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 (http://dnd-5e-homebrew.tumblr.com/) 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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So far the solution to most of my plot, characterization, pacing problems has been ‘cut this whole section out and it all flows much better’. I think so far I’ve cut more than I’ve kept :/

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The key to creating better plots rests in a deeper understanding of character.

— Kristen Lamb, quote from Great Characters–The Beating Heart of Great Fiction

So, I’ve been going back to square one to make sure I have a better idea and foundation under me – if this goes according to plan, I’ll be living with these people for some time to come. So I should know them better than I currently do.

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Devious wimmins have helped me solve my plotting problem. You’ll be in the dedication. Now I just need to fill in with werdz.

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Advanced the outline a little and started to fill in some of the spots where I have the equivalent of ‘and then a miracle occurs’. I decided to emulate Howard Tayler and just use ‘Mayhem’ instead of ‘miracle’.


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