It Started With The Orange Tree

So now that Gaia’s Engine is on the back-burner for a while, I’ve changed the look of the place. Nice? Good. But why the sci-fi theme? Simple — I’ve been watching that stargazing show on the BBC and I have a thing for black holes and spatial anomalies right now. Besides,  it fits nicely with the theme of my novel The Soul Consortium which is near the top of my agenda at the moment (more on that soon – lots happening).

Anyway, seeing as this site will no longer be dedicated to just the one novel, I can tell you a bit more about what else I’m up to in the writing world.

This week I’ll tell you a little about this year’s project. I’ll be work-shopping a completely new story which I’m calling ‘It Started With The Orange Tree’ (until I can think of a better name). This isn’t going to be a massive novel, in fact it may only be a novella. What’s the difference you ask? Well, the difference is in the word count. One source says this…

  • Epic – 250,000 words or more
  • Novel — 40,000 words or more
  • Novella — 17,500–39,999 words
  • Novelette — 7,500–17,499 words
  • Short Story — 7,499 words or fewer
  • Flash Fiction — 1,000 words or fewer

My novella will probably land in the region of about 35,000 words. At least, that’s the plan; my books usually end up larger than that. Writing a novella isn’t the norm for me, but it’s necessary to write something smaller this year because—aside from the fact that I’m working on a non-writing related project—I’m finally getting around to challenging a concept that’s been accepted for quite some time in writing circles, and a bigger word count might be biting off more than I can chew. The concept I’m challenging is conflict: it’s generally accepted that conflict is essential to telling a good story, but I don’t believe that.

I think conflict is just the dark child of a larger parent: contrast. It’s contrast that makes life interesting and it can come in many forms, conflict being only one of them. Contrary to what many believe, I don’t think you need to have evil to appreciate good. You just need to have ‘difference’. Expressing the bad to highlight the good is very effective but it’s just a quick and easy path – the dark side, (yes I did just say that in a Yoda voice).

So there’s my challenge – to write a story that has no conflict in it. Of course, conflict is part of everyday life. Even internally we often have to deal with opposing points of view, so any story I come up with must have a strong fantastical element to make it work. To that end, I’m having a crack at a sort of urban fairy-tale. I’ll try to hold the reader’s interest by weaving in and out of strange and bizarre concepts as the narrative unfolds, and that’s going to involve diving into a modern-day fantasy world where new miracles are thrust upon the characters in each new chapter.

Here’s the blurb:

“The Earth is growing tired and the world we know is about to change. Dramatically. Angel Goodsun recounts the days when the miracles began, when the sky grew bright with the light of two suns and wars ceased. When death and sickness fled, when soul-splitting began, and when Nature took pity on humanity instead of revenge. In the midst of the unexplained phenomena that are systematically restoring the planet into a place of unspoilt beauty and impossible harmony, Angel begins his pilgrimage to seek out the Green Man, and learn the secrets connecting him to the miracles. As the answers unfold, Angel discovers that the truth is even more astounding than the miracles themselves, and his destiny equally profound.”

The first couple of chapters have been seen by some of my group at WriteClub, and so far, the feedback has been positive. I’ll keep you posted. This isn’t going to be easy, but hopefully, it’ll be fun.


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