Tuesday, July 17, 2007


The Day's Progress

Another good day today. At the last moment I realized that two different locations in the outline were actually the same location, which helped things structurally and thematically but meant for a bit of jiggering of the plot mechanics. The result is a nice bit of symmetry, though, so I can't complain.

I'm on track to finish the draft on Friday at the earliest, next Wednesday at the latest, depending on the amount I get done each of the next few days and how long the thing ends up being. I'm not at the finish line yet, but I can almost see it from here.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
75,577 / 90,000

A short sample today, about Bannerman Yao's first glimpse of the interior of the Aztec asteroid base, Xolotl.
Unlike Zhuan, Yao knew exactly what to expect from Xolotl, having carefully studied the estimates and proposed schematics provided by Agent Wu over the course of the last nine days. And where the Embroidered Guards’ intelligence reports had been lacking, Yao had made inferences based on his own experiences. He had spent some years living along the border between Tejas and the Mexic Dominion, and had seen Mexic cities from close enough vantages that he had a fairly firm notion in mind as to how Xolotl would be organized.

When the door leading from hangar to habitat opened—in reality two doors acting in concert, heavily shielded and strong enough to remain pressurized and secure in the event that either side lost internal pressure—Yao got his first glimpse of Xolotl’s interior, and though it matched his expectations in nearly every regard, there was one aspect of its appearance for which he had failed to account, one that would have been impossible to predict. The quality of the light which shone from the panels in the sky-blue-painted ceiling overhead, striking the brilliantly colored buildings below, their plaster-faced facades painted in bright reds and yellows and blues, reminded him of another city, glimpsed on another morning, at the moment when the sun first rose above the horizon and painted it in a prismatic kaleidoscope of colors.

It reminded him of Shachuan Station.

Rock on, man. I love the Zokutou completion bar you use - and the steady progress is inspiring to the rest of the writers out here.

Pardon this query from a latecomer, but have you discussed your writing methods anywhere on this blog? If you're stoking ~3,000 words per day, I'm figuring you may have good production tips to share for the less prolific.
You know, I've mentioned it a bit once or twice, but never in much detail. I wrote something up about my general approach a while back for a friend; maybe I'll dig that up and post it, in case anyone might be interested. The short version is something like the old saw, "Measure twice, cut once," except with me it's more like "measure fifteen times, cut once or twice." My process involves loads of note-taking and outlining before I ever start writing, so that when I do sit down to start I've already got a well-plotted map for everything that happens, so I only have to worry about how to describe it, in most cases. It's a bit more nuanced than that, but that's probably the best single sentence summary. Beyond that, it's just a question of building up speed the same way that one would develop any other skill, like a martial art or weight training, a metaphor I stole from Jay Lake, who writes loads faster than I do.
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