No update today

Just to let everybody know that the day got eaten up by business and there’s nothing to be posted today. I should be updating tomorrow, though.

Please note that next week I’m going to stop doing daily updates on Tumblr. For immediate notification of when updates are posted, please make sure you’ve used the widget near the top of the right-hand column to sign up for them. Thanks!

By the way… (re: post-NaNoWriMo project notifications)

BTW,  I’ll be adding a mailing list link later on (the list will be housed at MailChimp) so that those of you who want to receive pushed notifications about chapter posting after NaNoWriMo, along with other project news, can sign up for that if you want to.

Granted that the system here requires email addresses for registration, I have no plans to use those to just message people out of the blue (unless it’s something specifically to do with website management or similar). If you want other notifications, you can sign up for the list at MailChimp, which requires double opt-in so there’s no mistake about who wants to know about stuff and who wants to be left alone.

…So anyway, I’ll be taking care of that later. Look for a signup widget in the right-hand column.

Early thoughts: goals and other business

For those who’re just arriving: These blog posts are going to be as much reports on what’s going on as part of the process of getting it all worked out.  So stuff will be in them that may either be very general, or very specific. Sometimes there’ll be both. The posts will be functioning as much as a project diary as anything else. (PS: yes, I’ll happily chat with you in the comments about what’s going on, but I won’t be doing that anywhere but here. Want in to the chatter? Register. Almost all blog posts here will be locked  and unviewable from outside. …BTW, I’m not averse to the idea of installing a forum here if enough people want one: there are ways to do that.)

Anyway. I’ve spent the last few days pulling some general thoughts into order about how to proceed, because I couldn’t really start writing until that had been done. Style issues, how chapters will be organized, things like that. Some of these issues got sorted out very quickly, almost immediately, and some of them took a few days to settle. Others are still being resolved.

Infrastructure issues have been most important  in the last seventy-two hours or so, because from the very beginning it’s been obvious to me that my version of this concept is a Space Story, and Space Is Not Earth. The whole business of how one gets around, where one gets around to, and what the means of getting around are, has to be handled and balanced against the concepts of country and city houses and home counties and the great city of London that permeate P&P.  I’ve found what look like some initial solutions, and while they sound good in the theoretical sense, now I have to see if I can make them work in prose.

Additionally, while there are planets in this story, this is primarily a story about people who live in a spaceborne culture…  so relatively little of the action or business actually happens on any planet. Though these people’s lives center around a basic economy sustained by selling things to people who live on planets, they feel themselves to be rather above the general run of creatures who do that.

(BTW, some of this may sound familiar. Almost certainly some of you are going to detect tropes that Heinlein either established or popularized in Citizen of the Galaxy. I acknowledge that right up front. II don’t think he’d mind me using a few aspects of that stuff as a foundation; he didn’t mind me deriving Dairine [somewhat] from Clark in Podkayne of Mars. So.)

If I seem to be putting a lot of emphasis on the worldbuilding/development end at the moment, it’s because (a) beginnings are important — it’s way too easy to get stuck in a wrong way of doing something at the beginning of a novel if you don’t pay attention — and (b) one of my most basic goals at the moment is creating something that won’t cause Jane Austen to lift one dainty ladylike boot and kick me in the crotch should we someday meet in some writers’ afterlife. The science fiction aspects of this work need to feel natural, and not bolted-on as some kind of advantage-taking afterthought.

This is both an issue of good story construction and also of something else really important to me:  courtesy to the source material. If I have some reputation as an adaptor of other people’s or companies’ licensed work, it’s because I feel strongly that the characters and basic venues and setups of those worlds have a right to be respected and treated courteously. It helps when you already love them, yeah. But it’s easy to be courteous to stuff you love. A true professional knows how to do it even when they and the source material are on the outs.

Which definitely isn’t any kind of problem in this case. Some work you do for fun, or joy, or because it jumps on you out of the bushes and demands to be done. All three, in this case. Nonetheless, I have my work cut out for me. I have no idea what’s going to happen to this book in the long term, but I intend to do a job I won’t be ashamed of later. And that work  starts now.

Anyway, I’ve now got enough of the basics of this project laid out in my head  to start writing. So that’s what the rest of today will be about. With luck I’ll have some wordcount to post to the NaNoWriMo site in the morning. (The P&P&S page is here.) Whatever I’ve written between today and tomorrow will go up here on a locked page just before the wordcount updates, so that people can see it.

After that: each day a page will go up here, either with the new day’s writing or a note that some other business has interfered and nothing will be forthcoming that day. And so we’ll progress until November 30th.

Got questions for me? Register and ask them in the comments on this post. (You can use them to test that your registration is working OK.

(BTW, about registration: profile pics aren’t working yet, don’t ask me why… I’m looking into it. They’re supposed to be responsive to WordPress gravatars, but I have one and I’m not seeing it on my profile yet… again, no idea why. Weirdness, possibly something to do with the membership plugin, which is taking a little work to configure. Bear with me.)

Setting up the project: “Heinlein’s Stricture”

Robert Heinlein was an early master of the art of getting things published. His five rules were these:

  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you write.
  3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial direction.
  4. You must put your story on the market.
  5. You must keep it on the market until it sells.

Now there are people who will swear that these rules can mess you up, but I wouldn’t be one of them. (And there are others who feel that the rules just need some restating for the ways that selling your work looks these days. Google on “Heinlein’s five rules” and you’ll find all shades of opinion up and down the scale. See also my friend Bob Sawyer’s take, and the sixth rule he adds.) The last three are less of a problem for me than they would be for an unagented freelancer. But the first two are definitely on my mind now.

They usually wind up being considered together, and they lead to the questions: How long must I write,  and How long (in terms of word count) will this be when finished?

The clinical picture is a little complicated by the fact that this work is happening (initially, anyway) in the context of NaNoWriMo, which ends on November 30th. What became plain to me within hours of getting the idea for this — both from the (very very rough) shape of PPS that I’ve got in my head right now, and also from the source material, is that there’s no way this book will run only 50,000 words: so it’s unrealistic to think it can be done by the time NaNoWriMo ends.

For one thing, Austen’s original runs about 120,000 words… and when you look at it procedurally, that’s almost all taken up with intrapersonal interaction among the characters — there’s surprisingly little physical action in the book. It seems to me that to do those vital interactions justice is going to take at least something approaching 120K — because when you look at Austen’s original prose, those interactions sometimes take place in very, very compressed modes. And then there’s the additional material I anticipate adding. Not vast amounts of it… but still. So one way or another, this book isn’t going to be done by November 30.

(That’s not to say, by the way, that 120K in a month is anything like impossible.  4000 words a day? I’ve done it before. But this month I’m also going to be writing another book at the same time… so no.)

My rough estimate — everything going as it should — is that I’ll be finished with PPS in late December. (I’ll be continuing to post those chapters here as I finish them.)

After that, things get interesting. The publishing industry is much like other parts of the entertainment industry in that not a whole lot happens in December or for the first couple of weeks in January. While I’ll drop my zero draft in my agent’s inbox a day or three after it’s done (because it’s smartest, before sending it out, to let it sit for a few days and then read through the whole thing to see if anything really glaring jumps out at you) I don’t expect him to interrupt his holidays for its sake. Some time in January he’ll have time to look at it, and that’s when he’ll give me any notes that need sharing.

Those notes are my one exception to the “editorial instruction” rule. I pay attention to my agent, who is also a writer himself and whose opinion has proven worthwhile about a thousand times since we started working together. But once I’ve dealt with those notes, no further rewriting will happen until an editor has rolled up and agreed to publish.

Assuming that happens… If it doesn’t, I’ll self-publish. But I’m willing to hold out hope for the “conventional” option.



The kickoff post at Tumblr

Lyme Park, aka Pemberley

The original post can be found here, at Tumblr.  Here’s what it says:

I thought I would mention in passing…

Yeah, I’m in trouble now.


You can follow the journey here:

I was watching the classic 1995 BBC version, which is the gold standard of filmed P&P for me (I say nothing of Colin Firth and the Lake, nothing… ) when this thing just jumped out of the bushes and bit me in the butt screaming MOMMY WRITE ME.

The plot? We all know the plot. Except for the deep-space battles with pirate starships.

Oh Goddess what have I gotten myself into this time? …Oh well, too late now. Everybody may as well come along and watch. I’ll start serious work early next week.


(I love that peacock. I paid money for that thing, I loved it so much.)

ETA: for those who can’t access the NaNoWriMo page to see the full blurb…

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of an interstellar trading fleet and his own planet, must be in want of a wife.” And from the first moment Lib Bennet sets eyes on the darkly handsome Master Darcy, heir to the dangerous and powerful Pemberley trading cartel, she’s almost irrationally certain that whoever that wife’s going to be, it won’t be her.

Heiress to the single ship of a small deep space trading family fallen on hard times, Lib is steering an uncertain course among the stresses incumbent on a free trader’s life: a weary father saddled with his own father’s debts and an entailed ship in which his family can’t rest secure, a dingbat mother mostly living in a glorious past that was never really that glorious, and a flock of sisters who are proving difficult to marry into trading families anywhere near suitable to their station. Libby pushes down her own feelings about the uncertainty of any fate awaiting her. She’d be glad enough to die a spinster captain, free to trade where she pleases until she’s too old to feel the subspace currents on her skin.

But the endless politicking and shifting power-balances among the great families will never allow her that leisure. At the frequent balls and gatherings of the sector’s trading houses, Lib knows she’s mostly a symbol for a potential corporate acquisition… and she herself just another asset. All her intention is bent on making sure that the family ship Longbourn is at least treated with due respect when it’s inevitably swallowed up into some more vital cartel.

And as for acquiring anything for herself beyond the respect her pride requires, Libby’s too much of a pragmatist to have any real hopes. Expecting love as well as partnership in her life is nothing more than a girl’s sweet but unrealistic dream. Lib concentrates on keeping her head amid the glittering blandishments of the Great Houses idly jockeying for the Bennets’ attention, and on keeping her heart well out of play.

Until fate takes a hand…