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Starting A Novel, Part 1

This summer I will begin writing the next Star Series book in the Galaxy Collision universe.  Starforgers takes place at the onset of the Great Galactic War and will be the first novel set during that time-period. As with Starstrikers before it, Starforgers will be a romping Space Opera filled with heroes and villains and lots of in-between characters that I dub Grays.  Grays are not black and white but a mixture of both good and evil and as such tend to be the most fun to write about.

I’m not sure just how far back the plot ideas for Starforgers go, but I can safely say the story is over a decade old.  Looking back over my notes, I see that it was at one time outlined in a synopsis form.  Of course in recent years, I have continued to think about the characters and the plot for Starforgers and that original synopsis may end up getting thrown out completely.  But it does serve as a useful tool for constructing the new story outline.

When I set out to write a novel, I almost always start with both characters and plot.  Sometimes the characters are well drawn out already, either in short stories or another novel and sometimes they are just place holders from which to build the plot with.  In the case of Starforgers, at least three main characters are already developed from short stories, Devon Ardel and Senator Constantine. Both Devon and her mother Gail Constantine were developed in early drafts of Starforgers and in short stories, some of which will be featured in Tales From Ocherva Vol One, my e-book anthology due out this summer. The third character is the android Thirty-seven, also a staple in the aforementioned anthology.

The Villain for the new novel is less defined and I will have to spend some time developing his character before I start writing.  The same goes for the primary Gray character, in this case, a space pirate.  Yes, you read that correctly the book will indeed have space pirates.  But it will not have any zombies, so that crowd can move along.

I use a spreadsheet program to outline my plot.  So one of the first tasks I have is to start putting together the plot points and then weaving in the character conflicts.  In many cases the character conflicts help define the plot, which is why I can’t just outline a plot and then build my characters.  Both elements must be well defined before I start writing.  I’ve always enjoyed this period of novel writing more than the actual writing part. Not that I don’t like the joy of discovering things as I write, I just really like playing God with my story and its characters.  But then don’t most writers like having that power?

Next post I will go into greater detail about how I outline plots and define characters.  I’ll try not to reveal any spoilers along the way.

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