So long as the ideas keep flowing, I’ll keep writing. That’s my mantra for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been to two Write-ins so far, and while the first wasn’t so productive (it seems our venue has a weekly Jazz Band playing on Wednesday nights) the Saturday one saw me write a massive 1,200 words in the space of two hours.
I’m currently in no shortage of ideas, I have a clear plan for where the novel is going, even if it’s not crystalised completely. The setup is almost done (13,000 words and I’ve not even gotten to the ‘incident’ that shapes the story) and I’ve got a chapter-by-chapter plan for the first 2/3rds of the book (atleast, the main themes for each chapter, what they introduce and what questions are raised)
I’ve faced a few challenges so far. One of which is avoiding boring Info-Dump monologues that litter the sci-fi genre. I’ve gotten to chapter 6 without one, trying to explain the world through a mixture of imagery and exposition rather than reading like a textbook. Although it’s been a narrow escape with chapter 5, which nearly turned into one long conversation with no development of character. I decided to split it into two, with a short pace-changing chapter between them.
Another challenge facing me is the fact that I’ve not done any real creative writing since School. It’s been a good 7 years ago atleast since I wrote anything, and even then it’s always been one of those short “well done, Gold Star” style affairs.
If you’ll indulge me, I’ll regail you all now with a little history of me and books.
At school, I was nearly put off reading entirely by a rather… lecherous… English teacher in my final year. One who would rather oggle the maturing young woman in my class than help a student in need. Incidently, he was the only Male English teacher I had so maybe he wasn’t unique.
Luckilly, but not immediately obvious, Dr Asimov came to my rescue. During that year we had to choose a book to do our final essay on. I chose Foundation. I was never really enamoured with it, and didn’t really read it. I realise now, with full 20-20 hindsight, that I’d rather read a book and enjoy it, than be forced to read a book and analyse it.
It was only two years later, when I was at University that I spotted the sequel, Foundation and Empire in Ottakars (Sadly now owned by Waterstones) and rediscovered a love of Science Fiction. I bought each of the sequels, and the a few Robot novels (including The Complete Robot). It was a good time to buy as my Student card got me a whopping 90p off each book. Enough for a round at the Student Union.
By mid 2004 I had a sizeable collection of Asimov books, but somewhere along the line I had lost my original Foundation novel. I returned to Ottakars to see if they had it (This was at the same time as the 2004 ‘film’ was doing the rounds) and lo and behold they did. I took it to the cash desk and the guy behind the counter looked at me and said “Were you looking for I, Robot? I’m afraid we’re sold out,”
I was quite taken aback, I looked him in the eye and said, “No, this is the one I was looking for,” he returned a knowing smile. We exchanged vitriol over the film adaptation while he rung up the book. Incidently, I don’t think I bought another book from that store before it closed.
I found Prelude to Foundation in Waterstones, and in it was a whole list of books in the Foundation/Robots series, including three books in the middle (the Empire novels) that were currently out of print. Once I had finished the book, I sought out to find these missing novels on the internet.
I managed to get old, battered and well read copies of Pebble in the Sky, The Currents of Space, and The Stars, Like Dust on Amazon.
Eventually I had a library full of Asimov. I realised that I wanted to read more, but couldn’t, because I had everything Asimov that was worth reading.
I eventually purchased a number of classics, Farenheight 451 by Ray Bradbury, Do androids dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick and a compliation of all of Arthur C. Clarkes Short Stories. On the back of that one I began reading Clarkes joint efforts with Stephen Baxter, of which Times Eye is undoubtably the best. (I put it down to Clarke having more influence over the direction the novel took, before his health deteriorated, while the others were more Baxter)
Somewhere in the middle of all this I read the Hitchickers Guide to the Galaxy’s Trilogy of Four. (I know it’s more now)
One thing I’ve noticed is that all of these have influenced my writing style. From Clarke’s grounded-in-reality near-futurism to Asimov’s plotlines of intrigue and lies (Caves of steel and the likes were just Detective novels set in the future) to DNA’s near insanity. Sometimes it’s a struggle to keep the story going in one direction without veering off wildly like H2G2, sometimes I start explaining things in depth too much like Clarke (despite me having but a light grasp of astronomy and engineering) and then trying to reign it back for fear of boring the reader with technobabble.
Hell, I’ve written 900 words on this blog post… *beats self up* Get back to writing!