So there I was sitting at my desk in my office at home in sunny Canberra of January 2011, staring at the blank page on my computer screen. I knew I wanted to write a sci-fi adventure. I wanted a spiritual warrior as my main character, Dave Warner, and I wanted a really strong female lead, Rihan Kabel. But that was about it.
I pondered advice I had read about and been told of the need to plan out your plot, consider all the combinations and twists. Other advice said determine how it ends and then work backwards. But none of this appealed. Life rarely works like that and for those that it does they are extremely lucky, extremely unlucky, control freaks or all of these combined.
So instead I opted to focus on a set of starting conditions – characters, place and events - and then use one or more themes as a guiding framework for the story to develop. I opted to focus the first book on courage, the greatest of virtues. All great beginnings start with a leap of courage.
I remember saying to myself 'just start writing Dave.’ And so I did. The more I wrote the more I revelled in the process. The characters were coming to life first in my mind but what was probably more pleasing was they were coming to life on the pages as I typed. It wasn’t long before they seemed to have a life of their own. I simply tried to inhabit each of the characters as best I could and to make what I thought would be the types of decisions they would make at each turn of events.
The story unfolded in ways that even surprised me. I really enjoyed those moments when I realised that the different threads would lead to an outcome I had not originally considered. Often it was then that my wife, Joy, would poke her head into my office at the front of the house and ask me why I had a big grin on my face.
I wrote at some pace and before I knew it the four week holiday was over. I had written almost 80,000 words. But by then I was hooked. I went back to work in the day time but continued writing in the evening and into the wee hours. I finished The Awakening by the end of February, just eight weeks since I started.
It had been a transformative time not only for my characters but also for me. I realised that writing this book had been not just a burst of creativity but it had allowed me to explore human nature more fully. At times it was extremely emotional. I recall how emotional I was while walking down to the shops to get a cup of coffee after writing a very dramatic section. Part of me knew it was pure fiction but the emotional response was just as palpable as those from my real life.
Overall it had been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I was a bit drained though. I decided to take a break. Real life intervened and it would be two years till I began the next book. TBC
Dave O'Connor is an award winning designer of computer war games, a consultant to the military in the simulation space, an expert in artificial intelligence and now author of the Warner's World series of sci-fi books. He is probably best known as President of Panther Games and designer of the Command Ops computer wargame series. He lives in Canberra, Australia, with his wife Joy. He has two adult children.
Warp Drive Publishing
is a division of
Panther Games Pty Ltd
ACN 66 008 609 541
We are located in Canberra, Australia.