DATE: Thu 29 Jul 2021 18:08 By: HexDSL@Posteo.net
Project update posts or any other personal update is always going to read like patting ones self on the back. I want you to be aware that I am aware that you are aware that I know how self obsessed these things are. But part of the reason that this site exists is to give me an outlet that does not require me to explain myself. For me, sharing things is part of he joy. Not in a creepy way, and I don’t expect people to actually read my ramblings much less care. I just need to chronicle things for myself.
The project update I did when half way though ‘A Hunters Garden’ lacked depth and I regretted not taking a better snap-shot my my own thoughts when I re-read it after the final chapter was posted. With this project I’m planning on doing this update, and one more before the ending. I’m using it to catalogue my current thoughts about so I can look back then I read the final version and go “LOL! Hex dumb.”
Right, with that out of the way, lets talk about writing things…
My first big writing project (A Hunters Garden) is still being edited. As I promised, a complete edited epub will be on the website soon(tm) I have not forgotten about it.
As for the Denouement project - I am writing it way faster than I ever thought I would. I have already published 4 chapters putting me 32k words deep into the first draft. I did not expect to be publishing it this quickly. There’s also 6k of chapter 5 currently in my Vim. I have no doubt that this means its going to need some merciless editing when I finish the first draft. As always its posted as ‘raw’ you should wait for the edited version if you want the story not the process.
I was (and still am) worried about writing in a genre that I’m a fan of. It’s been a concern for me for a while that I’m too ‘into’ a very specific kind of science fiction that is well into the realms of ‘tapped out’ (and has been since the 80s)
I almost didn’t make this a public project because I doubted that I had a properly formed story. It was more like a collection of scenes. As I started tapping away on the outline/planning document I began to feel like it was actually enough for a complete story.
I also think I may make my ‘outline’ document public but not until after the first draft is done because it has all the spoilers in it including ones that probably wont make it into the final version. It will be interesting for me to look at the changes to the story that took place between the original idea as outlined and the final version.
Maybe the version in the outline is better that the version we ended up with.
Anyway, That’s how we got here.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get after putting the first chapter of your work online and getting critical emails the very next day telling you how shite it is. Seriously, I liked that. Thanks. (I think the slash ess was implied heavy enough there)
Actually, for the most part all of the communication I have received about my writing has been either useful critique or generally positive messages.
As always I like to take every opportunity to remind people that I am dyslexic so no matter how much I proof read myself, there are things I just wont spot. Its not an excuse I make for not editing. It’s a fact of my life. This is why I have a friend who will be responsible for editing my completed drafts. What you get here is the raw nonsense before the final version.
The reason I share my writing the way I do is because I think creativity is important and if a dyslexic fella like me who never paid attention in school can write as much as I do then anyone reading this has no excuse not to give it a go. Maybe YOU will be good at it!
My good friend (and best edit boy) Drew once told me that its important not to pretend that these things are created whole, complete and finished. He advised me that the process is as interesting as the outcome and by exposing that I offer others with less confidence an insight into something. I think he basically said that but I maybe paraphrasing and/or projecting.
I do not and will probably never refer to myself as ‘a writer’ but at least two of the people who have emailed me have applied the label. Please don’t, it just make me nervous.
If you must label things I prefer “HexDSL, he likes to share things he does.”
I make no claim to qualification, skill, wisdom or insight. I write things and I share my projects/ideas. I ask for nothing not even for you to actually read it. Putting it out there is the important part for me.
I don’t track hits or log users, or even have comments on the website so I hope you understand how sincere I am when I say that the e-mails I get are my only indication that anyone reads and I adore them. Never hesitate to e-mail me! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Its taken me 50 lines or there about to get to the damned point of the post. Good job me.
I love writing the Denouement project. Its been a blast.
Going into it I decided that I would not hold back from being verbose, wordy and indulgent. I’m basking in my slow burning character and relationship development and striving for the “says nothing but you don’t notice” explanations of how the technology works.
The thing that I have written is so far something I like. I’m not convinced that anyone else will. But that’s okay by me. It will require a lot of work on he second pass though as I’m not happy with the voices I have given the characters, I feel like they need to have more of a sense of personality and I have so far failed to project that into the story.
Officially ‘Denouement’ is a working title. I added the ‘//’ into each post to separate the title and the chapter number in a visually pleasing way. I worry that it may look like its called ‘Denouement 2’ (// vs II) so I may have to go back and change it. That said, maybe I should double down and leave the title as ‘Denouement //’ representing two parallel realities existing next to each other… There’s an idea.
I am told that a story is structured in five parts with an option of adding a Coda (explanation for those who missed the point.)
Those parts are:
If mapped to a chart it looks like a hill that rises slowly to ‘Climax’ and then falls fast down to Denouement (and then coda if you think your readers are stupid, or have no confidence in what you wrote.)
While I respect the wisdom and tried to stick to this general guide when I wrote ‘A Hunters Garden’ I realized that I sort of hated it. The very fact that it was in my head actually made it less fun to write. I know. Stupid attitude to have (I’m about to explain okay!)
The parts/flow of a story is quite literally how a story is told. It’s not optional and any linear narrative will always naturally flow this ‘hill’ design. Me spending mental cycles worrying about it was a waste of energy.
When going into my the current writing hole I decided to forget about the hill and focus on following the flow of the story as it presented its self to me. This has so far resulted in a more episodic feel. I enjoy it. As to if other people enjoy it or not, that’s not for me to worry about. I feel like my approach lends its self to the single-post-at-a-time release structure I currently have. But not so much the all-in-one epub that will follow once I get to the end. You can’t see me but my feelings on that are sort of a general ‘meh, shrug’
When someone has read as much science fiction as I have, and watched as much Star Trek as I have, read as many comic books as I have, played as many video games as I have; It gets really hard to feel original. It’s hard to the point that I didn’t consider myself in the least bit creative until I was about half way through ‘A Hunters Garden’ and I was suddenly struck by “Wait! This is actually not just a rehash of the matrix with vampires instead of VR!” A revelation to be sure.
For me a story is usually the result of being inspired by something I read/watched/played then mixing something else I read/watched/played and adding a sprinkle of something new that was already rolling around my nugget of a brain. Even the thing I think is my own is probably just a half idea from something else I saw or something someone said.
Once I have all of my ingredients I have to let it noodle around that nugget for a while to bake. As the baking process takes place the sprinkle of something new grows around the derivative framework that I started with and eventually becomes the bulk of the idea. The framework then falls away and I start tapping away at my keyboard.
I am actually very bad at writing I am aware of this (don’t email me to tell me how rubbish I am) but I hope enough of the thing I baked in my nugget makes it to the page/screen (vim) that even if no-one else likes it. I will enjoy it myself.
In the case of the current work I am happy to share my ingredients:
Libby: The idea for the non-organic character ‘Libby’ was a result of me watching the terrible TV show Andromeda and getting more and more angry at the lack of consistency they applied to their ‘AI Avatar’ characters. I kept thinking about how cool the idea of a person who is transmitted from another location was. The pool of potential stories around bi-location as a character trait are fascination to me. Then there was the question of what happens if the signal, the persona stops being transmitted to the body.
The next aspect of ‘Libby’ that makes her interesting (to me) is that she is considered to be alive, both socially and legally, there is quite literally no questioning of this. This was a point I got to when thinking about why I hate the character ‘Data’ in Star Trek. In my mind robots can’t be alive. The emergent nature of life is an important part of in my opinion. If the soul is understood it loses value somehow.
I tried to imagine a way for a computer to be alive that satisfied my own definitions. I don’t think life can be programmed so how would I write that in a way that struck me as valid. While in Denouement’s current state I am still fleshing it out, I have it fixed into my mind (and design document) in a way that I’m happy with. Then for some reason I ended up making her a Non-organic rights activists. Who knows where that’s going to take me.
You may have also realized by now that she is also the platform by which I make the reader aware of just how dangerous combat robots are (regardless of if they are alive or not). I have her take out an entire ship because they didn’t restrain her properly. They are supremely dangerous and this is a major point in my universe.
Jonathan: The character of Jon was the result of a life long passive obsession with stories of immortality (I F’ing love Highlander) and then the tired trope of amnesia as a story telling platform/lens.
Actually, I doubt anyone has noticed yet but at this point there isn’t actually a single character in this story is isn’t functionally immortal right now. Don’t worry I’m going to be adding humans soon, they go to earth in chapter Five.
Combining the Amnesia trope with an immortal was interesting to me because he had lost more memories and legacy than a normal human character ever could. He went from being a force of nature who had seen and done so much that nothing ever phased him to a blank slate that was relying on instinct and feeling out of his depth. Peoples expectations of him are far greater than he feels he is able to live up to.
Side point - If you are planning on living forever, is losing a hundred years of memory really a big deal?
I tried to build mystery around his involvement with the messed up time-line issues without giving away too much at the start by having him not know either.
The others: The rest of the characters really serve to frame my two leads but the Lea character stepped beyond pilot-trope for me when she turned up in a yellow dress for quite literally no reason. I came to understand her better when I did that and it opened up a new way of looking at her and new ways to use her in the story. The point of her was to simply be ‘banter fodder’ for the leads but now she is more than that. I was glad when my original concept began to get out of control.
Ba’an Ty is a character name I have had floating around my head for a long old time time. I like it, its punchy and exotic sounding. Applying that name to an alien from a race that refers to themselves as ‘vampires’ seems to work for me and defined the naming convention for the race too. Which was nice. Then I not only made him the president but also made it so he is considered one of the greatest leaders in history. Hopefully this took the idea of ‘vampire’ and twisted it in an interesting way.
Kay or Ka’ona as she is officially named is a doctor that is not emotionally equipped for combat situations. I wanted to let her grab attention from the start so I made her a specialist in her own medical “condition” (bio-stasis) and gave her an aloof tone that (that I don’t think I quite nailed, expect changes to that in the second pass). I gave this human woman a name that follow the naming conventions of the Vampire race (not that anyone will have noticed yet) and then the only person she vocally dislikes is Ba’an Ty, a Vampire and a bloody nice guy (see what I did there?) laying the foundations for character development and some plot points later.
Setting The setting was the next mixing pot. I don’t like it when I read an old sci-fi and it was set in 2010 or something. That makes the work feel quaint and takes the edge off it for me. With my settings I chose to set it in 1999, though an alternate reality version of it.
In part to prevent it from being artificially ‘dated’ one day (not that anyone will be reading my trash in a week, never mind a decade) and partly because there’s still some deep seated romanticised ember inside me that links the year 2000 with science fiction. Why should I let that go just because it doesn’t fall in line with reality?
I have some scenes planned in chapter six (or seven) that will let me play with that setting in a more relevant way. The desire to play ‘in’ the late 90s is in no small part the result of a life long Star Trek obsession and I’m not even a little bit sorry :D
Other than that, my setting takes from the general grime of 80’s science fiction but lays it on a foundation of optimism I picked up watching Star Trek. I layer all that behind a complicated politically charged backdrop that I don’t really plan on going into depth with (for now) and glue the whole thing together with a universal uncertainty about the permanency of reality its self.
Obviously being on the cusp of posting chapter five I don’t really want to go into planned spoilers.
I can tell you that we are still at the start of this saga, given that Jon hasn’t even had chance to actually find out how he lost his memory, never mind return to his research and we have yet to get to Earth. There’s a lot ahead of us and Next project update I’ll no doubt be laughing at my own hubris when looking a back at this post.
This stream of Consciousness has been fun to write and a nice break from working on post/part/chapter 5. If you have thoughts, please DO e-mail me (email@example.com) and if you do please let me know if I can talk about said email on Trendy Talk podcast or in videos.
See you in then next project update, around chapter 11 update I guess!
Hex out! (drops mic)