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[travel] Omaha

Back in Omaha, where it is cold. It will be a lot colder when I go walking around 4 am, but I’ve brought the right clothes for that adventure. I’m back in my half-suite, which seems to have been my usual digs in the hotel this fall. It’s a nice space. The Hertz random upgrade program hath delivered unto me an almost brand new Camry which is pretty tricked out. It’s a nice car.

On the flight out today I did some extensive critique for the Orycon workshop this weekend. Those poor writers have no idea what they’re getting, but it will be good for them. Also put another hour into the synopsis of Sunspin, and find myself seriously contemplating a Wiki for worldbuilding purposes. Process is a bitch, especially when one is on a mission to retune it on the fly.

Had dinner this evening with garyomaha and elusivem. Nice chatter, including some discussion of my writing process, and what Sunspin was likely to do to my head. Took care of some emails and some personal business, and I am shortly to bed. Morning comes early hereabouts, and then I have to drive across the cornfields to the office.

[process] Everything I need to know about Sunspin I learned from Tourbillon

Walking this morning, in between acts in the glittering show that was the night sky, I had an insight into the way I’m approaching Sunspin. I have known for a while this next project would have to be rather different from my previous ones. The scale alone is an issue — I expect a first draft between 600,000 and 750,000 words. Likewise the fact that it’s science fiction, and I need to approach both the story and the text differently than I’ve approached the fantasies I’ve been writing the past few years. Not more rigorously, but with a different rigor.

Both of the above points presage a much more detailed outlining process than I’ve ever indulged in before. I simply can’t spin three quarters of a million words off the top of my head. Well, actually, I probably could, but not while trying to accomplish my goals for this project. And the sfnal requirements are such that I’ll need them to be pretty carefully spelled out in advance. For example, my concepts about FTL, the Fermi paradox and the social structure of post-industrial, trans-human interstellar feudalism in a culture where FTL is only of limited application. Those need to be internally consistent and convincing before I ever put draft to page, and they need to inform plot, character, action and dialog every step of the way.

I’ve always resisted detailed outlines, as arcaedia and casacarona can surely attest. To me, writing is discovery, and in the past, the outline process has always felt like it robbed some of the magic from the writing process.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Tourbillon. The outline was as skinny as any of my others, but it was skinny in a different way. Because in Tourbillon, as I’ve mentioned before here on this blog, I was dealing with a serious outbreak of Third Book. Meaning, the world building, the social structures, much of the character development, and an enormous amount of the background detail were already in place before I ever started writing. I was focused on plot, character transitions and dialog in the drafting process. I enjoyed writing the book as much as I always do, and having so much of the world pre-fabricated didn’t subtract from the process of discovery. In fact, in some meaningful ways, that process was enhanced.

My insight this morning was that developing a detailed outline before writing Sunspin wouldn’t be all that different from writing Tourbillon with Mainspring and Escapement already in my head. Which came close to shocking me when I realized this.

While most of you may well be pitching peanuts at me now for discovering once again that the sky is blue, this is a significant revelation for me, and almost certainly a rather important one.

Here is what I love most about writing: You never stop learning. Or least, you never have to.

[personal] Mysterious lights were seen in the sky, flashing

Strange doings in the night sky here in Portland. The gibbous moon just over the eastern horizon appeared as bright as I can ever recall seeing it. the_child agreed with me. And there were an inordinate number of aircraft visible in the sky to the south, possibly as many as a dozen. This is unusual, to say the least, but I can’t find any evidence on the intertubes of PDX being shut down.

ETA: Two different reports in comments of meteors seen just after dusk, possibly the same one with a bit of time confusion (5:20 and 6:00 pm). Weird.

Working now on a sekrit projekt, then possibly a bit more Sunspin synopsis. Or maybe I’ll just read.

[personal] Getting caught up

MacBook is back in fighting trim, after an unusually difficult Time Machine restore. Still not sure what was wrong there, but all is good now.

The space opera now has a working title, Sunspin. It’s 99-44/100% likely that will not be the final title, but now I can call it something besides “the space opera.”

the_child asked me today what state was Red Stick the capital of. Heh.

Now to poke at Sunspin with a stick for a little while. (Yes, I swear I’m about to write some short fiction, but the novelbrain hasn’t yet shut up, and I need to play with it for a bit.)