Tuesday, 11 September 2007

About Purple Nebulae

In the novel I’m currently editing, Destiny’s Blood, my characters and I were surprised when, following a rather stressful and deadly chase scene in an intergalactic space tunnel, their sputtering and smoking ship slammed right into a... purple nebula. Now, this was rather surprising for two reasons.

The first reason being that I didn’t think they’d get in trouble again right away. I thought maybe they’d take a break, think things through and decide on what to do next with themselves. The second reason being that, well, it was a purple nebula. I knew they were going to encounter something, but that’s not quite what I was picturing.

Yet it fit. I’d just taken my reader through several high-tension scenes, with escalating stakes slamming into each plot twist (well, that was the idea, anyways...) To give my stressed out characters some thinking time now just wouldn’t do. Adrenaline and fear had gotten them this far, so it would have to push them further. Now was not the time to slack off and break for tea.

I mean, it would have been easy to give them a break. I myself needed a break. That was pretty stressful, really. But it’s supposed to be a fast-paced adventure story, and we were heading towards a big climactic scene, so slowing down the pacing wouldn’t have been right.

Despite a nice clean outline (this was draft 2 – draft 1, at 80,000 words, was fully rewritten save for 2 scenes), I was still ready to be surprised when my instincts told me that something wasn’t right. I never used to believe in outlining and, when writing a first draft, I still like to feel my stories through and discover my characters by simply sitting down and oozing my ideas onto the screen. The stories are ok, but they’re just so much better after a second rewrite or at least edit, this time with an outline keeping track of plot, subplots, character development and pacing.

Still, even though the plan looks good, I learned you still have to be ready to break away from it when necessary. Like when a purple nebula ensnares your perturbed crew. But to each their own. In the end, as long as you get a story you’re proud to call your own, that’s what matters.

As for Destiny’s Blood, following 10 rejection letters, it’s just getting a little bit more TLC before its heads back out into the big, frightening world of publishing. And it’s without a shred of shame that I’ll send it traveling the streets of New York, and even though I know it may not be loved or adopted, I’m still proud to call it my own.

Of note:
Now, my brother informs me that celestial objects, such a nebulae, aren’t naturally endowed with colour, as they are stuck in the cold, vast darkness of space. I thought that was kind of sad. He tells me that it’s the various infra-stuff and ray-things that give them their pretty colouring. Again, kind of sad. But nonetheless, it’s a fantasy/sci-fi novel, and my nebula is more than meets the eye (no, it’s not a Transformer), so it remains purple, whether or not ray things are used to see it.

And I think that’s kind of cool