The Spinoff Novel: part two

I’m making some slow progress on the new novel. The first thing I did was to start organising the chapters I already have, and to work out where the gaps are and rearrange everything. To help me do this I’ve started using Powerpoint, with each slide representing a chapter, with notes about the chapter, which I can move about depending on where I think it should go within the novel. Sort of like having sticky notes on a board, or a white board chart. This phase is all about the plotting.

I’ve got some major decisions to make about the story that I haven’t quite figured out yet. The story hinges on an episode where my three main characters, Charlie, Ron and Gary, commit an act of treason by using the timegates to thwart the US govt’s plans to keep them for themselves. The story then follows them back into the past, where they hide out from the repercussions of their actions and each have important adventures. I can’t quite get the details of that hinge part right yet. I’m thinking of being very minimalist with it, and maybe just hint at the govt’s nefarious plans and then cut to the adventures in the past. The reader can then fill in the details. I don’t like overly busy plotting. We’ll see.

The other thing I’m working on at the moment is more details about my character, Ron. His ancestors are Paiute Indians from the Indio County territories, and the story will eventually take us and Ron back into that history. So I need to do more research about Ron’s ancestry, and fit it into his present situation as he grows up to eventually become a member of the Tesla University Timegate team. I have some books on the subject of the Paiutes, care of the good old Gutenberg Project, so they should prove helpful. But I’ll also need some recent treatments of the People. Gotta get those details right.

I’m realising more and more that the story has a kind of Heart of Darkness thing going on. There’s also a big theme about the inherent violence in Man (and I do mean men, not women). And by violence I don’t just mean physical violence, but mental, emotional and political. I don’t know how important this will be to the overall impact of the novel, but I suspect it won’t be major. I have no great insights to share about these themes, I just think they’re interesting. They’re just pegs to hang a story on. I mean, there’s very little that’s original under the sun, isn’t there? Even James Joyce felt the need to wrap Ulysses around an old Greek myth, thereby creating a bedrock for his incredible stream of consciousness narrative. The most we can hope for as writers is to give notice of some slight originality in our material, whether it’s just a quirky character, a moment of transcendence or a quotable line of dialogue.

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