But That’s Not What I Wanted

Life in Fortress Dave proceeds apace. Like usual. Wee Dave was remanded into my care when his teachers wouldn’t have him in class anymore, ever, for a few days at least. Of course, they refused to have anybody in class, so he’s no more special than he was, but Writing Time turned into Man Time while they had professional time. What about Dave? What about Dave’s professional time? *shakes fist*

I spent most of last week (what I had of it to myself) doing some pre-editing. Pre-editing? Yep. I read through the last several chapters of Scrap Star Quarry (the space opera WiP). You see, I’ve had this nagging suspicion that my characters are spending too long talking to each other, and not enough engaged in plot development. It’s been nagging me for some time, so I decided to do something about it. I’ve made a bunch of notes and what it comes down to is I think I’m going to move some scenes around. One whole bunch of chapters is going to get moved farther back in the book by, oh, probably twelve or fifteen thousand words.

Now, I’m not even certain this is absolutely necessary, but pacing is essential, and a story wherein the characters spend several chapters doing normalish things (for aboard an interstellar free trading starship) and talking about stuff and trying to repair and solve conundra, followed by several chapters of meeting people, and engaging in try-fail cycles, and getting in fights, is … Well, draw it out on sheet of paper. It ends up looking like a square wave, when what I want to be giving the reader is more of an escalating wave. I want to ramp up the tension, while giving the characters (and the reader) a bit of a rest after every new escalation.

Pacing is important.

So, what is it I didn’t want? Well, because of my fairly limited writing time (Writing Time also has to include anything that absolutely needs to get done at Fortress Dave but shouldn’t involve littles. Seriously, a couple weeks ago I had to drop off Mrs. Dave’s jeep at the shop, and ruck home to get my stuff) I spent all of last week that wasn’t Man Time with Wee Dave (less wee than he used to be. Who authorized that?) working on figuring out the pacing and making notes about where what should go when. And why. So I got very little wordsmithing done. Which is frustrating, since I usually write a thing from beginning to end. And next week at this time, I’ll be rolling south to get Grammy at the airport on the way to Grammie (long story) and Gramps for elk season and Farm Time. The break will be welcome.

My point is that we make schedules as publishers and writers (you *are* making schedules, aren’t you?) and then we have to do the messy stuff of living, and the schedule goes to … well, places where schedules go to get thoroughly bolluxed. And this happens pretty much every time to everybody who has even a few chaotic variables interfering with their nice, clean plans.

And that’s okay. I’m coming to the belief that schedules are both necessary, and pure wishful thinking. Seriously. At least for me, at this stage of life. There’s what I want to have happen, and reality, and never the twain shall meet. And that’s okay. Emotionally, it kinda sucks, but I’ve got lot going on that isn’t writing, and while it annoys the heck out of my publisher, I think the grouchy bastard is willing to cut me some slack. He knows Grammie is willing to put the littles to work on the farm while we’re visiting so Writer Dave can bugger off to a coffee shop (I know just the one) and get some work done.

So make your schedules, and plan your plans, and I’ll do mine, and we’ll work toward them. Just take a page from Xeno: we’re not ever quite going to get there. And that’s okay. It’s mighty useful to have something written down, if only to allay the demons of Substandard Work Ethic and Imposter Syndrome. Seriously. It may not be what we want, but it may be what we need.


  1. Everything is easy, once you know how, but learning how is often not easy. Today frustration’s name is publishing, as in uploading files and doing metadata. My schedules have had to confront reality, and reality won.

  2. *Cringe*

    My intrepid crew is also on a long spaceship ride to get from here to there and I suspect that there ought to be more actiony sorts of action happening than really makes any sense.

  3. Clearly you need a subplot about needing a replacement frammistat, or refurbishing a spare one… or maybe the flux capacitor is degrading because of tachyon field degradation.

    1. Or, character development in a crowded ship – the frictions, irritations, and such that occur in a tight place with disparate personalities.

  4. I keep telling parents that the only practical thing to do is have the hospital attach a surgical steel ring to newborns right between their shoulder blades. Perfect for attaching a leash, and when necessary hanging baby from a hook on the wall. A hook in the shower makes it ever so much easier to hose the filthy beasts down when required as well.

    1. Ah. You’re still thinking hooks for restraint. You haven’t discovered the POWER of harnessing the energy of those little tykes. Wrap your home with copper coils. Attach large bar magnets to the children. Let them run to their hearts content while you generate megawatts of power and export it to the local and regional grids.

  5. As I’ve seen attributed to Eisenhower: Planning is essential. Plans are useless. Ya gotta do the first, but recognize that reality gets to vote, too.

  6. One of my favorite sayings: How do you make G*d laugh? Tell it your plans.

    Space is really big and mostly really boring. Other than minor cleaning, there shouldn’t be anything essential to do during flight (transit?). One doesn’t want to be futzing with one’s ship while light years from anything. If it’s a regular occurrence, space travel is likely to end in lost ships more often than not.

    1. That’s actually just the problem: they got chased into abnormal space, and fired upon as they jumped. The blasts fried the navcomp and put a hurt on several other systems. Also, there are complications.

    2. There’s cleaning, repairing weapons, tending the fresh plants that provide oxygen and food supplements, crystal/other synthesis. Repairing waystation’s infrastructure/meteorite damage, collecting soil/rock samples. Monitoring radiation, listening for distress signals, etc.
      Continuing education. Workouts/recreation. Cooking to stem the tedium.

      1. Yep, and a lot of that is going on. It’s just not terribly interesting to either read or write. Especially to write. A couple paragraphs here, and I’ve explored the limits of repair tech. A couple there, and they know what they can fix, what they can’t fix, and what they need to replace.

    3. Which is why spaceships and warships are big on the whole redundancy thing. You have enough spare engine, etc. so that if part of it is down — and it will be — you still have enough capacity so not everyone dies.

  7. Isn’t this why wormhole travel (and other handwavium alternates) were invented? Instead of spending lots of boring time locked up in a spaceship, just …. zip, we’re there!

    1. I wonder how much of that is cultural. Crossing the Atlantic by sailing ship was slow, but people expected it to be. Now, it’s OMG!!ElevenS! if one’s plane is delayed by an hour (leaving aside connecting-flight issues).

      Comfort is part of it, too. I went on a one-way cruise to London that took 14 days. The flight back was only 14 hours. I would much rather have spent another 14 days at sea.

      1. 12 hour drive – long but not too bad. 12 hour plane flight – “Are we there yet? Are we there yet, are we there yet? Let Me Oooouuuuttttttt!”

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