Subject: (Chat) In Development
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 2004
This was a question I answered on Baen's Bar, that I thought might be of interest here.
BF> Lois, when [you say] a story is In Development, what exactly are you doing?
Avoiding talking about it...?
BF> Background research? Playing with characters? Playing with plot?
All of the above, in no special order. Worldbuilding, too. And the dratted name lists. Need more of those just now, sigh. Places, things and people are going around named such evocative things as "X" and "Y". I also have evocative names that aren't attached yet, almost as frustrating. I mean, who the hell is Fairbolt Crow, anyway? Must find out.
BF> How long does this In Development stage typically last?
About 40 or 50 pages of handwritten notes. Anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months.
With time out for various sorts of interruptions. Travel is a killer.
BF> Are you currently in the beginning, middle, or end of this stage?
It is a continous-flow process, y'know. Lather, rinse, repeat...
As a more particular ferex, the current wodge of penciled notes starts with a sentence fragment about convergent evolution of a certain desirable character type, goes on to deep background worldbuilding ideas, half of which will be rejected or refined later and another portion of which are questions not answers. Some attempts to work out social structures and mechanics of the major underlying stuggle, a key question that won't get answered for many pages more but, once it is, will shape much. Misc. notes on geography, names, scope, and thematic concerns. First ideas about antagonists, later to be rejected. Fourth page of this ends halfway down with the cryptic note: "Gastronomy recapitulates phylogeny..." I bet that meant something at the time...
Actually, I mis-speak myself. There were 5 pages before that which got shifted to the back of the notebook with pre-pre ideas, characters in embryo mostly. Came up with them one afternoon this summer while brooding on my deck about being brain dead because the pay copy wasn't coming, and instead set my mind loose to think about any damn thing it pleased. Was relieved to find I wasn't brain dead after all, merely a victim of my own over-planning. Wrote notes to get the idea out of my system, set them aside as amusing but unwritable.
Several week later, chatting in the car with Pat on the way to dinner, saw how to make them writable after all. Eep. Spent next few weeks resisting, then gave in. Whee!
Next page is headed "Landscape" and has various notes and a crude sketch of a map.
Next page has four paragraphs. First on a potential plot development, second on characters' sex lives in relation to special abilities and the vagaries of their situation, third on cultural and demographic backgound to second, fourth on character bio stuff. Some white space.
And so on, and on, and on... 26 pages (52, counting both sides) before anything identifiable as a scene outline appears. The First Sentence appears, crawling from the primordial ooze like some blinking amphibian. My feet step from the board and I take to the air...
ETA landing, one year. Or less, or much more. It's a long way down from here.
...Meantime, my Chinese publisher has asked for 800 words of introduction/greeting for new editions of last decade's books due out there next month. Mind is so not there. Must wrench. So SFnal...
Subject: (chat) More on Molly
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004
Herewith my niece Molly's latest colon-cancer-awareness brainstorm...
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Last updated: October 31st 2004