Children of the Dome

Science Fiction.

Children, trapped inside a bombed mall, find a way outside to an unfamiliar world.

Status: First draft not complete. Completely plotted in the detail that my brain requires. Just needs me to sit down and finish writing the thing.

***

“Let’s go shopping,” said Teresa, a bubbly teenage girl with long, wavy brown hair and rich brown eyes. “I need something new to wear. Maybe some new shoes.” Teresa smiled, a dreamy faraway expression in her eyes.

Willa sighed. “You’ve seen everything there is. There isn’t anything new. There won’t ever be anything new. There hasn’t been anything new since, well, forever.” Willa hated trying on clothes and picking out what shirt went with which pants. She hated the charade of trying to be fashionable when clothing was so irrelevant. She’d much rather just wear jeans and a t-shirt every day. Life was much simpler that way. Besides, she mused, it was far easier to fix things when she wasn’t worried about getting her clothes dirty. She was a tomboy. She accepted that long ago.

“So what? It’s fun. And it gets us away from them,” she said, indicating the younger girls giggling in the corner of the classroom.

“Yeah, I’ll give you that. Is your homework done?”

“Finished it during class. We need something more challenging.” Teresa tapped her hot-pink coated nails on the desk.

Willa packed her books away in her book bag. “Yeah, but there’s only so much Audrey can do with the lot of us. It’s not like she has the resources.” She tossed her bag over her shoulder and said, “Let’s go. And while we’re out, why don’t we stop by the bookstore and pick something out?”

Teresa flashed a grin at Willa.

Teresa and Willa ambled down the concrete corridor, the back access hallway for the mall. Deliveries used to be made through these, Willa figured, but that was long over. They came to a door marked, “Be et on,” the other letters faded with gouges streaking through them. They opened the door, the lock long since broken, and Teresa looked around. Teresa, Willa knew, had more clothes than anyone else she knew. But then, Willa knew that wasn’t saying much considering the only people she knew were the other children and her teachers who were stuck in this bombed hole.

While Teresa looked through the clothing, Willa wandered to the front of the store. There wasn’t much to see through the rolling grille doors that separated the store from the rest of the mall, just chunks of concrete, twisted steel, and shards of glass from the broken skylights above. The mall had been bombed a decade earlier, or so the theory went. None of them knew for certain, nor were they likely to ever know. Radios and television didn’t work after that, but Willa didn’t know if it was because no one outside the mall broadcast radio and television anymore, or if it was because the thick concrete walls of the mall, necessary for the harsh winters in Edmonton, made it impossible for anything to get through.

She looked up at the top of the security doors, wondering what the sky looked like. The debris in front of the security doors was so deep she couldn’t even see the sky from here. In some stores, they could catch small glimpses of the sky, but nothing more.

Willa wondered again why, in all this time, no one had come to rescue them. Everyone had their own pet theory, but with no communication with the outside, that’s all they were. Willa wondered if the rest of the world was dead or dying and couldn’t spare the energy to look for her and the rest of the kids. She’d come to terms long ago with the certainty that her parents, and those of all the rest of the kids, were long since dead. Them, and everyone else who worked in that lab underneath the submarine ride. Given that the lab was a secret, and so was the daycare that tended the employees children, it wasn’t that surprising if no one came to rescue them because no one knew they were even there.

She remembered that day well, the last time she’d seen her parents. They were fighting. Again. They’d fought a lot ever since her mother had been promoted to Lab Supervisor while dad was still a technician. His ego didn’t take it well, she thought. But at least, even as they dropped me off that day, they still loved each other and me. So how bad could it be?

“What do you think of this shirt,” asked Teresa.

Willa turned to her best friend. In truth, Teresa was her best friend by default. There weren’t many to choose from in their small group. At least Teresa wasn’t that bad, she thought. “I thought you hated that shirt. That’s what you said last month,” she said of the white shirt with the blue and black Egyptian hieroglyphs.

“I dunno. I think it’s kinda cute.” Teresa held it up in front of her and looked in the mirror. “What about it with these shorts?”

Willa thought they looked like shorts. “They’re okay.” She turned to the security grille and tried to remember what the mall looked like before it had been bombed. Of course she’d been in it hundreds of times, shopping with her mom or dad or with them dropping her off in the daycare before they went to work, but she wondered how accurate her memory was after all this time? She remembered a pond with gold fish – Japanese, maybe? – that were over a foot long, an incredible site to her then. She’d heard stories about a man swimming naked in the goldfish pond in the middle of the cold Edmonton winter one night who’d then run outside to escape mall security. From the stories she’d overheard, it was -30 or 40 Celsius that night. Made it easy for security to catch him. Willa giggled at the thought. How could people be so dumb?

The mall had very few windows to the outside, but had an abundance of skylights overhead that caught the bright sun even in the coldest of winter days. It also meant that they had no way out unless they could dig their way through a caved-in concrete wall and all its accompanying debris.

Willa wanted a way out.

“Aren’t you getting anything?” Teresa’s voice shook Willa out of her thoughts.

“Nah. I’m fine. Let’s go to the bookstore.” Willa wanted something new to read, a new diversion.

“Honestly, you could stand to spend a bit more time on your appearance. It would help, you know.”

“Help how? There’s no one here to notice. Remember?” Willa was losing patience. This conversation had repeated itself with increasing frequency as of late.

“We won’t be stuck here for ever. Someone will find us,” Teresa said, smiling as she twirled in the middle of the store.

That was the last straw. “Enough. Teresa, alright? Enough. We’re never getting out of here. No one’s coming to save us. We’re stuck here until we die. Don’t you get it?” Willa hated herself when she yelled, especially when it didn’t do any good. “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get mad at you.” Teresa’s hunched shoulders shook and Willa could hear Teresa stifling her sobs. Willa put her arms around Teresa. “I’m sorry. I’m impatient and irritable today. Just ignore me, please.”

Teresa hiccoughed. “It’s okay. You’re right. It’s just that it’s so hard to give up hope. I keep thinking that today, someone will find us.” Teresa wiped the tears from her eyes. “Are we ever getting out of here?” Teresa plastered a smile on her face. “We’ll just have to make our own good luck, won’t we?” Teresa didn’t sound at all certain, thought Willa.

“Yep. We’ll have to find a way out of here,” she said. I wish I had an idea how or where, she thought.

Planning Time

I’ve been re-thinking my plan of attack and have come up with something that I think will work. Of course, this starts with a conversation Fahim and I had a month or so back.

The short version – at least, as far as how I remember it – is that we could work more closely as a writing team and pool our resources and our strengths as writers, especially since we complement each other as writers so much.

Doing freelance writing, our multiple editing rounds have worked well – we notice different things. He’s better at the overall picture, for example, but I’m better at the detail. It tends to work out well for us to do things this way. Plus, with Groove, it becomes a lot easier – dump the document into the shared workspace, and he can grab it when he feels like it. When he makes revisions, it shows up at my end. It’s a rather handy tool for collaboration work like this.

To that end, we’ve discussed a complete change to the beginning of my Basement of the Universe novel (yes, I got my title back. :D) to bring it more in line with other novels / stories we’ve got in mind / are in planning / have been at least partially written set in this particular universe.

To that end, I deleted 10,000 or so words in the novel. Painful? Well, yes, but no. They were weak. They needed improvement. The new beginning is stronger, more interesting, more fun. And the old beginning isn’t entirely deleted – I’ve got it languishing in a zipped backups archive, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice for Bloopers, Bleepers, and Outtakes.

Now it’s on to rewriting the beginning, adding in missing detail in more than a few places, then passing it on to Fahim for editing, who, I think, will give it much more than just a “you could improve this here” and more of a “oh, I think we should change this scene entirely” as he chops and adds whatever seems appropriate to him. Frankly, I hope he does take more of a writing-partner approach to it rather than straight editor. I think it will be stronger.

Of course, we’ll likely end up passing it back and forth for editing several to many times. We’re getting good at that – we’ve developed a system that seems to work for us. Granted, we’ve used it for freelance writing, not fiction, but the theory should hold. 🙂

That’s novel one.

Novel two, in my mind, is to finish writing Children of the Dome. I’m about a quarter of the way through, and got bogged down by stupid details like distances. Well, in this book, I have to be fairly precise over travel time, distances, and the like for anal retentiveness sake and to make sure I keep the details clean. This particular book demands it. The reader will likely not notice, but it’s better to make sure the details are in place. It just makes for a better read, in my opinion.

Then pass that on to Fahim as well.

Novel three, in my mind, would be Shards. I’m pretty sure. Which I would like to do for NaNoWriMo. It’s fantasy, not science fiction, so a bit of a departure for me, but that’s also the point. Do something a little different. See what happens. Does it work? Does it stink? Is it fun?

I hope it’ll be fun.

Problem is, I don’t have it entirely planned yet – need to flesh out the plot points, so of course, I need Fahim’s help on that. 😀 Oh, he’s ever so handy. 😀

And that’s what I’ve got in the immediate future.

Basement of the Universe

It’s actually not entirely badly written. Or, to be really honest, it’s pretty good. Sure, it needs polishing, and I need to add a few scenes, and add a whole lot of description, and add some foreshadowing and a few other bits and pieces that I’ve missed (forgotten from the conversations Fahim and I had about it), but he’ll remind me what those are, and I’ll add them, and it’ll be all better. But it’s not pages and pages of crap that needs to be deleted. It’s mostly pretty good. And definitely workable.

Placidia was the first one I finished a first draft for, and it has definite problems. Black Light was the second I finished, and while it’s better than Placidia, it most definitely has some serious problems. Both of them need some serious work – plot restructuring and the whole bit. I have entire scenes I need to rip out, and a whole lot more that I need to add in. It has zero foreshadowing, and the plot is, well, amateurish.

In other words, there’s a lot of work to be done on both of them before either is ready to present to agents or publishers.

Basement of the Universe, however, feels completely different. Basement feels like it needs editing, of course, but it can be done in a month or two, whereas the other two would need a whole lot more than that. And honestly, the only reason it’ll take a month or two to do Basement is because Fahim needs to read it over (it’ll take him that long) and tell me what I’ve forgotten.

Basement is already much much more sellable than either of the first two.

My next, Children of the Dome, will be even better. That much, I also know.

From plotting with Fahim on Basement and then writing it, I’ve learned that, during the plotting phase, I need to go more detailed than I have before. I need to include notes on POV for each scene, foreshadowing that I need to include in any given scene, things like that. At this point, I’m not as good at planning it or figuring it out in the moment, but if I plan it all in advance, then it works out far better.

So with Children of the Dome, and all other novels to follow, of course, that’s what I have to do. Detail the plot outline to death.

With Fahim’s help, it works out great.

Thanks, honey. kiss