Monday, March 5, 2012

Chapter 1: Take 1

So Sunday I finally got some time to sit and write.  Mrs. Osterman was off to the Dog Show with some friends from her old job, Xander was up north with his grand parents, Kaylee was ~finally~ asleep, and my lesson plans for the next few weeks were more or less ready to go.  It was time to start pounding away on the next great epic space adventure, a coming-of-age story following a young Ensign in Her Majesty's Royal Space Navy rise to Captain of an 8th rate ship of the line.  Or some rate ship of the line.  Maybe.  I haven't quite decided how big that ship is yet, relatively speaking.

But I got to pound on the keyboard, introduce you, dear reader, to Ensign Ippa Kiatta, her fren-emy Lt. Cordean Morthi, work on a sketch of the Hartishian race (a bit like elves with overly large almond eyes, and extremely long pointed ears) and do a proof of concept with hyper-linking key terms to the Codex of information in the back of the book.

You see, one of my grand designs for this project is to have the novel itself, and then have an additional extended encyclopedia of the world available with the eBook edition which will be hyper linked to relevant sections.  That way if you want to know more about the gunnery controls, or about a character, there is addtional information just a click away.  And then with your back button you can get back to the story itself.  Or depending on your eReader, back to where you left your mark.

Here's what I found as my day of writing went on:

First, that it will indeed work to link the various references into the text.  The downside is that I fear that most of my first chapters will be heavily steeped in hyper links where as later in the book, I won't nearly as often.  As Mrs. Osterman read through the first chapter for me, there were quite a few questions about what I had thought were fairly common Sci Fi conventions.  Now these she dismissed as "oh don't worry I don't read much Sci Fi so that's probably fine".  On the contrary, I want this book to be approachable even to someone new to the genre so my intent is to include an explanation for anything and everything that may need it.

There is of course the logical question of "why not just put it in the prose?"  Have one character just explain it to another, right?  That will certainly work some of the time and as the paperback edition will not have this codex, I will need to be sure that the most important concepts are fully explained in the text itself.  For example, even in the first chapter I describe what a Hartishian looks like.  I want any reader to be able to visualize one without having to turn to the glossary in the back.  But what they will find there is a complete biological work up of the race.

Secondly I learned that when you begin a novel in the heat of the moment, it is incredibly difficult to establish action, establish character, describe the scene, and provide action all with balance.  This first draft was critiqued as being "choppy" and I confess I completely agree.  But rather than being defeated I am invigorated. Sure the entire first chapter must be started anew to have a prayer of surviving to the final draft.

I did not fail to write a solid first chapter.  I have succeeded in finding a way not to write it.

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