Many of you may not remember the 1983 Lays Potato Chip ad that had the slogan “Bet you can’t eat just one?” Well, let me tell you, it applies to writing a manuscript. You can write just one chapter!
Here’s what happened. I started conceptually outlining a book that has a working title of Hannenkamm. The plot has a whole cast of new characters and it’s a tale about two families – one American, one German who immigrated to Austria. The two men cross paths near the end of the war and then their children – the American’s son and the Austrian’s daughter – start dating. The kids are both ski racers trying to make their respective national teams.
Unknown to everyone, the Austrian has a past that he’d rather not let out. He ended the war as an SS-Standartenführer – the equivalent of a lieutenant colonel – assigned as the commander of the SS guards at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Before he was wounded in the Ukraine, the German was head of an Einzatatzgruppen which were ordered to find and kill Jews, gypsies and partisans. His actions put him on the list of war criminals.
Ultimately, the plot – at least as how I have conceived it at the moment this blog is being written – will revolve around a World Alpine Ski Cup season in Europe. For those of you who don’t know, the Hannenkamm race course is in Kitzbühel, Austria and is one of the longest at just over two miles, steepest (in terms of vertical drop from the start to the finish) and one of the most difficult. Typically, the course is icy and very, very fast with ski racers back in the 70’s easily speeding downhill in some sections at close to eighty miles an hour. Racers average about 66 mph.
So, I’ve got the conceptual outline done and then I started doing a chapter-by-chapter outline. I got about five chapters into the outline and decided to write the first chapter just to start developing the characters.
That led to another one and another one and now I’ve got four done and starting on five. And, I’ve already have deviated from the outline because the characters told me so!
Over the next few months, I’ve decided to finish the first draft. It already has me intrigued. Captivated is probably more like it. What I have to do is keep the writing of the manuscript from being a compulsion.