Progress: 6,070 words, One Chapter (First draft)
Looking at that day count for this book (443) compared to the actual progress (6,070 words) is extraordinarily depressing. Even after beginning again, the work is halted, and what I’ve written now may not make it into future drafts.
Holding to a solid and fun sci-fi/mystery concept, through waves of frustration and hopelessness, I have made repeated efforts to write a world that refuses to take shape. I began with some basic elements: ghosts and future tech, namely a particle shield encircling Detroit, and glasses that are incorporated into nearly every aspect of human routine.
In my first attempt, the people and city came to life with ease, but when it came time to address the mystery of it all, I struggled to answer my own questions. Why are there ghosts? Why only here? Why is the city inside a shield? Why do the living choose to stay inside? Is it their choice? Is this world, despite how it came to be, run with benevolent intent or are there insidious or selfish motivations from those in charge?
I came up with answers to all these questions, and with each answer I enriched the history of the world and defined its present structure, but with every solution I created new contradictions. Every paved road led to a dead end or an intersection with road signs I’d never seen before.
Sometimes it was technical problems, things that didn’t jive with one another. Sometimes it was character motivation. If I wanted to simplify everything, I could just state that ‘evil men’ are to blame, nothing more. That’s not only weak, it’s boring. I want my villains not to be villains at all. I want the terrible choices they make to be understood when finally brought to light with all the facts. Where people were made to suffer, we should know that the suffering was either unavoidable or necessary for a chance at a better existence for humanity.
Yes, I could forge ahead ignoring all the problems, but I’d rather ask myself the tough questions now. So many movies get made where a viewer asks, ‘Why didn’t they just…[easier path they could have taken]?’ A plot hole is exposed, and it’s a result of either poor world building or poor character creation. Right now, I have both.
So what do I do? Every time I think I have it, that it all finally makes sense, another element stands defiantly to the side. Maybe this story isn’t the one to tell now, though it’s difficult to abandon it. At times I think it can’t be fixed, yet it feels like there’s a solution.
In one of my many tenuous scenarios for the novel, a plague is the catalyst and continual justification for sustained life inside the particle shield. Like the citizens within their invisible dome, I want nothing more than a way out.
The only hope for the people of Ghost City is in finding a cure for the plague. Though years of research have failed to produce one, they have no choice but to keep trying. No matter how impossible the solution may be, they have to believe it’s out there. They have faith. I should too.
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