Thursday, December 13, 2012

Salvage Operations

I have a habit of starting projects, working on them for a while, then putting them aside for a time.  The reasons for putting the projects aside vary from project to project.  Sometimes, I didn't spend enough time working out the plot line, so I have to stop and figure out what happens in the remainder of the project.  Sometimes, I get distracted by another project and just lose track of others.  Sometimes, I just get bored with an idea.

A little while ago, I had been working on a novel about a shape shifter who worked as an investigator and bodyguard.  I had put a lot of time into the race, known as the Children of Li'jha, giving them limits on their ability to shape change.  I also looked at some things that bothered me about shape changers I'd seen over the years, in particular Maya from Space 1999 and Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

With Maya, the main things that bothered me were, what happened to her clothes and equipment?  Was her clothing part of her body, or was it affected by whatever process allowed her to change form.  And how could a being the size and mass of a human being shrink down to the size of a mouse?  What happened to all that extra mass?  Was she shunting mass into a pocket dimension or was that the heaviest mouse in existence?

While Odo addressed the clothing question (his clothing was actually part of his body), there was still the question of his commbadge.  Was he duplicating the complex internal structure of the device?  And where did the power source come from?  Was he creating a fully charged battery?  How?

With all this in mind, I put some limits on the Children.  There is an upper and lower limit to the shapes they can assume, they can't duplicate complex technology and the certainly can't form a battery.  To put it in terms of Farscape, my main character, Dari Loq, could easily mimic Aeryn or Crichton.  She could mimic Chiana (a shorter, more slender form) but she'd be hard pressed to mimic D'Argo (a much bigger form).  There's no way she could mimic Rygel (a very small form).  She can simulate jewelry but has to wear an actual watch.


I had started working on a novel about Dari, titled The Shape of the Truth.  It began with Dari trying to find another of her people on a space station, someone who's been accused of murder.  From here, it went to Dari's home world then followed her as she and a couple of other characters tried to figure out who was responsible for the death of 5000 members of Dari's face who had colonized another planet.  For a while, I felt very good about the project.

After working on it for a time, I began having second thoughts about the first half of the novel.  While I thought it would be a good idea to show Dari doing her job, it really wasn't fitting with the second half.  So I put it aside until I could figure out how to make the two different stories work together.

Three years later...

While looking through some old files last night, I found the part of the novel I had written. I realized that the first half of the story, the part about Dari's missing person search, was a complete story that just needed a little love.

So I printed out the completed chapters (editing out the parts that foreshadowed the other story line) and have started an aggressive edit of the completed story.  I'm keeping the title, "The Shape of the Truth", for the shorter work.  I'll come up with a new title for the second plot line...whenever I get back to it.

I should be able to get through this quickly, while continuing to work on Before the Dawn, "The Fault Lies Not..." and "Intermezzo" (the last  story of A Bright Symmetry).  It's only a little over 16,000 words, so it shouldn't take long.