Chronicles of Mar word count: 250,578 words
Somewhere in the lead up to Nanowrimo in 2016, I started planning out what was going to be my first new book in a series other than Blood on the Motorway. Those three novels were all well on their way towards completion, and I knew that whatever I wrote next would not be in that universe. Don’t get me wrong, I love post-apocalyptic, and I may write in that genre again, but I knew that I wanted something different. Something new.
So, I started working on something that I’d actually attempted some years earlier, but discarded on the grounds that it wasn’t very good. A sci-fi horror idea that’s been kicking around my head for well over five years. A doomed mission to the ice moon of Europa, somewhere between Alien and Event Horizon. I wrote that first draft and decided it wasn’t very good, so I wrote a second draft and found that, finally, the third time was a charm. It was scary, it was interesting, and most of all the main character was great.
The only problem was, it didn’t feel like a series with just this character was going to be… satisfying enough.
The world, however, that had legs. The horror adventure of that first book was rooted in global problems that had ramifications far beyond that one story. It’s a world 100 years in the future blighted by The Mar, a disease that has decimated agriculture and food production, on top of the ravages of global conflicts and global warming. The next book I started in the series introduced three new characters and events that ran concurrent to the first book. Then I wrote another one. Now I’m writing more. At this point, I’ve just rounded 250,000 words of predominantly first draft of a sci-fi series that has some good potential but is quite frankly a bit of a sprawling mess.
At the same time, I’ve been digging back into looking into craft in a big way this year. I’ve tried to really cut back on social media (with limited success) and obsessing over news events (with more success) and tried to fill that void with books, blogs, podcasts, and videos that are all based around the craft of writing. I’ve found some fantastic resources, and every day I’m making copious notes about story structure, character, agency, and a million other things.
I think this world that I’m writing in has real potential to it. Some of the characters are really coming to life, and some of the narrative strands are really fun and exciting. Not just that, but I’m starting to get a sense of where this whole thing could be going, even if I’m a really long way off that endpoint. My sense right now is that I’m looking at a six book series of roughly 700,000 words which will take us all the way from a doomed space mission to a total global war.
Even if this does all come together, it’s going to take some doing. It’ll be probably at least another year until I have even one book ready in the series, if that. By the time I have 300,000 words of first draft I’ll be about ready to start the process of second draft, which could take another year all by itself.
While I’m doing that, I thought I’d start doing a weekly update on the whole process here on my blog. I’ll be sharing some of the things I’m looking at, some of the frustrations, some of the tools that are working for me, and maybe even some of the work in progress, if I feel brave enough. I’m going to tag them all as Writing Chronicles, and they’ll be up every Monday afternoon.
In the meantime, if you’ve not yet read my Blood on the Motorway series, you can check out the first book completely free here, or pick up the full trilogy for about the same as a bottle of wine at any of these fine retailers. You know it makes sense.