Working on a new story: SleepZone

What have I been doing lately?

I just finished the first draft of a completely new story two days ago. It was supposed to become a short story and some people will still count it as that with about 13k-14k words (different algorithms get to different results). It is called “Sleep Zone” and it’s a “25-minutes-into-the-future” Science Fiction setting. The world is a much safer and better place due to a wonderful new technology called SleepZone, which law enforcement have been using to simplify their work. Ocean, a young journalism student, is looking for the police officers responsible for her brother’s death. Through a lucky – or unlucky – incident she meets someone with connections to help her. I am currently working in removing the worst blunders, plot-holes and grammar errors from this story. In a couple of weeks it will be ready for critique by a couple of first readers.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time listening to Writing Excuses. I do this when I go running. Suddenly going for a run is much more appealing and less boring! I am nearly done with Season 2. And today my signed copy of Shadows Beneath, the anthology to the podcast arrived. Yay! Finally a package from the US that made it through without incident. It’s a beautiful book, but I’ve already been into the digital version that’s included with the book. It contains four short stories one by each of the podcasters and it also includes the initial brainstorming sessions, the first drafts, the work-shopping sessions and a merge of first and final draft to show differences. I’ve already learned a lot from simply reading the first of the brainstorming sessions. Of course I read all the stories first, couldn’t resist.

And I am already thinking about my next story. I may start out with an ending this time. Usually I develop a story from a setting, in which I place characters from which I try to derive a plot. I have a hard time creating great conflicts that lead to good endings. So I may start with an ending. Today’s Writing Excuses episode gave me a good idea with their writing prompt of the day. And I can’t tell you, because the end should be a little bit of a surprise, if you know ahead of time … 😉 I also plan to force myself down to 5-7k words for real this time.

Here’s a teaser from “Sleep Zone”

Ocean woke up and knew she was in trouble. Although it was bright outside, her wake cycle had not started yet. It was just past sunrise and her watch’s display showed her still deep in REM sleep. A shiver raised the hair on her arms. The sounds were all wrong. She listened intently, but the dorm was silent. Not silent as in noiseless: she could still hear the small fridge whirring away in the corner, the low buzz of the charging mat for her netlet, her room-mate Tracy’s snoring and — outside the half-open window — birds greeting the sun. That was all. It was a sleepy silence, no voices of students talking, nobody laughing, no steps running up and down the halls. No dorm ever slept like this.

She was about to tell herself that she was overreacting, that nothing was wrong, nothing could be wrong, that it was simply a bit unusual that she should have woken at sunrise. Unconsciously, she touched the pendant her brother Gabriel had given her, which she wore like a talisman. And unasked, her brain supplied the memories of the night the cops had come to their house and left behind the evidence that condemned her brother. She had felt the same that night: adrenaline-shot, wide awake, her scalp prickling, her hands hot and sweaty, her whole body ready to run.

She went over to Tracy’s bed, shook her room-mate, tried to wake her. But she slept like someone had drugged her and waking her was impossible.

It was an effort to breath deeply, slowing her breathing, to ease the frantic beating of her heart. The first time she had not realized what it meant; now, with Tracy dead to the world and herself wide awake, there was no doubt. There was a raid going on. If she was awake in the middle of a raid — had been woken at the start of it — it could mean only one thing: the whispers of Naturals were true. If one story was true others would probably be as well. SEC would take any Naturals they could find into custody for treatment. They might not be specifically after her but she could not be sure. The rumor’s of the scanners were probably also true. She’d always thought the pictures must be fakes.