After taking a break for a few weeks to work out kinks in the plot and do some research, I've started back up on my retrofuturist alternate history. I passed the 60,000 word mark yesterday. Iv'e gone back to the beginning and fleshed some details - even for a first draft it had been looking lean. I also had to add a few characters. I was writing it like a short story, with as few characters as possible, but I realized that I had no one in some cases to fill a role or provide a plot turn. The main characters stay the same, but there are a few more supporting roles.
One thing I went and researched were some basics on Martian geology, terrain, and topography. I don't want to get bogged down in details, but I was really fudging those subjects. I found a book at my local library, "A Travelers Guide to Mars" by William K. Hartman, that is a big help.
My story takes a place on a Mars that has been settled for a decade. It's not like Andy Weir's "The Martian".
One thing that drive authors nuts - but you must do it if you're any good - is admit when you've got stuff that just doesn't stand the test of time. It's frustrating when you go back and admit a passage or scene you wrote is trash, and you have to dump it - because it feels like you're losing ground. And truly speaking, your are, as your word count drops, but really you're making progress on what will be a worthwhile narrative. I'm proud that John Clute in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes my writing style as "spare, swift, convincing".
I believe authors must play to their strengths, and mine is that - after working as a journalist for over 40 years now - I can write tight.
One result I'm seeing in this novel is that I think it moves along so seamlessly is that I can't see anywhere to make chapter breaks. That's also is an outcome of the fact it's told in the first person, as a flashback. Like "A Rocket for the Republic", which was published in Asimov's almost ten years ago, it's technically a monologue.
I may leave it with no chapter breaks and see what happens.
As a result of this format, I have a trick planned at the end (A trick ending for an Antonelli story? No!) based on the fact this is supposed to be a monologue told to an unseen observer.
But that's at the end, and I'm not there yet.
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