Friday, February 21, 2014

Science fiction to contemporary, first novel to second

Much of my writing time has been spent on my new work in progress--WINTER ON BRIMSTONE HILL. This novel is in part inspired by a suggestion from some of the people I met at the Colgate Writers' Conference last June. (Unfortunately, I will not be attending this year, although I wish I were.) I don't speak openly about my childhood, but I also don't hide it. So when I spent a week with the same people, they had a way of drawing out my past. Upon multiple occasions, they told me my past should be my next novel--that's the story they wanted told. After spending hours on LitD and deeming it complete--at least until an agent loves it--I delved into WoBH.

I'm finding that writing contemporary is much more difficult than writing science fiction. For LitD, it wasn't a real world, so I didn't have to double- and triple-check facts before I committed them to paper. Yes, some of the science I wrote about there is real; but much of it isn't, and that's okay because it's fiction. Now, I find myself constantly checking facts. When, exactly, does this high school music group hold auditions? Is the color of the sign at such-and-such a place really yellow? I'm sure many people wouldn't blame some small inaccuracies, but if I change a school's mascot, per se, there might be issues. But I'm finding it very time consuming.

Also, because it's my second novel, I'm also being much more careful in this first draft. Some sentence structure techniques/rules I learned when writing LitD are now ingrained in me, but others are not. I find that I spend more time making sure that the words I use are the ones I want, even though I know this will ultimately be edited and changed a million times over from the version I write now.

Lastly, because I'm basing this novel in part on how I grew up, it's a mix of fictional scenes and real scenes that have since been fictionalized. Finding a balance here is difficult. Very difficult, indeed.