Novel number two finished.

Last night Pola asked “Do you want to watch a DVD with me?” I wasn’t feeling well, and suspected she wanted to watch the Sex and the City (while I’m more of a City and the Stars kind of guy).

So I sat in bed with my laptop and plugged away at my novel. I didn’t realise when Pola put on another film, so I ended up writing far longer than I intended. After about 3000 words I not only reached the end of the story, but wrote the last two chapters which I’d intended to be some kind of epilogue.

Ok, let me clarify; the story isn’t a finished novel, but I reached the end. There is going to be a LOT of editing on this one. The first novel I wrote was set on Earth, and even though it was set (mostly) in the future, I didn’t have to do a whole lot of what science fiction authors call “world building”. The current novel is set on an alien planet and has non-21st century levels of technology, and there are lots of small plot points that rely on other small things, with details spread throughout the narrative.

As I was writing I’d notice something didn’t fit with something else I’d already written, or that I needed a new character, or could combine two other characters, or that this one piece of technology stood out too much and needed to be replace by another… but when I made the change, I didn’t go back and rewrite the previous material to fit with the new, I just continued to write as though the later facts were true and the earlier facts had already been changed.

This means that if someone else was to read the story now it would make zero sense. For example, in the opening chapters I introduce two characters who, in the planning stages, were going to play a major role in the last thirty or forty pages. But as I was writing I completely forgot about them, and their roles were filled by other characters. So they need to be edited out. Also the shape of the main camp changes quite a bit from the original description compared to what I have in my mind now, at the end of the writing process.

What I’m going to have to do is read the entire thing and make a whole new list of facts about the world that are in place at the end, and then go through again and make sure they are consistent from the beginning.

A final note: this story, at only 35,000 words, feels much more like a novella than my first long work of fiction. The word length is going to grow a lot during the edits though, as I on the first draught I was concentrating mostly on plot and action, with very little description, and not much characterization either.

I wanted to write about 45,000 words in 30 days. I took two weeks off from writing in the middle, and finally settled on between 1000 and 1500 words per day as the least stressful workload. I managed 36,776 words in 28 days, averaging 1,313 per day. Along the way I added 1782 words of non-story notes, for a final 34,994 words. My novel writing software says that’s about 145 pages in an average paperback format.

The final breakdown is here:

Day:	Date:	Target:	Behind:	Catch:	Sessions:		Today:	Running total:
Fri	23	1500	-467	-533	1967			1967	1967
Sat	24	3000	-343	60	1376			1376	3343
Sun	25	4500	563	873	594			594	3937
Mon	26	6000	1583	1023	480			480	4417
Tue	27	7500	930	-675	1024	1129		2153	6570
Wed	28	9000	332	-645	1349	749		2098	8668
Thu	29	10500	-1991	-2468	1839	1984		3823	12491
Fri	30	12000	-491	1413	0			0	12491
Sat	31	13500	-263	148	580	692		1272	13763
Sun	1	15000	1237	1487	0			0	13763
Mon	2	16500	-90	-1407	2827			2827	16590
Tue	3	18000	-130	-126	1540			1540	18130
Wed	4	19500	-555	-539	1010	915		1925	20055
Thu	5	21000	910	1430	35			35	20090
Sat	21	22500	2248	1385	162			162	20252
Sun	22	24000	2684	515	1064			1064	21316
Mon	23	25500	4184	1692	0			0	21316
Tue	24	27000	4392	430	1026	266		1292	22608
Wed	25	28500	3452	-777	1135	1305		2440	25048
Thu	26	30000	3880	644	1072			1072	26120
Fri	27	31500	4005	376	1375			1375	27495
Sat	28	33000	4544	877	961			961	28456
Sun	1	34500	6044	2068	0			0	28456
Mon	2	36000	6536	934	1008			1008	29464
Tue	3	37500	6573	547	556	907		1463	30927
Wed	4	39000	6540	557	1533			1533	32460
Thu	5	40500	6925	1170	1115			1115	33575
Fri	6	40500	3724	-1145	15	3186		3201	36776								
	removing notes			-1782			-1782	34994

I need to start coming up with working titles for my fiction. “Edward” and “Monster Story” are fine for file names, but don’t really portray what I want about the stories.


Luke Recommends: Stanza

A few posts ago I wrote about ebook readers for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Stanza is by far the best I’ve tried so far. The page turning is great (small taps on the sides of the screen, not a flicking motion like others), you can lock the rotation so you can read it laying sideways in bed, the formatting can be changed to make it easy on the eye, plus lots of other nice touches.

Most importantly, if you download Stanza Desktop, you can effortlessly make any text file (of almost any format) into an ebook that the Stanza iPhone app can grab via wifi. This combination is going to be hard to beat.

So, now that I have an ebook reader, does anyone have some public domain or creative commons or otherwise free novels they think I should check out?

So far I’ve found Accelerando by Charles Stross, which I’ll leave on my Touch for my next trip. See the star ratings page on the SFBRP.com wiki to see the kinds of science fiction books I’d like to read, and those I’d probably want to skip.


Hot Sauce

As mentioned previously I’ve been trying out the photo sharing feature of internet startup Sosauce.com. They put out a video blog called Hot Sauce to highlight user added content. Check out the first 40 seconds of the latest episode to see who’s featured…

I should tell Pola about this one, she took half the photos that are shown on screen. The full album is here.



Reading on the iPod Touch

I recently bought myself an iPod Touch. First, I wanted an iPod with a more storage. Second, I wanted a smaller wifi device (smaller than my laptop) for web connection and email while I’m on the move. Third, I want a better phone, and would like an iPhone, but stumping up the cash for both the phone and the contract seems a bit steep. I got the touch to test out the idea of the iPhone, and if I like it I’ll maybe get an iPhone later in the year.

The Touch, by the way, is pretty cool. I keep finding new things on it that are really useful. A main thing is the seamless integration with iCal, which I use for calendar stuff. And lots more I won’t go into now.

I thought I’d use it as a book reader too. If I can get new releases cheaper, and I don’t have to carry the damn things around with me on multiple airline journeys, I’d be a lot happier. Also, I’d like to read through my own fiction writing on the go, rather than having to print it or scroll through it on my laptop.

My first plan was just to read html or text formats with the Safari browser. I knew I could get public domain books from Project Gutenberg so surfed on over. I wanted science fiction, so picked a The Time Machine by H. G. Wells.

After four chapters I found that scrolling down a huge page on a browser wasn’t the way to go. I needed to be able to flip pages.

So I went to the App Store and downloaded two free ebook readers. One was eReader, but that seemed strongly tied to an ebook store, and transferring files looked tricky.

The second was Stanza. I opened it for the first time on the Touch and it said “The Time Machine. Wells, Herbert George.” I was confused for a split second, thinking “Wait, I’ve not even tried to transfer the file across yet! The iPod Touch is just the best device EVER!”

Then my brain caught up and I realised the novel I wanted to read as a test of the Touch as a book reader was the exact same novel that Stanza provides to let people use the Touch as a book reader. The reasoning is the same, of course; a classic short novel in the public domain. It’s just one of those small coincidences that make life so interesting.

Stanza seems to have all the features I want, with direct access between the Touch and my Macbook via wifi for transferring text files. Maybe I won’t need a kindle afterall.

EDIT: Four hours before I began looking for ebook readers for the iPod Touch, Amazon released an app that lets you view kindle content. Another coincidence, and a product I’ll look at later.