Archive for November, 2010

Nov 24 2010

Elbows deep in manuscripts

Published by under Uncategorized,Writing

Virtual manuscripts, that is, although my desk is piled with a few marked-up hardcopies too.

The NaNoWriMo novel turned out to be slower-going than I expected because it’s a part two, and has to make sense in the context already established in part one. (Well, strictly speaking for NaNoWriMo it doesn’t have to make any sense at all, but that would just leave me with a bigger rewrite job. It may come to that to meet deadline.)

The requested changes for Chara have gone through a couple of iterations. Trying to make it longer by just tacking another subplot onto the end totally screwed up the beats of the original, so I dug in deeper, reorganized and adding or expanding scenes so that the structure still worked in terms of the revised word count, and that the midpoint doesn’t come too early, and so on. (If you’re wondering what I’m babbling about, there are a number of good books out there on story structure, both for novel and for screenplay. My current favorite is Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! which focuses on screenwriting but adapts well to novels.)

Then there’s the small handful of short stories that I need to do a final pass on and put in the [e]mail.

It’s Thanksgiving, and while I have much to be thankful for, time enough to get everything done isn’t one of them. I may not be adding anything here until December. Meanwhile, enjoy your holidays.

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Nov 17 2010

What would Shackleton do?

Published by under Uncategorized,Writing

I was looking to better-define a character in a novel in progress, the leader of a small exploration team which deliberately maroons itself on a planet in the Alpha Centauri system. (It does so to continue research while the mothership returns to Earth with surprising news. No faster-than-light subspace radio or ansible here.) It’s rather a major plot point that he keeps the team together through some major adversities. What better inspiration for my character than Sir Ernest Shackleton?

This week marks the 95th anniversary of the final break up and sinking of Shackleton’s ship, Endurance. From October 27 to November 21, 1915, Endurance lay crushed in the Antarctic ice, where it had been stuck for some ten months already. On November 21st the ice parted enough to let the ship sink. Shackleton, already knighted for his accomplishments on an earlier expedition to within 190km of the South Pole (the closest anyone had come at that point), kept his team alive on the ice for an additional six months before making a break over open sea in lifeboats to an Antarctic island. From there Shackleton led a small team in an open boat on a two-week trip to South Georgia, followed by another overland trek to a whaling station, where he organized the rescue of the others. All of the crew who had been stuck on the ice with him survived the two-year ordeal.

The circumstance of my characters is more benign than Antarctica and the southern ocean, with nearly two centuries of technological advances. Still, when you’re stuck 4.3 light years from home on an unknown planet, with no timetable for resupply or rescue, “what would Shackleton do” is a question the team lead finds himself asking a lot.

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Nov 11 2010


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It’s Veterans Day and Remembrance Day. Lest_we_forget - Poppy
Again, I salute and thank all those who served. A few personal remembrances here.

I think war is stupid. It’s rarely (ever?) a net gain for either side. However, I am not a pacifist. If the other guy starts it, the goal should be to not merely win, but to defeat the aggressor so thoroughly that the mere thought of trying again leaves them quivering. Otherwise, leave them (and everyone) alone. Alas, we get politicians (no need to name names, I challenge you all to come up with counter-examples) who like interfering at the small scale but don’t have the guts to do what it takes when necessary.

But I digress. Veterans, I salute you.

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Nov 05 2010

Guy Fawkes, birthdays, etc.

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It’s Guy Fawkes day again, something I’ve mentioned on this date before. It’s also my writing buddy Lou Berger’s birthday (happy birthday!), and the day after my daughter’s sixteenth birthday (happy birthday, sweetie!). Yes, I now have a driving-age teenager in the house. Why am I having these strange near-panicky feelings?

Anyway, fireworks for all! (Offer void where prohibited.)

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Nov 01 2010

Back from World Fantasy Con, just in time for NaNoWriMo

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Word Fantasy Con in Columbus, OH this past four days was a blast. This is not your average SF con, there’s a much higher proportion of writers and editors among the attendees at WFC, and much time is spent schmoozing. Between the late (and early) hours and the energy it takes for a natural introvert like me (and many other writers) to schmooze, I’m still kind of tired. More WFC details in a later post.

The galleys for “Small Penalties”, which will appear in Analog‘s Probability Zero section, came in and look good. I don’t know which issue, but I’m guessing maybe the April 2011 issue, early March or late February. I’ll keep you posted.

And this is the first day for NaNoWriMo (see previous post). Of course NaNo’s servers are massively bogged down under the load, but that should ease up as thing progress. Anyway, you don’t need their server to begin writing. I’ve got over a thousand words in already on the new novel (a sequel, or perhaps it will end up as Part 2, to my last year’s NaNo, about the first expedition to Alpha Centauri. It’s set early in T-Space, and it tells (among other things) how Sawyer’s World gets its name.

It’s early days, so if anyone wants to toss me a plot bunny I might use it. That also goes for suggesting a lifeform that could have branched off from Earth fauna or flora 60 or 70 million years ago. (Sorry, no dinosaurs.)

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