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Finished Terraforming Romance

Finished Terraforming Romance

Three weeks ago I finished my next try at getting published. Its project code is “Terraforming Romance”, but it has a title. I don’t want to reveal it yet because it’s too clever, but I didn’t think of it until about 90% through.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember when I started this draft. After I finished “The Mudbow Sisters” but before I started “Naga Story”, I took a little break to do some writing exercises and fiddling around. I had three stories that I couldn’t decide which to make next, so I wrote the first 8,000 words of each to see which one felt right. That still didn’t help, so I wrote the one I liked the best and felt the most commercial. That was Naga Story, but that turned out badly. I started formal production on the outline on 11/19/2019.

Terraforming Romance didn’t have much of an outline at this point, so I took a lot of time examining the characters, fleshing out the outline, pre-writing and idea-generating. Near the time I had a first draft of the outline, Covid hit. My office closed, and I was working from home. Suddenly, my writing lunch break wasn’t so solid. I finished the outline in-between program compilings, but I lost the will to start the first draft. If I could play video games and watch movies at lunch now, why bother writing? With my routine disrupted, authorship wasn’t so much of a priority. (Especially when it seemed like we all might die any day.)

But somehow, I gathered the will to start it up. Summoning the discipline to get back in the habit wasn’t easy. My new writing spot was the basement–about two feet from where I was working, so the change of environment wasn’t so sharp. But at least I didn’t have to worry about someone barging in. And I already had 10,000 words of the first draft ready. I just had to jump off that point. The outline was divided into three acts, so I wrote one at a time. Then I’d re-examine the outline, look for unnecessary scenes, and get it ready for drafting.

I don’t remember when I formally started the draft–probably around the middle of summer? But I finished on January 19, 2021. So that’s more than a year of novel creation. Most writers say that Coronavirus is slowing down their production, and I believe them. I’m certainly no exception to that rule, even if I’m not published. But now that I got a routine going, I think it’ll go a little faster.

It’s a long one–the first draft is 140,000 words. I think that’s because it’s in first-person, something I haven’t done for a few novels now. The ability to be in one person’s thoughts lends itself to easily start slipping into “navel-gazing” at the events happening around the character. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. A lot of the female-oriented novels I’ve read have a lot of “thinking” (ex. Where the Crawdads Sing, Catherine, Called Birdy), but it’s not my cup of tea. In the second draft, I’ll have to take a machete and terminate all the unnecessary “thinking” with prejudice.

Looks like I’ll be working on this one for a long time. Ironic given that my next one I plan will be a short kids’ novel. I just hope this one ends up in something commercial enough to catch an agent’s eye. Each time I write I get a little closer to nailing those beats that make a good story.

Eric J. Juneau

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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