Posts Tagged ‘space dinosaurs’

Working with an Ensemble Cast

I’m to the climax of the space dinosaur book, which is exciting! And also scary, because I’m trying out fencepost outlining for this particular project (basically, you identify the major plot points for your arcs–first plot point, midpoint, second plot point, etc.–and that’s about it) so I’m not 100% sure how this is going down, but sometimes that’s part of the fun!

This book is meant to be the first book of a series, and as it takes place on a spaceship with a crew of about 150 people, there’s a lot of people to deal with. It can be overwhelming. So what are you to do when you’ve got a ton of people to keep track of?

Well, me, I’m taking a page from one of my very favorite science fiction series, Star Trek: the Next Generation. (And arguably other Trek franchises, like Deep Space Nine and Voyager.)

Next Gen had a core cast of characters–Picard, Riker, Data, Geordi, Deanna, Beverly, Worf–as well as several reoccurring characters, such as Barclay, Chief O’Brien, Q, Guinan, that nurse whose name is slipping my mind, Wesley in later seasons, etc. In general, you got a good idea of the scope of the ship without getting overwhelmed by everyone on it.

So when I started setting up my cast, I focused on my core crew, which looks like this:

(Remember what I said about character images from last week.)

(Also, if you can’t read names–I have never claimed to be decent at digital art–it goes Ari, Brian, Chris, Dave, Lin, Robin, Roya, Tom.)

That gave me a good spread across the ship–these people are essentially in charge of different departments. (And, well, space dinosaur.)

However, depending on the type of story you’re writing, eight viewpoints is a lot of viewpoints. A thriller where character is less important and you can have a multiple of viewpoints is one thing. But I wanted to have characters people could identify with, that they’d follow along with for the entire series. That they’d care about. So I decided I’d do three viewpoints per book, with the focus being on who is most involved in the plot for that book. The main plot for this book involves an unknown saboteur who somehow manages to get around all the security measures, so the engineering characters have a lot to do. Other people–medical or science staff, for example–are around, and do contribute, but it doesn’t make sense to give them viewpoints here.

And in writing this book, some of those secondary characters, the ones that make a ship feel like a real, working vessel and not just a backdrop for the officers, have already started to show up. I’m taking note of them so I can use them throughout the series. I don’t know if they’ll ever become viewpoint characters later down the road, but, hey, anything’s possible.

I mean, Chief O’Brien didn’t even get a name for two seasons and went on to be the chief engineer of DS9.

What are your favorite ensemble casts, squiders? Any thoughts on how they’ve been handled, good or bad?

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Hooray for July!

Oh man, squiders, you have no idea how happy I was when Monday rolled around. All the craziness of May and June are finally behind me and I feel like I can breathe again.

It is lovely.

Now that all the sundries are taken care of, summer can finally begin.

(The relaxing part. It’s already ungodly hot. Booooooo.)

Here’s how July looks from a writing standpoint:

  • Still working on the space dinosaur story. Now that the madness is done, I hope to actually get some decent wordage going on it. I am having a bit of an issue where my Google Drive isn’t syncing on one computer, which is frustrating. Oh well. Old fashioned way it is until I have time to figure that madness out.
  • In theory, it should be my turn on the sequel to CoHaR’s draft next week. The sequel is gooooing slowly but the good news is that the publication schedule has moved out by a few months, so we should still be okay.
  • My scifi serial continues. I thought I was almost to The End but then there was a rogue plot twist.
  • I have the itch to write a short, but I don’t actually have any ideas floating about. I wrote that one back in April/May and then promptly forgot to do anything about it, so I should probably edit it and find it a home.
  • We have a Fractured World-related anthology coming out at the end of the year, and I suspect I need an outline if not a partially written story by the end of the month. So that’s pretty high on the to-do list. I have characters, premise, and setting, but am sadly lacking in plot. I will have to poke it fairly actively to get something percolating.

That ought to keep me extra busy. It’s probably too ambitious, especially since the small, mobile ones are home and bored, but hey, one can dream.

Any fun plans for July, squiders? Aside from writing, we’ve got a couple festivals planned (uuugh, nothing like wandering around outside when it’s 100 degrees) and are apparently climbing the second-tallest mountain in the continental United States next Friday.

The Return of the Space Dinosaurs

Ugh, Squiders. It is already getting hot for the year, and I do not like hot. My Celtic and Scandinavian genes are not equipped to deal with this madness.

(It could be worse. I could live in Arizona. Ha. Ha. Haha. I don’t know how anybody lives down there.)

(I mean, I know a lot of people who do. But I would die.)

ANYWAY.

I finished up my draft of Book 1 and got it sent out to betas, and so, of course, that means waiting. Ugh, waiting. But it also means I get to work on other things for the first time in years (ignoring the few short breaks I took for mental sanity) which is very exciting.

(Also, I have gotten some feedback back on the first chapter, so I’m not sitting in a beta vacuum. But it will probably be months before I get most of their input. Not dwelling too much. That’ll drive you mad.)

So, aside from ongoing things (short story writing and submitting, monthly serial, very lazily querying the YA paranormal), I’m finally going on my space dinosaur story again.

I call it that because everyone likes space dinosaurs (and there is a space dinosaur, and I ♥ her a lot, and I love the way she plays on the humans’ innate fear of the predator in their midst, bwhahahaha) and because it gives people something to focus on, and then I don’t have to explain the whole plot, because I don’t know about you guys, but when I have to talk about my books it makes me really, really nervous.

Long story short, I wrote most of the draft for Nanowrimo back in 2014. And then I revised the YA paranormal, and then I revised Book 1, and somewhere in there was the entirety of City of Hope and Ruin, and, frankly, it’s been a long time. But I hate leaving drafts unfinished, and I especially hate leaving this one unfinished, because it’s super fun to write.

So I’ve read over my notes, read over the current draft (needs a bit of revision, same thing mentioned three times in three chapters at the beginning, and one character makes a decision not to do something and then apparently changes her mind, but that’s for later), made some notes to myself on where we’re going (I have the worst habit of not leaving myself notes because I always think I’m going to be working on a story sooner than I ever end up doing so), and have started writing again.

I mean, like, 300 words, but hey! And more hopefully whenever I get this GDPR thing figured out and finalized.

(Any resources if you’ve had something to GDPR-ize, squiders? From what I understand, I mostly need to update the forms for my mailing lists, and also send an email out asking if people want to stay on. But the whole thing is daunting.)

It’s so lovely to be working on this again. Hopefully once I actually get going, it’ll be smooth sailing.

How are you, squiders? More writing around life for Thursday, so I’ll see you then.

Limbo and April

I find myself in kind of a weird place right now. The sekrit project still needs work–most of that marketing stuff we talked about last week, though the excerpt has gone out for approval and will go up at the beginning of the month–but there’s nothing I can actively do while I wait for my co-writer’s input on the book description and the cover.

So I’m in this sort of limbo. I feel like I can’t start up one of my other novel projects while the marketing stuff for the sekrit project is still outstanding, but I also feel like I should be doing something.

The best I can figure for the moment is that I’ll do some short stories. I have some written but not typed up, and other ones that need to be submitted. But, unfortunately, that’s probably only 2-3 hours of work, and then I’ll be stuck again, because it sounds like I’ll be getting nothing from my co-writer until Sunday (boo!).

I could…write a new short, I suppose? I’m delaying the release of my short story collection until the fall, even though it’s essentially done, because what’s the point of putting out two books within a month and then potentially nothing else for the rest of the year? (Although…now that I think about it, I think I’ve got an anthology coming out in the fall. Maybe release it late summer, then? Argh.)

I guess the next step would be to move on to my nonfiction books until the marketing for the sekrit project is done.

I mean, some of that will be ongoing, such as contacting potential reviewers or bloggers, but that’s not necessarily creative in any way.

For April I’d like to participate in Camp Nanowrimo. Camp is very hit or miss for me in terms of whether it’s useful or not, but I figure why not try? I’m behind on everything for the year, and it might help me get back on track. I’ve set a goal of 15K and will primarily be working on my scifi space adventure with dinosaurs (you may remember that from Nano 2014) which needs about 25K more on the first draft.

I’d like to work on my submission docs (query/synopsis) for my YA paranormal novel too, but I’m not sure it’s possible to be into two different books that closely, so that may be a terrible idea. Especially with ongoing sekrit project stuff happening.

I don’t know if I will be able to work on the scifi novel while also getting the sekrit project launched, but I suppose I can do 15K on my nonfic stuff instead. There’s certainly that much (probably closer to 25K, or more) to be done there as well.

Can you do submission stuff for one novel while writing and/or marketing another, squiders? Any tips on keeping everything straight?

Onward to Space Dinosaurs

Well, Squiders, I have finally finished my chainsaw edit of my YA paranormal/dark fantasy novel. It ended up being approximately 90,000 words, which makes it 15,000 words longer than the original draft. Most of the new stuff is related to character arcs and some fleshing out of the main plot, but mostly character arcs.

I’ve got it out to a couple of readers, so we’ll see if it’s better, or just different. I found it really hard to tell. I went back to the edit after Nano, and read through what I had thus far (about 65K at that point), and I honestly couldn’t tell, which is really weird for me. So hopefully my readers can tell me what’s what. I don’t think either of them read the original draft, so it should be interesting to get their opinions.

I also finished the first of my nonfiction books and have that out to a couple of people to read. Feedback thus far has been very positive, so hooray!

Since I’m done with my chainsaw edit (a month and a half after I wanted to be), I can go back to writing my space adventure series (with space dinosaurs!) that I started in November. If you remember, I was trying out a couple of different structural changes from my normal novel-writing process.

I’m pleased to say that I think the changes are for the better–I rather enjoyed my readthrough of what I previously had, and the new outlining process (outlining by beats rather than phase outlining) leaves me lots of room to play around with things without affecting my main plotlines or character arcs.

It’s been a little slow getting back into the flow of writing it, but I am generally optimistic about the whole project. Turns out you can’t go wrong with space dinosaurs.

Been up to anything interesting yourselves, Squiders?

Obligatory Nanowrimo Post

Alas, October draws to an end. And Nanowrimo looms. It’s interesting–I learned about Nano in 2002, started doing it back in 2003–and back then it was the weird indie thing, and maybe there were a couple thousand of us doing it.

Now it’s massive. And everyone’s gotten in on it. They have best-selling authors writing their pep talks. Writer’s Digest keeps emailing me about their Nanowrimo specials. Everyone who is remotely related to writing or book selling is capitalizing on it somehow.

It’s a very bizarre thing, to have watched it grow all these years into the massive event it is these days.

But since I am remotely related to writing and/or book selling, I think I’m obligated to post about it. (Haven’t quite figured out how to capitalize on it yet myself. Ah, well, maybe next year.) I’m sorry. I’m sure half you guys are sick of the topic already.

As for me, I can’t remember if I told you guys or not that I’d decided on the space dinosaur scifi adventure series. I’ve had the world planned out for a while, and I sat down a week ago and figured out viewpoint characters, story arcs (internal, external, series-length), major plot points for all arcs, and interpersonal conflicts. Which is actually a lot more planning than I have put into any NaNovel in the past, with the exceptions of ones that were rewrites of previous ones. (I figure, on a rewrite, you’d better know where the hell you’re going and how you’re getting there.)

I figure the change in the level of planning comes down to the fact that I’ve become a lot more professional in my writing since I last started a first draft (…almost five years ago). I know more about story structure and character arcs, and so I know more about what a story needs and how to incorporate it so I don’t have to flail around for a first draft and do a massive rewrite later after I finally get my act together. So hopefully this will all go smoothly.

I haven’t done Nano since 2011 (I gave a half-hearted attempt in 2012 and made it about 14K), so I’m both excited and a little anxious. I used to think nothing could stop me from getting to my 50K after the year that I finished early while working full time and working toward a graduate aerospace engineering degree, but it turns out that kids make things really hard. But I am cautiously optimistic.

What about you, squiders? Nano yes or no? If yes, tell me a little about your story. Y’all are welcome to friend me on the website as well–my Nano handle is Kandybar. (I have an icon of Geordi loving a turbolift.)