author’s note: writing chapter 6
Posted by jeanne
i’ve made a few notes as i’ve been going along.
i started writing it tonight, finding myself during dinner going over the first paragraph in my head.
Kurt emerged from his parking deck like a hibernating monotreme from its cave. He was a mess. People avoided him on the subway, afraid he’d hit them up for money. He smelled. He was grimy, with shards of ramen in his hair. His hands were black with graphite and he had several new, partial tattoos on usually unseen body parts, definitely homemade. The number of puncture wounds bothered him a little – he must have had one hell of a time. But he was very pleased with the results of his lost weekend(s). he felt better when he tore his new shirt at the pocket.
But first he needed to get cleaned up, so he went for a spa day. He drove 40 miles out of town, where he showered at a truckstop. Then he bought some new clothes at the outlet mall and ate the buffet at the family diner, and cruised back into town. He got a trim haircut, then plopped himself in the massage chair of a manicure place and had them do both extremities while he had a glass of wine and let the chair rub the kinks out. He joked about a happy ending, but the girls got offended, and he was forced by a put-out manager to tip an extra twenty to cover his embarrassment.
Kurt called the team together. They met at the secret Dragoncon food court, with Nathan and Caroline hovering in the background and the security cameras keeping up as best they could. If anybody noticed Kurt’s geek-casual look, they forgot to mention it as he handed each one an android tablet he’d made some special modifications to.
[insert special modifications]
snake slouched in his seat, his legs pointed at the exit, one knee bouncing up and down incessantly. all he could see was the duct tape and rubber bands, and he couldn’t stop making fun of the sounds Kurt used. but anomia had opened up the browser and was noticing how fast pages were loading. and josh was checking in to somegame online. wow, it loaded immediately, he said. and i’m firing at way more capacity than i’m used to. this is some update, kurt, how’d you do it? snake snorted. overclocking and tweaking, it’s just a trick. but a good one, he hastened to add. in a handsome package.
that’s just a regular adroid tablet with some game engine apps. the real difference is in the quantum software kernel i developed, the features of which i’m only just discovering. it’s pretty, uh, intuitive. the others didn’t understand him; he let it pass.
later, maybe, this is a little advanced. anomia looked up. i just replied to an email, but instead of getting a blank reply, what i wanted to say was mostly all there already. like it read my mind. snake sat up. can’t be done, he said.
At first they could only say wow as they found Kurt’s game engine and started to play with it. There was a cool buzz when they touched the screen, like their fingertips were electrified, and their swipes left tracers.
Then they opened up software they knew – and it was different again. Everything was a little bit off from what they were used to – it filled in search terms on google, and completed whole sentences in emails – but they decided it was a browser issue and got used to it.
organize the outline and post it. 13446 words. only 17 pages? it seems pretty straightforward. i’ve moved off the building of the hexpexspex to the next chapter, to enliven the rolling trainwreck that the game prototype becomes. so now i just have to introduce the quantum tablet and let them actually make the game. which will entail a lot of dialog and a lot of character development, and a lot of technicalities about computer games.
the way this works i’m kind of astounded to realize i have living characters walking around the place interacting with each other while i’m off doing other things.
reading over chapter 4 to see where i went with the characters, i notice how much has to be rewritten. the various dialog styles – text/chat message, talking to each other in their heads, physically speaking together – it’s not clear enough who’s saying what, and the switch is jarring or not obvious enough. in cutting out so much i’ve left mentions of things that are no longer in the chapter, and that needs to be cleared up. it’s all very rough. no wonder nobody’s reading it. it’s just a rough first draft. maybe with some ideas in there, but the execution is poor at this point, clunky and lifeless. i’m still writing research, not fiction. at some point, however, it will become a story, and i can reshape the early chapters to reflect my understanding.
kurt gathers them together to present tablets, has many features but a few flaws; characters respond with griping, turns into education about possibilities for new technology, instructions for use sort of, then they divide work up and begin. then we see them working separately, insight into their lifestyles and personalities as they build the actual levels, starting with clouds then 2 layers of carnival. it takes a long time and we see several iterations of development and several arguments and power struggles. we can put nathan and his family somewhere else, and bring out radhu. when the minithaw happens we finally start to see them in action.
i’m busily moving things in my document until it tells a kind of story, and now i’m listening in on them until i hear a snippet of dialog or a transaction. there’s a lot of snake scoffing. there’s a lot of wondering about kurt’s quantum tablet and his mysterious quantum kernel, that he can’t even articulate well enough for me to write it down. i’m working on the beginning of the chapter, just them getting to know the new tablet and its features, and starting to figure out how they’re going to use it to make their game. i haven’t thought about it at a close level yet, just as part of an outline, and now that i’m in the middle of writing the chapter, there are so many things that are fuzzy that i now have to make clear, so i’ve either got to get the technology right, or fudge it and still get the point across. at this point i’m filling in bits of conversation, bits of argument. where i can see thru the included research to where the characters might be using it as a point in some ongoing discussion, i write that down and delete the research. with some more of that, i’ll be ready to organize it into 6.1 and move on. but i’m still not hearing the structure of the chapter yet, the tone, so i’m using my time by making order and transcribing what i hear. i’ve got various interesting dream things happening, and background thoughts as well, and so i’m sure i’m rooting around in my subconscious for it, and it will come soon. it just needs triggering.