Saturday, April 9, 2011

Treasure of El Grado Escaso - My New Novel

OK, OK, enough serious blog posts. Several weeks ago, I mentioned my new work of fiction, and here I am, as promised, to tell you about the excitement.
It all began in November 2010, when my wife Diana and I went to Mexico with some friends. I went scuba diving 13 times and was awed at the sights and sounds of the southern Baja Peninsula, or "Baja Mexico Sur" as it is locally known. Before the trip, I wondered if my holiday should include doing a little research for some future writing, but when I was immersed in Mexico, my decision was obvious. How could I be surrounded by such an awesome place and not put pen to paper? 
During the vacation, one of our group coined the name of a perfect Mexican fictional character for my future writing pleasure - Rico Suave. I liked the name and as our time ticked by, I took more and more photographs to support my future creative writing. As our trip drew to an end, one of the group proposed a scenario where each member of our group randomly picked five numbers from 1 to 1500 (the number of photographs my wife and I had taken). I would then match the random numbers to the corresponding photos, put the photos together and then craft a story based on those photos. (I've included 12 of the photos in this post.) And who was to be the star of this crazy story? You guessed it, our fictional Mexican,  Rico Suave. I even got a title suggestion, "Los Aventuras de Rico Suave" - Spanish for "The Adventures of Rico Suave".
Well, the challenge was accepted and the story begun. I identified the 25 photos, added 5 of my own (not picked at random), and began to write. But the lessons I learned from writing "In Ravenscrag's Shadow" quickly rose to meet my excited efforts. Where is your plot? How do I incorporate these 30 photographs? Who is Enrico Suave? Who are the other characters? What do these people look like? What motivates them and drives the story forward? What kind of story is this anyway?
With these questions and more bouncing off my cranium like a surrounding barrage of attacks in the 1980's video game of Asteroids, I stopped writing and began preparing. First, I decided what kind of guy Rico Suave was. Then, I created a back story to support him. It took longer than I imagined it would, but when I was done, I had a deep rooted character of substance - a character that could last for a series of books - if I wanted him to. Next, I developed a plot, followed by a character arc for Mr. Suave. I then began filling in the other characters, giving them life and personality-fuel so they would add to the story. Next, I decided that because I had multiple story lines, that I needed a chronology to keep the lines separate in my head and to be able to mesh the contemporary story lines at the appropriate moments - you know, "we interrupt this exciting story line with another exiting story line". And somewhere in the middle of all this process, the title of the book changes several times. I finally settled on the perfect title, "Treasure of El Grado Escaso".
As I was working on the chronology (which I still am), I made the decision to incorporate as many actual facts into the story as I could. I am capable of making things up, but why do that when there are so many awesome things in the world of reality. And besides, when I read a fiction novel, I assume that a certain portion of the book is factual - and I very much like that. So I researched and researched and researched! I sent out emails to people who could expand my understanding of certain tools my characters would use (Like the versatile Foldspear my heroine will defend herself with or the very cool SOG pocket knife sported by one of my bad guys). I enjoyed researching, but was anxious to begin writing. As I worked on the chronology, I would catch myself writing expansions of the notes. I mean, how could I not. The scenes were just begging to be written - twisting my arms!
And so, here I am, my larger-than-it-should-be chronology is nearly done. My major characters are mostly complete (I've made character reference sheets for each). I have 30 great photographs, a great title, great back stories for my major characters, great locations for the plot to unfurl, great land and sea adventures in southern Baja, great gadgets, great bad guys, exciting treasure, great twists and turns, great romance, great heartache and of course, a great hero - and so far you only know the short version of his name, "Enrico Suave".
Stay tuned...
The adventure is only beginning...


Kbug said...

Very interesting to read about your creative process

Davis L. Bigelow said...

Thanks Katherine. Glad you stopped by.