back in the saddle

first, and rather sublimely cool, David Anthony Durham linked to my blog, among several others, in reference to summaries of readercon. as i mentioned, i heard him on the panel, but i unfortunately missed the opportunity to hear him read from his forthcoming novel, the second in his Acacia series. Before I get there, though, I ordered his first historical fiction novel, Gabriel’s Story, for something different and am excited to get into it.

second, i’m cruising along on my next novel. it’s a departure from All Prophets Are Liars (book 2 will follow directly, i promise), but only because i had this idea pushing its way out. i’ve also used this idea to push the use and development of my outlining process. Witness caught me short-sighted a few times because the initial outline, while clear enough, didn’t get redressed when things began to move away from the original target. the move was not bad, and suited the characters more than the rough outline did, but once i left the outline, i was keeping it all in my head.

further, and this is a totally post facto ‘aha!’, if i had spent more time beforehand with the characters, and, by association, with the outline, i don’t believe i would have had as much catch up and adjusting to do along the way. so, i have tried to remedy this with this new book, with in-depth character profiles, and three versions of the outline, from rough outline down to fairly (sometimes significantly) detailed outline and back out to chapter-based summary outline.

as a great technology mentor of mine was fond of saying, “Two months of coding will save you two weeks of planning.” while i thought i was on the right track with Witness, i realized afterward how much more i could have done to make my life easier.

thus, this process. now, i’m sure any writers reading this will smile indulgently at my naivete, and that’s okay. i’ve got to learn sometime, and i tend to learn most from my mistakes. that’s why i call them learning experiences…

anyway, to keep myself honest, and in an attempt to validate the suppositions i have made about this pre-work, i have added a progress meter for the new book. the current code name is “No Good Deed”, and that’s all i’ll say about it, other than i’m expecting it to be about 325 pages, roughly 80,000 words.

following an example related by Mr. Durham at readercon, i have given myself a minimum requirement of 3 pages each day, which i must present to my wife for proof of my work. this is not for her to read or judge or anything, but simply to give me someone else to be responsible to. it worked for him, so why not give it a try?

three pages is the absolute minimum. i’m unemployed until the start of the school year, and have no excuses. i started on monday, and have produced the requisite pages daily. on tuesday, i believe, i did 5. that doesn’t sound like much, but i’m requiring 3 hand-written pages/day. i use the blank backs of old printouts destined for recycling from the office, and i tend to cramp my writing together, so 3 handwritten pages has meant between 5 and 6 typed pages. now, the typing comes when i hit blocks with the writing, so it may not always be up to date on the word progress, so i’ll be keeping a count of hand-written pages, too.

As of this moment, i have 16 hand-written pages done, and i’m still 1 short for today.

of course, spending all this time blogging about what i’m doing, instead of actually doing it, isn’t helping any…