Slow and Steady


Partly as a way to keep myself honest, and partly because I want to keep you in the loop, I wanted to give a quick status update. I’m making steady progress on the beats for the novel tentatively titled A Ghast in the Machine. It seems like my September update was right in that consistently applied effort helps!

I’m a writer. Things like that come as revelations.

The characters and situations also forced another change in direction. I might have to change the Amazon category I’d informally chosen as my genre. I’ll talk about that in a moment.

By the Numbers

Number of Beats325472
Total Hours Invested64.2593.25107.25

The number of new beats, which I think will translate roughly into chapters, isn’t the big story. The big story is that I’ve finished the outline up through Game Changer #1 and Phase #2, and I’m working on Game Changer #2.

I’m happy to say that the harder I push on Scrivener, the better I like it. I can’t imagine trying to write a novel without it.

That’s using the nomenclature from Nick Stephenson’s Story Engine. That’s roughly 1/3 of the way through the plot. The increase of 18 beats doesn’t tell the whole story. During October, I spent a lot of time building out the United Nations’ organizational structure, like the Sol System Protectorate. Readers will likely see little of that work, but it gives me a framework to build a realistic world. That’s also desirable, but in this case, the change in direction that I’ll talk about in a moment requires it.

The UN, though, was only part of the development effort.

The Characters are Chatty!

In ancient times, back when I cranked out a novel in about 3 months, the characters were vivid in my mind. Yes, that novel sucked, but that’s not the point. The point is that if the characters felt active in my mind, I could make a lot of progress in a very short time.

Last weekend, I spent most of my writing time fleshing out the EU. Germany’s government is going to play a big role.

I didn’t have a full time job then back then. Nor did I have kids. Or a wife. Okay, I was just out of college and was more free than at any other time in my life. But that’s not the point. The point is, the characters are coming together in a way that I haven’t seen since the mid 1980s. That’s really encouraging to me!

What’s This Change in Direction?

My plan had been to write these novels in the Space Opera genre. As I get more into it, though, it is feeling less and less like a space opera, with one exception: Amazon lists Dune as a space opera.

The political aspects are getting stronger. I knew the United Nations (UN) would be a force. I didn’t really think through how powerful the European Union (EU) was going to be. I spent the last weekend fleshing out the EU’s characters. Some of them will be pivotal in future books, and I have to find the right balance between the needs of this book and the needs of future books.

This is a long way of saying I think I might change the category to “Science Fiction -> Exploration”, which would emphasize the trip to 61 Cygni. Future books might morph into “Science Fiction -> Galactic Empire” or “Science Fiction – Colonization.”

There’s one more category I’m considering: “Thrillers & Suspense -> Technothrillers.” It’s an outside shot, because I see myself as a science fiction writer. However, the first trilogy isn’t that far in the future, so maybe technothriller fits the best.

What Categories Do You Haunt?

Are you working on a manuscript right now? Are you thinking in terms of what Amazon category you might use? Please feel free to let me know in the comments!

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