This is an update to my last post. I am rewriting a short story that lost in a science fiction contest. Above is another illustration I hired someone to make for the story.
I am an estimated one quarter done with the first draft of my longer version of my short story that I am excited about. At 8,272 words for the first fourth, it is still going to be a shorter than a novel, but probably three times as long as it was before.
I usually plan my stories in quarters, where in the first quarter I introduce the setting, the situation, the protagonist, and some of the other important characters and try to build up interest. It ends at a decision point or event that sets the story in a new, riskier direction. Hopefully that is accomplished in this new first quarter of the story or will be in later adjustments.
Calling this ‘One Quarter Done‘ is deceptive because even for people who preplan before they write, the first draft is not the last draft. I had a busy couple of weeks with relatives visiting, my real job, and other interruptions. And next week I will be helping at a week long boy scout camp in a wilderness where the internet is not available. But after that I should be able to make good progress.
I want to share the first part of the story here which is currently the first scene of chapter 1. This may become the prologue or the whole chapter 1. This scene was not in the original short story.
Originally I started the story on the alien planet with Robert newly arrived. That seemed to beg much explaining and exposition. To exaggerate how bad it was, it went something like this:
I looked out my window from my hotel suite in the human spaceport on the planet Sonik and saw all that alien landscape… etc. etc. I had arrived yesterday from Earth … took 13 years to travel here …. woke up from hibernation … in the Procyon star system … outer space, outer space, outer space, etc. Oh yeah, and now I am here.
So I made this new scene where Robert can experience his arrival in a spaceship at the same time the reader is reading about it. This is intended to make the information more a part of the story than being just information. This is my official first draft of the new first scene:
The blurry face resolved to that of the hibernation technician, Uzoma, who had been trying to put me into an induced hibernation for the last fifteen minutes.
“I’m still conscious,” I complained.
“Incorrect wording,” said Uzoma. “You are conscious again.”
I felt cold, foggy headed and miserable still. The intravenous tubes and other cables were still attached to me, but the fluid in the tank I was submersed in was at a lower level. My face was above the fluid and I was breathing air. Did that mean I would have to acclimate to breathing liquid all over again?
How much torture did I have to go through before I could be launched into space, escape Earth, and be on my way to the star Procyon A, my first interstellar trip. I decided to be patient a little while longer. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else.
“Your blood will be warmed to a normal temperature in six minutes.” Uzoma said. I can then disconnect you and you will be free to go.”
That was alarming. “You mean the flight is canceled? What’s wrong.”
Uzoma rolled her eyes and smiled. “You’re here. On Sonik.”
I was on the planet Sonik? Already? The gravity did feel a little heavier, I think. It was hard to tell. “What’s the date?” I asked.
Uzoma looked at a display panel. “UTC Earth time is 2:52pm, August eight, 2198. Local native time is the second hour of the afternoon, the 9th day of the 7th week of the 17th month, of the 2806th year since people were created.”
That meant I was unconscious for about thirteen years by Earth time. Space ships that traveled at near-light speeds made travel to Procyon possible, but not quite practical. My girlfriend on Earth, Fiona, would be thirty four years old now. My age would be complicated considering near light speed time dilation. And according to medical theory with the stasis of artificial hibernation, I had only aged about one month during the trip. I wasn’t feeling particularly young at the moment.
After a long wait, I had the strength to sit up, and Uzoma helped me out of the tank to a chair. She dried me off and helped me put on underpants and a gown.
“Robert, you’ll continue to feel foggy and weak for the remainder of the day,” Uzoma said. “Your hotel room is ready, your suitcase is already there, and your cargo trunks are in the luggage office by the settlement foyer. After a night’s sleep you should feel fine. Are you ready to be wheeled to your suite?”
I nodded, eager to lay down wherever there was peace and quiet.
There you have it. If you have never seen a first draft before, here is one. Comments and suggestions are welcome. I don’t guarantee that I will obey them all, but I do want to read your insight.
Awesome first draft, and so much better than the original first chapter!