Another Final Hope Status Update!
In my last update post, I wrote about my decision to split the first chapter of Final Hope and how that would impact the structure of the novel. It was a tough call, but one I felt needed to be made. That decision would ultimately require a new chapter in the second thread, one that preceded all the others.
At the time, I don’t think I fully appreciated just how daunting that task would end up being. It’s sort of like writing a prequel, except a number of the chapters in the next book, which is about a third of the way written, already perform that function. This left me very little room to maneuver within. Also, anything I wrote would shape the subsequent chapters in ways I hadn’t predicted. Little details could take on entirely new meanings. Considering all the implications was nothing short of maddening!
Still, if I hoped to get anywhere with the rest of my rewrites, it had to be done.
In the end, I took a good, long look at the spirit of the story encapsulated within the even-numbered chapters I’d already written. I had to think about the chapters in the next book that lead to this point, the players, and the stakes. Then I set about the task of writing a chapter that matched the overall tone of the thread and set up the story in a way that made sense and added to the overall reading experience.
I’ve just finished writing the first draft, and I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of it. One of the hardest parts was picking a point within the plot where I could bring something new to the reader without stepping on the toes of the other chapters I’d already written, whether in Final Hope or in Book 2. Another challenge was writing this new chapter in a way that didn’t give away too many plot points. That might sound easy, but this story is fairly nuanced.
You see, the odd chapters moves us forward in the present time, while the even chapters move from a point somewhere in the past. The corresponding chapters to this second thread in the second book take us to an earlier point and work toward the events that unfold in Final Hope. Each chapter becomes a balancing act, as I leverage the alternating chapters to heighten the story and play off details the reader uncovers along the way.
Yes, it sounds complex, but I’m hoping all that complexity stays on my side of the equation, leaving you with an enjoyable read on your side. Now, I might be a little biased here, but if you like science fiction, I really do think you’ll enjoy it.
So, how did I do it? Well, I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but I can tell you that the entire chapter seems to revolve around a bowl of chocolate pudding. Yep. You read that right. Chocolate pudding is the central conflict. Sound ridiculous? I agree. It kind of does, but in my experience, it’s often the little things that expose the larger cracks. That’s exactly what this chapter does.
Now that chapter 2 has been written, what’s left to do before I publish?
As far as Final Hope goes, I’m still working on rewriting the odd chapters. I was previously about a quarter of the way through that process, but I’ve stated asking myself some difficult questions over the last few months. All those questions seem to point at one thing.
I suspect as I move forward, the motivations of my villains will become a little more apparent. This will take some finessing, but I’ve already laid the groundwork throughout the even chapters. And I think this is exactly what the book needs to push it over the top.
I’m so glad that this is something I can share with you. As a writer seeing how this story has evolved, it’s been interesting to see how things have reshaped themselves. Each iteration has taught me more about my characters. And not just the protagonists. That part is fairly easy in comparison. While I have learned a whole lot more about Greg and Julia, I’m referring to my villains. I think this is where the most growth has occurred.
When I had the first idea for Chlorophyllium 9 as a short story in 2008, it was a flash of inspiration, but just a tiny snippet of the story as a whole. Like a glimpse at a scene, I knew there were several more layers to uncover before the rest of the idea revealed itself. But that one image has remained the heart of the story, even as it’s grown to almost novel length.
Originally, there were four main characters: The main protagonist, Greg, his love interest, Julia, Greg’s friend, Captain Roberts, and the main antagonist, Admiral King. (As a fun aside, back in 2008 Julia’s name was Juliette, but then Hugh Howey released his Wool Omnibus and I had to change it. Also, once Howey released the sequel to Wool, Shift, General Thurmond needed to be changed, due to similarity with one of the characters in his subsequent Silo series novels. That’s when General Thurmond became Admiral King. I swear, we must have been on the same name wavelength for a time…)
As I started expanding the story, the roles of the villains began to take shape, usually through discovery writing a chapter. For instance, one character who has come to the forefront is Lieutenant Commander Jenkins. It’s actually quite remarkable because she didn’t even exist in the first version! It wasn’t until I started writing the follow-up novel that she came into being, and in a very minor role at that.
Now she’s front and center and you’ll get to meet her in Chapter 2.