Sticking the Landing

I’m tiptoeing up on the final chapter of the next novel in the Imperials series. Usually approaching the end of a novel feels like a toboggan ride, but this one has me groping my way toward the conclusion. I think it’s a combination of things.  I can see the final scenes and how to present them if this were a movie where the camera itself can be a point of view but because this is a novel I have to present it through the eyes of one of the two view point characters.  In this case that my heroine’s eyes, and that pulls the focus in very close when it should be galaxy wide. This is also a huge moment that has repercussions for the third book so I have to set it up correctly and hopefully it will have a gut punch feeling.  No, I’m not doing a George and killing a beloved character…. not yet, but this needs to make an impact.  In fact now that I’m typing this I realize I may have given too much away in an earlier scene.  (Note to self — go back and check that before I get into today’s writing.)
In some ways we’d all be better off if an author could finish a novel series before the first one ever gets published. I’m grateful I’ll have a chance to tweak things in the first book before it actually goes to print because the more I write about the characters and the universe the more I understand it.  I have to make adjustments to the first book so things line up and aren’t confusing to readers.  Little things like what objects are called, and that hombres are enlisted men aboard a star ship and fusileros are the marines assigned to those ships.  Thank god for Scrivener where I can keep a list of organizations and what they call the galactic internet.  I also have this ever growing list of characters because the only way a series like this can work is if people we met in book one come back in meaningful ways in the subsequent books.  It does feel like playing catch up and it will continue until all five are completed
I also have to make sure this book ties up well and has a satisfying ending, but still keeps people anxious to see what happens next.  Especially since I’m about to make a jump of fifteen or sixteen years.  I made a three year jump at the beginning of book two, and a seven year jump in the middle of this book.  I think it’s important that long series not feel like the author is keeping a daily journal in a role playing game.  I try to keep very focused on the idea that I should just write about the cool shit and leave out all the boring stuff.  The years a character might serve aboard ship without incident aren’t very interesting.
So now I’ve had my moment on my blog psychiatrist’s couch and now I need to hesitantly approach these final moves.  Ciao and wish me luck.

9 Responses to Sticking the Landing

  • Tim S says:

    Good luck, hope the ending doesn’t involve space ghosts, color-coded buttons or exploding galaxies 😀 Sigh …

    • Melinda Snodgrass says:

      You can be sure it won’t. I started a replay of ME3 when I was back in New Mexico because I love a lot of that game, but I’ll stop before the end. Maybe before the return to Earth. The entire ending is just so terrible and such an emotional letdown. I don’t know if I have the heart to gather supplies, etc. knowing it didn’t make a damn bit of difference.

  • Tim S says:

    With the added fact that the next story takes place in an entirely different galaxy, I think that I’ll be skipping the upcoming installments of the game franchise. From the perspective of a consumer preferring narrative coherence, right now it does not seem worth the investment. But if nothing else, I think that one of the key takeaways from ME3 was to be mindful of long term goals in my own writings.

    As for confusing ones audience with in-universe descriptions or designations, nothing beats the good old technobabble from Star Trek. 🙂

    • Melinda Snodgrass says:

      Boy do I agree with that. I hated the technobabble on the show. It took the place of any characterization. I hated it almost as much as I hated the holodeck.

      ME is going to be in a different galaxy???? Shit. I had a way for them to let you keep playing Shepard even after the color coded ending. You play the clone who survived the swan dive off the Normandy. I’ve actually spent some time thinking about a DLC about the clone leading the fight to defend survivors on the Citadel when the Reapers take the joint.

      • Tim S says:

        I imagine that the screenwriters must have viewed either as a convenient plot mechanism, or perhaps just a general thing to be aware of, like shields and transporter beams? If something exists in any universe, that can solve a problem, sometimes it needs to break down for inexplicable reasons.

        Also, Bioware announced that the setting is in the (distant?) future in the Andromeda galaxy, as if more than a hundred billion stars in our own galaxy didn’t offer enough exploration potential. The announcement is on their developer blog:

        • Melinda Snodgrass says:

          Since the holodeck broke down, went nuts and took over the ship with astonishing regularity I would have thought it would get yanked out of every Federation ship as a menace to safety and good order. Bluntly it led to lazy story telling, and if you are exploring the galaxy why would you want to be on the holodeck pretending you are a gum shoe or Sherlock Holmes? The stars aren’t interesting enough? I missed the rec room in original Trek with Uhura singing, and Spock playing chess. People interacting with each other.

          Well, BioWare did make it up to me on Dragon Age after that mess that was Dragon Age 2 so I’ll read reviews on Mass Effect before I decide one way or the other. But I want to hear from fans that it’s good before I lay out the money.

          • Tim S says:

            Come to mention it, having a recreational facility with a lethal setting does seem a bit odd. But stuff like that is just a lesson for future shows. I read a rumor that CBS is working on a new Star Trek series for TV, slated for next year. I guess time will tell if any good comes of it. I’m also still waiting for Mass Effect to be turned into a full-fledged series spanning several seasons. 🙂 They’d have the overarching story line, with a rich playground of characters and conflicts to explore.

            And well, a lot of reviewers and fans alike loved the final outcome of ME3, so my inner skeptic stays wary of the direction the next game will take. Even if it does end up becoming critically acclaimed, its sequels may yet sacrifice story integrity in favor of controversy.

            For now, I’ll stick with plain old books. 🙂

          • Melinda Snodgrass says:

            Yes, there will be a new Trek show in 2017, but one of J.J.’s boys, Kurtzman, is doing it so I don’t have much hope. I would love to write for a Mass Effect show. I love that universe. I think a lot more people hated ME3 then loved it. Or like me they loved a lot of the game, but not that terrible final 15 minutes. I have a mole inside BioWare who says many of the staff hated where it went and knew it was going to be a debacle.

  • Good luck.
    I can only follow a little bit of this conversation because I’m not a gamer, but one thing I seem to pick up is that game developers, in their continuing quest to keep making it new, perhaps go a bit overboard. Happens to Hollywood film series, the newest trying to outdo the last. Happens to writers, too.
    As far as the holodeck, the effect on the crew — interaction vs. solo playing — has happened somewhat in real life with the Internet. So, once again, ST was slightly ahead of its time.

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