For the past couple of days I’ve struggled with a scene I was adding to The Man of Cloud 9 for beta 2. Every time I wrote it, it felt like a Yellow Hoods scene. At first, I didn’t notice and I was all happy about how it was coming together and then I stopped and went “wait, this is all wrong.” There’s more than one different between the two books, and keeping the feel and tone has been a key challenge in The Man of Cloud 9 vs The Yellow Hoods.
Picture this: The protagonist is beaten down. He gets picked up and dusted off. Then he gets some allies and they start building something up. It’s a classic moment, and in The Yellow Hoods style of writing, it’s filled with banter and camaraderie, it’s lightens the tone and feel of the book, it releases a bit of pressure. And for Cloud 9, that was all wrong. I needed a rally moment, but I didn’t want to let the pressure off. This isn’t a book for 9 year olds and up, this is more classical science fiction. Yes, someone 12 years old might love it, and I don’t violate any of my tenants of YA, but it isn’t written to have those ‘dark’ balanced with ‘light’ moments style that I use for The Yellow Hoods. In a lot of ways, The Man of Cloud 9 (similar to The Torrents of Tangier, for the few who have beta’ed it) is my style MINUS most of the humor. You have the intensity, you have the self-reflective moments, but you don’t get much relief from it. The tension is part of the journey. And that was also why the beta feedback was so absolutely critical.
It’s so tempting to just cheat a little, to have a scene or two in your ‘other style’, to just speed things up or get through a moment you don’t know how to solve. And while most readers may not call you out on it, you’d have missed a growth moment. This scene has tormented me a lot, until today. Finally, I think I got it. It has a momentary lightness, and it needs to, but keeps the tension where it needs to be. I’m happy with it. I’m glad I stuck to my guns, even though I feel really far behind.
I’m looking forward to sharing The Man of Cloud 9 with you guys, and that’ll be coming soon.