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I did it. I finished my last read-through of my science fiction novel ‘Flatlanders’. At least until the next one. But I feel I’m ready to approach an agent. First I must prepare.
My first step is to produce a new outline. This outline covers every event of the 116,764 words. It runs 17 single-spaced pages. To give you an idea, here is the first page:
Flatlanders (116,764 words)
Part One: From A Distant World Close By (1-56)
1. (1-3) Mickey is at work at his blackboard in his apartment on mathematical calculations when he hears someone call his name (Mick). He wakens his roommate George, who is a mechanical engineer, to see if it was him, but it wasn’t.
2. (4-5) Mickey ventures outside and enters the alley next to his building to give a homeless man, Ralph, a McDonalds gift card. He proceeds to a nearby park and sits at a bench he has marked to work on his laptop. He hears someone call his name again (Mickey), and this time he determines it is a female voice. He reveals he is suffering headaches and bad nightmares.
3. (6-7) Mickey is at work in a classroom at Northwestern University in Evanston, just north of Chicago, when he hears a female voice call his name (Mickey Hi). This time there is a woman present, a cleaning lady. She denies calling his name, and leaves. He suffers another headache.
4. (8-12) Mickey is at work late one night at his blackboard in the living room of his apartment when the female voice says, “42”. After realizing the number works in his calculations, he awakens George and rousts him out of bed to come check his math. George fails to see what the fuss is about. He flees back to bed, but Mickey pursues him claiming the event is momentous.
5. (13-18) Mickey is at work on his laptop on his bench in the park when a young woman jogger, Priscilla, a Teachers Assistant to Mitchell, the head of the Physics Department at Northwestern, greets him. He explains who the woman depicted on the sticker on the lid of his laptop, Hypatia, is. He then jogs alongside Priscilla while trying to explain his breakthrough. They end up at her grandparents’ empty house, which is several blocks off campus. She invites him in, and he follows her upstairs. Mickey finds her room and wardrobe heavily influenced by Disney princesses. They continue discussing his work while she showers. After, Priscilla asks him to hand a gown into her, Mickey sees a nightgown with Ariel on it, but chooses a skimpy pink robe for her instead.
6. (19-22) Priscilla joins Mickey and George at their apartment to go over Mickey’s work. Ramanujan, Douglas Adams, and the easy chairs are discussed. Priscilla takes a picture of Mickey by his blackboard, which she suggests he share with his coffee group.
7. (23-27) Mickey meets with the Phun With Physics group – Lucy, Miriam, Albert, Stan & Laurie – in a coffee shop across the street from the city park where his tagged bench is. Mickey reveals he is trying to establish contact with a higher dimension. Lucy and Miriam are jealous of each other. Laurie flirts with Mickey, while her husband Stan doesn’t seem to mind. Mickey hears the female voice call his name, but this time also sees a faint form across the street in a downpour. He rushes out in the rain to her, but she is gone. He returns to the coffee shop drenched and disturbed. The meeting breaks up, and Mickey leaves with Lucy.
As you see, I work backwards at this. I begin with the largest document, the outline, then whittle it down into smaller documents. After the outline comes the long synopsis, which runs 4 single-spaced pages. Here is the first page:
Mickey Haiku, a young theoretical physicist graduate student at Northwestern University, is determined to contact the higher dimensions postulated by string theory. He shares a tiny off-campus apartment with a huge blackboard and mechanical engineer intern George. Their mathematician friend Priscilla, teacher assistant to physics department head Mitchell, checks his work. To escape from the grind, Mickey hosts a Phun With Physics group at a nearby coffee shop with five ordinary people interested in science – elderly Lucy, elderly Miriam, middle-age married Army vets Stan and Laurie, and 98-year old Albert. His only other companions are old homeless guy Ralph living in the alley outside his apartment and a laptop loaded with mathematical haiku, Tricep electronica music, and a full-color sticker of Ancient Greek mathematician Hypatia.
Mickey already suffers obliterating headaches and wild nightmares, which he assumes are a result of the intensity of his work. His condition worsens when he begins hearing a voice call his name. Which clarifies to become a female voice. Then a ghostly female form. Then an attractive scantily-clad female body. Who begins helping him with his work. He persists in doubting her reality, thinking his subconscious might be providing this aid, until she hits him with a piece of chalk.
On the fateful day their work is completed, the image of Eden disappears, leaving Mickey alone in his apartment. Or is it really Mickey? What has transpired is Mickey’s consciousness has been drawn into Eden’s body in her dimension, while Eden’s consciousness has slipped into Mickey’s body in his dimension. This was Eden’s plan all along. Her dimension is crushingly overpopulated. She intends to open a portal from Mickey’s dimension into hers so her people can flood in and overwhelm Mickey’s world with their vast numbers and superior technology. But the weak breach between dimensions, which could only be forced open from the lower dimension, Mickey’s dimension, would not allow anything physical to pass through. Yet something has happened to Mickey’s laptop, which contains all their work vital to forcing the breach wide open. While searching for the laptop, Eden becomes distracted when she encounters Edie, her twin in Mickey’s dimension.
Meanwhile in Eden’s dimension, Mickey awakens in her body with no idea of what is going on. To make matters much worse, Mickey comes to learn Eden is pregnant. Eden(Mickey), who is Eden’s body with Mickey’s soul, encounters twins of people from his dimension in an insane world of way too many people fighting a war with a race of sub-humans living beneath them. He is contacted by beings from an even higher dimension, twins of George and Priscilla, who want to help Mickey foil Eden’s plans. They believe Eden breaching Mickey’s dimension will wreak havoc in all the dimensions, so are determined to prevent it happening. They were able to slip the laptop through to Mickey, and have loaded it with files and programs needed to stop Eden. So the battle is on for Mickey(Eden), who is Mickey’s body with Eden’s soul, to complete her strategy in Mickey’s world, while Mickey strives in Eden’s body in Eden’s world to stop her, all the while encountering twins of people they know from their own worlds who are living in the other dimension – familiar people in unfamiliar circumstances. What Eden doesn’t know is she is being used by Ralph, the ruler of her dimension. She believes she is saving her world, while Ralph plans for only the top one per cent to escape into Mickey’s dimension, leaving their world in ruins.
Next comes the single page synopsis:
This science fiction novel of 116,700 words is a light-hearted romp through the extra dimensions we share our planet with.
Mickey Haiku is a theoretical physicist graduate student at Northwestern University. While attempting to reach extra dimensions that string theory predicts exist, he comes into contact with Eden, a scientist from another dimension attempting the same thing from her side. They manage to open a small portal just big enough for their consciousness to pass through. Which means Mickey goes into Eden’s body in her dimension and Eden goes into Mickey’s body in his dimension. Mickey has no idea how this has happened and is totally lost, while this was planned by Eden. Her dimension is crushingly overpopulated, and from this lower dimension she will be able to blast open the barriers between the dimensions that will allow her people to pour into Mickeys dimension and overwhelm it with their superior tech and numbers. Only there are people from higher dimensions who want to stop her, so they help Mickey thwart her. They succeed, but it doesn’t go as planned. Beings from an even higher dimension have their own strategies. They send Mickey and Eden off on a wild odyssey through many higher dimensions. Such as one in the subatomic world of quantum mechanics. One on a world far in the future where people have migrated into the seas. A spiritual realm of monsters and ghouls. A world run by robots where people are their pets. A world ruled by plants. A spaceship carrying the surviving remnant of the human race to a new planet. A world decimated by a pandemic where an intelligent virus has evolved. And what they believe to be the highest dimension in the Himalayan mountains. Of course, there are other hidden dimensions they become aware of.
At the beginning Mickey is easily duped by Eden. This turns to intense competition as each tries to stop the other in order to protect their own dimension. They are then forced into an antagonistic alliance as they try to get back home. After going through many adventures together, they are attracted to each other, and their relationship is finally consummated. By the end they realize they each must return to their own dimension, so they try to set each other up with who they believe will be their best match. Yet Mickey has a trick left up his sleeve that might allow them to stay together.
The people in Mickey’s dimension all have doubles in the other dimensions. Mickey’s twin in Eden’s dimension is her ex-husband Mick, while Eden’s twin in Mickey’s dimension is a cleaning woman at Northwestern, Edie. Mickey’s roommate George is Eden’s brother, Priscilla is a good friend in both dimensions, and so on. Also, Eden is pregnant at the time Mickey possesses her, and he has to deal with that. Mickey’s laptop, which he calls Hypatia, is a major player in the story. Also, he enjoys the electronica music of Tricep, and mathematical haiku.
Now comes the most difficult. Distill all this to 1 paragraph:
Theoretical physicist Mickey Haiku has realized his life-long dream of contacting another dimension. And traveling there. Only he didn’t count on doing it as a female. Eden, a brilliant scientist from a higher dimension, has tricked him not only into switching dimensions but also bodies. Her dimension is crushingly overcrowded, and she plans to break down the barrier between dimensions so her people can overrun Mickey’s world, which they would take over with their superior tech and numbers. But she can only accomplish this from Mickey’s dimension, and the weak portal she managed to open would only let her consciousness slip through into Mickey’s body, displacing his into her body. But there are other players in this game, beings from even higher dimensions intent on manipulating Mickey and Eden for their own gain. So the two are stuck in each others’ bodies on an odyssey through many weird dimensions as they fight to get back home. Actually, there are three of them. Eden is pregnant, and Mickey undergoes a crash course in caring for the fetus he is carrying.
With these tools completed, I am ready to pitch to agents.
From The Bookshelf of goodread’s Indie Authors At The Round Table