It’s been several months of planning, thinking, dreaming, taking notes, etc., but I recently finished my outline for my first novel, “Entanglement.” Entanglement is a Sci-Fi novel set in the near future about a man whose wife and daughter are taken from him in a government conspiracy. He must leave the world he knows to battle an organization he’s devoted his life too in an attempt to save them.
The 36-chapter story follows a model that doesn’t deviate too far from the Hero’s Journey, and fits in well with the Dramatica Theory of Story. And I doubt it will ever be written.
As I finished the plot of the book, I spent a couple weeks walking through it step by step, looking for holes, noting what excited me about the story, and also noting potential weaknesses. And following all of this, I’ve come to the conclusion that the story, as currently written, just doesn’t work. I’ve tried too hard to make an action novel fit in with a scientific premise and mold itself to a standard structure, and in so doing, have lost the uniqueness, the sense of wonder, and the character development that would keep me excited to write it.
Of course, I could go back and refine it, and refine it more, and continue to force it into a working structural mold, but I really don’t think that’s the right answer. It’s not a story that goes where I want it to, and although I’m proud of the work I’ve done developing it, the character arcs I’ve walked through, and the detailed research and world-building I’ve done, the bottom line is it just doesn’t feel right.
So, I think it’s time to chalk up this first attempt as a great learning experience and exercise in the steps to building a story, and move forward with some other ideas that I feel will make for a better overall tale. They may not break as much new ground as Entanglement may have, but for a beginning writer, the web of Entanglement, as it currently stands, is beyond my purview.
I’ve been mulling over an idea for an urban fantasy novel based on a key tenet of our laws of physics, partially inspired by both Jennifer Ouellette’s “Physics of the Buffyverse” and Patrick Rothfuss’s “Name of the Wind.” Not only do I feel this will be a better starting point for a rookie, I also think it will be considerably more fun to write, as I’m less concerned with the subtleties of political manipulation and intrigue, and sliding back into the adventure, action, and swagger of the type of stories I tend to enjoy.
I’ve heard it said a writer needs to write one million words of dross before reaching the gold… to date, my only real fiction story is the one my 2-year-old helped me write about Cornelius the Dinosaur. But that’s OK, I have enough serious challenges in my life that I don’t need to push and force — my real goal is to have fun with this project as a diversionary sidelight, and I need to keep that in sight, especially as the hours I’d hoped were available to devote to this project over the summer months have rapidly evaporated. We’re one week into August and already I feel behind on my professional work I’d hoped to complete this summer due to a number of unexpected challenges, family illnesses, etc. — and the paying job and my family have to take precedence.
So, I’m going to continue to work on a novel, but at this point I think it’s wise to start over with my new concept, one I have more energy around, one I feel has a better chance of success, and one that I feel can be handled better as a sidelight/hobby as opposed to an extremely involved, highly entangled knot of interwoven plots and characters.