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Progress Report 2023 Week 26

Ads and languages and plots, oh my! Doesn’t have quite the ring of the original, does it? But it is pretty much what happened this week. Ads are absolutely going to be the death of me. But they don’t make up all of the news this week! Before I tell you what I mean, let’s look at the numbers.

Progress Report 2023 Week 26 By the Numbers

A Different View of Plotting

I’m inching closer to writing the first words in Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis!

In a moment, I’ll talk about why language is on the list of accomplishments this week. For now, I want to let you know I’ve started plotting. You might remember that I mentioned watching a YouTube video, Writing into the Dark, by Dean Wesley Smith. In it, he advocates not outlining at all. He said he just dives in and starts writing. At the time, I thought that was beyond me. I still do. But my perspective shifted a bit for this book.

When I plotted the previous five books, I looked at each character arc separately. But when I wrote, I had two perspectives in mind, over and above the perspective of the individual characters. I thought in terms of an A Plot and a B Plot. The A Plot moved the world forward. It was the “main” plot. The B Plot gave color commentary to the world and gave readers a chance to understand the stakes from a more personal perspective. I did not articulate that to myself until I started plotting Unnatural Crypsis.

The Right Answer Depends on Multiple Questions

Starting with this book, I’m combining the character arcs into A Plot and B Plot as I’m creating the plots. This approach feels like I’m able to better coordinate the events that are related to each other. Even better, it gives me more opportunity to tighten the drama and heighten the emotional impact. At least, I hope so.

The B Plot is starting to take shape.

I brought up Dean Wesley Smith because his vision was so different that it forced me to reflect. Now that I’m reflecting, I feel like I’m on a journey. I’ve always considered myself a plotter instead of a pantser. But i’m beginning to suspect, because of the insights Dean Wesley Smith offered, that the discussion is a red herring. They are two possible extremes on this journey, and every writer had to find their home somewhere on that road — and not necessarily at either extreme.

I don’t think it’s a static destination, either. I can see myself leaning one way or another, depending on the complexity of what I’m trying to get across and the fidelity I have to maintain to my existing canon. And what I’m capable of keeping in my mind at any given instant.

At the very least, I feel like plotting for Unnatural Crypsis is on solid footing. I’m excited to start writing, but I don’t want to rush the plotting part. I want to learn as much as I can from it. Not only that, but I want to come up with the most innovative and enjoyable framework that I can.

New Languages

In Evolution’s Hand Book 5: Split Infinities, three of the characters traveled to a perpendicular universe. Two universes, in fact. My favorite was the steampunk-themed world inhabited by characters who looked like the horse girls in Uma Musume: Pretty Derby. There’s actually a plot-relevant reason for that. Perpendicular universes tend to resemble the universe that spawned them, but there are differences. As universes go “deeper” into the spawning tree, so do the rules on which that universe is built.

There are two implications. The first is that the closer to you get to the home universe, the more like home that universe feels. When Melchizedek Conrad was in a second iteration universe, he had equine ears and a tail. When he was in a first iteration universe, he looked practically human. Also, the identify of the individual traveling to the perpendicular universe drives, to some extent, the evolution of life in those universes. Kinda like an observer affecting quantum observations.

I bring this up because in book 6, Conrad and his team start in a fourth iteration world, where they were hydrogen-based life forms. The action takes place in a second iteration universe where they’re feline. Yes, I’m writing about cat boys and girls.

I could have gone in a different direction. But if I’m having fun, there’s a better chance my readers will have fun, too.

The figure above is the character into whom Matsushita Sachi instantiates in this perpendicular universe. You can see the original artwork here. In my universe, the characters do not have human ears. The cat ears are their only ears. Other than that, I like this interpretation.

This section is about languages. I wanted to make it clear these are feline-based life forms on a world where the Felidae family out-performed primates to become the dominant species. So, I had to fashion a language around that mindset — specifically, a carnivore’s language as opposed to an omnivore’s language. That had social implications as well. I like how this part of the story is coming together. I hope you’ll like it, too!

Progress against Last Week’s Goals

Here’s how I did against my goals from last week:

  1. Continue designing the planet Peak: Done!
    • I did so much, in fact, that I renamed the plan to Fith and named its star Ahahuh.
  2. Consider another BookBub Partners ad with a more reasonable author group selection and increased bid: Done!
    • It didn’t do as well as others I had tried before. However, it did generate some sales in Barnes and Noble and Apple Books. So it wasn’t a complete loss. I’m still evaluating how to make it more consistent.
  3. Incorporate the beta and proofreading feedback into Blind Exodus: Not done!
    • I spent the time instead on plotting.

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 26

  1. Incorporate the beta and proofreading feedback into Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus
  2. Continue plotting Unnatural Crypsis
  3. Try another advertising avenue
  4. Try to quantify the impact my latest blurbs will have on future sales
  5. Begin shopping for a cover for Blind Exodus (stretch objective)

What Do You Think?

How do you know if you’re improving your writing? Do you go by your own feel? Reader response? Something else? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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