News Progress Post

Progress Report 2024 Week 15

I’m in that plotting period where grand ideas have to be whittled down to fit into an actual plot. But that’s just the nature of writing, isn’t it? Speaking of which, did I finish a draft of the plot for The Sword of Sirius Book 3: Firebreak? What’s next after the trilogy of The Sword of Sirius? Let’s look at (an admittedly) dull infographic.

Progress Report 2024 Week 15 By the Numbers

According to these key performance indicators, I did nothing this week! However, I can assure you, I didn’t just sit around. Well, I did sit around, but I also typed and stuff.

That looks like a dismal performance, doesn’t it? But that’s not the case at all. I actually finished the first draft of Firebreak’s outline. I ran into a problem with some aspects of Payne’s plot, but I think I’ve worked through them. Let’s just say I’m glad The Sword of Sirius Book 2: Collapse Zone hasn’t been published yet, because I need to make some adjustments! But otherwise, I’m close.

Over the weekend, I had an interesting conversation with my wife about plotters versus pantsers. I think we’ve come to the conclusion they’re really the same thing — they just express the same activities differently.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, made his distaste for plotters evident. He said he objected to things like plot wheels or other artificial mechanisms to generate plots ahead of time. Instead, he described writing as carefully removing the rock around a fossil. When you’re done, you have a complete, new thing in the world.

But that’s exactly how I felt sketching the plot for Firebreak in Plottr.

I think some folks prefer not to invest time in thinking through the plot before they start writing. Some of them say they want to be surprised, which is cool. It also suggests they’ll have more rewriting to do, but if that works for them, I have no objections. But when I create a plot, I’m very much working with the characters, geography, new technologies — everything that I’ve built in the world — to fuse with the core ideas and discover something wonderful for the reader.

A pantser create a plot while writing. But they still create a plot. It’s just a matter of when.

Building this plot honestly felt like an archaeological dig. I think it’s because the characters and other world elements had such a strong influence. It felt like I discovered something external to myself.

In other words, I think the pantser/plotter debate is a fun topic to drive clicks, but I’m no longer convinced it’s really a thing. Unless we redefine plotter/pantser as a description of where a writer invests time in understanding the story’s structure. Which maybe is what it’s always been, and I just saw it as a false dilemma discussed by folks I read.

Thoughts on What’s Next

To give myself some mental space before I start writing (and before I start incorporating Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis’s proofreading results), I started sketching ideas for the next series. I realized that Evolution’s Hand actually set the stage. Multiple stages, in fact. I didn’t start out with the intention of making Evolutions Hand a platform to introduce multiple story lines, but that’s how it turned out.

Those six books described at least seven major foundations I could build on.

Fleet-Based Military Science Fiction

The Sword of Sirius is the first installment. I could continue to write books in that series, either with the current antagonists (the Nazis in Epsilon Eridani) or by introducing new ones. Time skips could be involved to widen the pool of antagonists. These books would focus on space-based combat operations and would be similar to those of Nick Webb.

I could also tell some of the story of Terran Consolidated Products’s campaign against Epsilon Eridani. In fact, that might be interesting. I’ll think about that.

Stellar Colonization

The core thematic idea underlying Evolution’s Hand is the Sirius Project, which was to start a plethora of political structures to find the one(s) that best champion the cause of human freedom and development — including defining what those terms mean. There’s a ton I could do in this realm. I’m not sure it’s be widely popular, though Iain M. Banks wrote some fantastic (and popular) books in a similar vein.

Battlefront with the Evil Volitional Entities (EVEs)

These stories would follow Melchizedek Conrad and Matsushita Sachi as they take the fight to the EVEs. It could evolve in the direction of under-stated super heroes, as they eventually end up fighting on the scale of galactic superclusters. I’m not sure I can pull something like that off — yet. Peter F. Hamilton did something similar in his Salvation series, so I know it’s possible. I’m not not sure I can do it.

I spent a lot of time this week casting new characters, like Angelika Schubert, a member of Luisa Brunner’s general staff.

Dives into the Perpendicular Universes

I could continue the story of what happened to Hearth after Conrad accidentally triggered Armageddon (he felt really bad about it). Or, what happened on Fith after Conrad and company created the Fissure. In other words, this could be high fantasy, or steampunk, straight science fiction, or really anything else. This could range from something like Tolkien (hey, I can dream!) or Rebecca Yarros’s Fourth Wing series.

Earth-Based Science Fiction/Political Thriller

There’s a lot happening on our home world, and most of it is leading to stagnation and oblivion. It could chronicle South America’s attempt to rise up; or the fall of the European Union and the California Republic. I could either go the route of George Orwell or James S. A. Corey, then George Orwell. With a sprinkling of Isaac Asimov. Tragic overtones might be fun to convey.

The Rise and Fall and Maybe Rise Again of the Fissure Worlds

Earth has control of six of the seven Fissures. I have plans for how Epsilon Eridani will develop and be a thorn in Ira Malhotra’s side in the long term (see Fleet-Based Military Science Fiction, above). But after Earth falls, I could write a series of stories about the Fissures trying to pick up the pieces. That might be in the vein of Asimov’s I, Robot series.

The Rise of United Systems

In a couple hundred years, the colonies founded by the team at Sirius will mature and have to be unified — or not — by some kind of structure. That’ll be called United Systems. It will be well-known for some colonies. The necessities of a given political experiment might demand isolation and therefore ignorance of the star-spanning culture in others. This could be a lot like the worlds of Alastair Reynolds or Peter F. Hamilton.

I also had to cast the Assistant Supervisor for the Endurance. Jackson Scott needed a second in command.

    Hubris Much?

    To be clear, I am not comparing myself to the writers I mentioned. I’m arrogant, but I’m not stupid. No thinking human could read my material and compare it favorably against any of the writers I mentioned. I think of this list of writers as aspirational. It also represents my attempt to understand the target genres.

    All that said, I don’t have to build on this foundation. I could go in a completely different direction and write a standalone book or series in another universe. But, really, I don’t think it would be as much fun. I want a big canvas. The idea of figuring out how to fight with or among galactic superclusters is appealing in a “that’s completely impossible, you moron” sort of way.

    Suddenly, I feel like saying, “Hold my beer…”

    Progress against Last Week’s Goals

    Here’s how I fared against last week’s goals:

    1. Finish plotting Ira Malhotra’s POV: Done!
    2. Finish plotting Owen Payne’s POV: Done!
    3. Finish plotting Luisa Brunner’s POV: Done!
    4. (Stretch Objective): Write chapter 1, which will be the helper plot and will focus on Jackson Scott: Not Done! Fortunately, I classified this as a stretch objective. I had more casting to do than I thought.

    Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2024 Week 15

    Here’s what I hope to accomplish this week:

    1. Writer the opening chapter for The Sword of Sirius Book 3: Firebreak.
    2. Write Ira Malhotra’s hook chapter.
    3. Write Owen Payne’s hook chapter.
    4. Begin incorporating the proof read edits into Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis

    What Do You Think?

    How would you describe the difference between a plotter and a pantser? Do you think there’s really much difference? I’d love to read your opinion in the comments!

    2 thoughts on “Progress Report 2024 Week 15

    1. I’ve always considered it a spectrum with plotter at one end and pantser at the other. Ultimately, it’s all discovery, it just depends on how you do it. I like to think of it as a road map. I want to get from A to Z, but that’s a long way so I come up with stops along the way. I don’t know how I’m exactly going to get from A to B, but that’s the first stop, before I push on to C. Of course, I can reassess the points at any moment if I think a more interesting route has appeared.

      1. That makes sense to me. My plotting lays out the major points (A, B, etc.), and then the day-to-day writing fills in the blanks. Knowing where I’m heading helps me be more creative at runtime, so to speak!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.