It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible

Going with the flow

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So that’s the first week of Nanowrimo over. Seven days of trying to write 1,667 words – at least – a day. Of a novel about which I had nothing but the title and a vague idea on which to base it. By the end of Day 7, I had managed 11,666 words, which is pretty much on target.

But are they 11,666 good words? Well, no; not really. So far, Into the Dark, as it’s titled, is not very coherent. It’s not quite automatic writing, but it’s not far from it. But then it’s not as if I decided to do Nanowrimo expecting there to be a complete polished novel at the end. I’m doing it more to discipline myself into writing on a daily basis more than anything else. Though I do hope there will be something salvageable come the end of November.

The idea for the novel was simple. It would recount the first stage in humanity’s first mission to another star. Initially, this was going to be the preparations for the launch of the rocket which would take the crew of six up to their spacecraft waiting in orbit. The style would be very literary, but also hard sf.

Then I decided to move it back a bit. To before the launch. Instead, the crew would be coming to the end of a simulated mission in a copy of the spacecraft on the ocean bed. A bit like NASA’s NEEMO, but much deeper. The protagonist is a project director sent down to tell the crew that for reasons of politics they need to get them up into orbit as quickly, and covertly, as possible. But what this project director finds in the underwater habitat is not at all what he expected…

It’s nothing Deep Star Six or anything like that. No monsters, or psychopaths. Instead, all of the crew have converted to Fedorovism. And the project director, Beeney (yes, I named him after my cat), is convinced this is not good for the years-long mission. He finds it troubling and possibly dangerous.

At which point, Into the Dark has sort of gone all Heart of Darkness on me. Which may be a good thing.

Some things about the novel have proven happy accidents. I only have a cast of seven, and the story is told from only one point of view. It’s set entirely in the underwater habitat, which is small and limited. The plot has allowed me to throw in research I did for other stories – yes, the descent of the Trieste (see here) is in there; also stuff about the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programmes. Nothing about Spitfires yet (see here), but give me time…

But mostly I’ve been completely winging it, and I suspect the chapters written so far are riddled with repetitions, inconsistencies, complete nonsense, and wild improbable swings in story-logic. But perhaps there are also one or two gems buried in the midden heap.

As for what I plan to do with manuscript once it’s finished… well, that remains to be seen. For now, it’s teetering on the edge of rescue.

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