Tuesday, May 18, 2010
New Poll: Which broadcast is your favorite?
As a result of my need to offer something different with each broadcast, each Spinward Fringe book has been at least a little different. Here's a quick overview:
Broacasts 1 and 2:
Resurrection and Awakening were written in a fairly straight forward episodic style. We followed characters that were either in drastic flux or watching everything change around them while they embarked on a quest to simply come together.
Triton was written using a pattern that we often see in television, where there is a big picture story going on while another storyline begins and ends (for he most part) in that book. The smaller storyline determined the pace and length of Broadcast 3. A lot of people really enjoyed watching Stephanie Vega develop and grow while she dealt with her changing environment. I still get reader mail about her story in that book.
Frontline was a darker, longer adventure book where a number of characters embark on an adventure in the beginning that determined the course of the book. To put it simply, they go somewhere, get into trouble and end up somewhere else by the end, completing that particular journey. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Their journey was complicated by numerous obstacles, and so was the writing of that volume. It turned out that it was the longest book in the series, over 200,000 words, and if I had to do it over again, there are few things I'd do differently. Then again, I can say that about most of my work.
That brings us to the first part of the Rogue Element Trilogy: Broadcast 5, Fracture. When I planned that book I did so using a method common to Hollywood action film directors, with each scene and point of view leading directly to the next. It was a new kind of challenge and when I was finished I was certain that I'd written perhaps the best adventure novel in the Spinward Fringe series so far. There were loose ends, lost characters, and opportunities for exploration that were abandoned, but life is chock full of unanswered questions, short term associations and paths not taken. The cliffhanger ending was brutal, but that's typical of the old space adventure serials I was looking to for an example of pacing and style. The good news is that the next book in the series (working on that now), Fragments, is in a different but compatible style that allows for a more complete story.
Let's not forget the daddy to all these books: The First Light Chronicles.
These days I consider the entire trilogy as one book now, even though they were written as three distinct episodes. Written from a very close to character first person perspective, we got to see what Jonas Valent saw and felt. It was the first time I'd written in that style, and it was a massive challenge. The journey I wanted to ultimately take everyone on was a personal one. The goal was to develop one character, Jonas Valent, and detail his journey from being a fairly self centered individual to him becoming a more well rounded person who could be selfless.
While I like to think I managed to pull that off and the style of those books was critical in accomplishing the goal, I found writing in first person confining. I couldn't break out and switch to another character in the middle of the book, I kept that to prologues and epilogues, the only places I could justify a point of view switch. (More than one reader has contacted me about that to tell me that 'you just don't do that, ever! Not even in a prologue!' Thankfully, their dissenting voices are drowned out by the kind readers who enjoyed the First Light Chronicles.) Would I do another first person perspective book? It's been over two years since I wrote the last one, so I might, but I'd do it a little differently.
I know for a fact that I haven't mastered any particular style of story telling, and even if I do someday become the master of a particular style, I'll be the last to admit it. There's always room to improve. Most of the plans for Broadcast 8 are still open, so it's an opportunity to revisit a style, but only if the majority would like to see it happen.
Now that I've recapped the basic style differences of each of the books, it's time to ask the question: Which style would you like me to write Broadcast 8 in? You've already selected the main characters, (Jacob Valance, Alice and Minh-Chu - in that order), now it's time to tell me how you want the story told.
Check out the poll to the right.
[Feel free to discuss your favorite Broadcast in the comments section, I'd love to hear your opinion!]