So last night I read though the 20k words I have on a "first contact" novel.
There are only a few things that I might want to expand on but for the most part I like it very much. What I've got there is essentially final draft and, dangit, it's *good*.
The only problem is that reading through doesn't get me any new *words*. I do have a couple of scenes for this story written out in a first draft long hand and I could revise and type them up but there is something very important that I don't have... an antagonist. The protagonists are the good guys, the military are the good guys, the aliens are the good guys.
I realize that the antagonist doesn't have to be a character. It could be the situation or some other element of conflict that is working against resolution.
Things need to get worse, much worse, so they can get better.
The theme so far (if that's the right word) is that the concepts of "good aliens" or "bad aliens" or else "peaceful" or "evil war-like conquerors" are naive. So I suppose I want a rather ambiguous ending in that respect. The main POV character's take on it all is that the aliens *must* be assumed to be hostile and also that the aliens *must* be assumed to be peaceful. Both. That one or the other are equally wrong and that only both together are true.
I'm not equipped to start a war, a la Ringo, but maybe I could almost start one then avert it. Still, the people dealing with the aliens *now* are pretty much doing everything right. Someone else, human or alien, needs to do something desperately *wrong*.
I just can't figure out what.
Some possibilities are that other aliens arrive to rescue those who crashed, or that the aliens have more than one nation that are at war and the wrong group shows up. I don't want to rely on cliches such as politicians being stupid or fearful and deciding to bomb something. Perhaps having the crashed ship allows humans to make a secret weapon and so the aliens can't accomplish their take-over and have to either disengage or negotiate and they weren't planning on having to negotiate anything. So I'd need overtly hostile aliens to show up. That might work. I don't want the crashed aliens to give away their secrets, though, on account they learned to love us. Ick!
Maybe I need to start sketching out scenes from various alien point of views and see what happens.