Why I Wrote Into the Swarm
In case you missed it, last week I posted an audio clip of me reading the first chapter of my forthcoming novella. I still don't have a firm time-frame for when I want to get the novella out into the world, but I'm shooting for sometime in November. You can find that post here.
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about why I wrote this thing, and highlight some of the themes you're going to find in it. I also wanted to show off my (work-in-progress) description for the novella:
Dagger squadron is an elite order. Led by Barry O'Connell, they defend the fleeing resistance forces that have bucked against the rule of the Union and are seeking to make their own way in the expansive and newly reachable galaxy. The only problem is that the Union is not willing to let them go so easily. When they finally catch up to the ragtag group, this rogue-turned-commander leads his squadron against incredible odds. They believe they can win the battle, but at what cost?
Sweeping space dogfights, harrowing escapes, subterfuge, and sabotage all await the group of heroes that incredibly and inexplicably find themselves drawn to the same cause, and maybe something more. New friends and unlikely allies are their last resort and only hope. If they can survive, this might just be the start of something great.
If that sounds interesting to you, great! I'm excited about this one, and I'm doubly excited about actually getting something out there into the world. I've mentioned before that I'm not going crazy on this one, I'm not expecting it to explode or shake the world, but if people like it then it will be a win for me. It was self-edited, self-designed, and self-published. Everything that is good about it is on me, but so is everything that is awful about it. I'll accept that responsibility because I have to. This is my work, for good or bad.
But back to a few of the things about the story that I wanted to highlight.
1. Pyrrhic Victories
The idea for this story I think came from a flash fiction prompt to write a story about a Pyrrhic victory. A story where there is some sort of battle, some victory that is won but at a cost.
Let's just say that I took it at face value and didn't keep at all to the flash fiction word count of 1,000 words. I went up to 20,000, and even a little over that. The final word count should be something like 21,000, but I know that no one except for writers really care about word count. I used to look at page count as well, but I can't do it anymore. 200 pages means nothing to me, I have no reference point for that sort of metric.
Anyway, I had this spark of an idea about a space opera and I wanted to run with it. I figured that this would be a cool way to explore some of the things I was thinking about, so I just started writing and didn't look back. In a way, the idea of victory having a cost is good story-telling. We all like the big stories about how good wins in the end and the world goes back to this new normal, but the stories that really hit us are the ones where there is a real cost to that victory.
For example, take the movie The Last Samurai. In the end the samurai really do win that big epic battle, if only in a symbolic sense. There was a huge cost to what they were trying to do, in that almost all of them were brutally killed by the new weaponry that they emperor had acquired. But it's still a victory and that is what is really compelling in that story.
That being said, this story doesn't end with everyone dead. It's a little more upbeat than that.
2. Introduce New Characters and a New Setting
Going along with this idea that I had for a space opera, I thought this would be a good way to introduce some characters and get my mind working on a larger plot. It's sort of like a prequel to a new story or series of stories that I want to write. Space operas always were, and continue to be, one of my favorite genres of story. I like the scale and the themes brought up and something about science fiction just sparks my imagination.
In creating this band of characters I was able to explore their backstories a little bit, as well as try to flesh out who they were and how they act in certain situations. There are a lot to these characters that I didn't get into in this story as well, since I want to save some of those salient details for the real start of their story. For this one I just tried to salt in as much character and personality as I could without tipping my hand. I don't know if that was a good or bad idea, but it is what it is at this point.
3. Have a Finished Story
I have five written novels sitting on my hard drive. They are all novel length, complete stories, but are unedited and what I consider to be practice novels. One of them I am deep in the process of completely reworking, and I think it might actually be my first decent work, but the rest of them most likely won't see the light of day (except the one I serialized on my blog, that one people read).
That being said, I thought that the novella format was a way for me to get something finished, polished (to the best of my abilities), and out there for people to read without spending a ton of time editing and reworking things. If I had my way, I would still be editing this thing until it was spotless and perfect and the greatest story, but I can't do that right now. This is all a learning process. I'm getting better with every story, and hopefully you all will agree.
4. Let Go
One of the things that I've been wanting to do for a long time, but haven't, is get into a writing group. Almost everything that I read from successful authors is that they are in writing groups and how it's a great way to get your work in front of people that will give you honest opinions and push you to get better. I need to do it, there is no question, but I keep going back to the idea that it's difficult to find the right one and there is a time commitment. The truth is, I haven't tried hard enough and I need to just get out there and do it.
Still, while I have yet to take that step, I also need to start letting go of some of this work that I've been doing. With self-publishing these days it's super easy to do that. I can put this up on the internet and let people read it. Though it might not be my best work, it might not be the best story it could be, the crazy thing is that I can always upload a new version of this later. Maybe this gets my name out there a little bit, and it will give everyone that has been reading my work a way to access it.
Thanks for reading. As always, you can sign up to my email list to get these blog posts in your email when they come out, instead of navigating all the way to my website. Also, I'm planning on sending my email list a free copy of my novella when it comes out.