I have written several science fiction novels over the last seventeen years. I couldn’t tell you where the ideas for all but one or two came from. Each one started with a flash of an idea, but that flash was lost in the hours of writing and revising. I’ve been working on a new one for the last four weeks, and since it’s still fresh in my mind, I thought I would share.
Thursday afternoon, November 10. About 4:15 in the afternoon I’m walking back to my desk when an idea comes to mind. What if there was a guy who told every girl who dumped him that somewhere, in an alternate universe, the two of them live happily ever after? What if after saying this to a girl, that same girl from an alternate universe comes looking for him?
When I leave work that afternoon I then ask another question: What if she doesn’t come looking for the guy because she loves him? What if she wants to kill him?
A few hours later I drive my kids, ages 7 and 9, to the library. I pitch the idea to them, and they start pitching ideas back? (We’ve been doing this since they were babies, when I used to make up stories for them at bed time.) They named three of my main characters. I keep two of the names: Shanna and Angie.
About 11 PM I doze off in front of the keyboard. I wake up at 1 AM – and I outline the entire story. In short order I have four main characters and synopses for 29 chapters.
I write a few chapters over the weekend, a couple thousand words. I base my main characters on people I’ve known in the past, a technique that always makes developing characters easier. Suddenly, out of nowhere, one of my favorite classic movie stars enters the story. She becomes a key character. She also becomes part of a parody of modern sci-fi writers who lace their stories with 80s references.
I’m having a ton of fun.
Work slows me down the following week. Meanwhile, my son is still pondering this alternate universe idea. He makes me a short list of ideas for alternate worlds. Then, right before Thanksgiving, he does this:
Seven years old, folks. The boy has quite the imagination!
It’s slow going after Thanksgiving, but the story progresses a little at a time. I find myself doubling back, fixing holes here and there, adding more back story. A really funny subplot (too complicated to explain here) develops. The further I go, the more momentum I get. I get back to a chapter a night progress.
On Tuesday night, December 6, after brainstorming through a number of terrible ideas, I hit on a title I like. It’s different than any I’ve used before, and it’s memorable: DIE MAX DIE.
Tomorrow marks the 4 week point. I’m about 2/3rds of the way done. The story has taken some crazy turns, but it’s pouring out of the imagination now. It’s a little frustrating because I’m neglecting other more profitable writing projects to try and finish this one. I keep going because (1) I’m having fun and (2) my kids are really excited about it.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a kids story. But it’s also not laced with stuff I don’t want my kids reading. It may be PG, but it’ll engage any age reader who likes a little fun – and funny – in their sci-fi.
It’ll also be a quick read. 30K words, if I’m lucky. I could expand on that, I guess, but why? I don’t want to bog it down with fluff. And those 1000 page Game of Thrones epics just aren’t my style.
Like most of my books, it’ll be open for a sequel. Not that it’ll happen. The story will have to be there and be at least as much fun. First things first: I’m shooting for a Fall 2017 release, and I hope all of you will love it.