Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Writing Wednesday: Another new beginning

One important thing I’ve learned recently is that I suck at writing the first chapter in my books. It is a skill I am working on and I it just takes practice and I’m sure I’ll develop it so I stop going through a checklist and it will become natural.

One thing I have noticed is I keep starting at the wrong place. I need to learn to pull the most important bit out of the book and put it up front.

I had posted the first chapter for THE SETTING EARTH last week and after a few comments I realized that I barely mentioned the whole point of the book, which is the Solar System was about to erupt into shooting war.

So I wrote a new beginning to emphasis this little point and will use the old first chapter as the second chapter.

I would love to hear any comments or suggestions about this new chapter.

Update: Nathan Bransford had to comment on his blog that I am not alone in starting at the wrong place in his post about the dangers of first ideas


The Setting Earth
Chapter 1

“The fate of humanity rests in your hands.” Isabella told Sam without formalities as he was escorted into her office.

“My hands, why me?” Sam asked the most powerful individual in Solar System.

“The government of Ganymede is no longer content to stay in their place in Jupiter’s system of moons and they are expanding their operations in the inner Solar System.” The Chief Executive Officer of the all-powerful Lunar Mining Consortium told him. “They have put considerable resources into the Dwarf Planet Ceres.

“It’s bad enough they plan on disrupting the normal markets for Helium3 with their mining operations there but we have also learned they are planning on using the giant asteroid as base to unleash a weapon that can threaten the very Earth itself.”

Sam took a second to think over what she said. The Socialist Government of Ganymede was his employer’s, the Lunar Mining Consortium, only competition for Helium3 in the Solar System. Helium3 was an atom worth more than gold or diamonds as it was the atom necessary to make controlled nuclear fusion reactors work. The little atom that was deposited by solar wind on the Earth’s Moon was so powerful a freight car worth of it could supply the equivalent of the energy used by civilization in the beginning of the 21st century.

The only sources for the element was either from his company, the Lunar Mining Consortium, that held a monopoly on the mining rights of the Moon, or the Government of Ganymede who had a nearly infinite supply from the gas giant Jupiter. The Lunar Mining Consortium was able to hold off the attempts of the Socialist Ganymede to use Helium3 to spread their influence because it took a shipment from Ganymede over 3 years to reach Mars or Earth.

With the discovery of Helium3 on Ceres, in the asteroid belt on the edge of the inner solar system, they could send it to Mars in a year, or Earth in 18 months. Everyone in the company knew that they needed to do their part win this trade battle. But Isabella was indicating that Ganymede was doing something even more sinister.

“Naturally I’ll do my part to help the company.” Sam told her, “But I’m not sure what I can do.”

“I’ll let Admiral Hanson fill you in.” Isabella gestured at the other man in her office.

“Thank you, Isabella.” Admiral Hanson told her and addressed Sam, “The Ganymede government has unveiled a plan to send not only Helium3 to Mars but huge supplies of metals and other resources. They claim they will do this by sending small asteroids from the asteroid belt into orbit around Mars.

“Naturally we don’t believe that is their true intention, we believe it is a cover story to hide the fact that they are building a large weapon on the Ceres. We have attempted to get the plans for this weapon but our spies have been blocked at every turn.

“We were ready to send a fleet of warships to Ganymede to demand that they allow us to inspect the project, even at risk of an all out war, when out of the blue they contacted the Lunar Mining Consortium asking for an engineer for the project.

“We seized on this opportunity to get someone inside their operation and sent them a list of engineers that also work for Earth Intelligence, they rejected them all. We then sent them a list of qualified engineers and they selected you.”

“I’m flattered.” Sam said, “But you must have mentioned that I’ve never left Earth. I’m not sure I can work in an off world environment.”

“It’s your brain they are interested in not your body.” Isabella told him, “We already send them plenty of lesser people for the menial tasks.”

“Thank you Isabella,” the Admiral continued, “You are the only way we can get the information we need without risking war.”

“I can look over the diagrams they will need to give me and tell you how their weapon will be used. If that’s what you want.” Sam told them confidently, if there was one thing he could do was figure out the properties of a new piece of equipment. It sounded like fun. “I don’t believe the reports that say they are 10 years ahead of us in laser engineering.”

“Believe them.” The Admiral said firmly, “The people of Earth might still out number all the colonies in the solar system 10 to 1 but they have invested all their resources into advancing science and engineering.”

“Still we believe you can easily work on their level.” Isabella told him, “Your superiors feel you are a gifted engineer.”

“Isabella is right as always,” the Admiral agreed, “It’s not the level of science that is going to be your obstacle of this mission. They will undoubtedly give you information on a need to know basis. Any information they give you won’t show their real intentions. You will need to gain the trust of the other engineers on the project and steal the plans for the entire project. Only then can we be sure that Earth will be safe from the Ganymede menace.”

“The company is prepared to reward you handsomely when you succeed.” Isabella told him, “Naturally you’ll get a promotion and a raise, but we can also give you something a little more personal. Your wife was transferred to be a clerk in London two years ago wasn’t she?”

“Yes Mame, the family must be prepared to sacrifice for the company.” Sam parroted the oath he and his wife took when they started working for the Lunar Mining Consortium, “We see each other on Christmas and when we can get a five day vacation.”

“We could easily have her transferred to work in Los Alamos with you.” Isabella smiled, “Close enough for you to live in the same house.”

Sam thought about what that would mean, he had only lived with his wife for 6 months before her transfer and they got along well enough but they didn’t get married for each others company. Promotions went to married employees first and Sam needed a wife to advance, the sex was just an added benefit. Having her back in town mean he wouldn’t have to schedule times to fly out to see her to have sex, but it also would mean she would be living with her and after two years of only seeing her briefly he wasn’t sure how well they would get along on a permanent basis. Still it would mean having sex more than a few times a year.

“Thank you.” He told Isabella, “I’ll try my best.”

“Remember gain their trust, but don’t lose sight of your mission.” The Admiral said.

“I can’t stress how important this mission is.” Isabella told him, “Our very way of life depends on your actions on Ceres. As Winston Churchill said, ‘Victory at all costs, for without victory, there is no survival.’ Remember that while you deal with the engineers on Ceres.”

“Your shuttle to Ceres leaves in two weeks,” The Admiral told him, “We will spend that time training you for your new role. We wish we had more time but as the old saying goes, time and orbital mechanics waits for no man.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

1 comment:

Stephanie Barr said...

I can't read it at right this moment, but I'll try to come back.

First chapters, in my limited experience, are a bitch. Which stinks because, hey, you can't sell someone on your first chapter, they may never read the rest.