samuel x. brase likes to write

The Second Weekend

Posted in novel planning, second novel by Sam X. on 23 March 2010

At the moment when language, as spoken and scattered words, becomes an object of know­ledge, we see it reappearing in a strictly opposite modality: a silent, cautious deposition of the word upon the whiteness of a piece of paper, where it can possess neither sound nor interlocutor, where it has nothing to say but itself, nothing to do but shine in the brightness of its being. — Michel Foucault, The Order of Things

I have sworn to myself that I will finish editing EE by March 28–this Sunday. I must finish it now because, well, I am very close to finishing it. I am excited to query agents. And ideas for novel two bubble within me, ready to leap out. I had a frantic brainstorming session last night, as various theories and plot ideas coalesced. I must finished editing EE because I am ready to move on.

Long have I wanted to write a story in the vein of The Bourne Identity, XIII, and Paycheck: a story about a man on the run, suffering from amnesia. I’m not sure why, but that set up attracts me. A lot. The problem with that kind of a story is that the character is not a character–they have no backstory. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana deals with this kind of person, but the character isn’t on the run, he’s struggling to understand his life. Through cultural cues and familial anecdotes. Queen Loana is the story of a person being imbued with character. Bourne Identity and XIII also imbue their protagonists with character, as they study spies struggling to learn why they were almost killed. Their status as ‘spy’ is affirmed through this struggle.

Thus, the struggle is to write a story about an amnesiac, yet somehow make that character interesting for the reader, to keep them reading. Bourne and XIII are interesting because they are forceful–they are trained spies, some of the fittest and most intelligent men on the planet. They are, of course, products of their situation. A writer like myself won’t find himself with four bullets in his back, memory-less, off the coast of Italy (or will I? Story idea! Story idea!).

The character in Paycheck, Jennings, is interesting because only a couple of years have been wiped–beyond that, he has a personality. Plus he’s caught up in action, and thus story. The man in Queen Loana, Yambo, is interesting if you like Umberto Eco. Eco constructs this man through books and receipts and memories and it’s fascinating if you dig that sort of thing, but most won’t. But, like the spies and the scientist, his identity is constructed by his past profession. He was a librarian, thus he learns about himself through the books he possesses, the notes he took.

So I want to kind of merge Bourne and Paycheck; someone on the run from nefarious agencies, set in the future, not a spy. My main concern in this novel is the impact of technology on society, and thus, perhaps the obvious choice of employment for my character is that of technician. The four stories I am drawing on for inspiration construct their characters through a previously chosen profession–a profession they chose before the amnesia, when their sense of self was intact.

These characters, including mine perhaps, fly too close to the ‘truth’ and are rewarded with a memory-wipe. Thus, they have to return to the truth, fly close once again–but this time, maybe not quite as close. Or simply keep themselves safe. I will have to think on this more….

To Your Strengths

Posted in second novel by Sam X. on 15 March 2010

I have four chapters left to edit and then I’m putting EE to bed, for now.

I am excited for a number of reasons. With the completion, I get to query agents. That’s amazing in and of itself. But I also get to begin a new project; a project yet unknown, barely felt, unimagined.

I love EE, but there are things I want to abandon. I want to abandon the children, I want to abandon the soft sci-fi, and I want to abandon Earth. All three of those things were necessary for the novel, to make it accessible, and to help define the borders it straddled, but I want to write something more… futuristic.

EE was about some basic themes that I wanted to explore at the time. Themes I still want to explore, although they are taking a backseat to other themes. Themes I would play up in the rest of the EE series, should it get published. But until then, I’ll apply them to a new book of a different series.

Is it time for DS?

Not yet. Not yet. I don’t want to attempt DS until I have at least two novels under my belt. EE proved to myself that I can complete a novel, that I am a writer–this sequel will prove that I’m in it for the long haul. With two edited novels complete, and the lessons learned from them, I think it will be time to begin DS.

But that’s for 2011/12. For now… undetermined new novel. Themes that carry from EE? Nature. Technology. Themes new to project 2? Identity. Being connected to and disconnected from social groups. Memory.

An idea began percolating last night, at the super convenient time of 12:20am. Being a writer, I grabbed a pad, flipped on a light, and gave in to my imagination. I am paying for that today. But the idea is interesting. It holds promise. A lot of promise, in some ways. No characters imagined yet, just a fun sci-fi world to play in. I need to think about this more: I can already see the basic dramatic arc, and how I might pitch it to an agent.

All right, this post has served its purpose. Off to scribble, to think, and strike through. More on novel two soon.

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