Writing As Workmanship

Last week I finished my second novel this year, an about 90.000 word follow-up to the previously posted Historian’s Crusade. Why is that important besides padding myself on the back? Because when I told it to a friend, who is also my editor, that within five months I had finished two novels, we got talking about output. Not so much about artistic quality, but just the general output level.

You see, for the previous three years and more, I had been tainted by NaNoWriMo and the idea that every story that needs to come out of me needs to be a masterpiece. I talked about this before in one way or another, how NaNoWriMo just encourages bad writing habits. Sure, you’ll have a 50k word novel in four weeks, but you can basically throw it away and start again. I don’t really like the idea of working in multiple drafts that way. Once my story is out, I prefer to wash my hands of it, clean up mistakes here or there sure, but I don’t tinker with the narrative anymore. Because I just know that if I start doing it, I will never stop. That hurts your output.

As artists of any field, I think we all too often want to put quality over quantity. And while that is a generally good attitude to have that will smother the next 50 Shades of Grey right in the cradle, it also stops you from experimenting and working on more. A painter could paint five works in his lifetime or 50, one better than the last. Rather than languishing between publishing any new work, or just finishing it, one could instead get it over with. Whether or not it’s good isn’t up to you anyway, that’s up to the audience. Art needs an observer to even be worthwhile.  Continue reading “Writing As Workmanship”

How To Embrace The Fact That Your Science Fiction Ideas Will Become Outdated

How will you handle the fact that all of your predictions will fail to come true?

We might as well deal with the fact now that every blog post I will be writing within the next however many months it will take something from the writing I do on the side for the final stages of the novel. Everyone good? Great. Let’s talk about science fiction becoming outdated.

Science fiction has always been near and dear to my heart, but when you’re dealing with something long-running like Star Trek, still on the air after 50 years, or are reading an older book like 2001: A Space Odyssey, you are immediately presented with two immediately outdated concepts: a Eugenics War by 1996 and an interstellar humanity with an existing cold war by 2001. What’s the science fiction in that you might ask? If it’s not in the future, then what’s the point, it immediately breaks the immersion. Why would we watch something, read something, that has already gone past the expiration date?  Continue reading “How To Embrace The Fact That Your Science Fiction Ideas Will Become Outdated”

Writing And The Soapbox

When is it okay to soapbox in your writing?

Among writers and readers, friends and foes, the internet and that normal place where they have ice cream, I always read about soapboxing. A soapbox in a modern connotation is something you step on and give an impromptu speech about usually a political subject but also about anything that comes to your mind. At least this is what Wikipedia tells me. From many people online that have either read my writing or with whom I discuss other peoples’ works we often discuss the merits of soapboxing.

Sure, on the one hand its easy to do it. Write what you know and that usually involves our own personal opinions and fields of expertise. For me it worked out fine with my first book The Historian’s Crusade right here on this blog. I was unsure what to really write about, what was near and dear to me enough so that I could put it into a couple ten thousand words, form a narrative. And so I just did exactly that. Right now I think it’s a success, I had fun writing it and it got some pretty decent feedback on the blog.

Naturally, I decided to try the trick again when I wrote my second book on which I am currently sitting at around 60.000 words and still going strong (more updates in the future). Again I chose a subject that was near and dear to me, being a sequel it also deals with history, historicity, reception, ideas, all that theoretical boring stuff that nobody cared about and instead focused on the thinly veiled Star Trek Enterprise pastiche. With the second book though I stood before a big problem: not being able to write for all the different statements I wanted to make and this is where we get to the central crux: Continue reading “Writing And The Soapbox”

How To Overcome Writer’s Block

How To Overcome Writers Block in some easy snake oil salesmen-esque steps. Promised.

I thought I might as well get back to writing on the blog more often, if only to keep the fire stoked until the book hits, but also in some way to be my own private little therapy session once a week, so here goes:

If you’re a writer, you probably spend your time in one of three stages 1.) writing 2.) not writing and 3.)thinking about maybe getting back to writing on Tuesday in three weeks fingers crossed. I find myself, more often than not, in stage 2 and 3. I think this is why 2015 is such a blur to me, I have honest to god no memory of that year, it went by way too quickly.

If you’re in any way like me, then you know that writing isn’t the hard part. That’s easy. The Historian’s Crusade was written over the course of seven weeks and edited over the course of another five. The big problem will be overcoming the periods where you are in-between stories and in-between ideas. Maybe something else is going on in your life, maybe you have a new job, or school obligations. What you need to understand right then and there, if you ever want to get back to writing, is to forgive yourself and not martyr yourself on the altar of the writing gods. It happens, learn to move on from it. Just because you are a writer and want to publish your stories, or not, doesn’t mean you have to think about it 24/7. I guarantee you that the people who do hit burnout by 45. I wanna be popular and adored like Hemingway,  sure, but I don’t wanna go out in an alcohol binge or with a bullet in my brain either, so learn to relax. The more you fight your writer’s block, the worse it will get. Once you are in a state of mental ease, your confidence will return.

Continue reading “How To Overcome Writer’s Block”

What I Learned from Writing A Serialized Novel And What’s Next

It’s been eleven weeks but today I published the final chapter of the serialized novel (or novella, I suppose, thanks arbitrary length limits…). I learned a lot of things over the past three months and I’d just like to ramble about that for a while so bear with me please.

First of all: Pick a title beforehand that isn’t a mouth-full. I mean, “The Very Model of a Modern Starship Captain” is a nice little homage to Gilbert and Sullivan, sure, but once you’re done writing it, the entire tweet will already be done and it makes for one lousy hashtag. Also, it doesn’t really tell you anything. So I have since decided that I will rename the book to “The Historian’s Crusade”, though I’m sure it will probably be “A Historian’s Crusade” at some point next week and then “Crusading Historian” once this is picked up as a limited superhero book by Darkhorse or some bullshit like this… yeah, self-publishing is truly a backbreaking job.

All joking aside though, the past three months have taught me more about writing than the previous ten years combined, I believe. Back in 2014 I took a creative writing class during my undergraduate phase that tried to teach you how to write for NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. The goal? Write 50.000 words in four weeks. This has ruined writing for me for two years. As hard as it may sound, but I just can’t bring myself to ever vomit up 50.000 words in a month. In the end, you will not be left with a halfway decent first draft on which to build a successful book, you will be left with just that: alphabet diarrhea. What is the point of wasting four weeks on a novel when you will have to completely throw it away afterwards. And that’s exactly what I did, I threw that script away in mid-2015 and only kept a basic premise tangentially related to “What if Archer from Enterprise was a tragic character?” and instead went with: “what if there was a Star Trek history book?”I mean, John Scalzi can do brilliant post-modern Star Trek pastiches and he is only one of the most gifted writers of the last decade so I might as well give it the old college try.

Continue reading “What I Learned from Writing A Serialized Novel And What’s Next”

Chapter 11: Myths and Lessons

The story concludes in the… hmm, conclusion. #GreatestWordsmithOfTheCentury

And so comes the conclusion to this little experiment of mine. A free novella published over the course of eleven weeks. I’ll get more into this in a follow-up post, but suffice it to say I want to thank everyone who has stuck with me so far. The have surpassed a thousand hits on all the chapters combined last week and I couldn’t be happier. Please enjoy the final chapter of the book now and remember: a share and a like is all that I ask for (and a tv tropes page, but no pressure there…).

Chapter 11: Myths And Lessons

After our long, but hopefully not long-winded, look at the real, uncensored history of Prometheus, we have now reached the point of where we should ask ourselves for the final time this one important question which I asked at the beginning of this feed: Did Prometheus have a significant impact on history and why was its story quickly mythologized?

Before answering the first part of the question, based on the information presented in the previous chapters, I want to present a final piece of evidence in the form of the main news feeds of the most popular network uplink in the Solar system on the day of Prometheus’ launch and its retirement:

2172 2184
Prometheus Launch Prometheus Decommissioning
First Contact Centennial Celebrations MoJo Vid Star Power Couple No More
Elections in Armstrong City: Mayoral Race Close Second Spring Graffiti on Vaude Embassy
Ceres Strikes Continue Recession on Io Hits Lockheed-Douglas Hard
Ripper 2.0 Killer Apprehended on Mars Eridanus II Legalizes Indigenous Animal Hunt
Android Rights Marches Reach Jovian Moons Ganymede Ban On Android Adoption Struck Down

As we can see, while the ship and its mission made headlines on both occasions, Prometheus was not the only thing on people’s mind even back then. Both launch and decommissioning were big headlines in all major and minor feeds yet they were not the only news. Earther feeds also talked about the centennial celebrations of First Contact, Lunar feeds the mayoral elections in the capital, Ceres the union strikes after the terrible docking fire the previous week, Mars finally caught its serial killer after five terrifying years of slaughter, androids were fighting for their rights when the Jovian authorities didn’t want to recognize them as people. Prometheus was important, but not of a singular nature. So you might wonder if anything changed after the ship and crew returned from a 12-year-long mission of historical proportions as heroes of the Terran Alliance, having helped shaped a golden era in our history. Again, the ship made headlines, but now, with an ever expanding Terran Alliance, there were still other concerns. Celebrity breakups, racist attacks, economic news, civil rights unrests. And there is our pattern: society, entertainment, economics. Terran nature in a nutshell.  Continue reading “Chapter 11: Myths and Lessons”

Chapter 10: Once More With Clarity

The ship relaunched… but it’s not the same anymore. After the highlight, what is there but to go through the motions again?

And here we are, second to last chapter of the novel. Leave me a like down below or give it a share, much appreciated.

Chapter 10: Once More With Clarity (Year 7-12)

The next five years of Prometheus’ service differed greatly from both the first two years of service, as well as the Actium mission. Without the public attention the first two years received, nor the adulations and fame that came with the conclusion of the Actium mission, Prometheus and her crew were able to focus on their mission, or rather missions. Outfitted with the new Mark VI engine capable of 3.5 ly/day, Prometheus retraced its steps from the last five years to reconnect with previously visited species and build relations. As with its previous mission, most of the time was spent in hyperspace. And while Prometheus was now focused more on making contact and building on previously established relations, as well as help allied species, its overall number of missions reduced by half, with longer missions taking their place.

Years of 2177 through 2181 saw numerous upheavals in local galactic policies, with the Terran Alliance in the still unique position of being able to pick and choose the conflicts it got involved in.

What changed when you got out there again?

(Commander Arroway) We had first gotten into space at a very interesting time. A lot of species were developing space travel, either with help or on their own, the Vaude were steadily losing their hegemonic power over the local group of systems to in-fighting and their conflict with their Vanvaude cousins, the Leonids were growing their empire, and with The Great Machine and the Drobeer finally declaring peace, their sector of space was finally safe to traverse again, meaning that species from the other side of their wormhole junctions were coming into our sector of space. The Alliance was in a strange spot, we were on good speaking terms with most of the species, more advanced than anyone but the Vaude and the Vanvaude, and a unified, and more importantly stable, government back home. Prometheus helped by setting up embassies and trading outposts. We were in the place where we used the tools originally created for the First Wave of Colonization for diplomatic purposes instead, and it worked out great for while there. Continue reading “Chapter 10: Once More With Clarity”