Writing Something Different

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By Victoria Buck

“Write something different, but keep it the same.” This was one of those perplexing statements made by a teacher addressing a group of novice novelists at a conference. I don’t remember what the class was called or who did the teaching. It was over a decade ago. I only know I latched on to the “different.” I was nearly done with the rough draft of my practice novel, which in my opinion fell into the “same” category. I went ahead and finished the novel, proposed it, talked about it. Stuck it in a drawer. Then I studied, learned how to self-edit, and got active with a critique group. I guess I’m good at backing up. But I don’t recommend it.

While learning how to write contemporary fiction, I took up with pop science and it was a happy relationship. You know, string theory, the multiverse, and something most people-especially Christians-have never heard off: transhumanism. Something different. Hmmm.

It didn’t happen quickly, but after a couple of years reading about the real advancements geared to take the human race on an evolutionary ride, I allowed transhuman ideology to root itself in my imagination.

But I’m not a transhumanist. I’m a follower of Christ. My world-view and theirs don’t jive. And writing hard sci-fi is not my road. My feet are more comfortable on the path of sameness. My mind, however, insisted on something different. Soon the story of the world’s first transhuman became as real to me as my own life. He’s an experiment. A scientific wonder. He’s different. But he’s also the same. A man facing unprecedented struggles. A lost soul called by God.
So I finished my novel of sameness, only different. And I got a contract. I think I’ve learned what it means to be different. I hope I’ve learned something about being the same, but not too much.

I’ve been told I write like a man. You’ll get no flowery descriptions from the transhuman. The color of the blossoms in the terra-cotta pot on the front porch framed with white posts is not his concern. Or mine. What goes on inside the mind of Chase Sterling is the story. His eyes are blue and he’d good-looking, but I’m writing the last book of his trilogy and I still don’t know his exact height. I’ve never abandoned his POV. Never planted myself inside the mind of the woman he loves, although her character is close to my heart. I don’t know how she sees him, but I know she adores him.

The relationships in the story are the same. The conflict is the same. The plot is a story retold, I’m sure. Overall theme-same. Intriguing sub-plots-same. But nobody can call it the same. It’s different. Back when I first attended a conference, somebody might have insinuated I shouldn’t write like every other writer, but that I had to write like all of them. I didn’t understand. I only knew I wanted to write what I wanted to read. Something unbelievably different. Yet emphatically believable. I think I get it now.

Victoria BuckVictoria Buck’s first novel, Wake the Dead, was released in 2014 by Harbourlight Books/Pelican Book Group. Killswitch, the second book in the trilogy, will be available soon.
Contact Victoria at www.authorvictoriabuck.com.

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