though, she’s not the only star on Earth, and the cosmic order demands that she return to her rightful place.
Intrigued? Probably not; I actually think it’s a pretty good story, which is unusual for something I wrote myself, but I find it very hard to sum up and/ or sell! Check that link above for a full synopsis if you’re interested.
Where we go from here with Stargirl is further revision – probably a whole ‘nother redraft – and then perhaps some approaches to agents or publishers. If anyone knows about that side of things, I’d love some advice!
2. Fixer’s Breakers
Now this is a weird one. I’m not really sure where it came from; I just started writing it one day, not for any particular reason, with no plan at all, and got probably about halfway through the story (which I did eventually plan out – loosely – to an ending). I don’t know that this will be a story worth telling, to be honest, but I feel a bit compelled not to leave it unfinished before making a start on number three.
Fixer’s Breakers is a suburban Lovecraftian superhero story about a man named Beefgrill – is what it’ll say on the blurb, and if that doesn’t draw in readers then I don’t know what will.
I don’t think I’ve actually ever tried to explain the plot of this one to anybody, so let’s give it a quick shot:
Danny Breehill starts a new job at Fixer’s Breakers, a scrapyard-cum-general-handyman establishment of sorts. His boss, Mac, mishears his name as Beefgrill on his first day, and it sticks thereafter. Danny is supposed to be a receptionist, directing queries where they need to go, but they’re weird queries. He expected it to be ‘fix my car’ sort of things, but they’re a lot broader than that. He discovers that Fixer’s is a generations-old business which will in fact fix anything for anyone, no matter how nebulous or even metaphysical the problem might be. Inexplicable (yet stupidly mundane) things start happening, and then people start dying gruesomely, and it all ties in to some sort of leviathan, the nature of which nobody can agree on. What the staff at Fixer’s do know is that they’re suddenly gaining peculiar powers, which help them do their job but which seem to grow stronger as the ‘bad things’ happening grow more frequent and disturbing.
I know roughly where the story will go, and perhaps the next steps for me with Fixer’s Breakers will be to share what I have so far with somebody along with a rough synopsis of the remainder of the plot. So, again, I guess I’m looking for beta readers! It’s been long enough since I stopped working on Fixer’s that I think I need to get some good eyes over it before I can decide where to go with it next, so… assistance will be appreciated.
(This is really just turning into me asking for people to help me with stuff, isn’t it? Oh, well.)
This is one that’s been turning around in my head for a while now, and that I think I’m going to need to just start writing soon. My creative process, by the way, tends to be that little vignettes, scenes, ideas for individual characters and things just start appearing in my head over time, and eventually I have enough of them that I can take some of the ones that fit together thematically and make a larger story with them, so it’s… not particularly refined, as processes go! Anyway, this one’s now just about got to the point where I think I have enough of those little details to start trying to weave them into a story.
I want this story to be about a few things: identity, belonging, duality, the power and danger and peculiar metaphysical nature of data and the Internet, a fox in the sky… a few things, basically. Here’s what I have so far:
Our main character is Idealla – or Ideanna, not sure which, but I don’t want her to have a ‘real’ name, if you know what I mean – Dent, known as ‘Idy’ or ‘ID’. Her best friend since childhood is a girl called November Nieminen, who goes missing. ID explores a variety of odd places looking for her: an over-world up in the sky, where they have hundreds of words for ‘cloud’ and she’s guided by a fox named Vix (who bemoans that she has a stupid name because a) it’s like ID’s mother deciding to call her ‘Female Human’ and b) she may be a fox in body but she’s actually an armadillo on the inside or something like that), and an under-world below the ground where strange ‘Taboos’ and ‘Sanctions’ govern every move the people make. In both worlds there are counterparts to each person in the midworld (regular ol’ Earth); ID discovers that the death of someone in any of the three worlds means the inexplicable death of both their counterparts in the other two. ID eventually discovers November never left the midworld, but was hiding near her home in a place with no phone signal. She was fleeing from a strange antagonist who consumes data: he started out rummaging through bins for letters and things with personal information on, then smoking them, but now can simply stand anywhere with a WiFi signal and absorb the knowledge. Anyone whose information is absorbed by him becomes a sort of unperson, and November’s phone contains the data of thousands of people because she stole a valuable archive file from her father’s company (for reasons I haven’t worked out yet). ID tries to help November by offering to take her to the skyworld, but November decides not to.
And that’s about all I’ve got so far. It’s the beginnings of a story; I just need to work out more clearly what my central themes are and where it all needs to end up.
As for the next steps with this one – well, if anybody has any ideas or comments on my ideas as they currently are, let me know, but I think I’ll probably just have to start writing the thing and see what happens.
And that’s the current state of my creativity! I guess I’m hoping that some clever and helpful people will see this and be willing to offer a little bit of advice and whatnot, and also that this post will give me somewhere to start with working out what to get writing next!
If anyone else has any writings, feel free to share them; I’d love to read them! If any of the things I’ve talked about here sound interesting to you, let me know and I would love to let you read some stuff (which is kind of for my own gain but also hopefully enjoyable for you)!