Updated: May 27
Kill your babies. That sentence rang in my head so many times as I edited this book.
Entire passages I loved sent to eternal darkness because they did not serve the story.
Kill your babies… Like a machete-wielding madman, I returned to the book time and time again. It was hard. It felt good afterwards though.
Ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution. That’s how shit gets made.
The basics of the book came to me in a dream, cover and all. It’s how I get all my ideas. Don’t you? Why do you think we say I’ll sleep on it? Anyway, the next day I got Scrivener and started a document with every chapter in the book and bullet points on the action and characters. Then I left it for a while. During that time I let ideas come to me while I got on with my work and life in general. I would take ideas down on any medium. Mostly my phone. I once tripped in the shower curtain rushing to save a shower thought before it was gone.
So the book came to me in pieces which I wrote down somewhere and then put into my notes. Locations, people, a snippet of dialogue, concepts, a patchwork of unrefined ideas found themselves dumped into a document awaiting their day.
To give you an example I once wrote this bit of snappy dialogue between two people. They were arguing. That’s it. Didn’t know who was doing the talking, or where. Just thought it was cool dialogue. I ended up placing it in some chapter a year after I actually wrote it.
Anyway eventually I was ready to write, I had a metric fuck ton of notes, and a bunch of characters and it was time. I’d done some research, I’d picked my timeline and science, no more procrastination.
It had been a while since I’d done creative writing and my last foray had been emotionally scarring. But I was a better man now, I sat down one day, and it just poured out. Now, I had notes and a general idea of the characters' personalities and arcs. But I had no details, just tens of thousands of words worth of notes.
I had a system, the same one I used for academic writing. Research, research, research, gather notes in a semblance of order, know your subject. Then write, as much as you can, go as far as you can possibly go before you run out of steam. Then you plug the holes with the notes. I got Part 1 done in 3 months. But then I hit a wall.
I’d reached the limit of my knowledge of the solar system and transportation technology. I had to learn about the solar system in 2056, fusion and space travel technology ramifications, how the orbits and travel time would affect the storytelling. And also what the fuck was out there and what was it made of? Thankfully, our amazing human scientists had a lot of research I could study. Let me tell you right now, our amazing scientists know a lot less about the stuff happening in later books, and the research is a bastard. Anyway, I took a break from writing and went back to work, and research. When I came back to writing, I managed to finish the book.
Then began the real work. My sister, the physicist, took on the role of editor. My number one fan took the role of typo sniper. We all worked from the same doc online, and without their help, this would have not been as good a book. My sister was especially savage. Here are some of her best comments.
· unclear who is speaking as you've involved everyone in the conversation but you've used no unique phrasing FOOL
- Not ok. A woman doesn't talk like that.
- New.. impressive typo
· No more what? The phrase is redundant with the "Frank snapped out of it" in the previous sentence.
· maybe full stop? Doesn't need to be an uber long sentence.
- So much poking all the time... what's wrong with you?
· I can just picture these cyborgs looking like tricycles with all those extra appendages XD
· you already used epic to describe cyborg sex not long ago. synonym?
· Opposite of what? I think you need to construct that sentence a bit better.
· more like 8 miles if you sticking to your insane number of floors.
· 40min. Are you doing a kind of bounce rocket flight where you go up into space and apply spherical geometry considerations to shorten the flight path? (also need to take rotation of earth into consideration I believe) in which case you need to describe the design of your aircraft and how it can still be so comfortable.
· not sure it adds anything to story here. if you want that in, just expand on "shipping lanes" when you first describe flight regulations.
· you need provisions to prevent propaganda and abuse - how could your new society have missed this obvious bit of restructuring.
Right, I think you get the gist of it. Without those comments, I wouldn’t have been able to make the book as good as it is. I’m not saying it’s any good, but I like it. I’ve read it so many times, and I still like it. But I did say I wrote because it made me happy. I write stuff I like reading. Which is probably why editing is so hard. Thankfully, I’d had practice savaging videos and copywriting in day-to-day life since my first book, so I didn’t get as attached as I used to. And I ended up taking immense pleasure in re-writing the book. Seeing it evolve, the characters develop, the world and story come together, all of it was incredible.
I call my style of writing “Adventure Writing”. When I started writing I had a beginning, a vague middle and some ideas for endings, but not much more. So when the characters started their adventure, I was in it with them, finding out about stuff as they did. I knew pit stops and places we had to visit, but the action and story unfolded naturally, and I was along for the ride. It’s quite an amazing feeling, to live with your characters. Obviously, I was writing it, but who knows where the fuck the drivel was coming from. The brain is a weird and wonderful thing. Anyway, this type of writing is a bit chaotic, but combined with notes, research and super-duper awesome editors to point out my failings and catch my typos I managed a book.
The book was written in my own brand of Frangloamerican. Which apparently is close to Canadian. To me, it looked normal, but maybe some people would have just thought I didn’t know how to spell… I just like using the best version of a word. In any case, I went through a lot of trouble to edit the book into some form of uniform English. Mostly UK with some US stuff. If it’s weird at first, just deal with it.