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 😀


Got an email from my Copyeditor at QST Magazine

Naturally there’s a bunch of backstory to this but we’ll start here. 😀

My Copyeditor, we’ll call her Jennifer (because that’s her name 🙂 ), sent me an email:

Good morning Dan,

I just wanted to let you know that your article (“Single Operator Portable in the Dry Tortugas”) will be printed in the March 2015 issue of QST. Over the next month, you will be receiving e-mails from QST staff that will need timely attention.

Dan Passaro at Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

There’s more to the email; some detail questions, some questions about the photos I took, etc.

My second experience with an editor lol.

(The first? My Letter to the Editor at WatchTime. He published my email in that section and included his reply. My first published work haha!)

I had submitted three articles to QST concerning my Dry Tortugas ham radio expedition:

–An overview story; “It was a dark and stormy … “. blah, no it wasn’t. In fact, the weather was great.
–A memorable contact story (ham radio operator in Bulgaria)
–A more technically oriented article about the equipment I used.

These types of articles fit the pattern for what QST prints. Also I wasn’t sure how long to make any one article. The three could have easily stood as one but I was concerned about submitting a book lol.

But one of the email questions was:

4. Do you have any anecdotes about any memorable QSOs*? People were probably very excited to contact you in that rare grid*!

Why yes, Jennifer, yes I did. And it was glorious 😀

I then sent her the other two articles. She has begun incorporating them into the layout and I should see a proof this coming week, by Wednesday I suppose.

I had taken my good camera, my Canon 7D dSLR with L glass, to Dry Tortugas and I’m looking forward to seeing how those fit in to the story!

I’m giddy with excitement as to what the article will look like!

I love it 😀

* QSO. A Q code ‘Can you communicate?’ Sorta like ‘did you copy me?’
* Grid, with respect to the Maidenhead Locator System. In my case grid EL84np, which you can punch in HERE at the bottom of the page.


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 😀