Why the Fates did I write that? – Progress Report – 20/5/13

Time to sharpen those knives and start slicing and dicing

Time to sharpen those knives and start slicing and dicing

And the editing has begun!  I’m back onto the novel and loving it.  It was good to have a break but its good to making progress again.  As a result we will see a return to normal broadcasting and regular website updates.  So get comfortable as I lay out the events of the last week.


Page Count For The Week: 70

A slight twist on the old metric. When I was writing the draft I was focused on words. My daily goal was 1,000 words a day. It was what drove me.

Now though my focus is on pages. I have 225 of the suckers and they all need to be read. You may remember on a previous update I talked about how I wanted some distance from the novel, how I wanted to, in effect, forget the story so that I could read it with fresh eyes.

Well I am at that point now, I’m reading through and making notes to myself as I go. This technique has already paid dividends. I have examples where I have read something and I have thought ‘Why did I write that?’ Luckily I don’t have too much distance, because I quickly remember why I wrote why I wrote.

Which is perfect. With fresh eyes a section of the novel didn’t make sense. If it didn’t make sense to me for a few seconds it won’t make sense to any brand new reader who doesn’t have my brain. But because I remember why I wrote it I can fix it and make it make sense for everyone.

Total Page Count: 70

Well . . . we have to start somewhere. I might have a bit more to say about this next week, but here is the progress chart for “EDITING – PHASE 1:”


70 / 225 (31.1%)


Comment du jour:

Another twist. As I mentioned above I am writing comments to myself in short hand, full of both grammar and spelling mistakes. Here is a taster to get us started:

“Increase the length of this elevator ride. More details. The beeps, lights flashing. Jessica’s determined thin lined mouth. A kindred spirit. Drinks over dead pirates.”

If that makes sense to you, bravo. If it doesn’t don’t worry, it should hopefully jog my memory when I go back to actually make the changes.

If it doesn’t then we are all in a bit of trouble . . .

Commander’s Log Podcast

The cover art for the Commander's Log podcast

The cover art for the Commander’s Log podcast

Episode # 5 came out last week and was well received. (I was going to write ‘to great acclaim’ but that made me sound like an arse, so I settled for the more subdued ‘well received’). Great feedback from listeners. I got a few laughs out of you all which was great, and the story about the wrench hasn’t finished yet, so stay tuned to the Elite airwaves.

Thanks also to those that took the time to review on itunes. I really appreciate it. I’ve doubled my reviews (not hard to do when you have so few 😉 ) and I now have enough to show a proper ‘rating’ which should boost its visibility on iTunes. Here’s hoping.

With such a short turn around for podcasts, (though this last one was a tad late) I finish one podcast and immediately start planning for the next. I don’t want to give too much away at this point but if you enjoyed last weeks, I think you’ll enjoy the upcoming episode # 6. I will be once again bumping into a man most of you will know. Will he cause trouble or will I cause him trouble? Or are we both doomed regardless? When you are visiting Reidquat the answer could be ‘all of the above’ but you’re going to have to wait to find out.

I have been getting some technical (I.e sound engineering) assistance from Two Quiet Suns, whose music I used in the last episode, and I am looking at buying some more purpose built hardware to help make the audio even sharper than it is.

Ships, ships and more ships, A.K.A what has been happening on the writers forum

The forum has been pretty quiet lately. Except for myself that is. While I was writing the draft I tended to skip some details or fill in the blanks with what I thought the answer would be. Now that I am editing I actually need the Frontier Developments approved answers. So I have been hassling Michael Brookes about a lot of random small questions.

The biggest has been about ships.

The game Elite is set (or starts, but there is no dates in the game) in the year 3125. The galaxy(ies) are filled exclusively with ‘snake’ ships. Unless of course you played ArcElite or 68000 versions (long live the Wolk Mk II).

The game Frontier, Elite II starts in the year 3200, seventy five years on. Things have changed slightly. Although the majority of the old ‘snake’ ships are still in service, new ships are available, ships designed and manufactured in the Federation and Empire. The split is around 50/50, with the snake ships still a dominant force in the space lanes, despite their designs being at the minimum seventy five years old. Most of them are well beyond that, the Python and Transporter being prime examples. (Flying Fossil anyone?)

The game First Encounters starts in the year 3250, another fifty years on. The situation hasn’t changed much from Frontier in terms of the ships. Snake ships, the youngest design of which is at least 125 years old, are still pirating, bounty hunting and trading their way across the cosmos. The Federation and Empire still pump out their old designs from Frontier but have added new ones to the mix. The biggest change of course was the introduction of Argent Aerodynamic Amalgamated Inc (or AAAI as us Alliance folk say). This new ship design company brought in some new and radical designs, the biggest and baddest being of course the legendary Quest class. So on the ship lanes you will regularly meet ships that have been in production for a year or two and equally meet ships that were in production when Achenar was a punk rock band and not a threat to Federation life as we know it.

The game Elite:Dangerous is going to start in the year 3300, another fifty years on. The youngest ‘snake’ ship design will be in excess of 175 years old. Ancient history. Like driving around in a steam powered car today. Some people might do it for fun on a Sunday but it’s not going to be their usual ride.


Well the player is going to start with a Sidewinder. That is going to be the ship. We’ve also just learnt about Adders and Asps. So clearly these will still be around and going strong. New ships will obviously be in production and be common. We’ve seen the freighters and Imperial fighter as two examples.

So what does that mean for me, a writer of an Elite novel? Can I expect all the ships from the previous games to be in this game, or at least be available from a fiction point of view?

Sadly, the answer looks like no.

We have had a bit of a discussion about this on the forum, how we justify some models being brought and sold as new ships two hundred years after the first design came off the assembly line while others have fallen by the wayside.

We have talked about Vee-dub Golfs and Toyota Corollas. Both have been selling for decades with new ones coming off the assembly lines every day. But the ones being built now are not the same as the ones built forty years ago. They share the same name and basic shape and fill the same niche of the market, but those are the only similarities.

Likely it will be the same with the Commander’s first Sidewinder in Elite:Dangerous. It sort of looks the same as the old Sidewinder. It fills the same role as a ship and takes up about the same amount of volume. But the technology inside and out will be completely up to date and when you get up close and personal with it you will see that it bares no resemblance whatsoever to the Sidewinder of old.

So while Toyota pump out Corollas every day and Sidewinders keep coming off the assembly line, some cars have ceased manufacture. Ford don’t do the Escort anymore. or the Zephyr. Leyland don’t exist anymore (though arguably they still do just in another form).

Things change. Some designs meet with success, some don’t and die a quick painless death. Some live in agony and finally die out. So too with the ships from Elite:Dangerous. It’ll be a mix which should be a lot of fun.

Right now though its a pain in the posterior. I have finished my draft and I have particular ships written into the story, one in particular being central to the whole story. That one won’t be in the game. Ouch, but these things happen sometimes. Never mind. But what do I replace it with? Well I don’t have many options to choose from at the moment. So right now the ships stay as they are and I move forward with the editing. The whole issue has been shoved in the ‘deal with this later’ basket and I’m sure it will stay there right up to the end once Frontier Developments are in a position to complete a ship’s list.

Of course I am secretly hoping my choices end up being acceptable anyway because I am in love with the ships I chose, which is kinda why I chose them in the first place.

You can have dreams, right?

Well, we will see what happens 🙂


Thanks for stopping by to catch up with me on And Here The Wheel. I’ll be back next monday with another update. Meanwhile I’ll be editing. If you would like to get in contact about the novel, about supporting it, or if you would like to appear on the podcast or just want to get in touch, you can email me at john_at_andherethewheel_dot_co_dot_nz.




3 responses to “Why the Fates did I write that? – Progress Report – 20/5/13

  1. Good luck with the editing. I know those pains, John. I’ve lost count of the number of instances of ‘ask Frontier’ I have in my first draft.

    As for ship designs, I would hope Frontier would be flexible with the fiction. In some parts of the world like India or Cuba people still drive ancient cars, some dating back to the 40’s. Ancient sailing ships were in service for over fifty years, and they were made of wood. With something as expensive as spacecraft I can imagine repeated services and retrofits, even over a period as long as two hundred years, especially in the poorer parts of the galaxy. Even if not all designs are playable, I hope these relics will still be seen as part of the Elite universe, in game and in the fiction.

    • Ha, yes Frontier have a lot to answer for 😉

      I have the whole spectrum of ships in the story, run down pirate ships, old ones padding around the frontier and top of the line military machines so it’s going to be interesting to see what Frontier come up with

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