author’s note: writing chapter 3
Posted by jeanne
so i’m finished with another chapter. a hearty wee-hah.
this one took less time than the last one, but both – well, all three chapters have taken a long time. much longer than, say, nanowrimo desires and requires. that’s 50,000 words, or about 2000 a day. i’ve been doing nanowrimo – national novel writing month – write 50,000 words in november – since i think it says 2005 on the right hand panel of the blog. for last year’s nanowrimo, when i wrote Train Wreck: the Wrath of Mom, i did 70,000 words in a month of writing, then finished it and segued right into this current story i’m writing here. so eloquently, might i observe.
however, writing Adventures in Quantum Antarctica is much more difficult than spinning a total spazzfest about a fictional family from hell. i don’t know too many writers who couldn’t spin a dysfunctional family gone wild story in a month. but this story i’m writing here has taken 8 or 9 months to plot out and research (and i’m still researching), and is going to go on for 42 chapters, and each chapter has 30-40 pages of accumulated research appended to a much smaller list of plot points and character development. just wading thru all the research is taking several days each chapter.
for this chapter, i found myself laying out the progression of points i wanted to make four or five times, stating them as an argument and then fleshing it out with the relevant bits of research. this time i found myself cutting and pasting the research into the argument, which means it was no longer to be found down in the research portion of the document. i would go thru the built-up argument, taking the points of the research and rewording it to fit the scenario. in the case of quantum research, i’ve been reading about the same concepts for almost a year now, and had enough information to construct that part of the argument out of my own knowledge – yay. in other parts, i reworked the research, and the next day i came back and rewrote everything, which means i had in many cases deleted the research. sometimes i had to go back to the main research document and find the information again, lots of times i just did another search on the subject and used some other reference.
cuz i’m trying to get it right, cuz science fiction is so annoying when it just gives some bullshit chain of logic. like everybody hates it when han solo uses parsec as a unit of time.
once i had the arguments in order, which in the case of chapter 3 were to do with the ideas of a quantum computer and a quantum computer game. it came out this way at first:
brain as computer
intent influences reality
reality follows expectations
then i had some trouble figuring out what happened next, and it took me a couple of days of meditation on the edge of sleep to get the next part, which came out as a series of points that i repeated over and over thruout the night:
well, quantum effects on macro level, once thought impossible, now being achieved.
brain actually works on quantum level now, quantum in hot environment, tubercles.
quantum mechanics gives you results you’re looking for because of backwards logic, so you could solve for superpowers, and then they’ll be possible. see this with cellphones – dick tracy/flash gordon/arthur clark/star trek. (how is this backwards? it goes both ways, with future changing to reflect changing past. something.) biowhatever
let’s get back to computer game.
program game that will entangle player’s mind and create brain pathway enabling quantum powers macro.
could you do this? classical says hell no. quantum says it’s that way to begin with.
least choice pathways, deepening neurons, build habit
coding a problem. making quantum run on classical devices a problem. more technicalities of quantum computing.
then a miracle happens.
worth a try, distracted.
so i lined up all the research under each point, and started to write in the characters and their dialog. around the research. which never really works. so another few days meditating on the chapter. and finally i heard kurt talking, and saw caroline and nathan lurking in the foodcourt, and the next morning the whole thing just tumbled out in the order i finally posted.
of course, once the chapter was written, i took a fair copy and started going thru it to make it readable, make it flow, make it not quite as wordy as i like to get. it was 13 pages doublespaced when i collected it for editing, and i only brought it down by a page.
and the whole thing took (let me check) two weeks. it took a month and a half to write chapter 2. how is brainstorming a videogame more troublesome than explaining quantum mechanics? you wonder.
what was fun about it, because massaging the research was a pain in the ass, was writing the characters and what they get up to. it was fun watching kurt and the kids interact, and i really love writing the family. i wonder if i haven’t got a one-note dad, because he starts off pretty horrible. in truth, he only gets worse, and goes on to kill or have killed two people that i know about, but i don’t know if i can build very much on such a tall obstacle without having the thing come crashing down.
before posting the chapter i had a whole lot of trouble getting it to paste into this blog window with the links intact. i finally, after many tries and many reboots and many deleting of browser caches, i finally pasted the damned thing in a paragraph at a time. and saved it. and previewed it. and it was a mess of sizes and fonts and even colors. the last thing i tried to post also gave me this trouble.
so then i did something regrettable. i switched to the html view and copied the chapter, and pasted it as plain text back into my document. now it was my chapter, but with all the codes it had accumulated while i was writing it. i mean while i was assembling it and writing around it.
when i looked at it in html, it pretty much bore the marks of every change i made to every paragraph. because i often marked a passage with a shading color, or bolded it, or italicized it. and they were all still there. things like:
<p style=”margin-bottom: .1in; font-weight: normal; line-height: 100%;” lang=”en-US”><span style=”background: transparent;”><em><span style=”font-family: Bitstream Charter, serif;”><span style=”font-style: normal;”><span style=”text-decoration: none;”>
there were 18 of those headings in my chapter, and the footers of each line were like </span></span></span></etc>. as plain text with codes, what had been 12 pages was now 20. and i had to go thru and tear out all the codes except for the links. it took several hours. i’m not very happy with my word processor (open office) right now, because it’s not behaving very well, and i’m having all these issues getting the text to paste into my browser. i assume it’s my computer, which badly needs upgrading, but until i get a secondary laptop up and running i’m not going to be disconnecting anything and taking it down to fry’s.
anyway, after posting the chapter, i did my cleanup. i took all the passages i didn’t use, and all the links i cut out of the chapter, and all the bits and pieces i thought i might need later, and put them in a document of saved bits. then i took my chapter 3 document and put it into a folder of posted chapters. then i got chapter 4 and put it on the desktop.
and tomorrow i’ll have a look at chapter four and post the outline, and see what i have to work with. i’ll also go thru the recent research and see what needs to go into chapter four.
but for now, i’m going to sign off and go to bed.