I wrote Book #1 in ten days. It felt like the literary equivalent of a special forces agent crashing in through a skylight, machine gun blazing.
Which means it’s time to write Book #2. However, where Book #1 was all pre-plotted out and had a carefully thought out setting due to a failed attempt to write it last year, Book #2 has no such thing.
Cue two days of trying to write the first chapter. It felt like trying to play catch with mittens on, or trying to catch a frog underwater. After 3,000 or so words, I sat back and treated my computer screen to a surly frown. Turns out you can’t just plunge into the writing of a second novel if you don’t actually have a plot, setting, or cast worked out.
So tonight I opened up Notepad and got to work (for some reason Notepad is incredibly liberating for me. No spell check, no fancy formatting options, just you and black text.) I had just finished watching City of God for inspiration (things have not worked out well for L.A. in my imaginary future), and had a great sense of how the city felt, but no particulars.
I paused, frowned again, and then typed my first question. How does this city work? Tried to figure out who was in charge. Came up with a solution, and then worried at it like a puppy on a slipper. Sure, fine, say that’s true. But what if this happens? And what about this group? Wouldn’t they be involved?
OK. So I refined it a little further. Then I stepped back and squinted at the economics of the situation. What would all these people be doing with their day? These trapped citizens of a former L.A.. How do they survive? Eat? Who provides the medical services? Why are they still there? Cue an onslaught of further refinements to my original solution. Things were starting to heat up.
All right, all right, but then what about the vampires? Why are they behaving this way? Why are they tolerating these permutations to my solution? Well, maybe because of this. Which would mean that they would do that as a result. Which in turn, would affect the military, who would always be poised to intervene unless they were mollified. Mollified how? Ah, but of course. But if the vampires can offer that, with the aid of the drug cartels, then why don’t they simply do this? Because… because… maybe their goal is something else altogether. Maybe they’re not just surviving in the ruined core. Maybe they – or at least some of them, the ones in control – have a long term plan. A plan which might spill over into Book 3.
Which, by the way, would be bloody convenient, because I still don’t really have much more than a three sentence summary of Book 3. Any spill over is most welcome.
OK, OK, then what happens when Selah my protagonist enters the city? She’s looking for X. Which means she would have to get through all this stuff here, and survive that stuff there. But what if… what if she gets mixed up in the process of how the vampires mollify the military? After all, she looks just like Y, as established in Book 1. Brilliant! Especially since Y is now in L.A. pulling strings. Y might even set Selah up. Which would result in the military hunting for her, which would force Selah to work with this group here…
And so it went. Half an hour later, I went from having just a vague vision and a feel for the city to a concrete plot and a viable society, complete with basic economic underpinnings and political structure. Think City of God meets Repo Man meets Blade Runner with vampires. Or… something.
Either way. I’m going to scrap those first 3,000 words and flesh things out a little more, and then get to work. There’s a lot of writing still to be done.