Going back into ‘The Vault of Perfection’

Global Seed Vault at night

The Global Seed Vault on Spitsbergen Island is an important location for The Vault of Perfection.

It’s said that whiskey improves with age. The same goes for cheese, and love, sometimes. And writers advise that you should put down a draft for some amount of time and go back to it, hoping that it survives the interim. That’s what I did with the second novel I’ve ever written, The Vault of Perfection. I wrote it during the first half of 2013, and now that I’ve finished a second draft of Carbon Run, I’ve reopened the last draft of Vault and like what I see, mostly.

The Vault of Perfection is a science fiction adventure about Nick Sorrows (pronounced SOH rows), an investigative reporter whose best friend, an elderly neighbor named Lars Haugen, is violently murdered in his hospital bed. The action takes place in the present day, and the science fiction focuses on human evolution, genetic engineering, and an unseen war between factions of an ancient, non-human race. The major characters include Angela Brightwine, a mysterious and brilliant biotech researcher, and Jon Danziger, an environmental attorney turned eco-terrorist. Some of the action takes place at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, also known as the “Doomsday Vault,” on Spitsbergen, an island in the Arctic Ocean. A friend who read an early draft compared it to Raymond Chandler’s novels (though I could never approach the skill of that great writer).

I’ve made a lot of first-time mistakes again: Too much exposition early, too many flashbacks, overuse of certain words, and too many adverbs. A beta reader suggested more scenes in which Nick and Angela, who become partners to solve the mystery, learn to trust each other. I think I need to ramp up Nick’s rakishness without making him too much of an asshole. The novel is also too short–67,000 words at present–and removing the flashbacks will cut it further, although I’ll add a few of the flashback details back into the story. (It’s said that novels of this type should run 80,000 to 90,000 words, which comes out to around 300 pages. When printed, the spine is wide enough for the title to be easily read on a bookstore shelf.)

My goal is to complete a second draft of Vault by March 1 and send it to agents and publishers. Then I’ll return to Carbon Run, possibly with a second book, which has a tentative subtitle of The War for the Poles. (I’m talking North Pole and South Pole, not that proud nation in Europe.)

Your thoughts? Feedback is always welcome.

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