Writing Process

Brian did a post on this Monday and the questions looked interesting enough that I thought I’d take a crack at it:

What am I working on?

Well the big project right now is the final revision of Surreality. I’ve been working on the book on and off for seven years (oof!) with some significant time off in between to write other books including a certain fractal book. This revision I started around November and hope to be finished so it’s something you can enjoy in late July or the dog days of August.

I’m in the development stages for a couple of books, including my rewrite of Dark Matter, a second volume of the fractal book, and another non-fiction project I’ve been kicking around based on a certain hobby of mine.

And I write this blog three times a week (hopefully), plus once a week over at Going Deeper. I’m hoping to get a few short stories started soon, once I can stop thinking of novels to write.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like mysteries that rely less on crime labs and forensics and more on a knowledge of human nature, and good intuition. Surreality is a technological/noir story told from the perspective of someone who is decidedly not technically minded.

For science fiction I tend to be more of the futuristic variety than the big empires and tons of different alien races. Where will the human race be in 50 years or 100? People are recognizable, only the technology has changed.

Why do I write what I do?

The easy answer is I write what I like to read. But my stories also have a tendency to deal with some of the subjects about which I am most passionate and concerned such as the technological singularity, or the increasing role of technology and social media in our lives. And for my mystery series I’ve been enjoying injecting the local culture of the place where I live into the story. The decision to make this a Columbus mystery (my wife’s idea by the way), not just another story set in San Francisco has really shaped the work in some interesting ways and helped me to find a voice for my characters they’d never had before.

How does my writing process work?

I’m a pantser, meaning I tend to know my beginning, middle and end, but not all of the connective tissue when I write. On the one hand this offers a degree of freedom in first drafts, but often necessitates a lot of second and third drafts to make the story really up to snuff.

For this revision I’ve been retyping the entire draft, not just copying existing text. Usually when I’m typing I find it easier to make the little phrasing changes, or cuts or insertions then just staring at a screen.

All this being said this process is constantly under flux. I’ve changed writing goals per day from 1600 words to 800  (less words but more carefully chosen). And I’m most likely going to need an outline for my next mystery. So it really changes from book to book.

Case in point, the non-fiction was probably the best suited to my changing moods as a writer. If I didn’t feel like writing a chapter, there was always formatting work, image generation or some other task that would be making progress even if it isn’t writing. This is probably why I’m considering working on a non-fiction project and a fiction project at the same time, so I’m always using my energy toward something useful.

I don’t read my stories aloud but I have my kindle read them to me. This works well for exposition, but not so well for dialogue since the kindle doesn’t sense the need for pauses very well.

Here’s a question Dave Higgins or Brian didn’t ask:

What’s your lifetime goal?

C’mon, all of us writers have one of these. For me it’s probably 20-30 books and a couple of collections of short stories. I’d like to eventually make enough money off the writing that it’s all I have to do, but I recognize that goal may take a long time and is subject to a lot of factors. But 20-30 books is totally doable in a lifetime (especially if I can get them to come out better the first time 🙂 ). But simpler than all of this is that I want to write until I no longer can draw breath. I have more ideas than I’ll ever be able to fully explore, and I’d like to share as many of them as possible.

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