It’s been almost four months since I released my last novel, and I’m starting to feel the self-pressure of my next release. Probably to the dismay of most readers, it isn’t book four of the Invasion series. That one is next on the list, after I quietly release my current project onto Amazon.
I’m crawling my way through the third draft of a book tentatively titled The Company. It’s based on a short story I wrote some time ago called Murder Inc. It was available on Amazon for a while, and the feedback was pretty good, so I decided to carry on with it.
I first had the idea in 1999 when I posed the question: what if everything we thought about death in the world was wrong? It’s about a global organization infiltrating every facet of our lives. The novel is set in New York City, about thirty years from now, and exposes us to new technologies within a world a little further on than our current one. It’s a dash of science fiction, but ultimately the story is a good versus evil kind of thriller. It puts the reader on both sides of the ledger and might even have them ponder the ultimate question of riches or morals.
Back in ’99, I managed fifteen or twenty pages, and then put the story aside—not the first or last time I would do such a thing. I’ve jotted down pages and pages of notes about the premise and characters over the years, but never made the commitment to complete it. The story never left my mind though.
It’s falling into shape, with most of the structure set, the characters in place, and their motivations gaining believability. Things will change though, as they always do. None of my stories have ever finished in the same way as they started. With each corresponding draft I make more changes—fix plot holes, add characterization, improve dialogue. Sometimes I even get a better idea for a plot twist. I carry a Dictaphone with me when I drive to work so I can record ideas. Otherwise they pass through my mind like travellers, never to be heard from again.
Right now, I’m following each character’s storyline from beginning to end so I can align their thoughts, motivations and actions. I’m living in the detail of each scene, building the location, tacking more bits and pieces onto each character. This creates a lot of changes though—back and forth, cutting and pasting. It’s tedious stuff (and I’m allergic to that), but it improves the story immensely.
This is the way I work, starting with a bare bones draft and fleshing out the scenes and characters with every pass. I’ve tried other ways and I get lost; I’m terrible at thinking beyond one bit of information at a time (yes, I hear the ladies say, you’re a male!).
I can’t wait to see what readers think. It’s a bit different from post-apocalyptic zombies, but underlying the same things will exist: strong characters fighting to survive in a turbulent world against a terrifying enemy.