It’s finally done! The Thargoid Guide is now being circulated around the Elite fiction writers’ forum so that everyone writing about our insectoid friends can start putting some words on paper, including yours truly.
Playing a part in the creation of an alien race has been both challenging and enjoyable. It’s taken a lot of effort on the part of everyone to get this far, and we are all hoping that readers and gamers alike will enjoy the results when the fiction and game hit the shelves in 2014. There is still some polishing to do, but the result will be a team effort, with contributions, suggestions, and amendments provided by everyone involved along the way.
Obviously this means that many of my initial ideas have been dropped or changed from the original draft as Frontier’s vision for our space-borne antagonists became clearer. I can honestly say I am not upset by this – it’s an inevitable consequence of co-writing – and some of my suggestions have been used. It also means that I am not solely to blame if our vision of the Thargoids does not correspond with yours. Send any hate mail to Frontier: they wield the power. I am but a minion.
Next comes the premise and synopsis for Out of the Darkness, both of which I submitted to Frontier today for approval. There have already been several modifications made to the story to fit with the revelations in the Thargoid guide, the other human faction guides, and the Elite timeline, all of which are still evolving. For now, all I can do is wait-and-see whether the light is green, amber, or red.
Even if everything is OK’d, there is still a lot to do. The sweep of the Out of the Darkness plot needs to be placed within the Elite universe, enmeshed with local politics and embedded in its settings. Each writer has their own approach to the creative process, and often attempting to significantly change that approach leads to writer’s block.
Unfortunately for a project of this type, where pre-planning everything is the default setting, my approach doesn’t fit. Many writers, including the authors of Elite fiction, Drew Wagar and John Harper, are excellent plotters: they work nearly everything out in advance and write a mini-version of the story in the form of an in-depth outline. I’ve never outlined anything in detail in my life. This is not by choice. I’d love the peace-of-mind and security that comes from having the next six months of your creative existence laid out like a map. I don’t outline because, for me, outlining is like inserting a buttock-bung in someone with a bad case of the runs. Everything stops moving, and when it’s removed there is even more mess to deal with. As a part-pantser, I have to let things flow naturally: it’s the only cure I’ve found for this ailment others call ‘writing’.
For the moment things remain constipated and, as Frontier are straining as hard as they can but remain overwhelmed, no known laxative will speed the process. So, I sit, and I wait, dreaming of a clear passage for my launch into the emptiness of space.