Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Final Draft of RESONANCE is Finished

It is finished.

The final draft of Resonance is complete. 
  • August 26, 2014 – August 30, 2015.
  • 1 year, 4 days.
  • 8 drafts.
  • 115,000–127,000 words (fluctuated in that range)
  • 42 chapters.
  • Way too much coffee.

Resonance is officially on the path toward final publication.

I hope you guys love this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. From Day 1, it has been an absolutely tremendous journey. In my eyes, it’s the most perfect sequel to Embassy there could be.

Monday, August 24, 2015

How Writing EMBASSY Shaped the Way I Approached Writing RESONANCE

When I began writing Embassy in January 2013, I set out to write a novel about humans and aliens and political intrigue and epic science-fiction warfare, complete with a main character who was the Chosen One, looked up to by everyone to save the day. Everything a good science-fiction novel should have, right?

Those of you who have read Embassy are probably checking to make sure you're not on the wrong blog. "What? Did I read the wrong book?!"

Rest assured, you read the correct version of Embassy that I intended to share with readers.

I wrote 14 drafts of Embassy, and somewhere in the first four, the story COMPLETELY changed. Arman Lance became just another 20 year old guy trying to find his way in life, not some superhero who would bring down the alien takeover in a blazing fury of lasers and rockets. In fact, as you know, dear readers, I toned down the entire story. It became more of an internal journey set in a futuristic reality that humanity could one day experience for themselves.

Even as I neared the final drafts of Embassy, I wasn't totally sure where the series as a whole was going. To be honest, it took me until finishing the first draft of Resonance to fully discover the plot I wanted to tell. I knew enough to include certain bits of foreshadowing and plot points in Embassy that you can go back and find the connections and consistencies that make this story what it is.

As you started reading Embassy, you could probably see the mold I was trying to fit. "A guy loses his father and joins the big *government program* that's divided into three sections into which everyone is effectively sorted according to their strengths."

What does that sound like? Divergent...Harry Potter...the Hunger Games...Matched...Star Wars...

Tell me I'm wrong.

I wasn't letting myself create the story I wanted to create. No matter how much I denied it, I wanted to hit it big. Look at all these other books that used the same mold and became bestsellers! Amazing! Anyone can do that.

Ha. Haha. Hahahaha.

By the time I published Embassy, it was too late to go back and completely reshape the entire story into the story it had the potential to be--and that made the story feel streamlined. I could show hints of the universe within the book, but I trapped myself in a very, very simple plotline. I'll forever live with that consequence.

On the bright side, dozens of readers have told me they absolutely LOVED the book, and I so grateful for that, and that they took the time to tell me. Their praise took off some of the weight I bore from feeling like I held back too much in order to keep the story mainstream.

The books in question

Fueled by my regrets and new-found determination to write the story I wanted to tell, I set out to write Resonance. Don't get me wrong--I still love Embassy, and it gave me a solid foundation to work on. I'm thankful for that (can you imagine what it'd be like if I kept that original plot? ughhhhhh...awful).

But with Resonance, I took the universe to the next level. As you'll see, Arman isn't on the singular crash-course with an ill-fated goal like he is in Embassy. One could even argue the plot of Resonance is blurry... Where exactly is the line that connects Point A to Point B?

My answer: there is no Point A or Point B.

Okay, before you start going off about the utter absurdity of that claim, let me explain.

In Embassy, we had Arman Lance. From the very beginning of the book, his goal was always "Get to Ladia." He goes on a journey, and voila, you can guess what happens. From the get-go, it's pretty predictable, despite the new universe you get to explore. (I mean, come on, people. Who wouldn't want to play Hologis????)

Resonance, I'm proud to say, isn't set up the same way. And I'd go so far as to say I don't think it's that predictable of a book. Sure, there are one or two instances where you might foresee something, but in the grander scheme of the story, it's not so linear, not so predictable. And that's because I don't use a string of cause-and-effects to generate the story itself.

The other goal I had when writing Resonance was to make it as realistic as possible--in the world-building, the characters, and the events. I want you to dive into Resonance and feel like this could all happen in real life. I want you to think about the future of humanity and be like, "Yeah, this could be where humanity ends up in 2000 years."

Resonance is complex. Very complex. I tried to develop as many aspects of humanity's future as possible, from the technology and the culture, to the process of terraforming planets and the political discrepancies that might arise from various events that take place.

In creating the worlds seen in Resonance, I spent 50 hours watching nature documentaries to develop ecosystems across the planets. I also calculated the exact mass, density, gravitational accelerations, atmospheric compositions, and other properties of the planets, to make sure that the characters were experiencing what real people would experience if we ever settle other worlds. I also introduce new sports, riding the success of Hologis, and made sure that those were as intense and awe-inspiring as possible (spoiler alert: I made my own heart race with anticipation in several of these scenes).

On top of all that, I drew 13 maps (in MS Paint, of course, but they're still detailed!) so that you, dear reader, could visualize the world in my head on a whole new level. You'll know exactly where the characters are at all times, and trust me, there are some really, really cool locations.

Relatively speaking, Resonance is also much more scientifically-oriented than Embassy. You'll see aspects of General Relativity, planetary sciences, time distortion and gravitational lensing, experimental lucidity interfaces, and even my own proposed theory of dark matter--all which are presented in simple terms, no matter how mind-bending they might seem. Maybe you'll be intrigued enough to give the book a second read-through just to wrap your mind around some of the concepts!

Resonance takes the world hinted at in Embassy and blows it to extraordinary proportions. I enjoyed writing this book to no end, and am absolutely proud of the story it tells. I truly believe it tells a story with no preset boundaries. I hope that when you get your hands on Resonance, you'll dive into the world and never want to come out. If that happens, I've achieved what I was going for.

Thank you for reading Embassy, I hope you're looking forward to Resonance, and I can wait to share this journey with you.

"This isn't about you, or me, or this guy. It's about all of us, Lance. It's about the mission. Why we do what we do." -- Rand Harmat, Resonance; by S. Alex Martin