Female lead? Check. Strong story? Check. Eventual sexual assault? …wait, what?

This post will contain possible triggers, so be warned.

I was browsing my Twitter feed when I saw a friend of mine had RT’d the following:

The thread included some great links to articles and pages where women discussed the very nature of how rape is presented in SFF. Check out Do Better: Sexual Violence in SFF by Sarah Gailey. Another is a 2012 Livejournal post from Seanan McGuire. The fact that this was written four years ago means nothing, for these are ongoing issues. And I hate that it is.

Guys, I’ve read a lot of fantasy and sci fi over the years. The fantasy novels I’ve read are almost wholly guilty of including a sexually assaulted female character or one who narrowly escapes an attempt. And why? Plot device, mostly. Female character earns the ire of an enemy? Capture her and lock her in a room with lots of men. Female character leads an army? Better make sure she gets overpowered in a corner. Female character doing some grocery shopping? Best make sure she’s followed back to her car and/or saved by the Dashing Hero. Female character sitting on the subway with headphones on and reading a book? Make sure the guy next to her makes her as uncomfortable as possible, needles her for ‘not smiling’, or follows her home. In other words, if you have a female character, you as the writer are expected, nay, REQUIRED, to make sure her plot arc includes one or all of the above.

What’s that? It’s unrealistic not to include any of the above? Fuck you. None of my female characters are destined for sexual assault. NONE.

Why is this so common? Why is it we read so many books, watch so many shows, or pay to see so many movies, and we’re mentally counting down before a female character gets assaulted/harassed? It’s bad enough we as a society have become so goddamn desensitized to the subject that we can watch/read about it and not bat an eye. This, to me, is an insult to those who experienced it. Don’t add this element to your fantasy world.  Don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution. Like Sarah Gailey says: do better.

 

Forever a WIP

RE: my absence. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Lemme sum up: lost my job, went on vacation, now back to writing.

Yesterday, my boyfriend (who composes music) and I were having a discussion about our creative processes. He’s been writing music for nearly as long as I’ve written stories. During that time, he’s gone and re-recorded/remastered older tunes. My version of this is to edit the living hell out of an existing document. Kind of like making a layer cake, but instead of something yummy, half the time I felt I was covering the errors with prettier words. Anyway, I thought, ‘Hey, why not take a scene from an early version of a story and rewrite it?’ For this, I went with my much loved, yet much edited sci-fi RENEGADE. I have always liked how I introduced Simon’s character, even if the original version is pure 80s action movie camp. So here they are for your reading pleasure. Intro to Simon 2005 and Intro to Simon 2016. I am presenting the 2005 version in its original form. This is to better compare the two scenes. Let me tell you, I was damn wordy back in 2005. On with the writing!

Intro to Simon: 2005 version

Autumn reached her car, where she unlocked the back door to place her tote bag on the seat.  She closed it, readying to open the driver’s side door when she heard footsteps behind her.  Autumn glanced over her shoulder, catching sight of three people slowly making their way across the level.  There was something odd about them in spite of the casual way they were dressed.  The one in the middle looked around as if seeking something, while the other two moved in perfect unison.  After a moment Autumn relaxed.  They looked like they had lost track of their car, and were simply looking for it.  She hoped they would find it and turned away.  Just as she went to get inside the car a hand appeared over her arm, placing gentle but firm pressure on the door.  She whirled around, surprised and angry at the intrusion.

“Excuse me, but this is my car,” she said, glancing at the three who now hovered close to her.  Uncomfortably close, actually, and Autumn stepped aside to give herself room.  The man on the left followed her, blocking her way. 

“Autumn Welles,” the man in the middle stated in a crisp yet strangely accented voice.  Autumn held her car keys close to her, silently thanking her sister Samantha for talking her into buying the can of mace that hung from them.  It looked like she was going to need it very soon.

“Yes?” Autumn replied, trying not to sound as nervous as she felt.  The man on the left stepped closer to her, forcing her to retreat until she stood before the driver’s side door again. 

“You must come with us now.  Your presence is immediately required,” the middle man continued, reaching for her.  Autumn jerked out of the way, her hand tightening on the can of mace. 

“Come with you where?” she asked warily. 

“That is unimportant.  If you will just follow us-“

“I don’t think so,” Autumn replied shortly, surprised by her boldness.  The three looked at one another, as if their expressions alone conveyed what was on their minds.  Autumn knew she was trapped, and the need to say such a thing was nothing more than a stall tactic.  If she continued with the ploy, then perhaps she’d find reason to use the mace.  One spray was all it’d take to ward off the three strangers. 

“You can’t expect me to go with you without telling me where we’re going.  There’s also the fact that I don’t know who you are.  And another thing-“ Autumn’s words died in her throat then, for the man on the right leveled a strange-looking weapon in her direction.  She swallowed nervously, fear paralyzing her mind. 

“We are not asking you to come with us.  We are telling you,” the man with the weapon declared calmly.  Autumn shook her head, wanting to speak when the middle man laid a firm hand on her shoulder.  She jumped, suppressing a cry of protest before she was dragged away from the car.  Autumn tried to pull free but to no avail.  The man yanked her forward so that she was walking before him, his hand locked on her shoulder with an unyielding grip.  Her eyes darted to and fro nervously, hoping someone, anyone would see her and come to her aid.  But the parking level was empty. 

The three men led her toward the stairwell, the one holding her forcing her through the doorway as soon as it was opened.  Autumn went inside, nearly tripping when the man hauled her up the stairs.  She was literally dragged the whole way until they reached the top floor.  The man on the left pushed open the door, Autumn’s hair whipping about her face thanks to the wind that passed over her.  Upon scanning the immediate area she saw no waiting car.  In fact she saw nothing but scattered lamp posts and empty spaces. 

“Where are you taking me?” Autumn demanded.  Her captors said nothing; they merely walked across the level in the direction of the far edge.  They had cleared the center when all of a sudden the one on the right stopped, bringing an arm out to halt the others.  He glanced over at his companions, speaking in an odd, guttural language that Autumn could not understand.  It was then she saw what they must have seen materialize across the way.

A tall figure draped in black was casually leaning against a lamp post, his arms crossed over his chest and right leg propped up.  His head was angled down, the shadow of his hair shielding his face from view.  After a moment he lifted his head and slowly turned his gaze toward the men, allowing Autumn to see that he wore a pair of sunglasses. 

“I believe you’ve got something I want,” the man said, his voice also slightly accented but not as mechanical in its delivery.  Two of the men approached the black-clad one slowly, while the third remained behind to keep Autumn still.  Her fear steadily grew as she watched.  Suddenly she wished she had gone home earlier, if only to avoid this strange confrontation.

The black-clad man watched the other two with nonchalant disregard, yet when he uncurled his arm one of the men made an exclamation.  A firearm slid into the black-clad man’s hand, the light from above gleaming off the barrel.  Autumn recognized it as the same as the one that was pulled on her, but she had little time to reflect on the coincidence.  She was shoved to the ground by the one who held her, and as she scrambled to her hands and knees she saw the weapon barrel glow with an eerie yellow light.  What could only be described as a laser beam shot out, catching the man on the right in the shoulder.  As soon as the man dropped in a heap the other two advanced, leaving Autumn alone.  She was too transfixed by what she saw to think to escape.

The stranger darted away from the lamp post in a half-spin, his other hand producing a weapon.  He hoisted both guns up, firing several times.  The lasers burned through the second man, and after his body was sent spinning awkwardly he collapsed.  Autumn felt her stomach heave at seeing the blood pooling around the man, prompting her to cover her mouth to keep from retching. 

In the meantime the third man came at the stranger, an angry cry escaping his lips.  Autumn watched, amazed, as the stranger sheathed both weapons before reaching out to halt the other’s forward progress with the flat side of his palm.  The man staggered back from the hit, yet before he could muster a counter the stranger grabbed his head and slammed it against his upright knee.  When the man fell onto his back his attacker stomped on his neck with such force it severed the head from the rest of the body. 

Autumn cried out and scooted backwards, pushing herself away from the carnage in a frantic attempt to escape.  She kept going until she backed against a wall, causing her to jump to her feet.  The moment she did she found herself face to face with the stranger and screamed.  He brought a gloved hand up to cover her mouth, an expression of distaste coming to his lips.  Autumn watched him with wide eyes, her nostrils flaring as she heaved.  Her hand tightened around the can of mace in spite of the paralysis the situation cast over her mind. 

“If you scream again I will kill you.  Understand?” he said coldly.  Autumn found herself nodding, and he removed his hand from her mouth.  The instant he did she brought the can of mace up, emptying the whole thing right in his face.  She had the sudden urge to smile; this man had single-handedly killed three others only to be felled by a can of pepper spray.  Autumn was on the verge of laughing her triumph when she realized the stranger did not stagger back to wipe at his eyes.  Instead his expression turned more grim as he reached up and slowly lowered the sunglasses so they rested at the end of his nose.  Autumn pulled in a breath at the glowing intensity of his blue eyes.

“I’d appreciate it if you refrained from doing that again.  Your types have no idea how foul this smell is,” he remarked.  Some of Autumn’s fear faded, replaced with annoyance.  It suddenly didn’t matter that he displayed immunity to mace, only that he had insulted her. 

“What do you mean by that?” she demanded angrily.  The stranger dutifully ignored her as he wiped his sunglasses clean of the pepper spray using the sleeve of his coat.  After replacing them he reached for her.  Autumn jerked out of the way. 

“There’s no time for this,” he said in an annoyed tone. 

“I don’t care.  Who the hell are you anyways?” Autumn snapped, moving aside each time he attempted to grab her.  At length he took hold of her forearm, bringing her forward with such strength it caused her to gasp.

“If you don’t keep quiet and come with me, you won’t be alive long enough to learn the answers to those questions.  Now come on,” he insisted. 

***

Intr0 to Simon: 2016 version

The stretch of road featured a fair amount of traffic. Overhead, the stars were blotted out by the distant glow of the city to the north. Autumn picked out a few constellations as she walked, her thoughts drifting to the times her grandfather took her stargazing. He’d taught her how to identify Polaris, Rigel, and Sirius. She knew the best times to view Venus and Mars thanks to him. His desire to see these places was so strong her grandfather reassured her that once he passed, he would use the time to explore the universe. Autumn smiled faintly at the sky, wondering, not for the first time, if her grandfather was still traveling, and what he had seen.

The buildings to either side grew closer together as she walked. Dark, narrow passages marked the boundaries between them. As Autumn passed one, she heard footsteps. She expected to be overtaken by whoever was behind her. But the steps kept time to hers. And they were gaining.

Overcome by a sense of warning, Autumn hurried her pace. The Mexican restaurant was still a few blocks down. Autumn quickly scanned the buildings, hoping to slip into a convenience store or something. It was too dark and quiet for her to feel comfortable. But when she neared the corner, a man appeared in front of her. It was the same one she’d seen at the hotel.

Frightened now, Autumn tried to go around him. He cut off her escape.

 “Autumn Welles,” he said. His pronunciation was strange, as if English was not his primary language.

Autumn gulped. She gripped the purse strap at her shoulder. If he tried anything, she might be able to hit him and run.

“What do you want?”

The man withdrew a black object from his coat. Two more men appeared to either side of her. Autumn flinched at their proximity, but it was the strange handguns each aimed at her that stilled her movements.

“You must come with us now.”

One grabbed her shoulder. Autumn’s panicked cry was muffled when he covered her mouth. Her thoughts frayed, only to reform as the instinct to escape. Despite her efforts to twist free, the man dragged her into the alley. The rancid stench of garbage invaded her nostrils. It was such a sickening scent, she felt momentarily dizzy. Tears burned her eyes. Who were these men? What did they want with her? She hastily looked around, hoping someone, anyone would help her.

And then, almost on cue, a tall figure with long, stringy blond hair and wearing what appeared to be armor inspired by TRON: Legacy appeared at the far side of the alley. His eyes, while a striking shade of blue, were cold as he stared at them. Autumn’s belief he was associated with her kidnappers fled the minute he opened fire.

His using the same gun as her kidnappers was lost as what could only be described as a laser beam shot through the air. It struck the first man in the chest. He screamed in pain and dropped. Autumn cried out as her keeper thrust her toward the wall. She sank to the ground, trembling all over. The scent of rotting food nearly made her pass out. She pressed her hand to her nose to reduce its effects. Fear, however, kept her transfixed on the scene unfolding before her eyes.

The other two advanced. The man in black fired again, hitting one of the two in the neck. Blood spurt forth to coat the wall. Outraged, the remaining man raced toward him. The knife was a flash of silver as he threw it.

Autumn watched, speechless, as the stranger holstered his weapon before extending his hand. The knife collided with an invisible force. It spun away into the distance. The stranger finished his enemy off by shooting him in the head. When he looked down at Autumn, the gleam in his eyes freed her from her paralysis. She screamed and scrambled toward the street.

The man in black caught her by the arm and dragged her back. She struggled against him as he spun her around. His hand was like a lead weight across her mouth.

“Don’t scream again,” he said. His voice was as cold as his eyes.

Autumn found herself nodding, and he removed his hand. The instant he did, she attempted to swat him with her purse. He gestured. The purse was torn from her hands so fast the strap snapped. It landed between a pair of overflowing garbage cans.  

Heart pounding, she stared up at his face, all sharp angles and lined with faint scars. In her terror, she swore she saw another face pass across his.

Her voice shook as she did. “Who are you?”

 

Back to basics

Sixteen days into April’s Camp, and I have handwritten 50 pages. Quite the accomplishment, if I say so myself. I’m not bothering with a daily word count. In fact, I’m not really considering myself an active participant in Camp. I don’t do word sprints, word wars, or the writing challenges. To be perfectly honest, I think they’re pointless. I see the challenges suggesting the writer insert something completely random and I can’t help but wonder, How the hell does doing that improve on the narrative? If anything, won’t it just make things more complicated during the revision process? I look on these exercises with a critical eye because that’s not how I do things. Others, however, do, and that’s okay.

I’m simply writing. Like I’ve always done since I first thought to put pen to paper. I can’t remember the last time I worked on something that felt so natural. No strings attached, no preset goals other than that of finishing a draft, and no distractions. NaNo has sadly become a distraction. I was more focused on matching the word count than on writing. It became a competition with myself and other writers. Writing should never be a competition. And that is why I’m no longer going to participate.

Part of me feels a sense of betrayal since I do love the atmosphere NaNo creates for writers. I appreciate the community feel it fosters. Writing itself is a solitary craft, and people are social creatures by nature. Just knowing so many others are sitting at their computers (or at a desk with a notebook) plugging away at a first draft was enough for others to push forward. It was never about finishing, but starting something you may not have if left to your own devices. Some writers need this. I’m not one of them. I don’t think I ever was. I wrote my epic fantasy back in the early 2000s with nothing driving me onward but pure love of what I was doing. I want to recapture that feeling. The result is a draft I’m truly enjoying. The pacing is what it should be. I’m taking my time with introducing my characters and their world. I’m getting to know them. It’s like I rediscovered the joy of writing.

I understand this approach isn’t for everyone. I’m not knocking those who embrace the community feel to better help themselves. I think it’s like how some writers are pantsers, others are plotters, some outline while others don’t, some use Word, some use Scrivener, etc. etc. In the end, it’s all about the story. Because ultimately that’s what readers will care about.

 

 

Updates for Camp NaNo

Sometime last week, I determined that I wanted to try handwriting my draft. The prospect of finding a new notebook and pens got me super excited to begin, so I thought why not run with it? I’ve written eight pages so far. It’s my goal to add many more as the month progresses. It’s my desperate hope that I can translate what I wrote when the time comes to transfer it to a Word doc. I have a habit of writing really fast when I get into a scene. I’ve lost count of how often I end up confusing myself when I go back to re-read the previous page.

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My Andrew Luck Pop makes a return engagement as my writing mascot.

Why handwrite when I have a perfectly good iPad? Simple. I was looking to shake things up a bit as far as the process goes. I don’t want to suffer another ‘failure’ for this Camp outing. I also like what I’ve written tons better. This is key. The relaxed atmosphere of Camp prevents me from filling pages with words just to say I’ve produced something. Now I am being more conscious of what I want to say. It just reinforces my decision to skip November’s NaNo this year. It pains me to do it since I love participating. But after two years of producing effectively useless drafts and spending the winter recovering from writer burnout, I think it’s the best course of action. My other stories were written at my own pace. Time to go back to it.

Hope my fellow Campers are enjoying success!

Getting ready for Camp

Despite a low success rate with my previous Camp experiences, I decided to give it another shot. It pleases me to announce I have begun work 0n the outline for this year’s project. It’s the hard rewrite of my untitled NaNo 2015. I’m not quite done with Cassie and Drew yet. I also think entering football’s off-season will help sharpen my focus. Drew’s face and body model is pretty damn distracting.

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The Chiefs and Patriots fan in me writhes with such shame, but I also don’t care.

I also crafted an updated synopsis. Have a gander!

Earth, 2202. Ten years ago, the New Frontier Corporation’s attempt to sustain the world’s first colony die when Bright Hope is ravaged by a solar flare. Its survivors, mostly young children and adolescents, are left to fend for themselves when the company abandons the colony. Enter the League, the newly-formed intergalactic arm of the North American Football Association. The League takes over the remains to promote lucrative football games using the survivors as players. But it is not without cost, for soon Bright Hope becomes nothing more than a subsidiary of the League.

Cassiopeia Tennant, like the other survivors, is considered a ‘burnt colony kid’, her social status that of a second-class citizen, her prospects no higher than just above poverty. With everyone she ever knew dead and left with less than nothing, Cassie works to find a way off the colony.

Like Cassie, Drew Thomas lost all he knew in the flare. In the years since, he has experienced nothing but success, popularity, and pride as the quarterback of the immensely popular Central Sector Spartans. Yet when he comes across vital information that reveals the League plans to replace all players with more durable clones, he runs.

A chance encounter with Cassie prevents the League from taking action against Drew, but his appearance draws her into a world she has no knowledge of or great admiration for. Along with the help of a reluctant geneticist formerly of the League’s clone project, Drew and Cassie take a stand against the very company that saved them.

It’s my hope that the draft that results from April’s Camp proves more substantial than what was born from November’s frenzy. I’m also debating on not participating this year. I noticed that the pacing from my previous two drafts was set to ludicrous speed. How can I expect readers to develop connections to characters if there’s no time to get to know them outside of their roles in the plot? The reverse is just as bad. Too slow a start can result in bored readers. The best example I can come up with is LOST VOICES by Sarah Porter. I was fascinated by the premise- a lonely and forgotten girl who becomes a mermaid- but the pacing killed it for me. I read up to chapter four before putting it aside. All events these chapters focused on seemed to have little to do with the plot other than worsening the MC’s already shitty situation. It was overkill. Not even the passages describing the girl’s transformation into a mermaid was enough to hold my interest. And they were among the best.

However, Peter Liney’s THE DETAINEE- a sci-fi featuring an older male character exiled to an island with other 60+ people for the crime of being old- kept me engaged despite a similarly slow start. The reader is fully aware of the MC’s shitty situation, one that’s complicated by groups of crazed, drugged-up teenagers slaughtering the people he lives with. An offhand observation about the MC feeling he was being watched turned out to be a direct link to events to come. I think the difference here is I established a connection to the lead in THE DETAINEE, while the girl in LOST VOICES didn’t jump out at me at all. Every reader’s experience is different. I’m sure there are those out there who sympathized more with the girl and sympathized less with the older man.

Bottom line: pacing is something I think depends more on the story rather than the writer. But it must be balanced. That is my personal challenge to myself. For those of you participating in Camp or just writing, I wish you good luck in whatever challenges you set for yourself. They will make us all better writers.

New Year means new books

Happy belated New Year’s to everyone! I hope your holidays went well. We skipped the alcohol and gatherings in favor of a quiet night in. I am pleased to announce that I was awake after midnight. The past few years found me sleeping early. Getting old is such a killjoy sometimes.

Though I had wanted to finish my NaNo draft despite its glaring flaws, I’ve set it aside to let it ferment. I’m not here to ramble about my writing. This entry is dedicated to what got me into writing in the first place: books.

twilight books

I resumed reading two books, THE DETAINEE by Peter Liney and THE GHOST BRIDE by Yangsze Choo. I also picked up two others that serve the dual purpose of personal interest and research: IS THERE LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL?: SURVIVING THE NFL by James A. Holstein and THE GLADIATOR: THE SECRET HISTORY OF ROME’S WARRIOR SLAVES by Alan Baker. There’s yet another title I grabbed purely for interest’s sake: THE WITCH OF LIME STREET: SEANCE, SEDUCTION, AND HOUDINI in the SPIRIT WORLD by David Jaher. Not a bad start to 2016 considering I didn’t read nearly enough books in 2015.

I’m ashamed of myself for not reading more. I violated the cardinal rule of writers everywhere. Part of the problem is finding something worth my time. I’m such a hard sell lately. I’m finding little to interest me even in my favorite genres. A lot of fantasy seems like they’re trying to cash in on Game of Thrones. Fantasy series in general seem to suffer the longer they go on. I direct you to Terry Goodkind’s SWORD OF TRUTH books. Even Melanie Rawn’s DRAGON PRINCE/DRAGON STAR books, of which I have a deep love, did not escape this fate. As for GoT, I read the first book. Outside of my attachment to Jon Snow, nothing really stands out about it. I’m not invested enough in all the POLITICAL INTRIGUE to pick up the rest of the series. Jon’s fate will remain a mystery to me.

The science fiction titles I’ve sampled are hit or miss. Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN was one of those unexpected surprises. Mindi Arnett’s AVALON has held my interest, as has the indie title TALES OF A DYING STAR BOOK ONE: SIEGE OF PRAETAR by David Kristoph. I think you’re more likely to find gems on the indie market than what’s being offered on the shelves anyway. I’ve avoided the YA fantasy and sci fi titles for the most part.

Speaking of YA, there is one I am eagerly anticipating: JERKBAIT by Mia Siegert. Not only is Mia a good friend of mine (and she’s been a HUGE help with my writing), but this is her debut novel. Check out the page on Goodreads: Jerkbait Her Facebook page has more info on the book, such as release date and how to pre-order: Mia Siegert Author Page I have a feeling this will be BIG for her. Please support her, fellow writers! She’s living the dream we all aspire to. 🙂

Speaking of Goodreads, you can find me there as well: my profile Feel free to add me as a friend. I don’t bite. 🙂

Well, that’s it from me. Happy writing/reading, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

NaNo Day 28: Overtime

I know I won on the 26th, but things are going so well with the story I’ve decided to keep going. I’m still updating my word count (55,673 right now) and things are happening. Lots of things. Cassie and Drew are on the cusp of facing their greatest challenge. The Big Bad has sent what they perceive to be a clear message. The third character has been pulled into the fray against her better judgment. How everyone responds will make or break everything. As the one in charge of their fate, I can promise only pain. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

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It’s been a great NaNo for me. As I’ve said before, I can’t recall a previous idea that has filled me with such inspiration and glee and hope and yay. It’s many months, possibly years, from being anywhere near the story I know it can be. But it’s great to be excited about something new again rather than waste my time on an old story I should have let die years ago.

If you’ve reached the illustrious 50K, kudos to you! If not, keep plugging away! Let the words flooooooooow

NaNo Day 26:VICTORIA

Friends, fellow writers. I have reached the promised land. I am at 50,378 words. Please allow my teams and my favorite Colts player to celebrate for me.

I am far from done with this as-of-yet titled sci fi dystopia of mine. My female lead, Cassie, has been rattled a bit by recent events but she has risen to the occasion. Drew is impressed as hell by her game face. If I gave them the chance, they’d be celebrating this with lots and lots and lots of sexins. There’s no time for this (not yet anyway). They have a Big Bad League to take down. Will it be easy? Of course not. Lots still more to come for them. I intend to keep the this thing going.

Happy writing, everyone! May your words be epic!

NaNo Day 21: Course Correction

It pleases me to announce that I am back on track with my NaNo. I am over 43K words right now. A new, vital-to-the-plot character has been introduced, my MCs are starting to venture into choppy waters, and the stakes have been raised even higher. Oh, and they’re starting to show their feelings for each other in more ways. Conflict, oh my! I already foresee this story’s conclusion will take me past 50K. Maybe by then I’ll have a title.

I also have to say that this is truly the first original idea I’ve had like, ever. EVER. And I’ve written/conceived/rejected stories by the dozens. Just goes to show that the writer, like the craft, is an ever-evolving machine. Gotta pan through the rocks and dirt before you come upon a gem. No coincidence then that I came upon this gem while taking a bath.

Is it a bit premature to consider this untitled science fiction dystopia of mine as THE story? The one that will help me knock on doors? Maybe, but I have high hopes for it. It’s the first one I feel has real market potential. The intended audience is broad.

May you find yourselves feeling as successful, fellow WriMos!

Well that was unexpected

Despite feeling a bit tipsy from the mead we had at last night’s Samhain dinner, I woke up bright and early today to begin my project. I look forward to NaNo all year. I was genuinely excited about the revised and re-imagined sci fi. So naturally, I expected the words to come when I opened that shiny, new blank page. The beginning came slowly, but most of them do. It’s not unusual for me to stumble out of the gate at the onset. The words would start to flow once I found my voice.

Well, color me surprised when I got to page two and everything came to a screeching halt. I wrote just under 1K words, but none of them felt right. The narrative was limp. My character’s actions and dialog were as wooden as any of the ‘performances’ in the Star Wars prequels. Then came the horrifying thought: I am not feeling this idea at all.

I admit, I panicked a bit. I had put in SO MUCH effort into the backstory. I had the foundation set up. But once I was able to enter my mental playground, none of the toys there appealed to me.

I’ve written enough stories to know when one just won’t work. And rather than waste my time and energy on a project I wasn’t going to enjoy, I did something I haven’t done since I started NaNo back in 2009.

I started over with an entirely new and unscripted idea.

Here it is: A multi billion dollar organization takes over the remains of Earth’s first colony, which was ravaged by a solar flare, to promote lucrative, gladitorial-like games using the survivors as players. They are bought and sold to rival owners, their basic rights and needs ignored, their freedom forfeit. When one player threatens to undermine the whole thing, his sympathetic owner arranges for him to become the property of an unsuspecting arena employee at his death. The player and the arena employee unite to show Earth what’s really going on while fighting to stay alive. There is romance in the forecast.

Aside from drawing inspiration from Roman gladiators and players in modern professional sports, the idea is lso linked to my own love of football. I’m passionate about it. And passion is key to any written project, so why not utilize it here? However, I wrote my 2011 project based off my fangirlish delight over Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki. Unfortunately, I crashed and burned at the 25K mark. I have plenty of reason to be wary of this idea suffering the same fate. I’m still going to err on the side of passion. NaNo isn’t about ‘finishing’ a story. It’s about starting a draft that has the potential to become something more. Right now, I want to tell this story. We shall see how it goes.

Hope everyone else had a productive first day!