State of the WIP: Home Stretch


This is it. Only 8 chapters remain in the zero draft of Vinestead Book 6, tentatively (but likely) titled Brigham Plaza. It is a story of connection and withdrawal, of alliances and grudges, but mostly sex and drugs. Honestly, someone’s naked in almost every other chapter, so much that you might ask, “Hey, what 15-year-old boy wrote this crap?” Me. I’m the 15-year-old boy who wrote this crap.

When I set out to write book 6 at the beginning of this year, I had only a vague idea of where the story might end up. The inciting incident itself I had already come up with years ago: Celebrity hacker Danny Guns Montreal investigates the murder of fellow celebrity hacker Johnny San Vito. Pretty straight-forward, right? Well, as it turns out, it’s amazing what you can grow from such a shallow bed.

Are those seriously the names of the main characters?

Mark Verastiqui

The last few weeks of writing have been the hardest because I’ve been trying to steer all of the characters to the climax. Like previous books, Brigham Plaza is told through the POV of four primary characters: Danny Guns Montreal, Kaili Zabora, Tanzy, and Gordon King. They come together, they drift apart, but after 50 chapters, fate must push them together for a final showdown. Did I say fate? I meant me. I have to push them together.

Fortunately, I found my way through, and the characters are now in position for what I hope is a satisfying conclusion to this tale of intimacy and separation, of deep-rooted love and unbridled anger, and of Chinese food and synth-fueled orgies. The remaining eight chapters don’t seem as daunting anymore, as they simply involve pushing over all the dominoes I’ve set up in the previous 52 chapters.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

As I approach the end of the zero draft, I’ve once again made plans to invite Alpha readers to check out the story before I get too far along in revisions. I thought about making the zero draft available in real-time, but I didn’t like how that turned out for Hybrid Mechanics. The stories have become so much more complex, and I hated typing things like:

John kissed Gertrude.

“I will never sleep with you!”

[RETCON: Remove John sleeping with Gertrude in earlier chapter.]

It will be infinitely more useful for Alpha readers to read a proper first draft, one in which all of the major elements are there and accounted for throughout the book. For example, I introduced a twist late in the book, so now on the rewrite, I will go back and put in clues. Readers of the zero draft wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see it coming as they would reading the first draft.

Anyway, point of that is, I need 2 more alpha readers. I need people who are really going to let me have it, too. Just basically tear the first draft to shreds. If you love Sci-Fi and can be brutally honest, drop me a note through my About Me page and I’ll add you to the list. I’d recommend you not have hangups about politics, sex, drug use, gratuitous violence, or Kevin Costner.

I’m really excited to be finishing up this story. It has been more difficult than expected, but that just makes these final days more satisfying. Part of me always wants to harangue people about how much work it takes to write a novel, how much suffering, how much destruction is done to the body with all this caffeine and sugar and trail mix… but it would be an empty rant.

Truth is I love it.

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