Tagged: Grandson of Science Novel

Level Up!

Last night we (finally) passed the 100,000 word mark in Grandson of Science Novel. It feels great, even though we aren’t quite finished. As we mentioned many times, Jen had it in her head that we’d reach this milestone by the end of 2017, which puts us a month and a half behind her (totally arbitrary) deadline. She went into a bit of a tailspin when it became clear we wouldn’t hit the target, and Kent had to step in and take over as head cheerleader and whip-cracker. It’s a good thing he did. It kept us moving forward, and we’ve made a lot of progress.

But we’re still not done. Son of Science Novel came in a bit short for our tastes, but this one is on track to be about 120,000 words, which is a very comfortable place to be. We still have about 20 scenes to write. They’re stubbed and ready to go. We should get to the end pretty soon.

“Pretty soon” is a hard concept for Jen to deal with. She craves a yardstick by which to measure our progress. We do our writing in a program called Scrivener, which has a cool tool that lets you set your word count target and deadline. It then calculates how many words you need to produce per work session to meet your goal. While Jen needed a target, we knew she would be some combination of depressed, frustrated, and furious if we missed another one on this project. Our solution was to set the bar comically low. We chose a deadline way, way too far in the future, which puts the bar we have to clear each night so low that we basically can’t help but trip over it. There have been a few days where we bruised our ankles, but in general we’ve been pole-vaulting way over it.

Having a writing partner means having someone to share the load so that you don’t always have to be the one in the driver’s seat.

Gazing Ahead

We’re very pleased with the process we’ve developed over our years of writing together, especially our secret weapon: stubs. They offer multiple advantages for anybody working on a large-scale project, and provide a crucial foundation of common understanding for anybody working as a team. Taken together, they form a kind of first draft of the first draft.

We don’t create all the stubs up front. Typically Jen will write a dozen or so at a time, and then when we’ve used most of them up she’ll do the next wave. Our main reason for this is for continuity. The progression from outline to stub to prose brings an increased level of detail and reveals decisions that get made on the fly. If we did stubs too far in advance, by the time we got to the later ones there’d be inaccuracies.

But the other reason for doing the stubs in waves is so that the material is fresh for us as we tackle the scenes. Our current work-in-progress has fallen just a tad behind schedule, which has undermined this notion of freshness. Jen did the stubs all the way out to the end a while ago, part of a push to get the manuscript finished up more quickly.

So, it was time to remind ourselves how this thing’s supposed to end. Over the weekend we devoted a chunk of time to reviewing all the stubs, reacquainting ourselves with the shape of things in the finale. We also wanted to decide whether or not to be a bit more vicious in our treatment of one character. It felt like we probably ought to, but before committing to that idea we had to check ahead for what actions might become infeasible for this person, so we could have reassigned or reengineered tasks if necessary.

Luckily for us (unluckily for that character) the adjustments were minor.

It felt great to read the ending of the story, even in stub form. We both got a nice jolt of, “I want to read that book — guess we’ll have to write it!”

Where’d That Come From?

Jen cleaned off her desk on Thursday, and in addition to shaming Kent into promising to tackle his this weekend, it’s made the Writing Cave look really fucking weird, man. We aren’t hoarders or anything, but we are both nesters. Our desks are clutter magnets. When Kent left for work the Cave was its usual comfortably chaotic self. When he got home, he flipped the light switch and a gave a little (very masculine) scream that Jen found very satisfying.

In the course of cleaning, Jen came across several steno pads of notes for upcoming projects. Skimming through them brought a little thrill. She also found some nuggets of gold scrawled on loose papers and transcribed them into the proper steno pads. In the spirit of organization, mind you. Not because she wanted to sit down for a while and the ideas were really good and reading them sparked all kinds of creative juices. That was just a happy side effect.

We’re almost to the point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the first draft of Grandson of Science Novel. It doesn’t feel ridiculous to start looking ahead a bit, and it doesn’t feel like torture either. Those new characters and ideas can come off the bench and do a few warm-up laps. It’ll be their turn very soon.

The piles on Kent’s desk are a bit taller than Jen’s were, a bit more precarious. We’re not in danger of him being squished or getting lost, but if he doesn’t take steps soon he won’t have room for his coffee mug beside his keyboard. And you do not want to know what that would be like. None of us do. Shudder.

It will be exciting to see what gems his excavations uncover.

There’s a metaphor in here somewhere about keeping your mind organized so that you don’t lose your ideas, but it seems a little obvious, no?

Having a writing partner means having someone around who occasionally makes you organize your shit, but it’s totally worth it.


Our regular readers know by now that we’re obsessive plotters. Our process includes multiple stages of outlining in an assortment of often colorful formats. Saves a lot of wear and tear on the seats of our pants.

And yet. Sometimes plot-related issues try to slip past us. Most commonly, for us, it’s some form of magical knowledge on the part of a character: the author knows that Chadwick Q Badguy, esq, didn’t commit the kidnapping, thus Detective Main C Haracter never thinks to ask for his alibi.

A form of this cropped up in our WIP (Grandson of Science Novel). Or, at least Jen thought so for a few minutes. Without getting spoilery about it, there’s an event that depends on there being no one home. No one was, of course, but how would the perpetrators know? The worry was that they seemed to take it for granted, as if the author had tipped them off.

Thinking it through in light of all the details we’re withholding from you, Jen determined that the nefarious deeds made sense as we had them after all. But she brought the matter up with Kent all the same. Because that’s what you do when you have a writing partner: you share your concerns. And your partner sets you straight if necessary, making the work stronger. In this case, Kent confirmed his partner’s reasoning. But it still makes the work stronger, because it deepens both of our understanding of the story.

There’s no substitute for talking story issues through with a partner.


Progress Update II: The Progressening

We’re still rolling forward on Grandson of Science Novel. Well, Jen is. Her current scene, and the next couple after that, are our current bottleneck. So Kent’s occupied with comments from earlier in the story.

Eagle-eyed readers will note that we didn’t say “earlier in this book,” and in fact the comments in question apply to Son of Science Novel. The three Science Novels are all one massive story, collectively, and because we embarked on the writing of books two and three back-to-back it has really felt like we’re writing a single 200-kiloword tome. It’s interesting to revisit stuff from the middle book, now that we’ve gotten to know the characters that much better. The ability to do that is one of the reasons we structured the project as we did, so that we could take advantage of opportunities to tie all three books together more tightly.

That’s just one of the ways we try to go the extra mile. We do it for you, to give you a story world that extends beyond the edge of the page.

Forecasting 2018 (In Which Jen Tries to Keep Her Expectations Realistic)

Dire warnings of Bomb Cyclones and blizzards have been echoing around the writing cave, and while we aren’t in the path of any of the really nasty stuff, we’ve been locked in a deep freeze since before Christmas and it’s showing no signs of lifting. Today’s high is supposed to be 7º!

Since the weather forecast blows (both literally and figuratively), let’s see if things look sunnier in the fiction mines.

Grandson of Science Novel is moseying along toward the finish line, and finishing it up is our first order of business. In her secret heart Jen is dying for a deadline, but she’s terrified of missing another one. For now we’re winging it without. She’ll probably declare a deadline when we’re close enough to the end to touch it, and claim that she’s had it in mind all along. And Kent will humor her.

Once Grandson is done, the whole Science Trilogy will be in the can. Our major goal for the year is to publish the first one. It’s been edited a couple of times already, but there are many steps before it will be ready for its debut, and those will eat up a lot more time than Jen expects them to.

While the Science Novels rest between edits, we will devote our time to outlining the novel we are currently calling Sibling of Music Novel. As you may recall, we have the Music Novel, and Son of, written in full, but now we’ve decided that Son is really the third book in the series and we need to plug that hole in the middle.

If, after polishing Science Novels and writing Music Novels, we have any extra time, we’ll get started on brainstorming our Ghost Series.

We currently have no release dates to announce, but when we do, you’ll be the first to know. Check this space for updates!

And Happy New Year to you!

Like Sands Through the Hourglass

December is coming to a close, which means it’s time for our annual Year in Review post, 2017 edition.

At the beginning of the year we rather optimistically predicted that we might finish up both Son and Grandson of Science novel, and at least get a start on the third Music novel. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! We were so fucking naive!

While we did manage to get the last two Divided Man books polished and released, we didn’t even come close to finishing the Science novels. Jen was already frustrated at our lack of completion last year, so just imagine how thrilled she is now that it’s a whole year later and we’re still not done!

So what did we accomplish, if not everything on our wish list?

In January we had a belated launch party for Miss Brandymoon’s Device, and fretted a bit about what we would do once we finished writing our current trilogy of trilogies. February was spent editing various Divided Man books.

March brought the release of Tenpenny Zen. Yay! 

In April we seem to have wrapped up the first draft of Son of Science Novel, and were somewhat disappointed by its size. In the months since, we have added a bit more to it and, you’ll be relieved to learn, it now checks in at just a hair over 104,000 words. That’s still a bit slight, but is much less frightening. It’s now closer in size to its Mama.

Along with flowers, May brought major edits to Elsewhere’s Twin, and an important decision about the Music novels. And some delicious Greek food.

June was full of chainsaws — real ones, this isn’t an editing metaphor. When we got done bitching about that, we diagnosed some of what was missing from Son of Science Novel and finally got started composing Grandson.

By early July we’d already banged out 11,000 words for Grandson, which begs the question of why it’s still not done. Some of the blame should lay with Elsewhere’s Twin, which needed more edits before its release.

In August we took a road trip to attend a concert, and had a wonderful time. The band was great, and we used the car time to brainstorm ideas for the Middle Music novel. We also topped 20,000 words on Grandson of Science.

All we could talk about in September was the release of Elsewhere’s Twin. Have you seen the gorgeous cover? Our first trilogy is complete! We felt quite the feeling of accomplishment. We’re very proud of those books and all the work that went into them.

October had the new novel’s word count at 40,000, which is nothing to sneeze at. It also had us jetting off to Europe, which we didn’t talk about until November because we like to keep you guessing. And as soon as we got back from overseas, we turned right around and ran off to a writing conference.

And here we are again, back in December. Grandson of Science Novel is sitting pretty at 70,000+ words, which many people would consider novel-length. Just not us. Apart from that being far too short to fit in with our other work, we’re nowhere near done telling the story we set out to tell.

Our 2017 was quite successful, with the editing and publishing of two novels, the completion of a third, and a really good start on a fourth. Just try telling Jen that. She needs to recalibrate her expectations to be more in line with reality, and Kent is doing his best to help her with that. Maybe 2018 will be the year she finally gets it figured out.

No Joy in Mudville

There’s no way we’ll hit our end-of-year word count goal. While it’s not outrageous to think we could each grind out 1,500 words a day every day until the end of the year, it’s just not going to happen. We have visitors coming to stay for the whole week, and there’s no point in having them here if we’re going to ignore them. And anyway, we like them. We want to talk to them, not lock ourselves away in the Writing Cave and leave them to eat cookies by themselves.

But that means that we’re blowing past another deadline, and it’s killing Jen. She’s very wrapped up in this artificial goal that we (read:she) set. And even if we did chain ourselves to our computers and managed to get that 100,000 words by January 1, it would’t really make her happy. Because what Jen really wants is to have the whole first draft done, and since Grandson of Science Novel is shaping up to be more like our usual novels than its predecessor, it’s going to be bigger than that.

So Jen is in a bit of a funk, and Kent wishes there was a way to make it all better. But since he so far has steadfastly refused to work on the time machine, there’s nothing to be done. The new year will come without a finished draft, and we’ll keep plugging away until it’s done.

Next week we should have our Year in Review post. Maybe that will show Jen that we have actually accomplished an awful lot this year and she’ll be able to relax.

A Progress Report from the Writing Cave

We passed the 60k milestone this week on Grandson of Science Novel, which is great! Of course, that leaves us only three weeks to hit our target of 100k by year’s end. Which would take an average of 2000 words per day. That’s only 1000 words apiece (have we ever mentioned that having a writing partner offers many advantages?), but that’s every day, and it’s significantly more than the pace we’ve been on. Like, very significantly. Back when work started on this one, we ran some numbers and came up with a plan that felt perfectly reasonable. And now, here we are, with nearly half of the book remaining to write and less than a month to do it.

So we’re a little stressed about missing our deadline. Life keeps getting in the way. We have all kinds of excuses, and we think most of them are pretty good. Unfortunately, we haven’t come up with the excuse that’s so good it lets us hit our deadline after all.

Thing about this deadline is, we imposed it on ourselves. Rune Skelley sets Rune Skelley’s schedule. So the consequences for blowing it are rather abstract. Assuming we do end up blowing it, we’ll miss out on the satisfaction of attaining it. And, the longer it takes us to write a book, the longer the gaps between our releases.

Setting goals and deadlines for yourself is vital for being able to measure progress, and even without a mean boss glaring at your tardiness, you need to take these things seriously. You need discipline, and you need to protect your writing time. You just can’t let deadline stress ruin the joy of creation.