The Evolution of A Sci-Fi Novel

Almost finished writing my first novel. If I have to categorize it I’d say it’s a coming of age sci-fi horror romance. And then I’d reflux some acid because that sounds awful. Vampire abs awful. Michael Bay asteroids awful. Justin Bieber vehicle awful.

It doesn’t sound promising is what I’m driving at. Nevertheless, I think, actually, if you’re a fan of twisty-turny creepy sci-fi with surprise endings, this will be just what the doctor ordered. And it’s only taken me 22 years to write it.

This was the first book I ever wrote during junior year of  high school. Back then it was a story about a boy who was being abducted by aliens that made him believe he was the second coming of Christ. But when he was brought back to earth one final time, the real second coming had just happened. People were dissolving into heaven as he confronted the authentic Christ. In the end, Jesus left him, the aliens left him, and he was alone in the world, one boy on a barren planet, the reluctant antiChrist.

It didn’t sound so lame back then. Now? Mmmmmm… I don’t wanna talk about it. That said, it almost got lamer.

In 2008, I was hired to ghostwrite a book about time travel. The initial idea was to have someone go back in time and warn Jesus not to attend that special dinner. That is excruciatingly bad and an actual adult thought of it. A famous one to boot!

Who am I to say no if my name isn’t attached? Thankfully smarter heads prevailed and I was commissioned to pen whatever I wanted so long as it involved time travel. Being the lazy writer that I am I dusted off my childhood tome and worked it into a time travel story that could easily be turned into a series. I left enough ambiguous holes for a cowriter to fill in. Again, my laziness knew no bounds. And I was paid for this? Oh yes. I was paid for this.

Ultimately, the deal fell through before it got to the publisher but not only had I been paid, they gave me the rights to shop it around on my own. Two stipulations: change the character names and kill the whole time travel thing.

I let it sit untouched for a few years but having completed Urgency. felt the compulsion to work on something else.

Writer. Lazy. Me.

I picked up old faithful for one more go round. Somewhere along the way I had the most jaw-dropping amazing idea for a movie ever. Like, M. Night Shyamalan would have yelled, “Oh you son of a–!” in complete career-reboot jealousy.

But who has time to write a book and a screenplay? Well, me. But that’s beside the point. The point is–still, if you can believe it–that I’m a lazy writer. And so I figured out the recipe to successfully marrying the still-great-after-all-these-years ingredients of my childhood book to this new concept without throwing my hands up like the writers of Lost and shouting, “Screw it, they’re all dead!” to a shrugging J.J. Abrams who had clearly moved on.

Spoiler alert.

And so here it is. Almost. I’m almost finished but I’m at that satisfying point where I’ve written the final chapters in my head and just have to commit them to paper. Wonder if I’ll get around to that?

Lazy. Writer.

I won’t tell you anything more specific just yet, not even the title. When I feel like it’s complete you won’t stop hearing me talk about it, though. But here are some general points of interest….

–The teen dialogue and thoughts on relationships to parents and friends were written by the author as a teen, but the adult stuff was written or rewritten as an adult. It’s an interesting process, especially being the product of divorce and seeing how your views on parents and marriage and love differ now. In a way, rewriting this acted as a personal reconciliation.

–There’s a chapter with an alien abduction where a being walks into the bedroom. That is something that actually happened to me. I’ve talked and written about it elsewhere. Arguably writing this back in high school was my way of working out the impossible alone. In any case, it’s interesting to look back on the description and read parts I’ve forgotten. Did they really happen and I lost the details to time? Or did I embellish the real thing for the work of fiction? I can’t honestly answer except to say that rereading it I had the feeling of, “Oh yeah, I remember that.” But do I? Would you think anything different reading 16-year-old you’s incorporation of real experiences into a novel?

–I think I have organically woven some of the epiphanies and ideas Jeff and I unearthed through Paratopia in a way that might ring too true to be fiction–making the ending all the scarier.

–Fun homages to Jeff Ritzmann, Whitley Strieber, and Star Wars abound.

–Truly, I don’t think this ending has ever been written before. Yep, I’m walking out on that limb. Then again, I haven’t seen every Twilight Zone episode so perhaps I’m in for shocking disappointment, grief, and alcoholism.

***

I don’t talk about artistic process very much. Probably the most I ever have is on my commentary track on the No One’s Watching DVD. I’m not comfortable in my own skin talking about me, if you can believe that. I’m afraid it’ll come off pompous. Granted I talk about and write about my own highly questionable experiences in the paranormal and spiritual realms but that feels different to me. It feels like there’s something universal to learn there, while talking about being a writer is just… like… who cares? Good for you, Vaeni, good for you.

But this time out I don’t have those reservations.  I am proud of this book and I do think its circumstances are unique. I can hardly wait for you to read it!

Lastly, here’s a writing tip of the day for you youngsters out there: I hated school until I got to college. I flubbed my way through high school, but thanks to the miracle of a Basic Studies program at a university hurting for money, I made it to college. Once there, my grades soared. The difference? I wanted to be there. I didn’t want to be in high school. So, if you can relate,  there’s that light at the end of the tunnel.

But more importantly, if you get the urge to write, it’s important to know the rules of grammar so you can break them. Just breaking them because you’re a dope shows up in an obvious way. What I did when I wrote this was to have a dictionary, thesaurus, and little book of grammar rules by my typewriter at all times. Of course you now have all that on your computer. Do not be afraid to use them! (Relax. Your friends don’t have to know. Secret’s safe with me.)

I wrote the thing and then I’d go back to see how many times I repeated the same word. If it looked monotonous, I broke out the thesaurus for a fresh one. Then I looked it up in the dictionary to make sure it meant exactly what I needed it to mean. If you do these two simple things, you will build your vocabulary in the way schooling simply cannot teach. (You can’t be taught if you’re disinterested.)

Anyway, that’s that. I was gonna present the tips in a separate post but… know you….

Lazy. Writer.

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3 thoughts on “The Evolution of A Sci-Fi Novel

  1. I can’t wait to read it. It is so cool that you have the teenage thoughts written by you as a teenager and the adult ones written by you as an adult.

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