High Tech and Small Bits

If you’ve read my books, you’ll know that I don’t write hard sci-fi. I’d rather write about people than technology, which is just as well since, as one reviewer on Amazon noted, I’m no scientist, but I do know military people. In writing the second Dunmoore however, I’ve been spending more and more time doing research to make sure that I don’t make even the tiny little bits of hard science I need to put in for the story’s sake look totally out to lunch. It’s interesting for its own sake, needless to say, when you’re a guy who gets as easily sucked into a wikivortex as I do. It doesn’t do wonders, however, for getting the story down, but I still managed to pound out over 5,000 words last weekend, thanks to the arctic cold keeping me inside. The fact that I got so much done in the space of two days is surprising since progress of late has been in small, sometimes paragraph sized bits. At the end of a week, the paragraphs do add up, but it’s a symptom of my knowing what I’d like the story to be, versus what my characters end up making me write, because I’ve discovered over the last two months that I’ve often been fighting them for creative control. And where I force my vision onto the story without their approval, it’s had a tendency to go off the rails.

I’ve never confessed this, but I’m as far ahead now as I was a few weeks ago in terms of word count, because I tried to force the narrative instead of letting it unfold. As a result, I’ve had to go back to the beginning and try again, but I like the results much better. The downside of letting it evolve to the end game in this way is that I have to stop frequently and think, hence the small bits. My overarching ideas still guide the tale, and in that respect, I’m a bit like the Fates of classical mythology for my characters, but they seem to have a certain amount of free will since they often do things I hadn’t planned on. Sounds strange, no? I discover things I didn’t know about the people I’m bringing to life just as my fingers hit the keyboard, and not before. When I think back at the various times I’ve had writer’s block, I can trace most of them back to my forcing the story instead of letting it evolve and end up either writing myself into a corner or writing prose so dull it even puts me to sleep.

So as I write the second Dunmoore, I’ve set myself the task of doing something else when I’m blocked, something useful while my characters plot their next move. They’ll let me know when they’re ready. In my previous post, I was mentioning how much I was using dialogue, and that’s one of the side effects of my characters taking control.

One of the things is writing these blog entries, and adding to my World Building page, but another is planning, plotting and writing the next book. After all, the plan, once the draft is undergoing the first of many reviews, is to start on a new novel instead of staying idle, and I have been testing out an idea. I’ll say no more at this point, but while it’s set in my familiar universe, it’s not military sci-fi as such. It’ll be space opera though I’m not sure it’s a sub-genre that’s been attempted. I’ve got the plot, at least one familiar character from Death Comes but Once, and the main protagonists, as well as the first six test pages written out. I’m still hoping to have the first draft of Dunmoore Book 2 completed by Easter, but if it isn’t, there’s no point in my pushing things. It never seems to end well when I fight the Commonwealth Navy, and in that, I have something in common with our old foe Brakal. Why am I not working on Dunmoore Book 3 instead? Because I still can’t predict how Book 2 is going to end, and that ending will heavily influence Book 3.

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