Or a decision point? Or just a “wander around aimlessly, as per usual” point?
‘Cause, see, I’m starting to feel like I need to abandon Helen of Space, my 2014 NaNoWriMo project.
It was supposed to be this glorious, funny, anime-inspired, sci-fi re-working of the Trojan War, wherein every major character had been reincarnated into a giant robot-style universe, only the war wasn’t going to go as planned, due to the alien invasion killing Paris before he even met Helen. Only as I was planning it, I realized that it was going to be even cooler if it still started, and went on for a while, only to ultimately be cancelled when the aliens resurfaced and kidnapped Helen themselves. And generally happy (or not) endings all around, as the characters’ actions and personal stories dictated. (As opposed to the myth, wherein huge numbers of them die horribly.)
Now, don’t get me wrong when I say I need to abandon it. I did succeed in NaNo itself; I wrote 100k words (my lowest ever, but it was the first time I was also a student during NaNo, so I think that makes a good excuse) and finished the novel. Problem is, by that point, the single novel had become a trilogy (of which I had only completed book one), because the story kept becoming more and more complex.
So I started book two in the final days of November, right? And I still have only, I dunno, 20 pages or so. Maybe 30? It’s probably not much over 15k. I’ve barely even opened the file in the last few weeks, and I can’t even remember the last time I managed to write anything in it. (Admittedly, last week’s assignment for my class was very time-intensive, but…)
The real problem is that this has turned into a project that shouldn’t even be a book. It has a massive cast, and they need to have a lot of time to develop interpersonal relationships at every stage of the story, but in order to get the story from point A to point B, I had to rush through absolutely everything. That 100k, that was the pre-alien invasion set-up, the invasion itself, the tension between the (reincarnated Greek) refugees from the space stations and the (reincarnated Trojan) colonists living on the surface of Ganymede, and the suspicions between the two groups as the alien attacks diminished that this had all been a trick of the other side, so that the first book ended with the outbreak of hostilities between the two groups. By this point, the relationship between (I’m just gonna use the original names here for simplicity’s sake) Achilles and Briseis and Aias and Tecmessa were supposed to be strong enough that the two women abandon their own side for their new lovers. Neither had had more than two or three scenes with the other, because there just wasn’t enough time. Because, as I said, everything was turning out horribly rushed because I had so many characters and so much story.
Really, what it needs to be is a TV show or something. I suppose if I knew a good artist I could collaborate with, it could be a series of graphic novels, or online comics or something, but…I dunno, that’s sort of going in a radically different direction than what I was thinking of. (Unless the artist had a manga-like style.)
I think the reason I’ve been so stuck is multifold. One, I don’t really know how to structure the next bit, the actual “war” between the two sides, because neither side has enough people to spare to have much bloodshed in their “war,” so how, exactly, are they fighting? Two, I’m already feeling forgetful about what happened in the first book, which I already felt like needed huge re-structuring to begin with, which just leaves me all the more unsure of how to proceed. Three, because of the huge cast, I have a tendency to lose track of what the minor characters are up to most of the time, and only remember the ones who either have a direct impact on the plot and the ones whose relationships need to have a significant arc in the story. (And, unfortunately, characters like Helen and Menelaos are among those who do not have a direct impact on the plot for most of book two. I don’t think Helen’s even shown up yet, in fact.) Four, one of the big things going on in book two is that Cassandra has accidentally ended up captured by the (reincarnated) Greeks, and they know she’s crazy, so they’re not treating her as a prisoner of war, but the lesser Aias was trying to rape her (again) when Odysseus interfered, so she has to be kept guarded at all times lest the creep get his hands on her, so there’s a huge, slow relationship arc between Cassandra and Odysseus throughout the book, and I have no idea quite where it’s going to go: the larger part of me wants to have them end up together, and the rest of me is like “Are you stupid? She’d never allow that!”
Anyway, yeah, so it’s a mess, and I don’t know what to do with it.
I should probably just set it aside and go back to re-writing Ilios, but…I’m just afraid that if I set it down I’ll never pick it up again. I can’t count how many projects I’ve just abandoned over the years.
I should probably write that “undead werewolves on a cruise liner” thing instead. I’ve got no idea what the story is (apart from it apparently involving a super-villain who bred them as man-eaters?) but at least it’s actually original. As much as I tell myself that my Greek myth stuff is a “better” endeavor than the fanfic I used to write, in a way it’s still just fanfic: I’m still just working with someone else’s characters. The only difference is that if I want to write a novel about the love quandrangle of Briseis/Achilles/Patroclos/Iphis, I can actually publish that, because they’re not copyrighted, whereas if I write about a love quadrangle of…uh….no, I can’t think of anything that would allow one of those…all right, a love triangle of characters from Final Fantasy or Doctor Who or whatever, I can’t publish those, because the characters are copyrighted.
Okay, I’ve lost the train of thought now, but…yeah, I’m sort of in a funk at the moment. I’d say it always happens this time of year, but last year I was madly writing away on my quasi-young adult novels. I really do want to get back to those, try and polish them up, but I want to get Ilios in working order first. (I feel like I have to, because I used it as the master version of the Trojan War that was the reality for the quasi-YA novels. Uh, I should point out that the leads of said novels are the offspring of Achilles, Odysseus and the greater Aias, and the books take place 17-20 years after the war. So what version of the war it was is actually pretty important.) Of course, even after I get Ilios up and running, the quasi-YA books are another matter entirely. I have no idea what passes for “young adult” these days in fiction. Is it okay to talk about things like rape in what’s otherwise a pretty light-hearted book? ‘Cause the two heroines (the illegitimate daughters of Achilles and Odysseus) spend the first 16 years of their lives as slaves, so it’s actually kind of a miracle that they’re still untouched, and have only once had to fight off a rape. (Though the fact that the heroine was always calling herself the daughter of Achilles, and threw a guy up onto the roof when she was nine years old probably had a lot to do with it…)
Hmm, I seem to be rambling now. So I guess I should shut up.