I always been more of a planner than a pantser. I build the outlines of my stories with as much research and precision as I can manage, staring over their blueprints like an architect with a deadline. I never really saw the joy in the pantser perspective – just planting little buds of plot here and there like a gardener and allowing them to grow into whatever the story needed them to be. Because how on earth could you trust the story to tell itself?
Well, for all the ups and downs I’ve had this week, I suppose I’ve discovered that I might have a green thumb after all.
The Reach itself was only meant to be a series of asteroids. Just a bunch of hapless rocks floating on the outskirts of my imaginary system. Their mines and habitats were there to provide somewhere for my main characters to stand on, that was all. And in all my planning – I hadn’t really thought much about them beyond that. Even Unit 67, the centre stage, had very little that was interesting about it. Or so my blueprints told me anyway.
However, 11k into my novel and that industrial hub has become the focal point of the story. The conspiracies that I’d intended to be the driving force of the conflict have disappeared into the orbit of the planets my main characters left behind. Now, the sprawling ports and crowded tunnels are were all the action is; trading conflicts and broken augmentations having a much bigger impact than anything else I’d intended to happen.
Reid has gone from being some stumbling intern who came across something he shouldn’t have – to an undercover member of a terrorist organisation, determined to discover what really happens in the mines that gives Mindus7, their owners, such uncontested commercial power.
Meanwhile Garrett isn’t just some lost soul escaping a life in the slums of his home world – now he’s looking for someone he’d been accused of killing. And he wants to know why he was set-up.
This has become such a very different project from the one I set out to write a week ago, and the experience of working on it is starting to change the way I look at my other stories as well. But maybe that’s while I’ll actually win this time. Maybe, after fifteen years of doing this, I’m finally learning how to write.