I’ve finally gotten past the first three chapters of the first novel in this four novel thriller series. For weeks, I felt like I was spinning my wheels trying to write those first three chapters.
But, now, at last, I’ve gotten in the point in the story beyond the inciting incident. At the moment, I’m at a very unique moment in my life where I can write as much as I like. Unfortunately, I just don’t see this ideal situation continuing forever.
So, I’m going to use it as wisely as I can.
If things go as well as I hope, I should be able to simply follow the outline I have written and things will go really smoothly. A lot — and I mean a lot — could still go wrong to throw everything out of whack and slow things down considerably.
But you have to have hope. That’s part of the point of writing these four novels in the first place, to give myself hope.
Movies are meant to be a representation of the collective unconscious. At least, that’s the theory. As such, it seems pretty obvious that if you produced a big budget Hollywood movie about a Second American Civil War that it would be really popular.
But there are also some pretty obvious problems with that idea.
One is, given that you would have to make an editorial decision as to who the good guys were, it probably is doomed to failure. You can’t make it the Blue States because the movie probably would appeal to Red States more and you can’t make it Red States because the liberal media would put the movie in the “Left Behind” genre of content.
The only way to solve such a problem is to make the point of the movie that there would be no winners in a Second Civil War. You would have to “both sides” the conflict to such an extent that there would be no good guys and no bad guys.
This would leave us with a movie that lacked any creative vision and was nothing more than yet another excuse to see notable American landmarks be blown up in a rather dramatic fashion.
I really liked No Time To Die. I only rolled my eyes a few times and checked my watch a few more. And I only once felt the need to think about leaving the theatre in mid-film. For me, a person who walks out of movies constantly, that’s a big deal.
But it’s the third act of the movie I want to talk about.
It’s in the third act that the stakes are raised and a child’s life — Bond’s daughter — is put in harm’s way.
It’s in the third act when something about how unfocused the movie is becomes clear. Somewhere in the movie’s nearly three-hour run time was an even better movie, waiting to come out. The emotional highs and lows of the movie were blunted by how muddled it all was.
I think it was so muddled because that is the point of a Bond movie. You go to a Bond movie to have a good time, not to really get your emotions played with. But had they wanted to make not just a Bond movie but a Bond “film” they could have focused a lot more on the implications of Bond having a family for once in his life and what he was willing to do to save them.
As it is, we’re introduced to his daughter as a plot point, she’s put in danger and then…she escapes because she bit the finger of the villain? What the what? It was a huge letdown.
You have something unique in the Bond franchise — he has a family to protect — and in the end the whole thing is dismissed in a rather ham-handed manner. There was not nearly the emotional pay off that it could have had.
Maybe I’m seeing the influence of Phoebe Waller-Bridge? But because she was just punching the screenplay up and wasn’t the main screenwriter, we just saw glimpses of the far more powerful movie that could have been? I dunno. But it definitely is weird that something so potentially powerful — Bond with family — was introduced and then not a lot was done with it.
As I mentioned, I think some of what I’m noticing is just something that is basic to the Bond movies on an existential basis. We don’t really expect them to be No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood. There’s just a fun way to entertain yourself for a few hours.
I saw the latest James Bond film, “No Time To Die,” today, and for once I didn’t walk out of a movie. There were a few time I rolled my eyes and a few times when I checked my watch. But, overall, it was a great movie and highly recommend it.
They definitely updated the character some by giving him some heart. I’m a life-long Bond fan and some of the additions to the character were long, long over due.
But having said that, I will also note that I got a significant amount of inspiration from watching the movie. The four book thriller series already has a lot of Bond-like touches to it and I realized something important about the Bond franchise when I watched No Time To Die.
My series about an a American, female James Bond-type person was missing something and I didn’t even realize it. But now that’s fixed and the series, once done, will be a mixture of James Bond, Stieg Larsson’s stuff and Mare of Easttown, if that makes any sense.
I will note in closing that it’s a testament to how much cultural self-confidence Americans have that No Time To Die would pick us so much and we just don’t care. It’s a lulz.
After three years, and the addition of three more novels to the project, I’ve finally finished a fleshed out outline that totals 54 pages. Next, I am going to give myself a day or so breather to think, read and prepare.
Once that’s over, then I’m going to start “just writing.”
I’m hoping things will go so fast that I’ll be ready to plunge into the second book in the series pretty quick. That’s the point of all of this preperation — when I’m “just writing” things go a lot faster because I know exactly what’s going to happen with the story.
So, I’m hoping that I can write the four novels, then rewrite them , have beta readers then re-write them AGAIN a lot sooner than you might think. I have a milestone birthday coming up at an alarming rate and I want to finish this series by around that point. That gives me maybe 18 months.
But this milestone really gives me a sense of accomplishment. I can already tell, however, that I’m probably going to feel compelled to rewrite some of the outline just because now that I understand the entire story in my head, something have to change to give it some cohesion.
I’m going to try not to do too much of that, however. I don’t want to find a new way to spin my wheels. I’m going to start writing again pretty soon, no matter what.
I’m just about to wrap up a fleshed out outline for the first draft of the first novel in this thriller series I’m working on. A lot and I mean A LOT could still go wrong, but at least I have some sense of the story I’m trying to tell.
I’m in the third act of the outline and I need to distract myself for a little while to figure out how I get from point A to point B in the plot in as creative and interesting a way as possible.
One thing I like about the way I’m doing all of this is I’ve drained the process of any uncertainty or giddy excitement. This is no longer about “Wow, I’m writing a novel!” It’s now about being as serious and clear minded as possible about the process and figuring out how to tell the best story possible. It reminds me of how I felt when I was at the height of DJing in Seoul — when I cued up a song, it was just sound, not music. It was a means to an end — getting people dancing — not music that was meant to entertain me.
I’m trying to follow the general guidelines of Save The Cat Writes A Novel, but I’m not sure that it’s guide for a third act jibes perfectly with the nature of my novel. But, we’ll see.
I’ve come up with such a massive universe and a macro plot that spans four novels and over two decades of time that I’m feeling pretty good. A lot depends now on my actual writing ability. I don’t want to be a good writer, I want to be a popular writer.
I want to tell a great tale that keeps people turning pages for the duration of four novel-length stories. When I started this process, I had no idea it was going to take so long. But, at last, I may be about to actually start writing a my first novel in a way that I will actually write its first draft pretty quick, all things considered.
Once I finish the fleshed out outline, I’m hoping the actual writing won’t take so long. It’s just been serious pain the butt to get to this point.
The original reason why I started working on a novel of any sort was my pure, white hot rage against the Trump Administration. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a lot of energy and decided to work on a scifi novel that would talk about the major themes of the era.
It soon became clear that my ambitions were simply too huge and I would never have the resources to finish what I had come up with. Flash forward three years and I’m in a very different situation. While I’ve again come up with a massive creative project, this time I’ve got a handle on what it all means. And, much to my own shock, it’s not a massive sci-fi series that I’m working on, but rather a thriller series.
This happened in large part because there was always one book that I was able to read over and over again and that was Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire. At first, the book I was writing was very much Stieg Larsson fanfiction.
And the, gradually, everything changed. The story was fused with an array of other themes, ideas, inspirations and it was not fanfiction, but it’s own unique story. What was one book was split into two with a cliff hanger connecting the two books.
Then the one thing I totally never expected to happen, happened: Trump was not able to steal the 2020 election.
That’s when I did an assessment of where I was and realized that with Trump out of office, I needed to do something radical. So, looking around, I realized there was a obvious fix — go backwards and time and develop two novels from the massive backstory that I had come up with for the two novels I was working on.
At first, I thought this was going to be a breeze. I had two solid plots in my mind and things were going really fast. Then, however, it soon enough became clear that I have a huge ego and am very demanding of myself. This is when I saw Mare of Easttown and was both shocked and inspired by what I saw. It was so good, that I realized I needed to up my game.
And, so, here were are.
This first book now is being written with my impression of Mare of Easttown in the forefront of my mind. So, this first book is very different than one might think from someone who has studied one of Stieg Larsson’s books and used it as something of an informal novel writing text book.
But I’m feeling pretty good. I have shifted the focus of the novel from the abstract of owning a newspaper to the very concrete crisis of possession of a baby. The issue is I have a lot of thinking to do. I have to flesh out an element of this story that I didn’t even realize needed to understood better.
Yet, thankfully, at least I know which direction to go at last.
This first book in the series I’m writing is definitely finally come into its own. I’ve fleshed out the first half of the outline to my satisfaction. But now that I’m in the second half I’ve smashed into an existential problem that I’ve only begun to fix.
That existential question was: why?
Now that I know that “why’ is the central issue of the story, I can do a significant creative reset. Another thing I’ve decided to do is make the central issue of the entire story not the abstract of a newspaper, but the very concrete problem of possession of a baby.
All of these changes hinge on something I didn’t even realize was a problem — the current piss-poor development of a very crucial character in the story. But all of these problems are beginning to fix themselves now that I realize that was what was causing problems to begin with.
The story, overall, is getting much better. It’s just going to take some time to flesh out these elements of the story that I just hadn’t even thought about before.
Now that I understand what the problems to fix are, things should move a lot faster. I no longer have unknown abstract problems to work with, but very concrete issues that can be fixed by simply doing a lot of thinking and daydreaming.
I’m being extremely delusional still when it comes to this thriller series I’m working on. But at the moment absolutely no one cares if I drop off the face of the earth, so I don’t think you’ll be grudge me a little daydreaming. Though, this being the Internet, maybe you will.
But there’s one specific character in this thriller series I’m working on that I’ve imagined looking and acting like Jessica Chastain. And now that I’ve decided to write two exogenesis novels as well, there’s another red head I imagine playing this character in my head, IT’s Sophia Lillis.
She’s a little young at the moment to play the character in the first book movie adaptation of any sort of I-win-the-lottery situation where there are movie adaptations of these four novels. But by the time things came to that point, she probably would be about the right age to play the early-20s stage of the character I think Chastain could play in later books.
Yet, again, this is all extremely delusional. I just need hope at the moment and, also, I need someone to model the character after in my mind. I like Chastain’s vibe. And I like the idea that we would kind of see her character — and all the other characters change over the course of a generation.
That’s one of the things I did not expect when I started this process about three years ago — how enormous it would become. I’m really digging deep into every aspect of my personal life — and the lives of a few other people — to flesh out this universe I’ve come up with and populate it with not just characters, but people.
I’ve wasted an embarrassing amount of paper and ink spinning my wheels on this huge creative project I’m working on. But I think, maybe, it’s possible that now that I have a better handle on the characters in this series that I may be able to sprint forward.
But I’m still very much deep in the delusional phase of all of this. Because I’m both very delusional about what’s going on and I have a huge ego, I find myself thinking about who might play different characters in these various novels. The whole four novel series hinges on the extremely poor life choices of a young woman in the first novel .
Anyway, I’m basing this tragic young woman on the late, great Annie Shapiro. It’s kind of my homage to someone who really changed my life, to essentially try to tell her story in a garbled, muddled, extremely fictionalized fashion.
It occured to me recently that Jennifer Lawrence would be the perfect person to play this tragic young lady in any movie adaptation. I have long thought Ms. Lawrence would be great to play the late Annie Shapiro in a movie about the fucked up events surround ROKon Magazine, but these four novels draw very heavily from what happened in late 2006 – early 2007 in Seoul. I feel very sheepish saying this because I haven’t even finished the the first draft, but it’s fun to think about. The only reason why I’m even writing this is 100% extroverted and I can’t help myself.
It goes without saying that I really need to put up or shut up. I’ve been talking about this project for years now and still don’t have anything I can really show anyone other than one or two really strong outlines.
I hope to make a first pass at fleshing out one of those outlines — the one for the first novel — in the next few days. This is a huge, huge creative project, but I love to challenge myself with such things. But I really do need to shut the fuck up and write.