02/08/2015 um 13:33

hello august!

Abgelegt unter: Author's Notes

I realised that I wrote just one meagre blog post last month. And that one wasn’t even writing related. Bad me. In my defense, it was just too warm to think. ^___^ Anyway, I’m happy to report that “Beginnings” is nearing completion of the first draft. Hooray! I even began meddling with already written stuff, so technically we’ve already entered the second draft stage. This meddling led to me rewriting almost the entire first chapter, because there just wasn’t enough energy between Nate and Adelie. Want proof?

Old beginning:
Student officer Nate Havisham suppressed the urge to twitch. A cold drink. One with a paper umbrella. That was all he was asking for. Although a pretty student nurse from the Flying Nurse School and the shadow of a tree to enjoy both would be nice too. Instead, he watched the air flicker over the tarmac of the runway. Camaro jets, parked and ready for combat, were glimmering shadows behind a hazy veil. Sweat formed tiny rivulets under his tight shirt collar, ran down his back, and made him itchy. The light breeze felt as hot as jet exhaust against his face.
The sister squadrons Albatross Alpha and Albatross Omega stood on the scorched grass next to the airfield of Westerhaven Airbase Academy and suffered silently, while the August sun burned mercilessly on their dark-blue uniforms. They were listening to Mayor Payne explaining the strategy for the upcoming manoeuvre against the squadrons of Easthaven, in his usual longwinded and complicated way.
Payne was blustering about angles of incidence and foray lines, illustrating his plans on a whiteboard, as the cadet next to Nate became suddenly very fidgety. He observed him from the corner of his eye, and realised astonished, that it wasn’t a man, but a woman. He knew that in theory there were women training for officer, but they were so few and far between that it took him always by surprise. She was tall with broad shoulders, and it wasn’t difficult to mistake her for a man, although her neat chestnut braid should have been a give-away. The heat didn’t seem to affect her much, but her brows were furrowed and her amber eyes fixated the whiteboard.
Payne finally found the end of his presentation and barked his usual “Any questions?” The arm of Nate’s neighbour sprang up. With raised eyebrows Payne grumbled: “Klaiber? What’s up?”
Her voice reminded Nate of a large church bell: rotund, clear and pleasantly deep. She would never have problems with chasing her subordinates around the parade ground.
“Wouldn’t that approach leave our western flank dangerously exposed?” She was either reckless or had the courage of a young lioness, as Payne could not cope with criticism, no matter how well hidden. Everybody held their breath as he stood in front of the young cadet, his face already the shade of a very ripe raspberry.
“Are you suggesting that I don’t know how to do my work?!”
With every word his index finger was shooting out, and Nate had to fight the urge to duck. Klaiber however watched Payne with the stoic calm of those who know that they are right. Her talent to stare into his eyes without blinking seemed to have an enraging effect on Payne.
Nate contemplated the tactic diagram on the whiteboard. It took him a moment, but eventually he found the mistake amidst all the circles, arrows and curves. The Hawks, as members of Easthaven were called, would have an easy job of it, if Payne wouldn’t change his mind. And that was highly unlikely.
The inevitable happened. Both squadrons followed their instructions, all required feints were flown as planned and one or two attacks were successful, but it was all in vain. The Hawks discovered the weak west flank at once, and took advantage of the situation without mercy.
In the late afternoon Westerhaven’s Eagles sat devastated and tired in the shadow of a hangar. Klaiber was leaning against the wall, arms folded in front of her chest, staring across the airfield, as Payne approached the group. Nate unconsciously held his breath, but the young woman had apparently no interest in another confrontation or a smug “Haven’t I told you so?” Payne awarded her with a small nod as he addressed his men.
“Gentlemen, milady – as somebody did point out a grave tactical mistake before the manoeuvre and I didn’t correct it, you are not to blame for the disastrous out come of this afternoon. You have worked very well.” Nobody would believe his ears, but Payne was actually apologising for his mistake.

New beginning:
The summer sky was a limitless blue expanse and the sun a gleam on the metal nose of the Stingray. Perfect flying conditions. Acceleration pressed Adelie into her seat, and only a thin brown line on her left reminded her of Westerhaven Airbase Academy. She scanned the blue until she spotted the little black dot moving towards her. The cadets of Squadrons Albatross Alpha and Omega were pitched against each other in a bout of one against one, and Nate “English” Havisham, Alpha’s top dog, was her adversary. He was as cocky as they came and wouldn’t be an easy opponent. Her fingers gripped the stick harder. The planes engaged in a waltz across the sky. Beautiful to look at, but deadly for those participating in it. They pulled each other into an endless progression of loops, rolls and turns, but the only result was that they both pushed the limits of their planes and bodies until Adelie saw stars. Sweat trickled down her back; the cooling system of her flight suit had trouble with keeping up. Neither of them managed to get the other in front or even into shooting range, and concentration began to wear thin. Eventually, he was coming up behind her and she forced her ‘ray into a sharp turn, almost causing the bird to skid across the sky. Her attacker hadn’t suspected her move or he was getting tired too, but he overshot considerably, bringing himself in front of her. The opportunity to fire. The crosshairs almost aligned themselves with his tailpipe and she pressed the trigger.
“English, you’re dead. Princess, good shot. Great fight everybody. Return to base.” The confirmation from Mission Control was music in her comm and delighted she pointed the ‘ray into the direction of the airbase. Time for a shower.
#
The air flickered over the tarmac of the runway. A light breeze brushed as hot as jet exhaust over his face as Nate popped open his canopy and it wasn’t helping with cooling his mood. He climbed out of his jet and narrowly resisted throwing his helmet across the ground. Losing to a girl, after such a rookie mistake. Next to him, the other pilot exited her plane. She was tall and even the baggy flight suit couldn’t hide the fact that she had more assets than just being an ace pilot. Because she was, he grudgingly had to admit to himself. She had pushed his limits like nobody had before her. A long brown braid fell over her back as she pulled off the helmet. Her eyes met his as she turned around and she smiled, striding over to him.
“English.” She gave him a commendatory nod.
“Princess.” He forced himself to smile.
“Thanks for the excellent fight. You really kept me on my toes.”
“You’re welcome,” he grumbled, crossing his arms in front of his chest. He leaned against the body of his plane and glowered at her. “When are you free for a rematch?”
She laughed, delightedly even. “You don’t like losing to a girl, eh?”
“I don’t like losing at all.”
#
Adelie watched the young man looking like a kid that hadn’t gotten what he wanted. He was a poster boy for the United Space Force: tall, athletic and cheekbones commissioned from Michelangelo. Tanned skin and bright blue eyes which were currently trained on her in an upset glare. Jet-black hair sticking up in every direction.
“Should I get you some ice for the burn?” She teased.
He huffed and pushed himself away from the hull, getting so close that she had to look up to see his face. “Next time you won’t get me so easily.”
“I’m looking forward to it.” If he thought he could intimidate her, he was wrong. Training with a bunch of overly confident guys had steeled her for any sort of encounter. But her remark lit up his face in an unexpected smile. He extended his hand and said: “Challenge accepted.”
She shook his hand. “You better check your six, English.”

I promise I won’t turn those two into one of these endlessly bickering couples though, where you always ask yourself what actually keeps them together. But this beginning will make her rescuing him from the speeding van all the more interesting. Poor Nate’s going to be in very hot waters for a while. *evil author laughter*

Current word count before another round of clean-up: 38.376
But there are at least 3.000 words in there that I either need to delete or rewrite – and stuff I haven’t written at all. *le sigh* I’m running around writing that mandatory fall-out between them, because aaaaaargh, I don’t like conflict. Not. at. all. Even though they have a valid reason to fight, and it’s also not the major crisis, and yet I’m stalling. At least I sat down today and wrote a proper synopsis, to pin down where I want to be in the end. This was easier after (almost) finishing the first draft, because now I’ve told myself the story once and I have general idea what needs to happen when and how. I get to write a subplot, yeah! And lots of techy stuff I still have absolutely no idea about how I’m going to write it, because I’m no tech person.

This “I have no idea how this works” is actually one of the main reasons writing takes so long. Unless you’re exceptionally prepared and you know beforehand what you need to look up, you’ll run into stuff you need better knowledge of. I can’t tell you how many Youtube videos I watched to get at least a notion on how to write the dogfight in the very first paragraph above. Let’s say I had a very entertaining weekend with them. I think the scene still lacks a little, but it can stay like this for now, as I don’t really need to put emphasis on how Adelie feels in these particular few minutes. It’s an introduction, not a climax. Which brings me to the point that writing is not just stringing sentences together to make an entertaining story – which is difficult enough, thank you very much. But it’s also about organization: thoughts, ideas, knowledge.

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Alpha and Omega