This year I partook in National Novel Writing Month for the first time because November 1st coincided with the time I was set to start writing the first book in my new near-future sci-fi series, Cold Reboot.
It’s the story of Erica, a woman who finds herself ten years older with no memory of how she spent the last decade, no record of her activities, and no clues other than the scars she seems to have picked up along the way. Can she adapt to this cold new world in time to figure out why people keep trying to kill her?
It’s a story about poverty and desperation, about people doing the best they can, about adaptability, identity, and the persistence of memory. It’s about trauma and our sense of self. It’s about the way the world flows, and the likely future we’re facing in 2025.
That was some of the most fun, I think, researching futurist predictions of the next decade and extrapolating from that. I tried to take a middle-of-the-road approach, neither overly cynical nor blindly optimistic, in describing a future that will come to meet us if we continue along our current path.
NaNoWriMo challenges entrants to write 50,000 words in a single month. That sounds like a lot, but to someone who writes full time it really isn’t, especially for a first draft. First drafts are light, breezy, easy… it’s the revisions that are the work.
In fact, that was a bit of a trick, for me. See, I write in layers. The first layer is the story’s structure. The bones. The bare “what happens” in a lean and economical style. I get the basic of story down without concern for the quality of my prose.
The second pass is the meat. I add substance. Subplots. Fleshed out lines of conversation.
Third pass is the surface, the skin, the chrome. I make everything pretty. Tidy it up.
Point is, my manuscript grows with each revision. I trim away the excess, but I add quite a bit as well. And that means that my first drafts — what I write for NaNoWriMo — are light. For Cold Reboot, it barely reached 50,000 words. By the time I’m done with my revisions it’ll probably come in at 60-80,000 words.
But that’s later.
Now, during December, Cold Reboot is going to sit and marinate and do its thing in the back of my head while I write the sequel. Then, in January, I’ll revise the book, get it ready, and — beta-readers willing — release it.Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.