Part 2 of ?
I’ve been steadily working on In Lonely Lands, a modern-day fantasy/horror novel that I described previously. I outlined the plot using an Excel spreadsheet (which I’ll share with you–sans spoilers–some other time, for the benefit of budding authors and the curious).
I’ve set up a schedule for myself, and if all goes well, I will have finished drafting ILL by the end of May 2016, in time for revisions and a release in Fall 2016 (I’m shooting for the week before Halloween).
ILL might be my latest work-in-progress, but I actually first started on it in 1988 BC (Before Children), when I was in college. Not knowing what I was doing, I struggled with drafting it for many years, eventually giving up in the late-1990’s.
The details have changed, but the core story–a young person goes into a nightmare realm to rescue their beloved from a powerful monster and his witch underling–has never left me. Now that I have some novel-writing experience under my belt, I’m ready to finally tackle this one. Fortunately, I kept my notes and ideas from way-back when, so I don’t have to start from scratch.
In sync with reaching back many years to finally tell an old story, I’m returning to a drafting method I haven’t used since high school: I’m hand-writing the manuscript, as you can see in the photo above.
Surprisingly, it’s been going well, and the words have come very quickly. With a pen and a notepad, I jot down scenes as I commute to and from work, on my lunch break, and in spare moments at home. It doesn’t feel as formal, mechanical, and yes, intimidating as sitting down in front of a computer to draft the narrative.
Instead, I’ll use the PC as an editing tool. When each chapter is done (my goal is to write one a week), I’ll input it using LibreOffice, which I’ve heard good things about, and I’ll refine the text as I go. I’m hoping that will cut down on the final editing needed at the end.
Why LibreOffice? I’ve used Microsoft Word for many years, including on my two previous novels, but I’ve encountered some hassles with it, particularly with headers and footers for print editions. I’d like something that’s less clunky, and I’m hoping LibreOffice is it. Best of all, it was free, so if it turns out that it’s not what I’m looking for, I haven’t lost any money.
As for the writing itself, it’s told in first-person, present-tense, stream-of-consciousness from the point of view of Alyx, a 17-year old Korean-American girl. I’m grounding ILL firmly in the teen-lit genre, as I’ve been told that my other novels aren’t “young adult,” per se: Dragontamer’s Daughters is better considered “middle-grade” fiction (for grades 7-9), and Lost Dogs is a sci-fi Watership Down with dogs (i.e., more of a book for adults, rather than one that teenagers would relate to).
Here are the opening lines from the first chapter, as Alyx and her boyfriend Sam are about to go for a motorcycle ride that will change their lives forever:
“Hang on, babe,” I tell him, just like every time. I feel him tense up, arms wrapping tighter around me. Just like like every time.
“Just for once, please don’t go so fa–” Sam starts, but I thumb the switch, and the bike–Ninja 250R; of course it’s red–fires up, whining. My left hand pops the clutch and we take off down the long gravel driveway, first gear second gear third BAM! BAM! BAM! dust and gravel flying up behind us–I glance it in the rearview mirror.
Fourth gear past the gate and the big wooden sign that says WHENDMORR FARM. It’s like I’m hearing Sam in my head, yelling, “Slow down, Alyx!” It’s just my imagination: he’s not psychic or anything. But I’m not slowing down. At all.
More about In Lonely Lands–and in particular, the perils Alyx encounters there–some other time.
Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy. He is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.
Kenton also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.
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