I recently finished the final version of Draft One of a work in progress. (To my mind, there are multiple drafts and there can be more than one version of each draft. I’m complicated.)
I also finished up a short story. My writers group reviewed it, I have one other “first reader” taking a look at it, and then I plan to start sending it out.
Right now I have three stories out in the mail. That isn’t really enough, so there’s my task for the rest of this week; take a look at what’s hanging around on the hard drive and what markets are open to submissions right now.
Anyway, when I finally sent the Project off to the writers group, I had this weird surplus of energy. (It was probably nerves.) Anyway, practically glowing with left-over creative fervor, I thought, “I’m going to write something fun! Something just for me! I know… Doctor Who fan fiction!”
In this column I wrote about a Doctor Who character named Jenny, who is a clone of the tenth Doctor, and one way I imagined she might get a TARDIS (that’s one name for the Time Lords’ time ships). So, I thought, why not write that story?
It’ll be fun! I don’t have to worry about anything; not really story logic or plotting. It can just be… fun! It’s just for me. Well, I planned to post it on the blog, but still…
I’m on my fourth start. Here are the first three false starts.
Writing is hard.
First Take: Soldier Jenny and two of her mates are guiding civilians out of a bombed out city up into a cave complex in the hills, where Jenny hears a faint signal and… Nope.
(She’s been hearing the signal since she left the planet where was created. She doesn’t just start hearing it now. And, if the city is being bombed/attacked, then there is a war or something going on. That’s going to interfere with Jenny tracking down the signal, which is the point of the story.)
Second Take: In a frontier town on a peaceful planet, Jenny hikes up a hill towards a cave complex where she searches for the source of a mysterious signal. She crosses paths with three former mates, who are obviously villains now. They were all mercenaries together. The trio is doing something bad and they don’t like that Jenny has stumbled into it. They threaten her ineptly and she responds with repartee. They glower and go down the hill. She searches the cave complex for a while, off the page. Several paragraphs of exposition. She returns to the riverside town (exposition about the planet, town) bumps into the sheriff (exposition exposition), they go for drinks, he tells her about the Time Wars (exposition) and Nope.
(There’s a kernel of an idea in the opening… but … how boring. And drinks with the sheriff?)
(And, is the point of the story that Jenny finds the source of the signal? I thought so, but… no. The point of the story is Jenny finding the source of the signal and becoming a Time Lord. And what is a Time Lord, exactly? Jenny only has one model.)
Third Take: All of the above up to Jenny going into the cave. Story cuts to an alternate POV while Jenny searches the cave off page; the Alt POV mourns the death of a companion and thinks that it has found another. (Hint, hint.) Jenny returns to where she is staying, talks to her landlord who is also a public servant. He tells her about the Time Wars (exposition). Jenny makes some connections. She and the landlord have dinner and Nope.
(Okay, the dinner may stay. The problem here is the cave or cave complex. What is it with me and caves anyway? Doesn’t every single thing I’ve ever written have a cave in it? It seems like it. And caves would have been picked clean by the scavengers who are looking for other artifacts that are like the thing sending out the signal. Nope. Nope,nope,nope.)
(On the other hand, while I was making them eat dinner and talk, I did learn who the villain is, I pictured the valley and the city better, and I realized a badly cobbled together border-dispute could be turned into something plausible. And I like the landlord/former version sheriff/government drone guy, so he will stick around.)
Fourth Start: On the way to the waterfall made by the river that marks the northern boundary of the country Jenny is in, she encounters three former comrades who are now obviously the villains. She cottons on to what they’re doing almost immediately. Threat, repartee, and etc as before. Jenny returns to town with the express purpose of filling in her landlord/government drone on some shenanigans. No cave, just a waterfall with a strangely deep pool at its base (even by waterfall standards) Meanwhile, the other POV speaks…
Fourth Start with a tweak: On the way to the waterfall, etc, Jenny studies her erstwhile companions and sees various alternative futures for each of them. Jenny ruminates that this was a benefit in combat and in battle, but as she’s gotten closer to the signal, the alternatives have proliferated and it’s becoming overwhelming. She does not recognize this phenomenon, but Doctor Who fans will, or should, I hope.
We’ll see how it goes.