Friday, February 22, 2013

Gear By Gear

Sometimes writing a fiction book is like building a machine. At a certain point, the design phase has to end, the machine has to be built, and in the end, it needs to be tested to see whether it works or not. If it doesn't work, it's either back to the drawing board or worse, the project has to be shelved for a time.

My current work-in-progress, Fractal Standard Time, started out as a dozen interlinked short stories set mostly on Mars. It is now attempting to turn itself into a novel. The original plan was to create stories that could stand individually on their own, but each story would fit into the larger narrative arc of the whole book. On paper, this looked like a workable idea.

Now, however, there are connections that have developed between the individual stories in ways I had not planned. This is a good thing, but the whole book also runs the risk of turning into a never-ending manuscript that never feels completely finished. There are already multiple narrative arcs within each story, narrative arcs between groups of three stories, and a larger arc that stretches across the entire book. It's getting messier by the day because the stories take place over a period of decades and each story builds on the previous ones.

In addition, I'm now making a half dozen maps. I'm also writing brief narratives of the times between the stories...although I don't know if any of that will make it into the final book. I'm losing count of the books, movies, and articles I've read that are related to this subject, and hopefully the science of it all holds up (although I reserve the right to take a liberty or two). Like a complicated machine, though, I'm hoping the whole thing does not collapse under its own metaphorical weight.

I'm hoping within a couple of months, however, that this "machine" of a book will be up and running smoothly. Right now, I'm about halfway through the first edit and I'll have more specific details in the coming weeks as things come together. Some sample stories will also appear on Amazon within the coming month.

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