a.k.a. letting my mind wander and seeing where it leads me.
I thought that I wasn’t getting anywhere with a story I’m in the middle of writing, the plot seemed like it was getting predictable and I couldn’t think of how to hold anyone’s attention with it. I couldn’t even hold my OWN attention on it for long! I kept going off on a tangent and starting other things, rather than get on with it.
The story in question is called “Survive,” the proposed blurb explains the premise.
“What no man has seen before.”
Ballantyne Alysom is Galactographic! Magazine’s intrepid explorer, Davis Jansen is the cameraman he takes on his most dangerous expedition so far.
When things go wrong and the survivors of the group are stranded on an unexplored planet, Davis sees the real man behind Alysom’s carefully constructed public face.
When rescue arrives, Davis is faced with a choice; does the world need to know the truth? And which one’s story will they believe?
There’s an extract HERE
I liked the story and in my mind, it made perfect sense, but then, it’s been living there for several years on and off. I’ve written bits of it and left it and come back to it as it developed. Then, when I had about 40,000 words done, I realised; there wasn’t enough reason for readers to CARE about the characters to want to read it. It needed a better hook.
If I may head off on a tangent again; the more eagle-eyed of you may well have noticed that the name Ballantyne Alysom features in a previous work of mine, Freefall.
When I was writing that tale I had an idea that he might come in useful in something else. He was only a peripheral figure in Freefall, a useful bit of background to authenticate something else, but he entered my mind and sounded so potentially interesting that I thought he might be worth a spinoff.
So I invented a whole back story for him as a Galactic explorer and now I’m doing it again. Only this time I’m writing him from a different perspective because there is never just one way of looking at things. History is written by the winners after all, and in a story like Survive, the absolute truth may never be known, only the version of it that suits those lucky enough to…, well, survive!
There I go again, this time my tangent went off on a tangent; let’s get back to where I should be.
But then I thought, can’t I use the whole tangent thing as a driver in my storytelling?
I hope that I’ve had the big breakthrough. I’d been using short interludes in the story as a means of separating the action, and I wondered if going off on a tangent for a while wouldn’t do the job of keeping people’s concentration. What I have done is teased the ending and put in a side plot to make them wait to get it. And there’s a twist that hopefully no-one sees coming. I didn’t see it coming myself until it popped into my head!
And by diverting the action away from the main story, and making them wonder how I’m going to get away with what I’ve just done; I hope that I can hold the reader in long enough to want to get back to the main plot.
This really proves that the solution presents itself if you can be patient enough to wait for it. And in doing so, I’ve opened up a whole new set of possibilities for my characters.
And heading off in a totally different direction has unlocked other things in my imagination; I got ideas, a whole lot of them; about this story and also for the bits I’m stuck on in other work as well.
So now I have made progress on several other projects, and all because I was stuck in one. And because I decided to use what I had always seen as an irritating habit in a more positive way.
And in another tangential move, the cover that I showed you borrows an image from another idea, the jungle scene was part of one of the possible covers from another of my works in progress Jungle Green.n It never made it, I decided to go with the one below.
I’ll tell you all about it, that’s another tangent, in case you hadn’t noticed.
Jungle Green is the sequel to my 2015 novel Ribbonworld, it features some of the same characters, but this time they are concerned with the trade in counterfeit drugs and all that entails.
Here is my latest provisional cover, and the blurb
“TC is the wonder drug. Manufactured in secrecy on a remote planet at the edge of the galaxy, it makes world’s inhabitable; and Balcom Industrial lots of money. Then, suddenly, the people who need to take it to stay alive start to die!
For Layla Balcom, fresh from wresting control of her father’s inheritance from those who would have destroyed it, the news is devastating. Can the drug be flawed? Or is something else going on?
In the search for answers, Layla and those close to her find a web of lies and hostility. Then she is dragged into criminal activities and it becomes far more personal. It’s time to sort the good from the bad and protect Layla’s legacy.”
There’s an extract HERE
I hope that Jungle Green will be published soon. That, of course, assumes that I can get it finished without going off somewhere else.
What helps you stay on track? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment.