Monday, September 17, 2012

The Question


What's your story about? Can you boil it down to a logline or a catchphrase that would be meaningful to someone browsing in a bookstore or a library? 

In some feedback I got a couple of weeks ago, I was asked what the Story Question of The Cold Distance was. Well, I thought to myself, it's -- uh...

I was stumped for a minute. That really got me thinking. It wasn't something that had ever been at the top of my mind while writing but it's there in my notes though it's spread out over a couple of pages and not really coherent. I've said that this book is about friendship at its core, and how friendships can change those involved. It is. But what's the Question?

I've figured it out but I don't want to share it with you yet. Not because of any reason other than I don't need to in order to make the point I want to make. Bear with me.

There's another Question that comes up later on, a problem to be solved, but the overarching story has to do with how alone we all feel, embodied in the main character, and how when we open our eyes we see that we're not really alone. Nor have we ever been. We have chosen to be solitary because of the hurt we endure. What kills us makes us stronger, I suppose. So if something is going to kill the Universe and we survive that, how much stronger will everyone be?

All this from one sentence in a critique by a trusted reader. Damn.

The thing is, it's all there on the pages in the story. Everything, but now as I'm revising it I'm making it stronger and more prominent. It was buried in the Zero Draft and sort of peeking out in the First. Now it's not exactly strutting down the catwalk, but it's certainly on the stage. To boot, it's also in the first quarter of the book now and not so close to the middle. 

So I'm building a world, a Universe and societies and religions and prejudices, and peopling it with characters who reflect our world in this Science Fictional one. This is Space Opera, folks, this is the kind of SF that I like to read. Believable, relatable characters in a convincing world facing the End of Everything. 

And now I've got a deadline. It's got to be ready to go out for submission no later than October 1. That means I'm working away on this with coffee and whisky in quantity until it's done. So nine months after finishing the Zero Draft, my first really complete book will be going out into the world. I'm afraid of being rejected but if I never show it to anyone I'll never know how ugly or beautiful my baby is. I have to be like my main character and realize that it's time to let some old hurts go and the scars be damned. 

Cross your fingers for me. This is going to happen. I'll let you know how it goes.