The last two weeks or so have been full of life concerns and chores so I haven’t had much time to work on fiction. No, that’s not correct. I didn’t have much time to sit at my computer and put words on screen, but I was actually working a lot on the Aanora story. That is, thinking about various scenes, asking my imagination lots of questions, and getting a handle on plot points. I’m starting to get a sense of its length, too, and it could end up novella length. Which is fine. I’ve not written a novella before. Always a first time.
What niggled and nagged at me the last two weeks was the beginning. How to start? I have fairly stable scenes down that are in the middle and at the end. I know now that the story doesn’t begin with Aanora, but with a set of characters at a diplomatic conference. It took me two weeks to get that far. Yesterday, I decided to devote the afternoon to the beginning with the hope that I’d be able to get something down on screen. I scrapped what I originally wrote and the first revision and started over. Then I closed my eyes to put myself in the meeting chamber where delegations from 25 planets were enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres at a reception.
Who are the sentient beings attending this conference? Do I need to name and describe each one? Ugh. I don’t think that’s needed. But I do need to name and describe the two parties who collide into a dispute. And then the human delegation that gets pulled into the dispute, challenged to find Aanora. They’ve never heard of Aanora, but understand from what the disputing parties tell them that she is the only mediator they will both accept. I realized that the leader of the human delegation (the main character) feels deeply insecure about his diplomatic skills and would like to find a mentor who can help him. And then there is this other niggling in my mind: one of the disputing parties is not known for accepting mediation. They are known for taking what they want and leaving. So right away, I have the feeling that something is not right.
Tension. A great thing to have at the beginning of a story. That sense of not knowing what’s going to happen, wondering what’s going on, what’s going to happen next. I was quite heartened with what I ended up with yesterday. I feel much more secure with this beginning than the others I’d written. It may be rewritten or edited in the future, but I now have my starting point for the story.
Another result of my thinking: getting to know the main character better. He’s a physical person, someone who prefers to act rather than think. He operates a lot on instinct, but isn’t good at reading people. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares in this story, if he’s truly open to learning, and if he can figure out what’s going on. I already know when and how he meets Aanora. I hope I’ll have more time next weekend for work on the story at the computer!