Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Last Stand

Sorry I didn't post anything last week. Not that it's unusual for me to go even longer without a post, but I really am trying to post at least once week, or I guess twice now since I've added a regular crafty post. Anyway, I was dealing with a monthly issue and a severe cold at the same time, so the few hours a day I was awake I couldn't do very much. But now I'm ready to talk (and talk, and talk) about my next writing project.

Although I"m still typing up and revising PB+J (now probably called Sex and/or Love), I also have my mind on The Last Stand (formerly called The Last Stand at Springfield Mall), another old project that's been waiting for revisions. Originally inspired by a dream, The Last Stand was an incomplete NaNoWriMo project from 2011 that I finished, or at least reached 50,000 words, in my explosion of writing in 2013, and has been stuck in so-called revisions ever since. I've honestly been trying to get it revised and self-published for two years now and I could not move forward, even after recruiting some first pass readers. But I think I've figured it out now. You see, before I was trying to write this full world, big scope, sci-fi novel but that's not typically my genre or my style. I'm very much a character and dialogue writer. Very small scope, very limited focus.

My dream was about children rebels fighting against a robot army in this mall where both camps lived. In order to turn that into a novel, I invented a colony, a fake world history, and chose three main characters, in a love triangle about to collapse, when a robot attacks comes and leads to the destruction of the final remaining human outpost, with a huge dollop of swipes at capitalism, in general. As the novel kept going I had to add more and more characters, all with great little scenes and backstories and inner thoughts, just to meet my word count. In my revisions, I needed to interweave all these characters together and throughout the whole novel, not just at the end where I was pressed for more words. That is a huge load to carry for a mostly short story sometimes horror sometimes mainstream sort of author.

One approach to revisions is to answer the question "What is the story about?" or  finding the one sentence that is your novel, basically it's blurb, (Holly Lisle covers this pretty well here). Every time I tried to answer the question for Last Stand, I'd say "It's about the last remaining human colony on Earth and it's final days fighting against the Robot Enemy." But I was never happy with this sentence. When I started it was suppose to be about Tequila Patron and her love for Buick Skylark. But as I was writing it, I found Buick's brother, Daimler Chrysler, way more interesting than either of them. Yet he was locked in this love triangle already and I just kept barreling ahead, adding more and more characters, unsure of what to do with anything them.

Like with PB+J though, I realized recently that if I ever want to finish this story, be done once and for all instead of returning to it again and again, I have to throw away huge chunks of it, and focus on just the characters and storyline I like. So, The Last Stand is no longer a novel, probably, and it's not about a colony, or how capitalism lead to the destruction of the environment and the reliance on robots for human livelihood, or even one girls' idealization of a boy and her subsequent disillusionment, but instead it's about Daimler Chrysler, his disillusionment, and how he saves what he resents the most. Or something like that. I don't know for sure because I haven't actually written this version yet, just the opening and the start of a possible ending. But I will write it and hopefully that will be end of that.

And now that they are mostly irrelevant, feel free to look over my Last Stand Pinterest board and Spotify playlist. In the meantime . . .