Monday, July 1, 2013

WIP it Good!

"When a problem comes along... you must WIP it." -Devo

Ok, so that's not quite what we mean by WIP in the writing world. This month's Writer's Ramble is about the current Work In Progress of each of our members. Many of you know that my current goal is to win the Writers of the Future contest. If you don't know about that, I have a separate page all about my journey here. But, to be more specific, I can't really talk about my actual current WIPs without risking disqualification from the contest. So instead I'll break down one of my recent stories that didn't win.

Herald of Salvation (Disappointing Title)
This is the story I submitted last quarter for the contest. It's about the crew of a messenger ship in the distant future where mankind has ventured out among the stars and settled many planets. However, though they can travel faster than light, communication is not so fast, hence the use of messenger ships that travel the expanse of human space delivering needed information. Mankind then encountered an alien race of superior strength and technological advancement. This alien race, know as the Hostis, seem to be interested in only one thing: the annihilation of the Human Race. Every attempt to communicate with these warrior beings has fallen on deaf ears, and any attempt to decipher their language has failed.

The story focuses on the crew of the Herald, a small messenger ship assigned to wait silently on the edge of a solar system where a cloaked human spy ship, the Scarcity, has inserted ground operatives on a Hostis settled planet. When the spies come up with useful intel, the information is sent from the Scarcity to the Herald, which then jumps out of the system to deliver the information to human military leaders. The Herald has just received a packet of information from the Scarcity that could very well turn the tide of the war, but before they can leave the system, there is a malfunction with the engine core and the Herald is left sitting dead in space. At the same time, the planetside spies are discovered and a Hostis warship has tracked the information transmission and is bearing down on the Herald at top speed.

Can the crew get the engines repaired in time? Can they decode the data packet and use this new information against the Hostis? Time is running out.

Hehe, that turned into a movie trailer, which was not the plan. I had a lot of fun writing this story. The original idea was based upon the thought of a ship waiting on the edge of space for a spy transmission. Of course, the ship has to break down just after they're discovered, it needs some tension. But the real intrigue of this story to me is what information is contained in the data packet that could turn the war around for the humans. I won't give any spoilers here, but let's just say those who've read it are polarized between loving the idea and hating it. I've taken kind of a risk including this aspect of the story because it's a heated argument in the science fiction community.

Unfortunately, I don't think I got this controversial reveal quite right because the story didn't even make honorable mention in the contest. Which is ok. I rushed my edits of the story to get in into the contest on before the deadline and I think that's what hurt it most of all. There's a great story here told poorly and I think I just need to break it down, see what's working and what isn't, and figure out how to make my reveal work within the context of the story.

I could use some fresh opinions on this story. If any of you would be interested in read the Herald of Salvation and giving me some feedback and suggestions (especially for a better title), I'd be willing to send it to you. Just comment on this post with your email address and I'll send it right over.

In regards to the contest, I just yesterday sent off another story for 3rd Quarter, a light-hearted ghost story that I wrote based on a writing prompt from the website Prompt and Circumstance. It was fun to write and includes some humor, which I don't do a lot of. I'm also currently working on a story set within a community on the moon which discovers that nuclear war has just destroyed the entire planet Earth and they may very well be the last human beings alive. Dun-dun-dun!

For those who are interested, feel free to follow my progress toward winning Writers of the Future on my Journey page.

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