I’m having fun with it, but it’s also quite a scary ride. I know where it’s going to end up, but much of the route to get there is unmapped. This is probably the closest I ever come to free writing; normally, I have more in the way of landmarks to look out for when I’m working on a novel. I may not know the precise route, but when I hit the next major junction (to over-stretch that particular metaphor) I at least know which exit to take. This time it’s more a case of “Junction? There’s a junction? There’s a road?”
It’s working out so far, though, and I’m getting lots of those neat moments when the story turns in an unexpected direction. There was one particular example of this early on when a character appeared in the background of a scene she should never have been in. But as I wrote that scene, she was insistently sitting there, even though I tried to ignore her. In the end, I gave in and wrote her into that passage. Then, later, when I’d finished writing for the day, I suddenly realised why she was there and that chance development brought three story strands together so that they looked inevitable rather than completely unconnected.
I love it when that happens.
The novel? It’s one that’s been bubbling away for a while now, driven at least partly by a growing recognition that even though I’ve been an SF writer for twenty or more years there are certain tropes I’ve always shied away from. In all that time, for example, I’ve only occasionally written stories about aliens, and never a whole novel. So there are aliens in this novel. Lots of them. Everywhere you look, in fact. I really am making up for not having done aliens in two decades.
Right now, the novel’s building up to a big climax, and then the transition into the second half of the story (which is actually just past the halfway mark in terms of page-count, I think). I can see ahead to that transition quite clearly. And I know where they need to end up by the end of the book. All I need to do is see how my characters get from here to there.
Wish me luck!