Prepare Nav and standby to leave System

sci fi japan

Hello everybody! This has been another ok week for me and chapter 2 is now up to 4491 words. I am now certain that I am going to massively overshoot my target of 6000 and so just like chapter 1 it will need a lot of trimming down in future, but you can’t edit what isn’t there so I will keep going.

I have had a lot of trouble getting motivated this week, truth be told. You know those moments where you’re worn out from your real job and all you want to do with your scant spare time is relax? Yeah, that. I’ve not had any exciting new ideas recently to keep me enthusiastic, and there are times when chapter 2 has been feeling alarmingly like work instead of my escape. If I think about it, I believe this is probably just because I am over-tired; I need a holiday…

As you may have guessed from the title, I am in fact going somewhere at the end of this week. I am heading to Japan and will be there for the duration of February, which is a very exciting prospect! This will mean a few things for my writing:

Firstly, apart from a few days when we are staying in Tokyo, I will not really have access to the internet. Thus I must say a little goodbye to this blog and my few readers for a short while, but don’t worry: I’ll be back in March.

Secondly, time on public transportation means dedicated writing time for me. As I have mentioned in previous posts I do a lot of my writing on my phone and I’ll be stuck with nothing else to do! To get where I’m going I will need to wait in a bus station, sit on a bus for hours, spend a night in/near an airport, wait around in an airport lounge, spend a few hours on a plane, kill five hours in another airport, spend half a day on a second plane and finally take either another bus or a taxi to the final destination in Japan. Hopefully that will add up to me getting something finished! Furthermore, whilst I fully intend to relax and enjoy the trip, take in the culture and see the sights, I expect I will get the odd moment to write early in the mornings or whilst on any more planes/trains/automobiles.

Many of my favourite sci fi influences have come from Japan, be it in games, film, the occasional bit of anime or even just artwork/CGI renderings etc. I hope I can reboot my enthusiasm whilst over there and come back feeling refreshed and ready to go!

That’s about it for now. Have a good month! Do let me know if you have any favourite Japanese influences or if you have any thoughts on staying motivated whilst tired!

Catch you next time!

Here’s a link to the lovely artwork.

Well that’s a surprise!

sci fi landed ship

I had been worrying about writing this post, irritated about having to report a failure.

“This week has not been as good,” I thought to myself, “I’ve done hardly anything!”

I went into my Chapter 2 document to find something positive I could report. Well, at least I have finished the first of the three scenes within the chapter and started the second. Oh, and I have established the beginnings of where the story is going to go. I suppose I have planted some seeds there and there for use later when I need to reveal more about my protagonist. Maybe it hasn’t been as bad a week as I thought? Better just check the total word count whilst I have this open…

2855 words?

When did I write all these!? I’m so tired I don’t remember! So in fact it has been another good week and upon realising this I am feeling quite pleased! I’ll keep going.

There are a few things I am still pondering and wondering about as I work my way slowly through the chapter.

The question of whether or not to use real swear words or sci fi stand-ins is still bugging me. For now I have taken to writing placeholders within square brackets. It’s messy but [swear] it, it works!

I have been thinking a lot about how to make the dialogue of my various characters more unique and distinct. The idea that you should be able to tell who is speaking only from the words (with no ‘said character X’ afterwards) makes a lot of sense to me. The trouble comes when I need to think of something for each person: something simple enough to seem natural without it being so blatant that it beats the reader in the face. I’ll sort it out with practice though.

I need to demonstrate the various pre-existing relationships that my protagonist has with some of the newly introduced characters. Show don’t tell! Tricky though at times.

That’s about it for this week. Fingers crossed for another pleasant surprise next time! Do let me know if you have any thoughts on the swearing problem. How do you like to differentiate your characters’ speech patterns?

Thanks for reading!

Here’s a link to the lovely artwork.


Glimpse of a Brighter Future

scifi view

This has been a good week for my writing! Chapter 2 is now up to 1727 words and I am ticking along nicely through the points of my pre-planned outline.

I’m very much hoping that this is me beginning to get into the groove and that it will continue to get easier from here. I think I have done a better job with picking things back up in short sessions this week. I have been working to a timer (something I brought up in a previous post) and it does seem to help. I know there will always be obstacles, but this week I have really enjoyed working on my story.

I think a big part of this enjoyment has been the inclusion of more of my characters. I mentioned last week that I needed to start introducing more of them during this chapter: it really has been a lot of fun to see these people begin to move and interact on the page after months of them existing only in my notes. I’ve brought in three out of six of the support characters so far and I am pleased with the very distinct personalities I think I have managed to give them.

I’m keen to keep going so that I get to meet the other three, and because I know what is coming for all of them I’m even more excited to see them go through what I have planned. Fingers crossed it keeps me motivated and keeps me writing at a good speed.

So that’s about it for now. Feeling positive! Have you ever found something in your own writing that surprised you or encouraged you to keep going? Any particular favourite characters you have created? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Here’s a link to the lovely artwork.

Time for the supporting cast!

Sci fi characters

Not had too much time this week but I still managed to make a start on Chapter 2. It’s currently resting at 508 words and I hope I will get a little time tomorrow morning to add to it.

It was both easier and harder than I expected to start this one. According to my massive plot outline document I need to be introducing nearly all of the supporting characters in this chapter. I have already brought in the first of these in what little I have written, but I am having trouble telling where the line sits between needing to include more explanation of uncommon Sci Fi elements (new races in this case) and just plain info-dumping. Then there’s the problem of how do I make such explanations come across naturally, rather than just being for the reader’s benefit?

I know that I am going to have to be careful not to write too much again and balance that with making sure I cover everything I need to. I’ve been wondering if I will need to streamline things a lot from what I initially outlined. I’m having to resist the urge to go back to the first chapter and tweak the ending a little to make things flow better, but I am staying strong (mostly…) and telling myself that it is a job for later.

Whilst chapter 1 finished with a bang, this one will be a bit calmer. It will mainly be setting up the premise of the story – the call to adveture. I must keep in mind that whilst there might have to be a lot of dialogue and setup, things need to remain interesting for the reader. I’m hoping I can do this with some colourful world building: this should be the chapter where I finally get to introduce the spaceship I mentioned in a previous post! I do like spaceships, and I rather think the theoretical reader will too…

I will keep at it, and hopefully find my way past everything. I’ll let you know! How do you like to see the issue of necessary explanation vs info-dumping handled?

Thanks for reading and see you on the next one!

Here’s a link to the lovely artwork.

One down…

Sci fi city

Hello everybody, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

I managed to get in a good chunk of writing time on Christmas Day and have finished the draft of my first chapter! I have overshot a tad, ending up at 8407 words instead of the 6000 I need but I can sort that out later. As a friend of mine likes to say,

“That’s a problem for Future-Me. That guy hates me…”

I think I have done a good job of introducing the protagonist and establishing his Ordinary World before the Call to Adventure comes along to change things.

I’ve got to say, even though I knew what I needed the characters to do and achieve, I’m still a little surprised by how nasty my brain decided to make things when phrasing some of the goings on. This is going to be violent!

I’m still unsure where I stand on the concept of swearing being used in my book. I look at things like the now non-canon Star Wars books which have no swearing at all (or made up words in place of what we recognise as curses) and wonder if I should follow the same path. On the other hand, it seems like there are some situations where you just need a good solid swear to get the point across. I’ll have to think on it and maybe make a final decision when I go through for the editing stage later.

For now I am going to move onto working on chapter 2. Learning from what happened last time, I am not going to set myself a solid goal with this one: I am just going to try to finish it in less time than I spent on chapter 1!

How do you tend to do with your word count targets – do you write too much or too little? What do you think about swearing in science fiction stories?

Thanks for reading everybody, see you on the next one!

Here’s a link to the lovely artwork.

Merry Christmas!

christmas rocket

My current total for Chapter one is 5279 words. Just a few more…

Christmas and family are not always conducive to productivity but I shall do my best to keep plugging away when I can!

In theory my next update won’t be until Boxing Day so Merry Christmas everybody, have a great one!

Here’s a link to the lovely artwork.

Back on track!

Sci fi train

Just a tiny update this week. I have made it to 4597 words, so not quite finished with my chapter but at least I made a decent dent. On top of which, I have just reached the most exciting part of this chapter and I am looking forward to writing it – hopefully that will give me a kick to finish. I do feel like it’s getting easier, it’s just finding the time!

What keeps you going when you are kept away from your writing?

Cheers all!

Here’s a link to the lovely artwork.

We’re getting some interference… Listen

Listening stations

Not much of anything to report this week – real life got totally in the way of what I had hoped to do with my writing. I’m not feeling particularly discouraged or annoyed about it, these things happen. As much as I might want to be writing for a living, that is not the case at present and sometimes I just have to put aside my imaginary friends and fictitious locales to concentrate on the important stuff.

In an attempt to keep myself engrossed in my story and the universe in which it takes place I have been making notes and jotting down ideas if I get a spare minute. I have mentioned my enormous plot outline before but I also have a document with ideas for continuation of the story or just extensions to the current project. Who knows what will come of the rambling, messy ideas it contains! Importantly though, it keeps me excited about what I am working on.

Another thing I make sure to do when I am kept away from my writing is listen to other science fiction stories on Audiobook. It really does help in a lot of ways. For example phrasing and terminology relating to starships or astro-navigation are not something I tend to encounter in normal everyday life, but I can absorb such things from a good book playing in the background whilst I am doing something else. A single short sentence can inspire big ideas.

Hopefully I will get more time to write during the next week. I will be carrying over the same goal from my last post: try to finish my first chapter.

What do you do if you can’t write? Do you like to listen to audiobooks whilst you do other things? Let me know if you have any good sci-fi audiobook recommendations! I spotted ‘On Silver Wings’ by Evan Currie recently and have added it to my list. Thanks for reading!

Here’s a link to the lovely artwork.

And we have lift off!

Take off

This week has seen me sailing neatly past the goal I set for myself, reaching 3462 words with my first chapter.

I realise this is still a very small word count but I feel like things are now properly under way – we have lift off (if I can mix my nautical and space ship idioms)!

So what is the next step? More power to the engines. I want to get myself writing faster; more words in less time. I have a lot going on at the moment and my writing time is limited. 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there – a whole half an hour in the mornings if I get up even earlier. I actually do most of my writing in a Google Doc on my phone because it’s portable (I thoroughly recommend this by the way – make your writing a bad habit you can do when you should be doing something else…)

I have been aware of NaNoWriMo going on in the writing world without me during the last month. I would love to be able to focus on my novel to that degree – but that’s not possible right now. What’s interesting though is that there are so many resources and tips out there for everyone. One that caught my eye is the Pomodoro Technique which involves setting a timer and doing things in small chunks.


I want to give this a try over the next week: even if the lengths of time I have available don’t change, maybe the ticking clock will give me a boost. Pressure me onwards. We’ll see.

Realistically I think I just need to do more writing and I will speed up naturally with practice. I am going to challenge myself to finish my first chapter by next week. I don’t know if I can do it, but I am going to try.

What helps you to write faster? Any tips or ideas? Let me know and thanks for reading!

Here’s a link to the lovely artwork.

Progress on Mars


I am now at 1862 words with my first chapter, which means I reached my target for the week! In fact, that nearly catches me up to where I should have been if I had met my previous goal as well.

Trying to be less of a perfectionist and just get the words out has definitely helped but I find it a difficult thing to do. Still, hopefully it is something I can refine with practice. Whilst what I have managed is most definitely a small benchmark, I am very pleased with the progress. It has really been a big motivator to see my imaginary world(s) beginning to unfold on the page.

I feel like I have now actually met my main character. Watched him move, heard his thoughts. It’s like he’s gone from being a flat image to a real person. I like him, though I don’t think he’s a nice person. It’s going to be good fun watching him go through the events I have planned for him. So far, all I have seen him do is react to the opening setting of the story: Mars.

Having never actually been to Mars myself, I need to make sure I research everything properly for the descriptions of the scene, but that is something which could easily become a distraction. This was almost the case with a snippet about the Troposphere and Martian dust storms, but I caught myself before I fell down the rabbit hole. Tricky because it’s certainly interesting stuff! I can’t allow myself to stop and look into the tiny  details now. I can do it when I come back to edit the text later.

I have had several ideas for other novels this week, but I am staying focused on the current project. I’ve written the ideas down for future reference – the idea of creating a universe in which I can set many different stories is very exciting. It just makes me want to work harder towards it all.

As a goal for the next week, I’m going to try and get the total for chapter one up to 3000 words. Anything past that will be a bonus but if I can reach that target then I am halfway through the chapter.

What’s it like for you when you first meet your characters? At what stage of the process do you do your research?

Thanks for reading, catch you next week!

Here’s a link to the lovely artwork.