Write on, Commander!

Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Progress Report

The island of 'New -Ithaca' from where the video was 'filmed'...

The island of ‘New -Ithaca’ from where the video was ‘filmed’…

Well, you all know where that play on words comes from. I’d like to think I made it up, but I’m sure it’s been independently thought of a number of times.

Needless to say, it’s apt this week. I’ve started writing. This is generally considered a good thing if you’re trying to produce a book.

A quick detour in to statistics if I may, allowing me to explain how I intend to report progress along the way.

I’m anticipating that my book will be around 80-90k words in length when it reaches a final draft. That will be somewhat trimmed down from the first draft, which will be somewhat longer as a lot of stuff is chopped out during the editing process.

As a guesstimate then, the first draft may be in the order of 100k words or thereabouts. To “stay on target”, I need to have this ready in half a year; six months; twenty six weeks.

Thus my writing target is around 4,000 words a week, or 1,000 words a day (I have 4 days each week during which I can write). I’ll update these stats on the website as raw figures and a percentage on the ‘plan’ page from now on. You’ll see facebook and twitter updates too, if that’s what floats your boat.

At the end of this week I’m at 4,505 words. Not a bad start at all. So far I’ve completed the ‘Prologue’. This is effectively the backstory for the book. The main story takes place in 3299 (the year before the game starts) and the backstory goes back a couple of years to 3297, setting a few things up that are necessary for the story to work. I’m pretty happy with that, we’ve already got some tragedy and political machinations going on. Chapter One is well under way, though I’ve yet to introduce any of the major characters.

No, it's real! I'm not making it up... er... no I am making it up... ;)

No, it’s real! I’m not making it up… er… no I am making it up… 😉

So much for progress tracking. I’m now entering the ‘fun’ part of the book writing process. This is where I get to see the characters come alive, often surprising me with how they form, working through the nuances of the interactions, figuring out the scenes and segues. This is the creative part every author loves.

I’m very keen to share some of this with you all, partly because I hope you’ll be interested and partly because there will be dark times ahead where I’ll need encouragement and positive vibes. I’m not usually cursed by writers’ block, but it has happened, and sometimes I’ve had to junk sections of work and backtrack over otherwise ‘good stuff’ which is pretty demoralising. ‘Real life’ also has a habit of trashing the best laid plans.

I intend to be honest and forthright about the good, bad and ugly of this process, hoping you’ll stay with me on the ride.

I’m mindful that some of you don’t want to see too many details about the book – it may spoil it for you. I don’t intend to reveal the plot for instance, or divulge whole chunks of the manuscript during its creation. You’ll have to wait until it’s polished and ready to go. Anticipation is a wonderful thing.

I’m also not at liberty (yet) to divulge much from the writers’ forum either, though we can certainly discuss what has and will be revealed via Michael’s “Writers’ Diaries”.

Meanwhile I’ve got a question for you.

Other than the progress numbers, what do you as my pledgers and supporters, want to see in these updates from now on?

I’m considering perhaps some character bio information, comments on the scenes and location (though being careful to avoid spoilers of course!). There’s also an interview with my publisher in the works so you folks can meet them.

I’d also be very interested in interviewing some of you as to why you decided to back me. Would some of you be up for that? If so, please get in contact and I’ll do a feature on you. 😉

So, who's up for an interview?

So, who’s up for an interview?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Engaging with you fine folks directly is very rewarding for me, and I hope you get something out of it too.

See you next week.

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  1. Sure, I’d be up for that, if we can find time that works. Sounds fun.

    Thanks for update, and good luck with writing.


  2. Hi Drew,

    Nice update. For me, I don’t particularly need to see many details of the plot at all during your diaries, I’ll look forward to finding out about everything when I read your completed novel. What would be most interesting to me is the process of writing a novel. How you do it, what you start with, how you organise the story to begin with, how you get through problems, not losing perspective and so on.

    As for being interviewed, I am happy to oblige.

    Write on!

  3. Agree 100% with Jenna – as littel detail about the plot please. Although I would love a worm hole to get a copy of the finished book – I dont want to come upon it in a years time and not be able to read it fresh.

    Would also like to know about the writing process.

  4. I’m loving the insight into the writing process, and looking forward to the game and the book. I’m just (re)starting to write myself, and my role at work has changed to include some authoring and technical writing, so inspiration in any form is great 🙂

  5. You know me from the Oolite BBS, so that was the initial reason for supporting you, though I have also enjoyed your fiction, especially the Oolite Trilogy. I know you can produce a first class book. I don’t want to read plot details or read bios, I’ve even avoided watching your location videos in case I get too much detail. Don’t want to be interviewed either, too shy lol, but you can be assured I’m cheering you on!

  6. Hi Drew,

    I backed you because I saw a nice opportunity to help get Elite Dangerous funded.
    I love reading SciFi while I commute (a lot) by train. So that was a win-win proposition for me.
    In that way I would get more out of it than just pledging more for E:D as it also got me your book. Also your a fun guy to watch selling your book to the public in your clip 🙂 You really came across as a straight forward kind of guy who really deserved to get backed.

    I ended backing 8 Elite books on Kickstarter so I can safely say it’s all your fault!! And a big thanks for that 😀

    Oh and I just started reading the first of your OOLITE saga books. That is already some nicely written hard SF! Keep it coming.

    What I like about your presentations up to now are the simulations of the locations you’re writing. Using SpaceEngine and such. That really grabs me! So keep that coming. Indeed, like the rest already said: No spoilers please… I still want to read the book not really knowing what is going to come next.

    Cheers and all the best with your writing and all the RealLife(tm) stuff 🙂

  7. Thanks for the comments so far folks.

    Good news on the plot. No one wants it and I wasn’t intending to give it to you – no problem! :

    I’ll not bother with the character bio’s either for now. There is a little more character artwork I’ll show for fun, but it’s not going to tell you very much at all

    Thumbs up for SpaceEngine. I’ll get you a tour of the Prism system at some point.

    Thumbs up for the interviews too. A number of folks queueing up for that, so I’ll put together an email template and send it out.

    I’ve got an interview lined up with my publisher too, which will give you an insight into the ‘other side’ of this writing business.

    I’ll also work on a blog update about the specific process of writing that I’m using. More detail on that later.

    Thanks for the comments, keep them coming!

  8. I have no problem being interviewed, and I am really glad that you are not going to give us spoilers. I loved your book, “Torn”, and can’t wait to read more from you.

  9. What would I like to read in your updates? Well they’ve been insightful so far so you must be doing something right. That said, what about things that have been rejected, either by you or frontier?

    • Great suggestion Alex, I’ll pick that one up.

  10. Hi Drew,

    It’s great you’ve managed to get started, and I anticipate all your pre-planning will hold you in good stead and help you keep up the momentum. Good luck with the writing…

    (If there’s anything I can do, just drop me a line.)

  11. Hi Drew

    Looks like there are a few budding writers out there, including me. I’d therefore like to reiterate what has already been said and suggest that any insights into the writing process would be most welcome in your updates. I’ve seen John Harper’s updates too and he’s showing the process from his perspective. It’ll be good to see how each author works through the process, whether following a similar path or using different techniques.

    Otherwise just keep up the good work. I think you were quite an inspiration to many during the E:D campaign and I look forward to reading Elite-Reclamation. I’m also happy to be interviewed.


  12. Looking good thus far Drew.
    It appears you are well organised, motivated and in possession of the skills required to deliver a quality book to us the E:D community.
    If us Drew followers can help repay some of your commitment during the more challenging periods of this process then lean away my friend!!!
    Maybe some silly jokes will help…
    Q. Why did the Chicken cross the star system?
    A. To sell himself in Leesti.

    • I’m not sure that’s helping, Crispy! 🙂

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