I recently completed the first draft of my contemporary fiction novel, Second Citizen. This is a story I’ve been wanting to write for several years. It is a departure from my normal fantasy genre and was an interesting experience for a few reasons.

Because this book takes place in modern times and is based on real places (all in Oregon, my home state), I was able to use existing place names and locales. In fantasy, you have to create your world before you can populate it. That can be a challenge, especially when it comes to naming people and places. Although the characters in Second Citizen are fictitious, their names are common so I had a wealth of existing source material to choose from.

The downside to writing contemporary fiction is that I can’t violate the laws of physics or reality. In fantasy, I can have my characters do anything I want, as long as they do so within the laws of plausibility. It doesn’t have to be real but it has to make sense. In Second Citizen, however, my characters must engage in realistic activities.

Although I don’t want to spoil anything, one aspect of my book that sets it apart is I include various news reports scattered throughout the story. All reference real news agencies. Although the events in those news stories are fictitious, they closely follow real or realistic events that are happening every day. Since they involve gun violence, it was emotional at times to write — one news story I wrote had a real-life event very similar to it occur just days afterward. Life imitated fiction.

For now, I am going to ignore my manuscript for a month or so before I read it cover to cover. I want to get a relatively fresh perspective on it and then judge what needs work or revision. I’m not in a hurry to get this story published, nor do I have an editor lined up, so it may be a while before this book sees the store shelves — if at all.

Stay tuned.