Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Novel's Journey: Old Man in the Void - Surprise!

One day last week, I wrote 6300 words in a day. goes to show what happens when characters take over.

I had a terrific writing week, one the shows that no matter how deeply I outline, my characters just have to hit me with something new.

For those who have not read previous blogs about The Old Man in the Void, I am writing this on the challenge of my husband, Rob.  Rob suggested I pattern a sci-fi novel on the classic, The Old Man and the Sea.  To prepare, I read the book and a literary analysis of the themes and critical points, and carefully outlined my adaptation to the book.  The primary change, of course, was to put it in a deep space/far future setting, so Dex Hollister and his ship the Santiago hunt the relics of ancient starships from two civilizations that destroyed themselves in a war that created a black hole.  When one of the ships they capture becomes operational, it drags them across the event horizon, where the war is still being fought, and Dex and his ship have to find a way back out, preferably with the captured ship, before they are killed themselves.

It's a pretty straightforward book, actually, and I didn't know where it would take me.  As you've seen if you've been reading along, Dex is not like Hemingway's fisherman.  Dex has more moods, more frailties, and more relationships that affect him, even though the people he loves are not with him.  And he and his ship are a team.  Santiago (the ship's AI) has a definite personality and does his best to protect Dex as well.  Even more fun, I introduced myths about the species who fought this war (only automated warships are left, continuing the battle) and in the process, Dex has some very vivid visions during the conflict.

Well, this week, in the big climactic scene reminiscent of Hemingway's Santiago fighting off he pod of sharks, my Santiago and Dex fight off drones and escape the black hole--at the destruction of both the captured alien ship and the Santiago itself.  That, of course, was in my outline, and from here, it was supposed to be a simple wrap-up of Dex awakening in a hospital, finding he'd lost everything yet returning to his life as a relic hunter wiser for the experience.


  • Dex woke up in a hospital, all right--as an Elomij/Human hybrid.  They could only save him by introducing alien DNA to repair his.
  • The historian brought in to re-introduce him to modern times hired a kind of private investigator to find out what happened to the wreckage of the ships.  Dolon is smart, savvy, and attractive, and Dex starts flirting with her.  
  • All those visions?  Not just his imagination!  There's a whole book of myths about Huntradex, the mortal spirit who dared defy Hudon and turned down Elomij's affections.  
  • He meets a navigator who might have a lead to finding the hardware that houses Santiago's AI program.

I'm telling you--these are NOT in my outline, were not in my plans, and just sort of came out as I typed.  And I love them all.

So, now I'm in a quandry.  I could attempt to according to my outline--or I could let Dex explore his new world, get into a little trouble trying to track down Santiago on his own, and have some romance with an alien.  It will change the book, and I may need to go back and revise some of the original if I do so.

I think you know what I plan on doing.  I've never been good following outlines, and I never intended to rewrite Hemingway, but to write Hemingway-inspired Fabian.  I'd be lousy as writing Hemingway, anyhow.  But when I let my characters live their stories, I write really good Fabian


IrishEddieOHara said...

Wow! Do I ever understand where you are coming from. I am working on my next book, the sequel to A RAINBOW IN THE DARKNESS and I am really getting into it. Just completed about 10 pages between last night and tonight and I am really jazzed. I think I am doing some of the best work I have ever done. Yes, your characters really DO become a living and breathing part of you and it is exciting to see their lives develop before your eyes!

Brother Ed

Karina Fabian said...

It's true! it's so true! :)