Author’s Life: Unboxing My First Fiction Manuscripts

writing

Author’s Life: Unboxing My First Fiction Manuscripts

Angel of Mercy is the first novel I published, but it is not my first novel.  I’ve been writing since I was 10 years old.  Because I began writing before I had a home computer, until very recently, all my stories were written longhand in a series of notebooks.  I kept these notebooks over the years in a cardboard box in my office closet.

The box measures 18”x18” and weighs 35 pounds.  Today, I took the box out of the closet to take a trip down memory lane before I recycle my notebook to make room for other things.

Here’s what I found:

The General (later renamed Delva)

This is my one and only serious attempt at writing speculative fiction.  I began writing the story when I was 17, and rewrote it multiple times over the years, mostly recently a partial rewrite in 2019.

The story follows multiple characters who live on the planet Delva, a war-torn world as technologically advanced as Earth in the 1930s.  On Delva, men and women are equal in all things as are the various races who intermixed several hundred years earlier.  It was fun building a society and history for these people, but I could never quite get the plot to work.

The 2019 rewrite is the closest I’ve come to a story that actually could be published.  That version (with a new name Love, Lust and Rebellion) follows three couples in the present and through flashbacks.  The couples represent love, lust and rebellion, and this version is grittier than previous ones featuring sex, language and violence appropriate for a war ravished society.

Pandora’s Box

I wrote this family saga when I was in high school.  It follows six generations in one family from British colonial India until the present (the 1990s when the story was written).  One of the characters is named Pandora and her box, discovered after her death, reveals a series of family secrets to her decedents.

Wilhelm and Liesel (later remained Berlin Morning)

This story was written while I was college and revolved around members of the German Resistance living in Berlin during World War II.  The main characters originally where Wilhelm and Liesel, hence the original title, but when I rewrote the story in the mid-2000s, I demoted Wilhelm to a minor character and paired Liesel with a man I felt was her equal.

The 2000s rewrite strengthens the story and fleshed out minor characters, but I never finished it.  I would have needed to take too much creative license to keep my male characters in the story.  In reality, they would have all been conscripted before the war’s end.

My notes included a printout of  English to German translations of common words.  The printout was from AltaVista.  Anyone else remember AltaVista?

Mars Colony

My other attempt at speculative fiction, this story takes place on one of the first Martian colonies in the early 2100s.  The colony had a female commander, of course.

For some reason, I wrote one of my drafts entirely on loose leaf paper.  I don’t remember doing this, so I have no explanation why.  Chapters are paper clipped together.

A note inside one of the notebooks reads:  Rewrite #2 began Saturday, 9 March, 1996 8:03 PM.  Ended Tuesday 30 April, 1996 10:53 PM.

Katherine and Leann

The first story I ever wrote, in 1989, the main characters were named after dolls.  The plot follows two sisters in 1848 in an Ohio canal town.  Several years later, I attempted to write a sequel, set out west during the Civil War, but it appears unfinished.  Next blog, I’ll share excerpts from this first novel.

Sydney

Set in 1787, the story is about the founding of Sydney, Australia, and the girl the city was named after.  Clearly, I knew nothing about world history when I wrote the story, or the fact no girl would have the name Sydney in the 18th century.

1914

Not to be confused with my nonfiction book by the same name, 1914 followed three British sisters during WWI.  I also wrote another fiction story with the same title that followed a Parisian family throughout the conflict.

Siblings

This story follows a family for approximately 15 years.  I wrote it while in high school.  I don’t remember it much other than the siblings’ mother had six children to three husbands, and the family was filthy rich.

Chronicles of War

Written while I was in high school, this story follows a family in the year 2033.  In the world the story is set, Portugal is experiencing civil war, and this family is caught up in it.  As I recall, there is a ghost in the story as well – the children’s father.

Short Stories and Novelettes

Finally, several notebooks were together in a bag called short stories and novelettes.  I honestly don’t remember any of these stories, but there are four notebooks full, a folder with character bios and another notebook full of ideas.  Judging from the handwriting, they are from my teen years.

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Melina Druga
Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.

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