February 21st, 2011

Dead Reign

The Sky Is Fallen

Wow. I fell off the blog-updating wagon there for a bit, didn’t I. But I have an excuse! You see:

I’m writing a book.

(Yes, yes, and trees are producing oxygen and the sun is transforming hydrogen into helium, I know.) It’s a pseudonymous work-for-hire book, so I can’t say too much about it, but it’s been rough going in a lot of ways. Short deadline. Required a fair bit of research. And I have a thoroughly unlikable main character, which is the right choice for a lot of reasons (and I hope pretty funny), but it’s not very nice spending so much time with this person, living in their head. I think I’ve finally picked up some momentum this week, though.

For the first time in my life, I’m really working from an outline, which is weirdly helpful. If I have no enthusiasm to write? I drag myself over to my chair, look at what’s supposed to happen next in the outline, and just make it happen. I learned long ago that, in terms of the end product, it doesn’t matter if the book flows forth from my fingers with invisible ease, or whether I have to hack every single word out of the living rock: the final work is indistinguishable to readers. So I don’t worry about that much anymore, at least. If I can keep working on this thing a little every day (and a lot on weekends), I should make my April 1 deadline.

My next book under contract — a roleplaying game tie-in for Pathfinder called City of the Fallen Sky — is also extensively outlined. (A detailed outline was required before I got a contract, actually.) Which is interesting, because it means the editor has already been in touch about what the cover art might look like, and what the characters should look like at a certain point in their story, etc. — because they know the story! (I have some wiggle room to improvise, fortunately. I’ve signposted where I’m going, but I have some freedom for how I get there.)

I’m still using Scrivener, and, yeah, for these projects, it works really well. For my usual free-form vague rambling — or let’s be fancy and say “organic” — approach to writing novels, I’m not sure Scrivener would have a benefit over really any other text editor or even a notebook and a pen, but it is very helpful for more schematic works. But I confess Scrivener would in fact serve perfectly adequately for those books, too, being a lovely text editor with some good features, so, sure: consider me a convert.

I didn’t quite break 40,000 words on the book-in-progress this weekend, but I will in the next day or two. It’ll all be over in six weeks or so. Then I’ll take a few weeks, write a couple of short stories I’ve promised people, and race onward to the Pathfinder book. It’s nice to be gainfully employed.

Originally published at Tim Pratt. You can comment here or there.