N1 Commentary: Looking ahead

In N1. Lucille in Command the young Lunar Commander gives her first orders to the men who used to be her superiors. At 19 years old Lucille is a tad young to lead 10,000 giant-robot pilots, but since I’m riffing on anime, she should be glad she’s not a twelve year old in a miniskirt.

I don’t mind spoiling this: almost all of the next thirteen chapters take place in the anime-world. Akayama DanJay is a story with two major halves, and the DanJay half ended in chapter L. When Jay ate the centipede he began the second half of the book, the Akayama part.

I mentioned last week that the DanJay part of my story is pretty slow and needs to be tightened up. I think the Akayama part has a faster, more intriguing pace: it begins with the reveal that Akayama survived on the Hurricane Planet for years, and now Lucille plots to destroy the Hurricane once and for all in a giant robot. That’s a lot more instantly gripping than Dan whining about Beatrice.

Of course, we watched a few episodes of LuLu’s Space-Time Acceleration in the first thirteen chapters, and Jay will appear near the end of the story to wrap things up. I think this gives the whole work a pleasing symmetry, like a taijitu, that yin-yang symbol. But is that the best way to present my story? Presenting the slow DanJay part first might bore people away.

What if, when I’ve got the second draft finished, I move more of the Akayama part into the DanJay part? If Dan and Jay watch more episodes of LLS-TA the reader will see more of this side of the story earlier in the book. If I moved section J3 to, say, chapter G, and put N1 where J3 used to be, there would be an anime episode every two chapters or so, giving the reader a sense of consistency. It would also indicate to the reader that the anime is more important to the story than they might think, preparing them for Jay’s centipede-trip.

So far, every chapter has been 4000 words or more sorted neatly into four sections. The only reason for this is to standardize my weekly updates and keep me writing a thousand words a week, but it has an extra benefit I hadn’t thought of until recently: it’s easier to remove writing I don’t need than it is to write new scenes I need to add. When I’m done writing everything, I can cut each section to under 1000 words without concern. I’m glad I’ve generally been over-writing rather than under-writing.

At the same time, I’ve decided that chapters P through W will be about 1000 words apiece instead of 4000. These are the chapters where Lucille is piloting a robot bigger than the galaxy, and I think blowing through chapters quickly will make the reader feel larger than life. It should also make the chapters seem more important, because the changes which occur during these chapters will be pronounced and rapid-fire.

(Also, speeding through those chapters will help me finish the book on chapter Z. I’m not totally sure why I’m naming my chapters after letters instead of numbers, but I’m having fun, so there.)

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