I’m approaching the two-thirds completion mark for the first draft of Dunmoore Book 2. I’ve tentatively titled it The Path of Duty, and so far it’s unfolding pretty much along the lines I indicated in an earlier post. I’ve also started work on developing the cover, and the artwork I’ve chosen should fit well.

As I’m writing, I’ve been reflecting on genres and categories, and how it’s not always easy to pigeon-hole a story. I write science-fiction, that’s clear, and by the definition of space opera, my stories fit into that sub-genre, no question about it. Where it gets interesting is where Dunmoore (and Decker for that matter) fit within the realm of space opera. My stories are in part military SF, for sure, but they also contain healthy doses of mystery and intrigue, and have less battle scenes than many novels in the military SF sub-genre. Whatever that sub-sub-genre is, it seems to have plenty of readers, and that’s great. I personally don’t enjoy military SF where it’s just one battle after another. War has been described as long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of terror, and while one doesn’t wish to bore the reader, I enjoy reading (and writing) about the build-up to those moments of terror, because they’re all the more exciting by being anticipated. Too much of one thing and it becomes like the parable of the teenager cranking up the volume on his mp3 player: at some point, you reach the limit and it doesn’t go any higher. Let me tell you, it isn’t easy writing it that way sometimes.

Right now, I have the climax of the story rattling in my brain, the battles that will bring those moments of terror, and I can see the Stingray swooping in for the kill. But I have to get there, to stitch a logical sequence of events together that set the stage for the action, and not be boring about it. I try to avoid techno-babble and information dumps, but at some point, I do have to paint the backdrop and set the stage. Finding the right balance is an art. As I’m nearing page 200 in the manuscript, I’m beginning to realize that the earlier chapters were perhaps too bare of texture, as I compare them to the richer scenes I’m currently writing, and that’s mostly due to the fact that I wanted to get to the action as soon as possible. Now, I’m more interested in creating the depth necessary to make the action understandable as well as exciting and to slowly reveal the mystery behind the intrigue. The first rewrite is going to be curious, as I can see myself adding rather than subtracting, although the subtracting will come in the second rewrite, I’m sure. I’m also discovering once again that my antagonists have more depth to them than I thought, and that their motivations aren’t as clearly good or evil as one often sees in the genre. The danger, of course, is to turn everyone into various shades of gray, and where is the visceral fun of that?

Back to The Path of Duty. I’m still on track to have the first draft done by Easter, even if some days I’m utterly uninspired. I make it up by having really productive days in between. If, after the first rewrite, I’m reasonably satisfied with the first chapter or two, I might just post them here as a teaser.