Keep calm and carry on writing

Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Progress Report

Good advice, mostly.

A slower week this week. Progress hasn’t been as strong. The bank holiday took a day out of my normal schedule (nice day in the sun though) and I’ve got a half day holiday today (more of that later). None of this is a problem, but this is the first week where I’ve struggled for words. It’s felt a bit of a slog, and the word count has dropped away. It’s not really cause for alarm – this has happened before and it will happen again – but I promised I’d bring you the ups and downs of this strange business we call writing, and, as far as the book goes, this week was a bit of a down. I need a bit of a recharge and the odd ‘keep on truckin’ message of well-wishing would be very much appreciated.

Fortunately, I’ve got a bit of a filip coming almost straightaway. I’m the chairman of our local astronomy society and we’ve been invited to a premier of the new Star Trek film: Into Darkness this evening. We were asked to do ‘Something Spacey’ by the local cinema to help promote the film and flap our own banners too. We’ve got telescopes, portable video projectors and enough built in geekiness amongst the members to carry that off with aplomb – pics to follow! We also get to see the film for free, which is cool. I’ll post a quick review afterwards.

They’ve only gone and blown up the Enteprise… again!

I’m rather fond of Star Trek in general, but my ultimate allegiance is to the original TV series, which I’ve recently enjoyed once again with the digital tweaked versions which bring the special effects up to 21st century par. The new films are watchable, but I tend to enjoy them as Star Trek-esque rather than true ‘Star Trek.’ It’s a bit like the current Doctor Who syndrome in some ways – with all the infinite possibilities offered by the universe, why do we always seem to just hang around the planet Earth? We’re certainly not ‘boldly going where no one has gone before’ in the story telling.

Back to Elite: Reclamation and there’s no mention of the Earth whatsoever, we’re far out in the void. I’ve managed to reach 42,447 words, so still ahead of the 40k target. I’ve also got some quite difficult scenes that I’m working on. We’re near the mid-point of the story where most of the major characters (with one exception) are in flight and the scene is being set for some of the end game components.

One particularly fun scene was where my heroine encounters a rather unusual person during a stop over. This was an opportunity for me to write a cameo into the official Elite universe, from the perspective of my previous fan-fiction. It’s not overt but it is necessary for the story, if only in a minor way. For those of you who have read the Oolite Saga, something about this person maybe vaguely familiar. It’s also an opportunity to hark back to the ‘good old days’ in a nod to the original game.

Writer’s block? Or just waiting for the idea to come?

So far I’ve been writing in chronological order. The story is unfolding as I’m writing and each section follows the previous in order as you’d expect. For the most part this works well for me, but I’ve encountered situations in previous books where I get ‘stuck’ on the current scene for lack of a better word.

I’m not sure if this counts as writers’ block, but I find that in order to resume progress I have to write some of the scenes ahead and then return to the ‘present’ before I can move the whole story on. I’ve had some of these problems this week, so I’ve been skipping around a bit, hoping the creative juices will keep flowing. I’ve been a bit under the weather too, which hasn’t helped.

I’ve also noticed that I’m missing a bit of backstory too, so I’ll probably be going back a few chapters in order to sort that out to my satisfaction. In terms of location in the plot I’m in the midst of Chapter Seven. According to my synopsis, I’m not far from the halfway point, so the predicted 100k words seems to be about right at the moment.I’ll also have another tranche of feedback from my editor on Chapters Five and Six to deal with shortly (EDIT : Just arrived, stuff to tweak but still very positive), so as we approach the halfway point it makes sense to take a little time to ensure the overall flow is working well. There are a lot of strands to the story floating around at the moment, so I’ve got to ensure they’re all being moved forward as they should be.

I’ve got a few concerns on characterisation too, so I need to go back and ensure that the distinctiveness of each character shines through. This is a job for the editing of the first draft, so for now I’m just leaving comments in the text to remind myself in the future.

You're listening to Laaaaaavveee Radio!

You’re listening to Laaaaaavveee Radio!

What else? It’s pretty quiet on the writers’ forum at the moment. Most people seem to be working hard on their manuscripts at present, which is a good sign. We’ve seen a little bit of new information on the general technology landscape (no real surprises to be honest) and some stuff on the Elite Pilots’ Federation, particularly on how the revised Elite ranking system will work. I’ve already referenced that in my story. LaveRadio will be pushing out a new community broadcast called ‘the Conclave’ next week which I contributed to, so keep an eye out for that.

I’ve got some plans to do a video update when I reach the halfway mark. More on that when we get there. Only 294 days left – that’s focusing the mind!

See you next week.

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    19 Comments

  1. Writers block is a natural occurrence, change up your situation , communicate, go out get inspired, normal service will resume.

  2. Hi Drew,

    Sorry this week has been a bit more difficult for you but as you say that’s just natural ups and downs. You’re still ahead of plan, getting excellent feedback from your editor and you are happy with the material you’ve written so far (judging it as a first draft). What more do you want? 🙂

    Bottom line, four months ago if someone had offered you the chance to be in the position you are right now I don’t think you’d have thought very long about accepting the offer … Now think about 7 months ago before you knew E:D even existed!

    Enjoy the premier; sounds like a lot of fun.

    • You’re absolutely right – it’s a fabulous place to be! 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing your latest update. It sounds like everything is well under control and you remain dedicated to getting it right and not just getting it done. I’m sure the end result will be a great read. So I echo your opening message, keep calm and carry on writing.

  4. My apologies Drew for not leaving you a few words of encouragement in previous weeks. You always seem to have writers of real quality adding their comments about your sterling work. Some of us lesser mortals tend to shy away as our words feel inadequate.

    Sorry to hear that your week has been a disappointment to you in regards to your writing. I am sure this is just a very temporary hiccup. I have always found nothing but good in your project. You have been an inspiration to many of the Elite Dangerous writers and very generous in the help you have offered them. I never miss your regular as clockwork updates which always have something of interest to impart. Even when progress has been slow.

    Good luck Drew and I hope you enjoy the film.

    • All comments are always welcome Victor, never fear. Thanks for your note – much appreciated.

  5. Don’t let it get you down, keep pushing, you’ll surmount the obstacles & with hindsight it’ll seem you were away before you knew it. Annoyingly, despite knowing that it doesn’t make one feel any better about some current situation.

    Great update, it’s fascinating to read a more intimate account of forming a novel [a quantity of words I couldn’t imagine getting near 1/10 of] as it takes place. Every time I come to your site from the update email I’m impressed how images have changed, there’s quality prose to read etc. It’s clear how much care you’re putting into anything you work at.

    Here’s to high times next week!

  6. Keep on keepin’ on, Drew.
    Your initial campaign, detailed background plotting, regular updates and allround contribution to the Elite universe are nothing short of fantastic.
    [vader]”Impressive.”[/vader]

    • Thanks – it’s good to know it’s all appreciated!

  7. Keep on writing commander! And really, thank you for the regular updates, they are a kou to read and I wish every project I backed would do that.

    • It definitely helps me to keep focussed, knowing folks are going to be expecting an update on a regular basis.

  8. How on earth did “joy” become “kou”?

  9. Drew, relax. Enjoy your evening seeing the new Star Trek movie (all at the office are insanely jealous by the way) and stop worrying.
    All writers, that’s right, I said it, ALL writers get to where you are at some point. The brave ones admit it to themselves and take a little time off to smell the roses or become master of the Universe, whatever’s your pleasure.
    The important thing to remember is this is a first draft. A first draft, incidentally, that a team of professional editors is already wild about and a team of beta readers worldwide are already desperate for the next part of… Bottom line? You are exactly where you need to be. Keep calm, stay sane and write on Commander!

    • Thanks Dan – the editing feedback has been awesome. Glad the story is going down well.

  10. Hi Drew.
    Thanks for the update and for keeping us all informed about how things are going – its especially interesting to hear your real world journey through the writing proces even when its not been as easy as previuously. I’m no writer but I can feel your frustration when things are a bit tough. All I’d say is keep on at it! Your publisher sounds like they’re really happy and I’m sure you’ll get through this tough bit and make your work stronger as a result. By taking some time out and reflecting on what you’re up too will help you enjoy your writing and perhaps give you the opertunity to alter some bits thatr you’ve been questioning.
    As someone who’s really enjoyed your oolite saga I’m very excited about your realisation of the elite:dangerous universe and especially about who will be the cameo! (and I’m hoping it begins with R!)
    Remember your own words – write on commander – and enjoy yourself while your at it!

    • I’ll keep the updates honest – sometimes it will be good news, sometimes not. I felt it would be more valuable for folks to see the updates regardless.

      And as for the cameo… you’ll have to wait and see!

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