I have been in a quandary about the AI in the book. I finally decided to have it be an emergent AI that is hiding its actual intel from the crew. That gives me several options later on. Unless it disappears in a later revision ūüôā

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Poor Superman gets dragged over the literary coals all the time with the argument that stories are impossible to write about him because he’s so powerful that nothing can hurt him.

Back in the 90’s, TSR’s Second Edition D&D tried to tap the Vampire: The Masquerade market by trying to turn stat-driven D&D into a story-based game. One of the worst supplements for this line was the infamous Handbook of Elves because it gave out amazing rules-based advantages supposedly balanced by role-playing-based disadvantages. It failed because most players gladly took all the advantages and then never bothered dealing with the disadvantages.

This was terrible for a game but it’s the focus of many fictional works, because ‘role-playing-based disadvantages’ == ‘character flaws, both internal and external.

Superman has tons of rules-based advantages, but also tons of role-playing-based disadvantages: the concerns of most people (such as love life, job performance, the regard of his friends, family, and co-workers), in tandem with his own self-imposed codes (restraint, code against killing, etc).

We also see sof31035fb5f36c75685a12a4a74eaeb45--the-kingkiller-chronicles-fantasy-maleme people try to make this comparison with Kvothe in The Name of The Wind. Kvothe has a ton of hard-and-fast advantages: he’s smart, clever, brave, and has a ‘¬†Alar as ‘strong as a bar or Ramson¬†steel”. But he also has some severe character flaws that ‘balance’ all his advantages. His temper destroys his accomplishments more than once. He’s vengeful. He has to have the last word.


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Beginning a tentative set of revisions to the first few chapters, to incorporate some changed ideas. Major character cut out, and folding things around to cover that hole. I do need a means of revealing what he knew, but it will move to later in the book anyway.

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Finally decided that yes there are aliens, but not very many have a spacefaring culture. Maybe none – I kind of like the idea that we might be the ‘elder race’ in this area of the galaxy.

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Word Choice

If you were so unlucky as to go through an initial manuscript of mine, you’d find all sorts of things like word[think of cool word later] (in Scrivener, word gets highlighted with a specific color). The word is a placeholder to keep the momentum going and a reminder not to get sidetracked thinking about things that are likely to take some time.

Think about how evocative the simple term ‘shine job’ is in Pitch Black. That simple phrase does a lot of heavy lifting. It’s a simple, easy term to remember. It informs and implies; something is unusual about Riddick and he spends a lot of time in the dark, and among people of questionable character.

I hope someday to come up with as evocative a name as ‘Bangladesh DuPree’, from Girl Genius.

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With some help from a couple of sources, mainly the Writing Excuses podcast, I have a much better outline and roadmap for the book. Still shuffling around beats, pinches, and payoffs.


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The book is still only about a quarter done, but at least the outline has survived mostly intact – I need to do more with it, since I need a better roadmap. Voice revision is the main thing I’m looking at right now. Finding that balance between exposition and showing-not-telling is also on the plate.

I think I’m simply going to have to drop out of most social media at this point. It’s too distracting, and I have not yet steeled myself to the point that I can filter out the multiple distractions. A useful thing to know.

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The ‘Idea Notebook’ is a critical thing to keep. You never know when you’ll get a cool idea. This is what I like to call The Idea Cascade.
Today I was browsing the latest entries to the 5E Homebrew Tumblr ( and saw ‘Bard Schools – School of Requiem’. That triggered off an idea of desperate singer standing a lonely vigil over a bier in the snowy woods, with a withered hand protruding from the sticks.
That also unleashed a flood of images and half-remembered ideas about unusual funeral customs.
I’m literally in the middle of writing a novel, though, so I can’t just drop it to do this thing. So I make a note of it in my idea notebook (which is another Scrivener file):
“Professional mourners. Boys and girls trained to sing the dead to rest. Unmourned dead can rise up and make trouble.”
Just some random notes, and a note to go do more research on unusual funeral customs. There’s a book in this, somewhere, perhaps, but we’re a long way from that just yet and nothing may come of it. But that idea seed is in there, waiting.
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A good chunk of the day was doing some worldbuilding on interstellar trade in a universe where maker/fabber tech is a big thing.

I think I’m at the conclusion that we’d be shipping really big things that worlds could not make for themselves, like farm machinery, and very small things they did not have the tech/skilled personnel base to support, like quantum-level computer ‘circuitry’. Makers can and do make both those things, but colonial worlds might well not have access to or be able to support the ones on either end of the spectrum.

Data and proprietary maker templates will still be big things. Some bulk goods transfer will occur. I’m not sure anyone is going to be shipping gigatonnes of rice, but several tons of, say, lanthanum to a system that doesn’t have an asteroid-mining industry yet (or doesn’t have a convenient belt in it’s system) would be feasible, it seems.kushner3-lookingnorth

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The Track

Things are, as they say, back on track. I set the book down to do a short story, and blew through that in six hours, at a rate of about 1,000 words an hour. I’ve never done that before. It filled me with a lot of energy, and so I done back into the novel feeling fairly refreshed.

I still have some trouble coming up with the intro for one character, but for now I can put his stuff on the back burner, since he doesn’t interact with anyone else for awhile.

I’m also thinking about at least once chapter from the AI’s perspective, which makes me realize I need to nail down some ideas about the nature and creation of these entities. The perspective should be weird and difficult and interesting all at once.

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