July 5th, 2011

Clarion Write-a-Thon

Clarion Write-a-Thon: Chapter One of "Transplants"

My goal for the Clarion Write-a-Thon is to finish the final edits of my novel Transplants. I'm working with Susan Forest, an accomplished writer and editor in Canada, and fiction editor for EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. We've been working through the novel one chapter at a time, and Chapter 1 is now more or less in its final form.

The biggest problem with the chapter: infodumps. The novel takes place on a distant planet, and its ecology drives the story in many ways. My challenge has been to provide enough information for the reader without dumping information and slowing down the plot — because something is killing the colonists. The chapter's main character, Octavo, has to find out what and why and how to stop it.

Here are the opening paragraphs, as currently edited:

The war had begun long before we arrived because war their way of life. It took its first victims among us before we understood what was happening, on an evening that seemed quiet. But even then, we knew we could easily be in danger.

My wife, Paula, shook her head as she left the radio hut in the plaza of our little village. "There's too much interference again. I'll try one more time, but if we can't reach them, we'll start a search."

An hour ago, three women had gone to pick fruit. They had not come back, they were not answering their radio, and the sun had sunk almost to the top of the hills.

Around us, tiny lizards in the trees had begun their evening hoots and chimes. Nine-legged crabs silently hunted the lizards. The breeze smelled bittersweet, perhaps from something in bloom. I should have known what, but I did not.

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— Sue Burke