|Having a well-planned world before you write|
is important for a science fiction writer.
One of the things that fascinates me is how I'm getting to know the characters as I write. I've heard writers say that the characters take over, and I've always thought that was just pantser nonsense, but I'm beginning to wonder.
When I sat down to do some serious writing on this first draft, I had things pretty well planned out: an outline including every major scene (in the first half of the story, anyway), and a pretty detailed "extended outline" or narrative summary. I knew where the major game changers will occur and how they will affect my major characters. I had written detailed character sketches of all the major characters and a couple of the significant minor characters. I had even thought out a good deal of the "future history" that will explain how things get to be the way they are in my version of the twenty-ninth century, when my story occurs (not that most of that will be explicitly mentioned or directly alluded to in the novel). So basically, I just needed to sit down and bang out a draft of the first half of the novel, then do the detailed plotting on the second half , and bang out the rest of the draft, then think about revising. I figured, writing a little bit each day, I could have a complete draft by the time of my birthday, near the end of May. Happy birthday to me.
Looks like I may be celebrating my birthday early this year -- mostly because I am writing 5,000 words a day, not 500 or 1,200. Why? Am I obsessed? No, I'm just really enjoying the process, partly because I'm finding out unexpected things about my characters, and new characters keep walking into the scenes.
|These Aussies haven't made it to space yet, |
but it's not for lack of trying!
J, the male lead, loves life on a spaceship because it feels like home and reminds him of his childhood (good thing, since he has hired on to a 5-year deep space mission). K, on the other hand, on the same 5-year mission, discovers too late that hurtling through the galaxy, dozens of light years from her beloved home on Earth, trapped with a bunch of strangers in a starship, gives her the moody blues and the heeby-jeebies (lucky for her she has met J, who lifts her spirits and takes her mind off the vast vacuum of space). And then, one day while K and J are having a quiet lunch in the mess hall, some jerk named Skip Amir horns in and starts hassling K, and J jumps up, ready to deck the guy and ...
Well, I can't give it all away. Besides, it may be different tomorrow. The point is, surprising stuff is happening -- surprising to me, I mean. I hope some day readers will find the story as much fun as I am having writing it.
Maybe that stuff about "the characters taking over" isn't entirely pantser nonsense.