Jarsto's Writing Blog

June 29, 2006


All of a sudden this is threatening to turn into a short story blog. Two entries ago I found myself writing a short story. Today I found myself editing they only other short story I ever finished. I won't go into my natural preference for novel length this time. I'll just point out that I wrote two short stories in the same time it took me to write 6 first draft novels.

This short story actually might have been a chapter one if I'd been able to take the premise further. When I was writing it originally I was struggling to keep it interesting, to keep things happening, at 1500 words. In the rewrite I did last night and today, a sort of spur of the moment thing, I managed to stretch that to 2500 words. But the premise (I know you're not out to steal it but I'm paranoid so I'm not going to say what it is) really limits itself to a short story, there's not enough going on otherwise.

Now that I've finished the rewrite (pretty much writing from scratch with version one as the outline) I'm trying a different editing technique on it: the famous reading backwards edit. If you're not familiar with it this edit is basically to make every sentence work as a sentence. This is done by reading the last sentence first, then the second to last and so on, until you reach the first sentence.

Right now I'm three quarters of a page (single spaced) from the end, which means there's more than three and a half pages to go yet. It's a little early to be judging this thing, but I have to say that so far I do like it. I have to force myself to just do a sentence and not go back a couple of sentences each time, but it does force you to look at things almost totally out of context. Now I just have to hope it'll actually be noticeable to the readers, when I get around to letting people read it.

June 28, 2006

Number Crunching

How much range does laser communication ship to ship in space offer? I wish I knew because if I did my world building would be a snap. In stead I trying to crunch the numbers: how much can I let it offer in a sensible way. If make the range too long, then private but slow (lightspeed) communication becomes a common-place. If I make it too short no-one will ever get close enough to use it.

That's just one example of course. The world-building I hadn't quite locked down before includes all sorts of things, com-ranges, sensor ranges and weapons' ranges. In the first draft of the novel I'm preparing to edit (working title Gordian Knot) weapons' ranges especially were a problem. In one of the early chapters there were merely a few light seconds, some chapters later they were nearly a light hour.

I should probably have done this before writing the first draft. Maybe I will the next time I start a new science-fiction universe. On the other hand crunching these numbers (for humans firstand then for three other races) is such a pain at times that I probably won't. Or maybe I'll just copy my present numbers over, change the names of the appropriate systems, and apply the same multiplication factor to all of them. Given how I feel about having to do them now I'm pretty sure it's going to be very tempting.