It’s finally happening. After a week of hard work, as of tonight Dawn of the Pioneers has passed the 10,000 word mark. After months of frustration and idling, I’m back where I belong: writing exhaustively, interspersed with fits of research into all manners of fascinating subjects. Almost a year after finishing my first draft of The Pioneers, Randall Holmes and his companions are at it again, blazing new paths as I am.
It feels good to be back doing what I love to do, but there’s still a lot to be done. August has entered its home stretch, and I still have plenty to do before Pitch Wars begins in September. That said, here’s what I’ll be doing this week:
Dawn of the Pioneers
Now that I’ve really hit my stride in this new work-in-progress, the time has come to re-impose my standard process. I’ve been tearing through Phase 1 of the novel, but I have some minor concerns regarding development. It’s one of the hardest things to do when writing a sequel: deciding just how much background to provide on the previous novel.
As it stands now, I feel I’m three chapters at most from the end of Phase 1. I have a few lingering issues to work out regarding plot development, but I now have a clear path to the end of this phase. Based on my current pace, I should have Phase 1 complete well before the end of the week. This should be well-timed: I plan to leave town this weekend to spend some much-needed time visiting my parents in Pennsylvania. As I usually try to take a few days off between phases of a novel, that should be perfect.
Once the break is over, my next step will be my first major revisions of the novel. That will likely be followed by a week of research, after which I will begin Phase 2. I’m looking forward to Phase 2: the section will feature new planets, new characters, and see my major characters separated yet again. This is going to be fun.
While I currently have several people reading The Pioneers, as I’ve said at this point I don’t anticipate any further serious alterations to the story. Now that the novel has been converted to manuscript format, the next step is working on the other materials necessary to seek publication. While I feel a lot better about the first draft of my query letter for The Pioneers than I did for any of my query letters for Wide Horizon, I still feel there’s plenty of room for improvement. To that end I plan to revise my query letter, and likely have a few other people take a look at it. I also need to draft a synopsis, and for that, an article from Writer’s Digest I recently came across should prove very helpful.
Wide Horizon (and Everything Else)
For any of my readers who’ve beta read Wide Horizon, take heart: I haven’t abandoned Braylen Roads and his unlikely crew. However, as I may have mentioned previously, over the past few weeks I’ve made the difficult decision to suspend querying for my debut novel, and shelve the work indefinitely.
This was not an easy decision, but a necessary one. The fact is, Wide Horizon is not only unlike anything I’ve written previously; it’s unlike anything I’m likely to write in the future. Ever. It’s ironic: one of my biggest concerns when setting out to write The Pioneer was the challenge of writing a realistic novel, set in the not-terribly-distant future, firmly-rooted in accepted science. Yet, as it turns out, it wasn’t the challenge I had expected.
Writing The Pioneers wasn’t just more fun than writing Wide Horizon; it was easier. It took the better part of two years to complete my first draft of Wide Horizon. I finished The Pioneers in six months. Turns out, based on my experience and the feedback I’ve received for The Pioneers, that writing hard science fiction is my thing.
Currently, I plan to devote the vast majority of my writing efforts for the foreseeable future on the series that begins with The Pioneers. Thus, it makes little sense to go around trying to find an agent with a novel that is in no way representative of my body of work. At best, doing so would be unprofessional. At worst it would be mildly deceitful.
But, as I’ve said, I am by no means giving up on Wide Horizon. After all, as I’ve said many times before, if you set out to write a novel without the intent to publish, you’re wasting your time. For the moment, I’m holding out hope that my eventual agent will be understanding (and indulging) enough to help me publish a somewhat fanciful, extremely lengthy space opera. Failing that, however, I do have an alternative plan…
I’ve been flirting with the idea of self-publishing for several years now. Normally the bug bites right after the first of the year, when deciding to self-publish a collection of short stories has become something of a yearly tradition of mine. Now, however, I’ve started thinking the self-publishing route may provide a way to get Wide Horizon out there.
Make no mistake: self-publishing is not a get-rich-quick proposition. It’s a lot of work, which makes sense, as you’re basically doing everything an agent and publisher would do all by yourself. It takes marketing prowess, among other things. I’m honestly not sure if I have it in me. And while I wouldn’t be too terribly disappointed if a collection of short stories fell on its face, if Wide Horizon fell flat I’d be more likely to take it personally.
Suffice to say I have a lot of reading to do before I even consider such a course of action. And if anyone reading this post happens to be a self-published author, your input would be greatly appreciated.
I have another grueling week ahead of me, dreamers. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is me in my element, and I’m happy here. So keep reading, and dare to dream. – MK