Part 3. Surprises in writing a science fiction novel

Word Count.

As I got deeper into my concept of the Chairman and his story I noticed that the manuscript would easily go into the six digit word count.

No problem … to me. I read Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising in about 20 hours.

Then I got into studying the publishing business and I discovered The Rule concerning debut authors.

First book = less than 100,000 words (at least for scifi stories).

Hmmmm. Ok.

Some people might immediately see these situations as limitations.

Avoid that. Dwell instead on how this could be an opportunity.

This ‘limitation’ was exactly the thing that gave me the idea for a series.
Suddenly the story opened up much further than I’d originally envisioned.

I’m still writing the series as one continuous outline to maintain my sanity in keeping the details right though lol.

I’m going for 9x,xxx word count in each book.

Easier to work with the system than to fight it 😀


Part 2. Surprises in writing a science fiction novel.

Second surprise in writing a science fiction thriller?


Ok, so this wasn’t entirely a surprise.  My early writing involved the more simple research, such as How to Write a Book in 30 Days and The Essential Guide to Writing a Novel.

In the Essential Guide, Chapter 5, Benefits of a Genre he states:

“Writing in a genre doesn’t mean the writer needs to fear her plot has been done before.  It’s all been done before.”

I had certainly read many fiction books beforehand and this nugget brought that knowledge out of my subconscious, which had secretly discovered this long ago, to my conscious mind.

If it involves people, then it has been done before.

This actually freed me to do my writing.  “Would it be like …” was no longer a concern of mine.

Somewhere, somewhen, yes, it would be like ‘X’.

The one similarity that has intrigued me is the use of mythological names.  In my Distance In Time series my main character, the Chairman, names his first spaceplane ‘Hermes – the God of Speed’.

You know how many other writers use that Hermes name for one of their spaceships?  Heck REAL ships are named that.

The Chairman names his starship ‘Athena’.  One of her characteristics is that she is the ‘Goddess of Heroic Endeavor’.  I had originally chosen Enterprise, more for its meaning, ‘readiness to engage in daring or difficult action’, than due to my love for the Star Trek series.

But I liked the whole mythology thing better!

So I don’t worry about similarities 😀


Surprises in writing a science fiction novel. Part 1

The surprise that stands out in my mind today is how the emotions involved in writing a chapter become so real, as your characters interact with each other and/or their situation and environment.

I hadn’t expected that at all.

Other than the odd short story fiction here and there, grade school and high school writing had been book reports. Reports on someone else’s fiction.

At Carnegie Mellon it was the same thing.
Reporting … on someone else’s work and creativity.

In the professional world it was Engineering reports. Email summaries. Charts in Excel and whatnot.

All facts, just reporting the results.

There was room for creativity in developing a valve stack in a damper (aka shock absorber) to achieve the desired ride characteristics in conjunction with meeting durability requirements.

Problem solving an issue required some creativity. But the process was fairly straightforward.

Overall … it just wasn’t there. At least not the arenas I worked in.

Then one day I decided to put my ideas for an aerospace company on paper.

Curve Aerospace lander

Then I decided to turn that potential business plan into a novel.

“Imagine if … ”

Then, one night watching the TV series ‘Castle’, I got it, the main plot.

At that point it became a science fiction thriller. More plot devices came into play.

I started writing.

That’s when I discovered how much emotion can be felt simply by writing. The creation process, how a character feels and how you could feel the same way.

Then I realized that the feeling was actually first and that was the only way to get that emotion into the page.

What will my character think?
How will they react?

The only way to answer these and other questions was to create the character’s life first, aka the character sketch.

The emotions would flow from there.

I love it 😀


Novel research. Easy right?

Interviews with people over a cup of coffee, maybe a light lunch.

Phone calls, emails and texts back and forth.

Poring over past videos, photos, notes and online forum posts from my personal experiences.

Then the typical bit of light reading (below).

All for my science fiction thriller. I’ve also got plenty of stuff for the civil forfeiture plot device.

Plus more still. Like more mechanical engineering textbooks, other novel related materials, notes …

I love it 😀

Book research

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