First Drafts: Fear of the Unknown
It is a truth universally acknowledged that second books are reeeeeeeally hard to write. Prior to writing The Good for Nothings, I had spent about four years working on my debut, The Supervillain and Me, and writing other superhero stories—all with the same characters, the same world, the same superpowers… you get the picture. As someone who is terrified of change, revisiting my little superpowered world on a regular basis was super (pun intended) comforting. Writing it had become so second nature that I barely had to think, and it was awesome!
Then it came time to write something totally new. Uh-oh.
Basically I decided to mash together two of my favorite movies, Guardians of the Galaxy and Pirates of the Caribbean, to create a story about four misfits who unite to find an ancient treasure in exchange for having their criminal records expunged. Even though I made a detailed outline and had a hefty twenty-five page word doc full of pieces of dialogue and witty one-liners and scene ideas, I honestly wasn’t sure I’d be able to replicate what I did in my first book.
Fear of the unknown. I promise it gets me every time.
The biggest difference between The Good for Nothings and The Supervillain and Me is that TGfN takes place on multiple fictional planets in outer space and features a host of aliens and humans and androids (oh my!), and TSaM took place completely in the modern world. (Familiarity! Yay!) My main fear before I started writing (and pretty much through the first half of the first draft) was that, even after all my outlining and preparation, I wouldn’t be able to make these new characters, who felt like total strangers, sound and act like real people. And even if I did, could I make them sound like different people than the people I’d created before? I like to think that after seven months of working on the first draft and a lot of sweat, tears, and sleep deprivation, I somehow managed it.
So I guess there’s a lesson in here somewhere, and it’s one that I’m still not very good at learning, but sometimes something really special can come from something completely terrifying. If I hadn’t forced myself out of my comfort zone, then I would have missed out on the chance to create some really fun characters (like a droid who is obsessed with baking and a grouchy red alien who loves orange lollipops) and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to come up with some great humans-are-super-weird jokes. This isn’t really a spoiler, but the book has some fun gags about sneezing, pizza, and jumbo shrimp.
And if that’s not the most bizarre and hopefully intriguing way to end a blog post, then I’m not quite sure what is. :)