Something like this? By the great Jim McManus.
Tag Archives: science fiction
I’m pondering creating a “boxed set” of the ebooks for The Last P.I. series; it would sell for less than the three books sold individually.The mechanism is fairly straightforward; the only real extra work (and expense) is to create a new cover. There’s lots of this going on nowadays. My publisher says that it would make the series more attractive to Bookbub, which is the main advertising channel for ebooks nowadays. One more way to get the word out.
Let me know what you think!
Finishing a novel
I read through my third draft, picking up more stuff along the way. The stuff keeps getting more and more trivial, but it’s real. Why did I type “here” instead of “hear” in one place? Why did I add the “ue” to “Epilogue” but not to “Prolog”? Why did I refer to the city as “Roma” everywhere but in one place, where I used “Rome”? Why did I waver between “goodbye” and “good-bye”?
More important, reading straight through let me spot places where I repeated a point I’d already made and places where I failed to make a point I wanted to make. The text feels smoother now. Somehow I managed to add another thousand words. Well, I guess I needed them.
Most important, I made final decisions about a few niggling issues that were bothering me. In a large, multi-viewpoint novel, you wonder if you have too many viewpoints, or not enough. Does the story hang together as you shift and shift and shift between viewpoints? In a novel that carries the story forward from two previous novels, have you resolved enough of the questions, have you provided satisfactory resolutions for enough of the characters?
Well, you’re never certain, but I’m pretty sure I’m done with this novel, except for a final proofing. Which means I now leave the characters, and the world, behind.
I’ll miss them.
Second draft of the novel is done
Appreciate the congrats, as our president would say.
It clocks in at 112K words, down about ten percent from the first draft. Yay! Lots of little stuff to take care of, but I think it’s about where it needs to be.
Its name, by the way, is Home.
In celebration, here is video of David Pastrnak’s hat trick against the Maple Leafs last night. That third goal is simply amazing.
Paperback versions of Dover Beach and The Distance Beacons
Turns out we now have paperback versions of my very fine novels Dover Beach and The Distance Beacons. (An old, used paperback of Dover Beach is also available, but I don’t get any money when you buy one of those copies, so where’s the fun in that?) The covers look remarkably like the covers of the ebooks:
So now, along with Where All the Ladders Start, you can buy paperback versions of all three of the very fine novels in my Last P.I. series. Need I point out that a series of private eye novels set in a dystopian future after a major societal breakdown would make the perfect gift for that special someone on Valentine’s Day?
Also, I can get you these novels cheaper than you can get them from Amazon, so if you need a few, let me know.
Progress Report 1: Second Draft
I see that Jeff Carver has a nifty progress bar on his website. He’s up to 91% complete on the “major revisions” to his novel The Reefs of Time. Yay! I don’t know how to do that progress bar thing, but I am pleased to report that I’m about 52% complete on the second draft of my novel. (Of course, my book is about a third as long as Jeff’s, so the tasks aren’t really comparable.) I’ve also cut about 2% of the first draft, but I’m now starting to suspect that the second draft is going to end up slightly longer than the first. Where have I gone wrong?
I figure I’ll complete the second draft sometime in April, if I don’t have any more bright ideas. I’m in the middle of a bright idea right now, and it’s certainly slowing things down.
PORTAL on sale for 99 cents!
For some reason my novel PORTAL is now on sale for a mere 99 cents at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I really think you oughta buy it. Here’s its great new cover:
And here’s a random quote from a satisfied reader:
A Terrific Read! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this. Would the promising story idea deflate once it got past the initial set-up, as so many other books do? It definitely did not, and stayed entertaining all the way through – I could not put it down. I have kids around the same age and I really felt for these boys – they’re lost and are doing whatever they can to stay alive, stay together and hopefully get home. Glad the book was complete in itself, but it would be great to see them have more adventures like this. Overall, two very enthusiastic thumbs up!
Microsoft Word tells me that my latest novel is now longer than its predecessor, Terra. My sense is that I’m about three-quarters of the way through. I seem to have a lot to say. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe I need to split it into two novels?
I’m certainly interested in how this all turns out.
Shaping a novel: How many points of view is too many?
I am about to start the final quarter or so of my novel, and I realize that this weekend I’ve already decided on three new point-of-view characters. Two of them ought to be first-person narrators, in my humble opinion. I’ve now lost track, but I’m pretty sure I’m approaching 20 different points of view, some of which only show up for a few pages. This currently feels completely right to me, but what do I know?
To recap: Portal was entirely a first-person narrative. Its sequel, Terra, continued the first-person narrative for about 90% of its length, and then unexpectedly (I imagine) switched to a couple of third-person points of view at the end. Here we are in Barbarica, and the idea is to switch constantly among points of view, only to return to first person at the end. (Hmm, maybe that’s a spoiler. On the other hand, it’s not too late for me to change my mind!)
Is this a good idea? The narrative strategy you choose for a novel is pretty much the most basic decision you have to make about it. In this case, it’s turning out to be a cumulative set of decisions. Let’s hear what this character has to say, then this one, then this one… I like this approach a lot for this particular plot. I just hope readers agree with me.
“Arrival”, time paradoxes, and me
I was eager to see the movie Arrival because my novel Forbidden Sanctuary is also a first-contact story involving a linguist and a bunch of aliens. There isn’t much overlap between the stories, though. My aliens are pretty human-like — that’s the point of the novel, really. Arrival‘s aliens are spectacularly, um, alien. The plot involves Amy Adams desperately trying to understand what they’re saying before various bad things happen. And it’s really well done, up to the point where the movie springs its science-fictiony twist on us to tie things up, with the result that we’re desperately try to rethink everything we’ve seen as the movie rockets to its conclusion.
I don’t think the twist works. The idea is that, when Amy Adams finally has her breakthrough and understands the aliens’ language, her perception of time is altered at the same time, such that all time is a continuous now to her, instead of a linear progression from past to present to future. (Or something like that.) So that some events that we perceived as flashbacks were actually flash-forwards — except that they weren’t, not really, because they are all part of the eternal now. (Or something like that.) So she is able to use information from the sort-of future to solve the crisis happening in the sort-of now. And over this is layered the personal story of the sort-of-future Amy Adams deciding to have a child, despite knowing that the even-more-future Amy Adams will see that child die, and her husband will leave her when she tells him what he’s done.
This is not the kind of complexity that a viewer can deal with while linearly watching a movie. I am OK with time paradoxes — I have read Jeffrey Carver novels, and I generally understand what is happening (that may be a bit of an exaggeration). But even I couldn’t completely follow what was happening in real time while watching Arrival, and I wasn’t interested enough to re-watch the thing.
As a writer of science-fictiony novels, I am always worried about how much time I should spend in a novel explaining stuff — inventing some bogus theory about how the portal works in my Portal series, for example. Or, perhaps more important, making sure that whatever bogus theory I have in my head about the portal is internally consistent, so that readers don’t get annoyed at plot developments that don’t quite make sense. My sense is that readers will forgive a lot of minor inconsistencies if the story is interesting enough. But I don’t want to piss them off.
I’m afraid that Arrival, for all its virtues, ended up pissing me off.