Archive for July, 2004

7/30/04: Too long a chapter

Word count: 88392 | Since last entry: 2027 | This month: 9744 Another heroic writing day. The chapter is done and printed. Yay! It’s also almost ten thousand words long — by far the longest chapter yet. Boo! Now, there’s no particular reason a chapter has to be a certain length, but I really do feel this one may be too long. Perhaps some of the incidents should be shifted to other chapters, perhaps it’s that there’s way too much of Jason brooding and computer neepery. (Certainly the whole last half of the chapter takes place almost entirely in Jason’s head.) I did trim the worst of yesterday’s computer neepery, but then I added a thousand words more today. Well, at least it’s done, and having a draft that needs trimming is better than not having a draft. If it doesn’t work, my critiquers will tell me so. I have blown off a lot to finish this chapter in time. I’ll have to catch up on all those things now, and not let myself slack off on the next chapter (like I did this one for the first couple of weeks) either.

7/29/04: On the train again

Word count: 86365 | Since last entry: 2171 | This month: 7717 Took the train to work today, back home by way of a haircut, and dinner by myself, all of which contributed to today’s truly heroic wordcount. Wrote a couple of complete scenes: one showing Jason getting off from his shit job and learning of the effect of the plague on the human and Tauran populations, and the other showing Jason and Sienna playing with their new datappliances. I must confess I had entirely too much fun with the computer neep stuff (which is part of why this chapter is already almost the longest one yet), but my readers seem to like this sort of thing when it’s done right. I’m also skating on the edge of what I know about computer security; I’m sure most readers will find it perfectly convincing, but I really should get someone at work to look at it. I had hoped to finish the chapter today so I could print it off at work tomorrow. That didn’t happen. But there’s just one scene left (or two short ones); I might write it/them at work tomorrow, or maybe I’ll just print what I’ve got and do the rest Saturday morning. Either way I should have the chapter done in time for crit group. Whew. Oh, and I still have to vote for the Hugos.

7/27/04: Pornography, squalor, and TV news

Word count: 84194 | Since last entry: 1033 | This month: 5546 A productive evening’s writing, and we watched “The Message,” one of the two Hugo-nominated episodes of Firefly. So far it’s got my vote. Wrote a long scene in which Jaon and Sienna, holed up in a squalid hotel in New Jersey, watch the news on a pornography-infested hotel TV and learn that Clarity has become CEO of the Corporation. Jason is troubled, but Sienna tries to take his mind off the news. Is she being too obvious? But Jason does need to get suspicious enough to take serious action by the end of this chapter.

7/26/04: Back from the coast

Word count: 83161 | Since last entry: 263 | This month: 4513 Spent the weekend at the Oregon Coast, at the Strange Horizons Workshop Reunion at the Colonyhouse. It was like a very small con, or a three-day party, with ten cool writer-type people. We did critiques in the afternoons, and otherwise just hung out in the house, or walked and did martial arts on the beach, or ate. I tried my hand at kendo, but I have no coordination whatsoever. It wasn’t a good environment for writing — too many keen people to talk with — but I did do a little, and a little more today. I went back and wrote the “Jason reacts to the events of the day” scene, which required a tweak to the following scene to remove some things that had already been covered, so the word count change doesn’t reflect the effort I put in. Still, I need to really crack down in the next few days if I’m going to have the chapter done by Saturday. Kate wasn’t there, though she was supposed to have been. She came down with a fever late last week and decided she’d rather just hang out at home. When I got back she was feeling better, but was afflicted with some kind of rash. She saw the doctor today and got some prescription drugs, which seem to be helping, but I feel bad for having run off without her. She assures me she was just as happy staying home. At the Colonyhouse I asked for advice on a problem I’m currently having, which is that I don’t know how to keep Jason from leaving Sienna as he begins to suspect she has betrayed him. One of the other writers suggested that Sienna should get pregnant. This floored me — it is so not the kind of thing I would have thought of (which is, I suppose, the point of asking) and it does solve some other problems as well. But it completely invalidates one of the things I was trying to do with Jason: that he is gay, and is tempted by a woman (who is all wrong for him), but in the end he returns to his male lover and is happy. It probably won’t happen that way now — the original concept has changed a lot in the last year and a half — but I still resist the conventional plot of “gay man is redeemed by the love of a woman and becomes a happy father.” At the moment I’m leaning in the direction of not doing this, but if I don’t I will still have to find a solution to my original problem. And I’m worried about exactly what happens at the climax. I know in broad terms what has to happen, but the devil really is in the details and it would be easy to get wrong. In other news… the issue of Talebones with my story “Where is the Line” is back from the printer and should be in subscribers’ mailboxes shortly; the editor is also going to put up my story on the Talebones web page as a sample of the issue. And I’ve gotten my program schedule for the Worldcon:

  • Friday 1:00pm: A Worldcon Orientation for SF Professionals
  • Friday 3:30pm: Reading
  • Saturday 2:00pm: Great Cliches in SF and Fantasy
  • Saturday 4:00pm: BAD Con Advice for Newbies
  • Sunday 12:00 noon: Kaffeeklatsch
  • Sunday 5:00pm: The Great Character Swap (what would happen if various SF characters were dropped into other universes’ stories?)

It’s a good schedule — busy but not insanely so. I’m not really expecting anyone to sign up for my Kaffeeklatch, but I’m glad the committee thought it was worth a try. And I’m really glad they gave me a reading. Don’t forget to vote in the Hugos! Deadline is July 31. (You must be a member of the Worldcon to vote.)

7/20/04: New Jersey

Word count: 82898 | Since last entry: 162 | This month: 4250 I decided not to write the “Jason gets the heebie-jeebies as his situation sinks in on the way out of town” scene and skipped straight to a squalid hotel in New Jersey four days later. I actually wrote more than 162 new words, but I also tightened up the “escape from the UN” scene a bit. I do wonder if I shortened it up too much, but, well, those words are gone now. 8:00 meeting tomorrow. Time for sleep now.

7/18/04: If it weren’t for the last minute…

Word count: 82736 | Since last entry: 704 | This month: 4088 Had a good, productive weekend at home. Laundry, shopping, critiques. Saw a movie. Went to the gym. Spent far too much of Saturday installing a new DSL modem and wireless access point — now I can access the Internet from anywhere in the house on the little sub-laptop I use for writing. (This may be a mistake — one of the advantages of this gizmo as a writing tool has been that it lacks the distractions of the Internet. But its little browser is so slow and antiquated that it shouldn’t be all that tempting.) Finally sat down to do some writing at about 8:30 Sunday night, and wrote until 11:30. Much too late, will regret it tomorrow, but I did get to one of the key scenes I’ve had in my head for months: the scene were Jason has to give up his wristwatch computer, with all his personal data on it. This scene represents the breaking of all links with Jason’s earlier, normal life — now he is a complete outlaw. I did make one change from the way I’d originally envisioned the scene. Now it’s Jason who tells Sienna that they both have to give up their computers, rather than the other way around. This makes him more of a protagonist, and anyway he’s the one who would have the technical knowledge to realize that they have to do this. This may or may not be the last scene of Remembrance Day. I had been thinking about one more scene, on the train heading out of town, where the events of the day sink in, but given what I wrote tonight I’m not sure that’s either needed or plausible now. Will consider it tomorrow.

7/16/04: Escaped

Word count: 82032 | Since last entry: 557 | This month: 3384 Finally got Jason and Sienna out of the UN, huzzah. Having spent the last chapter and a half on one day (a very significant day, to be sure) I’m shortly going to be shifting gears to cover more than a month in the second half of the current chapter. The trick is going to be to keep Jason busy enough that he doesn’t realize how emotionally messed-up he is. There’s plenty for him to do, though.

7/14/04: Gunfight!

Word count: 81475 | Since last entry: 783 | This month: 2827 I just killed two red-shirts and a major secondary character (well, he’s not dead yet, but he’s not at all a well cat) in a gunfight — the first such action in this book. I hope I didn’t make any major firearms or wound errors, but one of my critiquers is a Vietnam vet, so if I got anything wrong I’m sure I’ll hear about it. The shooting itself was over in a couple of seconds realtime; tonight’s 783 words (a bit less than an hour and a half of writing) cover at most three minutes of the fight and its immediate aftermath. Here’s a funny thing. I’m a pacifist, solidly anti-handgun, and before starting this novel I had never even fired one. But my Writers of the Future prizewinning story was about a commando and a terrorist, and featured several gunfights. One of the WotF staffers was surprised when he met me — after reading my story he thought I’d be some kind of big, burly military guy (I’m five-foot-five, 140 pounds). So, as unconfident as I am, I know I can write a convincing gunfight, especially with friends to check my technical details. Jason and Sienna are now almost out of the U.N. They’ll be bursting onto a New York sidewalk — bloody and carrying guns — in a few dozen words. They don’t have a car. How the heck am I going to get them out of this? (Okay, I have some ideas…)

7/13/04: Deeper and deeper

Word count: 80692 | Since last entry: 324 | This month: 2044 Having barely escaped one confrontation with guards, Jason and company run smack into another. Am I milking the situation too much? Maybe — if so, I can easily cut some incidents. I don’t want a James-Bond-style “slip unnoticed past the guards,” though — that seems unrealistic. But something is going to have to snap soon.

7/12/04: Confrontation

Word count: 80368 | Since last entry: 775 | This month: 1720 On the way out of the UN, Jason and company encounter a security guard. They almost manage to bluff their way past. Almost. I haven’t shot anyone yet in this novel (well, not onstage), but I think it’s going to happen soon…