Went to a fantastic party hosted by the Huddarts, Friday night. I enjoyed myself throughly. Meet new people, had a few too many drinks, and had a lot of fun. Some of the conversations ended up as discussions about my novel.
I’m at an impasse with my novel. I have to decided the setting of my novel. The setting turns out crucial when developing the plot, since I desire to keep things realistic The novel can either take place on a post-nuclear war Earth in the near future. Or it can occur on the planet Mars about 200 years from now. In both cases, a central element of a swarm of military drones and a covert ops team trying to infiltrate a ruined city works. However the Mars plot called for starships (the original plot). These starships act as vehicles for the plot: one gets shot down, another acts as a carrier to launch fighters and a third acts as a spaceborne heavy weapon. And they play pivotal points in my plot. The last two can be replaced with either a land-based facility or an orbital platform. But I can’t come up with a plot element for the first one. I need a reason why a military group finds itself under fire from a swarm. And said military group has to be far from safety, carry some sort of important mission-critical cargo and needs extraction. Being dropped from a crashed starship explains it all.
Now in the post-nuke Earth starships don’t exist. At least not in any large form. However with a near future plot I can use real life experience, existing technology and current events to make the story more realistic. I also face the danger of offending readers if I make things too realistic or tie my story too close to the current world. And I’m not in the mood to deal with snarky, political vigilantes and their poisonous e-mails. Besides I do want to give the story a sort of a ruined future in the desert feel. The Mars plot nicely abstracts all that away, but I lose realism. The Earth plot bases itself in realism but I’d have to do a balancing act to keep the plot neutral and interesting.
So what should I do? Stick with the easier to write but more space opera Mars plot? Or a realistic, gritty Earth-based plot that needs a good explanations, and realistic equivalents to my Mars plot?
Update: Played a bit of Alpha Centauri, and I would absolutely love to write my novel in such a setting. But a Earth far from Earth comes with its own set of problems.
Problem solved thanks to this paper:
It looks like I have a plot consisting of a few transport flying-wing jets getting roughed up by a bunch of Predator-like UAVs. Looks like I have a realistic plot after all.
Now I will go make a cake and eat it too.