20 July 2010

So it's like this . . .

My computer's anti-virus application warns me that if I go to my blog I could get harmful viruses. Is it my blog or my anti-virus that's the problem?

That made me wonder what I had written that could be so dangerous. Forced me to check this blog and, hence the inevitable, to write another entry. 

My intention originally was to write about my writing. I am currently revising the first volume of my science-fiction trilogy. There is a bit of irony in that I did not plan a trilogy when I started what has become the first book. It is also ironic that since completing the second book--by which time I had planned a third book--I have thought of further adventures that could become a fourth or even a fifth book.  What do you call a 5-book series?  A quintology?

I titled the first book "Dreamland" because I got the idea in a dream (back in December 1993) and decided to continue the dream vs. reality motif throughout.  Then I discovered others had used the name already.  There was a sci-fi novel about Area 51 and the Roswell aliens titled "Dreamland". There is also a book about the history of the Coney Island amusement park called "Dreamland".  So I changed my title, ever so subtly to: "The Dream Land".

So now we have the "Dream Land" series.

I'd had the idea for many years. I could even say it went back into my childhood when I fashioned creatures from pipe cleaners and yarn and role-played some of the adventures. It was embarrassing to state that for a while, but now I am comfortable with revealing the secret origins of the Dream Land series. I still have a bunch of the little mouse-like critters in boxes of childhood "memories".

The re-start of the idea as a book came in that dream in December 1993. Earlier in the day I had purchased a cassette (does that make my life look old?) of Enya's first album, The Celts.  I knew nothing of Enya at the time; the titles of the songs and the cover art compelled me to buy something I guessed I might like. I did. The strangely evocative music was like nothing I had ever heard before and it cut into my mind.

I heard the music playing during that dream, a dream in which I saw a Zetin maiden riding a Jepe (accented characters are not allowed in blogs, it seems) on a barren slope high in the mountains. That dream became one of the opening scenes of Dream Land I--as readers will no doubt recognize.

Prior to the music and the dream, I was having difficulty finding the right place to jump i nto the story. That is, the right place to begin. After the dream and the scene I quickly wrote upon awakening, I decided to set the first chapter in the IRS service center where I had once been employed. I chose to have our hero (who is NOT the same as me, though he often tries to imitate me when I am at my worst) have the same dream while napping during the graveyard shift's lunch break. Bingo! A plot was hatched.

Flash forward: After finishing the second volume I became aware that the first book was not as well-written as this second one. It lacked focus, sharp dialog, and what some might call a coherent story line. So I went back to punch it up, to make it the equal of Dream Land II. 

One thing I did was add a prologue where our hero discusses a dream with his psychiatrist. The reviews I received form agents and editors suggested my protagonist was not "sympathetic". Of course, we need to be able to identify with a character to go along with them through the story. I thought the prologue would show him in a more sympathetic way: a man who has had hard times and is struggling to make sense of the world--as many of us do daily. The scene with the Zetin maiden follows. That scene becomes a lightning rod which gets him to wake up and take action: he must rescue his long lost love from the clutches of the evil Zetin warlord.

Such as it is in sci-fi and sword/sorcery fiction. And yet, I didn't want it to be quite the same. I wanted to keep it grounded in "reality" somehow, so readers will feel a different connection, something more akin to a real Earthling having a real adventure in a real place which happened to exist through an interdimensional doorway.

No comments:

Post a Comment