As of roughly two in the afternoon today Pacific time, my first draft of my novel, When the Gods Wish to Punish, is complete.
This one fell together solidly from beginning to end. All of my major outline revisions were isolated to the first third of the novel’s development. I have a cast of characters that was really fun to explore.
My protagonist for this one, Ashley Amund, is, in some ways, territory I’ve done many times before. The early twenties gay male brings to mind Voyage Embarkation and particularly Alterra. But my usual interest in society and politics is here completely absent. The more I worked on When the Gods, the more it became a spotlight on human psychology, particularly with regards to desire, choices, and relationships. Philosophically, I wanted to explore whether or not it is good to get what one wants, even if what one wants is harmful or toxic. Dealing with loss shows up in multiple ways. Repentance as well.
Unsurprisingly for such themes, Ash is more prone to passionate behavior than any other protagonist I have ever written. I found I couldn’t keep him from dropping the occasional bit of profanity. This novel also contains the two most sexually explicit scenes I have ever written. But don’t worry, these are not “the point” of the novel, nor are they particularly drawn out. Nor will Ash be dropping f-bombs every other page. My point is merely that, in seeking to write about these topics, certain elements of the characterization couldn’t help but be as they ended up being.
The other major element that surprised me was how this novel relates to Voyage Windbound, the second novel of the Voyage series, which I completed but will not publish. I realize now the true reason I cannot publish that novel. It’s because it’s not true. And I don’t mean that in the sense of “it didn’t happen.” In that sense, all fiction is untrue. What I mean is that Windbound did not explore the theme correctly. When the Gods does. And, even though roughly the same boyfriend narrative arc plays out in When the Gods, I find I feel none of the same discomfort with it as I do with Windbound. That seems to be because its depiction of the theme feels true rather than false.
When the Gods Wish to Punish’s first draft currently sits at 56,000 words. I expect that to grow to around 60k with editing. For me, this is a comfortable size for a novel. I look forward to sharing more after I do future revisions, but for now, I’m going to turn my attention to editing Chronicles of Ytria for publication.