OK, everything's finally disentangled on this end. I don't know what kind of mess I engendered by asking for Python 3 support, but as long as it's working and working consistently, that's all I care about. On to other matters.Read more
Still sorting out some of the technical difficulties on this end; evidently I opened some kind of 55-gallon drum of engineering worms at my Web host. Anyway, I can still blog; I've just been paying attention to other things in the interim. So, today's subject: opening scenes.Read more
The site migration's going a little bumpier than I'd like — some pieces are working better than ever, others not at all — but I'm still capable of blogging here.
Last night I did some final cleanup on Welcome to the Fold, with one very last touch to add — an additional scene suggested by my editor that puts a few things into perspective near the middle of the story. I'll need to sketch that scene out and then write it, but I think I have an existing sketch I dashed off in email to Ellen that will serve as a good model to work from. Then, again, comes the whole business of seeking out publishers, agents, etc.Read more
Constant Readers (all two of them) will remember (assuming they have had their coffee) how some time back I posted a primer on how I develop my ideas into a story. Right now I'm at stage 1 with Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, bordering on stage 2. I have The Idea, and now I'm moving into The Rehearsal.
About half the Rehearsal process happens in my head; the other half — the half that is the most transformative and important — happens on paper. Or, rather, in a newly inaugurated TiddlyWiki. Right now all sorts of blue-skying is happening in there: plot possibilities, character considerations, throughlines, endpoints, kick-offs, touchdowns, and fumbles.
It's a mess.
It's supposed to be a mess. If it wasn't a mess, nothing interesting would happen there.Read more
I might have put my foot in it with my announcement yesterday that I was changing tracks — shelving the project The Palace of the Red Desert and switching to a new one named Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. My explanation for why I'm doing that might have come off wrong, so here's another attempt to make my motives clear.Read more
I mentioned earlier my next novel was to be called The Palace of the Red Desert, and I dropped a few hints about what it was to be — a historical fantasy of sorts, drawing on an amalgam of Asian history for inspiration.
Over the last couple of weeks, though, I had a change of heart. Okay, more like a change of heart, mind, spirit, and ambitions.Read more
I finished the fourth, and I hope final, draft of Welcome to the Fold earlier today. Rather than ration out what was left of the edits over the next couple of days, I just decided to sit down and finish everything in one marathon session, and it worked out better that way.Read more
... when I took a subway to a café to write this article and electronically transmit it to a distant editor, I was doing something I could have done in New York City in the 1920s, using that same subway, the Roosevelt Brothers coffee shop, and the telegram, albeit less efficiently. (Whether all that efficiency has helped me personally, or just made me work more for declining wages, is an open question). We expect more change than actually happens in the future because we imagine our lives have changed more than they actually have.
Emphasis mine. Such dilemmas manifested, in my case, in the form of questions about what kind of human behavior to depict in a story about the far future. I decided the best thing I could do, in the case of Flight of the Vajra, was not try to predict too much, but instead to do what any decent SF book does: take what we have now and comment on it by using SF as an interpretive filter.
Vajra was already bordering on obsolete, at least in terms of its technical predictions, by the time it came out. Right in the first sec tion, the main character users a disposable personal drone, and the way I wrote it I implied that this sort of thing was a) common and b) something of an arms race between the people who made such things and the people who try to defend against them. This has already happened, so the future in question already starts to look a little quaint. Ditto the way things like 3D printing or self-assembling materials figure into the story as local color and backdrop. All this stuff just seems hopelessly obvious now, and not very boundary-pushing in terms of asking hard questions about what our lives are going to be like in any number of years. (This isn't why I would want to revise the book, either. Rather, that was more around cleaning up the text itself, on a simple mechanical level.)
But then there are all the things that wouldn't change, most of them rooted in deep-seated parts of human nature. Rather than pin my hopes for the story's success on any one technological prediction, I decided the smarter thing to do would be to make the whole thing revolve around human desire: the impulse to move forward versus the urge to cling to what's familiar. That became the real axis for the story.
I don't think I was completely successful there either, but I hope that element of it has a better chance of meaning something to readers later on down the line than tech gimcrackery already dated by the book's release.
I'm a little more than two-thirds of the way through what I hope is the last pass of edits on Welcome to the Fold, and I am now kicking myself, hard, for not taking advantage of the services of an editor for my previous works.Read more
An earnest question: "What is your writing process like? That is, from "I have an idea!" to "Time to put this on Amazon!" how do your stories typically unfold?"
I said it deserved a more detailed answer, so here we are.Read more