It’s not the end. It’s not the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning.

Closing in on the finish line at the brickyard

Closing in on the finish line at the brickyard


Beta draft complete? Check!
Manuscript with editor? Check!

I am on the downward slope now, ladies and gentlemen. Heading toward the finish line. The famous black and white lines, or the row of bricks if you are an Indy fan.

I’ve been away for two weeks so a lot to cover. Strap in and let’s go. First up, Editing progress:

Progress Meter

 

Page 580/ 580 (100%)

 

Editing is complete!

I’ve actually snuck quite a bit of work in over the last two weeks. I transferred my red pen edits from paper to the computer. I wrote a whole new chapter. This then needed revision because it was a draft scene and the rest of the novel had seen at least three edits.

Then I went back over the last 10 chapters and with a sharp knife gutted the prose for every inch of flab I could find.

Then I went back to the beginning of the novel and inserted a few details, here and there, to balance and foreshadow some elements later in the novel.

Then I had another quick flick through.

Only then did I pass the novel to the beta readers.

. . .

Before and After

A quick comparison of the various edits. The word count has driven a roller coaster while the chapter count has gone up. In between these completion points the word count rose to 132,000 words before being culled. I envisage that when the story is put through the editing machine again it should come out around the 120,000 word mark. I’d be pretty happy with that.

Comparison of Drafts

Beta Readers

So as I mentioned above all Beta readers should have a copy of the novel in their inboxs. This is their opportunity to see an official Elite:Dangerous novel in a near ready to release form. I hope you all enjoy it. I’d love to hear your feedback at john_at_andherethewheel_dot_co_dot_nz

Fantastic Publishing

Two things there. First: Very soon the Indiegogo campaign to create and supply free audiobooks will finish. Not only is this a good cause but it will also mean that ‘And Here The Wheel’ will be released as an audiobook. If anyone has a spare dollar please throw it the way of Dan and his team.

Secondly, the complete novel is now with my editor at Fantastic Books. I have already had some feedback on the first three quarters of the novel. Minor stuff, tweaks, clarification of point of view, small things to make the story just that little bit better. Once I have all the feedback I’ll be going through and doing another edit, complete with any feedback from the beta readers.

What Happens Next?

My editor will finish reading the novel and provide feedback which I’ll take on board for the next edit. I’ll be keeping microsoft word closed for a wee bit though. I’ll have a bit of a break from the writing because I need to turn my attention to other aspects of the ‘And Here The Wheel’ project. I’ve been working with Fantastic Books on this and I have a whole load of things lined up for you guys. This is what I’ll be working on for the next bit and you’ll see some big changes, soon.

Did you want a teaser? Did you see the new background? Alpha readers (and soon Beta readers) will know exactly what it is. The rest of you will just have to wait a little bit longer.

While I have been racing to complete this latest edit I haven’t had the time to work on the podcast. I will be getting back into the swing of that soon as well. The next backers newsletter is also due out soon so look out for that if you pledged to support And Here The Wheel to the newsletter or above.

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So pretty momentous milestone done and dusted. No rest for the wicked though. I’m not just writing a story here, I’m marketing it as well and this is going to start soaking up some time. Looking forward to it 🙂

Ok team, catch you next time.

Cheers,

John

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Beta Draft Complete

Just a quick note to all And Here The Wheel supporters who pledged at ‘The Proofer’ and above. The Beta draft of the novel is complete and is in your inbox.

Enjoy!

If you think you should have a copy of this and you haven’t got it then email me and I’ll sort you out.

If you want beta access and want to pledge / upgrade your pledge I’ll leave the paypal links up for a few more days.

Cheers,

John

Something FANTASTIC is coming

FBP_Logo_Tag_CMYK_BANDW

Things are changing.

Or at least they will be. Soon.

But first I need to finish this edit of the novel. This is taking up approximately 117% of my time.

With such heavy focus on the edit this weeks update is going to zoom in on some of the editing progress.

First, lets start with the progress meter:

Progress Meter

 

Page 421/ 579 (72.7%)

 

Not much apparent progress since last week. But looks can be deceiving….

*Two chapters have been revised electronically based on edits done on paper
*Two scenes have been deleted. (hence the drop in page count)
*One new scene (to replace deleted two) has been plotted, planned and is currently being written
*Some work has gone into some side tasks around ‘Project And Here The Wheel’

Word Count

The edit started around 132,000 words is currently around 125,000 words. That includes some general trimming as well as focused ‘george forman knocks out the’ fat.

Page Count

This edit started at 601 pages and is down to 579. Heading in the right direction. I feel there is still plenty more trimming to go. Having completed the edit on paper its really hard to say what the effect will be on word count and page count. At the moment its just a bunch of red scribble over print. I know a lot of words have been cut out, I just don’t have a feel for the number. We’ll find out soon enough.

I know the first ten chapters will also get a good tightening on the next edit pass as well.

Beta Readers

Yes, I am behind. I pretty much blame the new scene for this. If I wasn’t changing this scene and writing it from scratch then I would have finished this edit by now. But its not about finishing, its about having the best final product. I believe the novel will be better with this revised scene. It won’t change the plot, because the scene hits all the same notes. It just hits them better, in a different and more concise way. It hammers the truth into the protagonist and forces him to look at himself and shows him who he really is.

Across the whole story there have been subtle changes, evolutions to relationships, new angles shown, one point of view character has lost his point of view completely, and his scenes now belong to someone else. Tweaks here, explanation moved or added there, etc. All and all I think the alpha readers will enjoy this new beta version and find it an even better read.

Those beta readers who haven’t read the alpha yet? Well they’ll just get a good old fashioned awesome read. Not bad 🙂

So what is the new timetable? Give me two weeks. This new scene, when finished, will be a draft scene and will need a few coats of ‘looking at’. The last few chapters (which have split to create an extra two chapters) just need to have the edits transferred over to the computer, two to three days maybe.

We’ll get there team, we’ll get there, and I promise you it will be worth the wait!

Space Game Junkie
Commander's Log Cover art

Just a reminder that a few weeks back I had a chat with Brian from Space Game Junkie. We talked about Elite, my novel, space games in general and time zones. I tried to explain to Brian what was good about Elite:Dangerous (him being skeptical from the kickstarter) and he had to stop me half way through my passionate spiel. “John,” he said. “Frontier should hire you to do their publicity because on what you just told me I would have totally backed it.”

You can check out the podcast recording over at space game junkie

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Well a short update this week. Got to get back to the editing 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

John

Electrons, Wood pulp or sound waves?

How would you like your novel?

How would you like your novel?

How do you like your novel served up these days?

This is the question I have been asking myself recently as opportunities open up before me.

Paper

My personal favourite of course is wood pulp. I’ve done a lot of work for a thermo-mechanical pulping plant who make paper, but that is not why paper is my favourite medium for a novel.

I think it is because of my mum. Mum loves reading. She read to me as a child. I think of reading and I think of the times I came home at night to see the light on in her room, a book open in her hands but mum well and truly asleep. Its a happy warm nostalgic memory. We often ran out of book cases at home. We didn’t sell the books or give them away though. No, dad just got his builder mate to make another bookcase. Who needs wall paper when you have book cases?

I devoured books as a lad, reading the same things as mum as that was what was available, but eventually branching out into other subjects like science fiction. Sometimes I bit off more than I could chew, like ‘Clear and Present Danger‘ by Tom Clancy as a ten year old, or The sequels to Dune as a pre-teen. Overall though I did pretty good.

So if I’m going to read a book I want it to be paper. It just feels RIGHT.

Ebooks

But what about you? Do you like yours served up as a dish of electrons, a bunch of 0’s and 1’s? Ebooks are cheap to make and cheap to sell. In that way they open up literacy to many (though you could argue libraries do the same thing). In terms of reading an ebook on an ereader I’d really be quite happy to pass.

The only time the ebooks have really worked out for me was for a period of maybe 4 months when my boy had some big issues sleeping and I spent half the night wandering the house with him in my arms to keep him asleep. I had one arm holding my boy and one free arm. Too hard to read a paper book that way but the kindle was just perfect. I read two novels of the Song of Ice and Fire that way (and if you know anything about that series you know how BIG those books are!)

Audiobooks

What about Audio? I’ve come to love the idea of audiobooks. As a user of an audiobook all the work is done for you. You don’t have to turn pages, you don’t have to to do any thinking, hell you don’t even need to open your eyes. Its a lazy man’s dream.

From an author point of view however I think it is an exciting way to add value to your novel.

Compare reading: “You’ll never reach the top of the hill in time,” Robert said in a disparaging tone. (Note: Yuck example but its late and I’m tired so deal with it)

With listening to a man speak in a disparaging tone: ‘You’ll never reach the top of the hill in time.’

All the nuances and flavour are fed directly to you instead of being layered in afterwards. It compacts the story and makes it easier to digest.

Another great advantage to audio books is the addition of foley. Watch any movie or tv series. The music or sound changes when the drama changes. A reveal comes along, a decision is finally made, whatever it is you get a signal it is coming from the sound effects. With audiobooks you can do this too, heighten the drama, give signals, foreshadow, whatever. You can even just add good old fashioned sound effects to reinforce the action.

And Here The Wheel

Everyone is different. I know some people love ebooks. Others love audiobooks to help them sleep at night or get through their night shifts or whatever.

Choice is good.

That’s why And Here The Wheel will be produced in all three formats.* Because all of those Elite fans whose lives will be better after having read And Here The Wheel, have different tastes and different preferences for their literature.

So which is your favourite?

*If its audiobook then we need your help. Audiobooks cost a lot of money. Fantastic Books Publishing are raising funds through a crowd funding campaign to set up their audio division. Everything is in place for recording And Here The Wheel. Actors, technicians, its all looking pretty darn exciting, we just need the money to hit the go button. Please visit the campaign and donate, even if its just a little bit and help my dream (and hopefully yours) come true.

Thank you.

Editing Progress

Here is this weeks progress meter for Editing, Round 2:

Progress Meter

 

Page 510/ 595 (85.7%)

 

The cake progress meter is a lie. That big scene that last week I said I would chop out? Yeah, didn’t really get around to that. Skipped it and moved on finishing the rest of the edit before going back to it. So the total page count is wrong and although I’m up to page 510 in the editing there’s some writing to do in the midst of that. Still its the best overall picture of progress I could come up with.

Commander’s Log Podcast
Commander's Log Cover art

Episode 10B has been out for a few weeks now. Thank you to everyone who downloaded and listened. I hope you enjoyed it. Who did you pick as the winner between Drew Wagar and myself? Were you right?

I’ve already had some questions fired at me to answer in the next podcast. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments or on twitter or facebook if you have a question you would like answered. Or, if you can think of a great place for Commander Harper to visit then let me know that too. Its a big universe out there and there is a lot of ground to cover.

I’m also teeing up a pretty exciting guest for the next episode too. Stay tuned for that one.

Episode 10B “Everything is pretty Fantastic”

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Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to hear about your favourite book types.

Thanks,

John

Kill Your Darlings


Your novel will thank you for it. . .

Your novel will thank you for it. . .


If you are a writer then you’ll know the above saying.

If you know a writer then you’ve probably heard them say the above.

Kill your darlings means, in a very loose translation: Although you might be in love with a piece of your writing (a character, a scene, a sentence), you might think its the best damn piece of writing you’ve ever done, full of lyrical metaphors, cunning wit and beautiful description, definitely worthy of a nobel prize, but if it isn’t “doing it” for the novel, then you have to kill it.

Kill. Crush. Destroy. Delete. Annihilate.

You get the idea.

But what do I mean by ‘doing it’? You may remember a post I did a few weeks back talking about character. I said that a character must pull his weight in a story, by bringing more than one thing to the table. Three dimensional characters, the important ones, by default carry their own weight. Its the lesser characters, the sidekicks, the butlers, the dude you meet at the corner store that you need to worry about. Do they need to be there? Can you combine two to make one and simplify the story?

The same is true of scenes. A scene HAS to have a reason. No give on that one. If it doesn’t have a reason or a point then it is not a scene. Its a slice of life or a vignette and it doesn’t belong in a novel.

The reason could be simple like introducing a character or introducing a conflict. If its a good scene it’ll do both at the same time. If its a great scene it’ll do all these things and more.

But there is something else. All scenes in the story should do, at the minimum, this one thing: They should drive the novel forward. They should point like arrows toward the finish line. They are there to complete the character arcs and the journey and get the hero to the end (one way or another).

I’ve been working through alpha reader feedback and completing my own edit of the novel and this week I’ve found three scenes which I’ve ultimately decided to remove or change in shape or form. Why? Because they weren’t driving the story forward. I was cruising in fourth gear, steadily working my way toward the climax (wah-hey!) and then these scenes chuck me back down to second and make me turn a corner.

They are good scenes. They read easy, they are enjoyable and they bring *something* to the table. The last of the three is a pretty massive scene. It was pretty damn cool. I loved it. Robert Garry kicked some serious butt. He did some killa’ damage. If you have heard of Fuck Yeah moments, then you probably have a fair idea of what I”m talking about.

But its going.

I’m going to miss it. It has some really great qualities and it does tick a lot of boxes. It bring a lot to the table, but its almost a side story, a reaction to events rather than a scene of Robert being a proactive warrior and creating events, of driving the story. Remember than in the third quarter of the novel the protagonist should be a driven attacker, a person who knows what they need to do and goes about doing it.

With the scene gone however, it leaves a pretty big hole. I need a replacement scene. The scene won’t be on the same scale, but it will accomplish all the GOOD things that the original scene did, but it will do more. It will drive the hero forward in his journey, emotionally AND physically. It’s probably going to merge with a later scene and become a pretty emotional point for our hero. He is going to realise some stuff. Things are going to change for him.

Its going to be pretty magical.

But you know, without the magic, because this is science fiction.

Editing Progress

Here is this weeks progress meter for Editing, Round 2:

Progress Meter

 

Page 391/ 595 (65.7%)

 

The overall page count has gone down slightly, and this doesn’t include the big scene that’s about to get the chop. It’ll be interesting to see what next week’s progress meter looks like. I’m ripping through the editing and should have this completed in October, ready for the beta readers. Are you excited? I’m excited!

Fantastic Books
FBP_Logo_Tag_CMYK_v1

It’s fun having a publisher. You can talk about publishing stuff. March 2014 is coming up around the corner and although I’m still concentrating on the editing I have to think about next year.

Needless to say some pretty exciting things are coming up. Stay tuned. . . (Yes I’m being intentionally vague).

Commander’s Log Podcast
Commander's Log Cover art

Episode 10B finally came out late last week. Only when I uploaded it did I realise it had almost been a month since episode 10A. That’s what you get when you sit around waiting for Drew Wagar, author of Elite:Reclamation to finish his novel. He was worth the wait though, we had a pretty good chat about the state of the Elite books, what information we are waiting for from Frontier Developments and then we get down to business and duke it out, thumbwar styles!

Who wins? Well its my podcast, so . . . you’ll just have to listen and find out.

Where should I head next on the podcast? Anyone have a favourite system that needs visiting by Commander Harper?

If you haven’t listened you can click on the link below. But of course you’ve already listened, haven’t you?

Episode 10B “Everything is pretty Fantastic”

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Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed it. Have you killed any of your darlings? I would love to hear your stories.

Thanks,

John

Commander’s Log Podcast # 10B – ‘It’s all pretty Fantastic’

Commander's Log Cover art
And Here The Wheel is proud to present episode ten, part 2 of the Commander’s Log.

In this episode, Commander John Harper takes Drew Wagar on in Thumbwar, talks about his upcoming novel Elite:Reclamation and their joint publisher Fantastic Books.  John also discusses the recent battle video released by Frontier Developments and talks to Jamie about his latest Elite inspired composition.

So come on in and have a listen to: Podcast # 10B: ‘It’s all pretty Fantastic’

Stellardrone provides the intro music once again and Jamie provides the Outro.

Special thanks are due to Drew whose half hour chat with me turned into somewhat more, and Jamie for sharing his awesome music.

Thanks for listening,

John

(Music courtesy of Stellardrone and Jaime)