I’m (finally) coming to the end of the first draft of IXEOS: Rebellion, book 2 in the IXEOS trilogy. I had an “AHA!” moment this morning… You know how the middle of a book is the doldrums, and it can be challenging to stay on track? Well, the middle book of three is the same! There’s so much happening, and yet it’s not going to be the end of the story, so I have to figure out how to tie up most of what’s actively going on, leave some cliffhanger but not enough to make my daughter send me text messages all in caps when she beta reads it, and still have excitement.
Huh. Good luck with that!
I crossed 70,000 words yesterday, so I’m assuming I’ve got about 10-15,000 to wrap this one up. Writing this book is ending up like my experience with The Hoard of the Doges, which took me too long to finish. Sometimes life happens, and you have to roll with it, but it’s hard for me to write in spurts like I’ve been doing since early December. I do much better writing it all really fast, as I can keep and grow the story in my mind that way. When I have days or even weeks between writing, I have to go back, reread what I’ve written, refresh my memory, take notes… In the end, it didn’t hurt the final product of The Hoard of the Doges (and hopefully won’t with Rebellion) but I did have to do a lot more revisions and rewrites than usual. I expect the same to happen here.
The other thing about this trilogy is that it’s huge in scope. To review, I’ve got about 300 teens (about a dozen active characters) who are from our Earth but were lured to an alternate Earth called Ixeos. On Ixeos they can travel most of the world through portals in the tunnels of Paris. That has given me unlimited locations, which has been great… but it also means there are scenes and stories in all those locations. And that’s important to the plot, but it’s a lot of threads to weave into a cohesive tapestry. Then, in case that wasn’t enough, we have rebels on the ground, who are humans from Ixeos. There are rebel cells (and gangs, and junkies) in every city, and a few of those are important secondary characters. Oh, and then the Firsts, the humanoid aliens who have taken the planet by force, used EMPs and WMDs, and enslaved hundreds of thousands of humans. None of these are main characters, but the whole race is out there causing trouble. Oops, forgot the slaves. They’re there, too.
Basically, I have an entire planet, and about a half-million humans and a couple hundred thousand aliens to deal with. Do the words “it’s complicated” start coming to mind? Now, obviously I’m following a few plot lines characters, and hopefully it all comes together as a cohesive story. But keeping it all straight — who was where, physical descriptions, personalities, ages, languages, logistics… It’s more challenging than anything I’ve written before, even the heavily historical treasure hunts.
All that said, I’m having a blast! I really like writing dystopian stories. (I did a dystopian screenplay last year that I love.) I’ve never written sci-fi fantasy before, so I’m learning about a lot of things and enjoying having a little leeway on reality. It’s low fantasy, so we’re not talking magic, but still, it’s fun to bend the boundaries every once in a while.
I’ll be writing book 3 in April during Camp NaNo. I’ll be sad for it to end, I think. Unlike with the Quinn books, which theoretically can go on forever, when this one’s over I’m not sure there will be anything left to write about Ixeos and the outsiders. After over 300,000 words, that will be sad. Hopefully the readers will be sad, too, because it will mean that they were invested in the world. Really, that’s all we want as writers, isn’t it? To entertain and let our readers suspend reality for just a little while.