acebauer (acebauer) wrote,

Guest post: The Challenges of the Challengers

by Greg R. Fishbone

The Challengers coverThanks to Alice for hosting this 22nd day of the Galaxy Games Blog Tour. She suggested I discuss some of the more difficult aspects of writing The Challengers, which is something I've only touched on briefly elsewhere on the tour. Every book is challenging to write but this one did have a few additional twists.
One challenge I faced was capturing the flavor of Japanese culture and emphasizing the differences in lifestyle and outlook between Tyler, as a Japanese American boy, and Daiki, as a Japanese boy. I had some personal experience from living in Japan and all the research I could do, but I was constantly aware that I approaching an important subject as an outsider. It was gratifying when my publisher ran the manuscript by a Japanese cultural consultant who only suggested a few tweaks and said the characters really resonated with him. Score!
Another challenge was the first-chapter promise. Every book should make at least one major promise to its readers in the first chapter and then keep that promise by the end of the book. In the first chapter of The Challengers, I promise to deliver "the most important event in human history," which actually takes place in the middle of the book. Then I had to build up to even bigger and more important events in the climax! That was a challenge I certainly hadn't faced before.
A third challenge particular to this book was realistically depicting a serious situation--a supposedly imminent end of the world--while maintaining an appropriate level of humor. With all the characters under stress and emotions running high, humor turned out to be a useful coping mechanism, but it required the reader to know from the start that the danger was overblown. The real humor came from the reader being in on the joke when the characters were too overwhelmed to see the situation for what it was.
The last challenge particular to writing this book was the timeline. There are three main point of view characters: one in Japan, one in the United States, and one in space. That meant three different time zones leading to a single event that would bring them all together. In an earlier draft, I was also tracking events in China, Brazil, Germany, and Mexico using a big color-coded chart. How full would the moon be on a certain day in December, 2012? Where would all the planets be? What's the mid-week train schedule like in Shanghai? It was a nightmare to make it all work, and most of those scenes were cut from the book anyway.
While I'm on the subject of challenges, organizing and executing this blog tour has easily been as difficult as actually writing the book. There's a new deadline every day for a month! I just hope everyone is having as much with the tour as I have been.

Here’s puzzle piece #22 of 31 of the Galaxy Games Blog Tour:

Puzzle piece 22

The Challengers is available from booksellers, online and off, and as an ebook. To find Greg's next post on his tour (and much, much more), visit the Galaxy Games site, or visit his Galaxy Games page on Facebook. For more about Greg and his other writings, visit his website or his author page on Facebook.
Tags: blog tour, contest, guest post, humor, links, middle grade, on writing, science fiction, writing about different cultures

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