Sometimes as an author I just wish I had a boss – somebody who would tell me “do it this way”. But that’s no good to anybody. It’s my job to know what way to do things – or just take a risk and dive in. But I still want someone, ANYONE to tell me what the right answer is.
Right now I’m struggling with the tone of my new book – a romantic rescue story set in the Belgian Congo in the 1960s, featuring: Mercenaries, missionaries, Communists, Cannibals, Diamonds, Uranium, horrifying wildlife, the United Nations, and a country the size of Europe to set the story in. So what book is this? Is it a pulp adventure similar to Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Mummy? A romance with dangerous elements similar to Titanic or Pearl Harbor? Is it a socially-relevant tale of Africa like Blood Diamond or Tears of the Sun? A frightening survival thriller about exotic creatures like Jurassic Park or The Ghost and the Darkness? A study in 1960s culture and norms? Or a romantic, nostalgic adventure of cynical idealism like Casablanca or The African Queen?
The answer is all of them. Unfortunately.
So the real question isn’t what this book can be, or even what I want it to be. The real question is narrowing the dramatic focus in such a way that I enjoy the writing process and the reader has an awesome time reading. Elevator pitch: “A mercenary in 1960s Congo is hired to rescue a missionary who turns out to be a woman he once loved and lost.” That’s PRIME real estate for adventure, danger, romance, epic history, and even some witty, bantering humor. To not touch on any of those bases would be a crime – yet trying to cram it all into one book is, honestly, impossible.
So, I will spend the next week of my life hashing through what this book should be, what the most readers will enjoy most, and what I am willing to let go of for the sake of writing a coherent book.
Meanwhile, I encourage all of you to comment and tell me exactly what to do, because I’m going crazy. And who doesn't want to be my boss for the day?