Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Work-In-Progress Report

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

The new novel has taken far, far longer to write than I ever expected — and that’s the reason I started writing these progress reports. They are a means to keep myself accountable, and a means of encouragement.

I completed a really solid draft of the novel in early July, and in my last report I said that I was going through lists of issues that I knew I needed to address. I’ve taken care of most of those, but there are still a few points that need attention. Most of the remaining items are cultural questions — I want to make sure I’m using names and terms correctly. There are also a few concepts I’d like to expand on.

Last weekend, though, I realized I was running out of time. My goal is to get this manuscript to my agent just after Labor Day, which suddenly felt ominously close, given that the manuscript still needed to go to beta readers and my freelance editor. So I decided it was “done enough.”

This was a radical decision, because I have not done a beginning-to-end read-through of the manuscript yet.

My standard procedure is to read through the entire manuscript on-screen, and then read it again in printed version, before I consider it ready to be seen by others. So maybe I’m starting to lighten up after all these years?

Anyway, on Thursday night I sent the manuscript off to three beta readers, and next week it will go back to my freelance editor, who saw the partial last spring. It’ll probably be two to three weeks before I hear back, so it’s much too soon to get nervous. 😉

My original plan was to keep working on the novel in the interim, but I’ve promised a couple of short stories, so I may tackle at least one of those instead. A break from the novel might be the best thing, before the mad rush to address the critiques I’ll be receiving.

In the meantime, we’re expecting Tropical Storm Darby to blow through Maui today and tonight. The rain started before 7AM this morning, which surprised me. I hope we don’t lose electricity!

Work-In-Progress Report

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

After finally finishing a solid draft of the novel-in-progress last Saturday, I took two days off from writing, and then commenced revisions (fixes is how I think of it) on Tuesday.

It feels like I’ve been fixing things for a lot longer than six days! That said, I really, really like the way this book continues to come together. To be honest**, I didn’t have a clear idea of where this novel would lead when I started working on it, so it’s a relief to find that I like where I am.

Right now I have two ancillary files in which I’ve listed points I need to address, and I also have Word comments in the main manuscript that I need to take care of, so there’s a lot left to do before I begin a start-to-finish read-through. That said, I feel the manuscript is now completely comprehensible to an outside reader, and that means it’s time for me to start the quest for beta readers and expert consultants. This is always an awkward point for me because I don’t have a writing group to turn to. It makes me realize how much I still miss my early writing group. But I think I’ve had one or two offers from people to read the next one. I’ll have to dig into my email to figure that out.


** there is a meme on Twitter that goes “If you use the phrase ‘to be honest’ it means you’re lying the rest of the time. I say that’s bullshit. ‘To be honest’ is a colloquialism that means ‘While I suspect you would rather not hear this truth, I’m going to tell it to you anyway.’ Or, ‘While I’m uncomfortable telling you this, I will anyway…’

English is complicated. 🙂

Work-In-Progress Report:
Draft Done!

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

I am finally DONE with the first really solid draft of the new novel. Fixes start next week, but I’m so happy to have reached this point. This has been a tough one.

I reported in my prior post that I was about to begin writing “the last five to ten-thousand words.” Not too surprisingly, that turned out to be over 11,000 words. Right now, the total word count is about 130,500, which is not long by the standards of epic fantasy, but it’s long for me. By comparison, my longest novel, Memory, was 132,000 words, and I won’t be at all surprised if the new one surpasses that in its final form.

The goal of course is to have just enough words and not too many. The real reason I get hung up on word count is that I find shorter novels so much more pleasant to work with in the revision stage. (Meaning EASIER.)

Oh, and I just checked the date of my last post and realized I’ve written 11K words in slightly over a week, which is a feat for a slow writer like me. This involved mostly twelve hour work days, with no exercise.

But the rush is over. I’m taking two days off, and then on Tuesday it’s back to a reasonable schedule with regular work outs.



Work-In-Progress Report & Reminders

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

It's been a steep climb to the finish on this novel.To review: In mid-March I finished a “partial draft” of the novel-in-progress, meaning that most of the structure was there, but a lot was left to do. That draft was 72,000 words long — a short novel.

In my last work-in-progress report, I explained that I’d been revising that partial draft, but I was about to begin writing new material, specifically, the end of the novel, which I hadn’t tackled before. So how did that go? Well… I HAVEN’T WRITTEN THE END OF THIS NOVEL YET, OKAY?

I think what happened (I haven’t reviewed my detailed notes and it all tends to run together in my memory) is that I first wrote a synopsis for a new ending. Then I went back in the manuscript and built up the necessary plot lines that would lead to that ending while making other revisions and adding additional chapters from the points of view of neglected characters. I have now — once again — gotten to the end of the partial draft that I had in mid-March … only I’ve added about 48,000 words to the manuscript. So that first partial draft is, by far, the most underwritten first draft I’ve ever done.

And once again, I’m ready to move forward and write the last five to ten-thousand words.

Wish me luck.


* Sign up for my newsletter before the end of June for a chance to win the audiobook edition of The Red trilogy on CD.

* Kobo’s 50%-off ebook sale is ongoing through June 27 (available in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand).

Work-In-Progress Report & a Link

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Hosmer_Grove_treesMy schedule got a bit turned around today. Usually I do a writing stint in the morning, but today I needed to be in town in the morning, so I went to the gym while I was there … and I’ve been trying to get back into the writing mood ever since. Maybe posting a progress report will give me the incentive I need!

So here’s where things stand:
In mid-March I finished a “partial draft” of the novel-in-progress, meaning that most of the structure was there, but a lot was left to do. That draft was 72,000 words long — a short novel. I’ve been revising and expanding since then, and have added 30,000 words, which is a decent length for a novel, but still shorter than, for example, The Red. I suspect I’ll be adding another 20,000 words or so, which would make this novel roughly the length of The Trials.

Why this discussion of word count? Well, it’s one way to measure progress, and I need the encouragement. No excuse for being so slow about this sort of thing, but that’s the way it is. The next section that I have to tackle in this revision is going to be especially challenging, because I never actually wrote it, in the original draft. I just typed some notes into the manuscript, IN BIG CAPITAL LETTERS DESCRIBING WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN AND WHY BECAUSE WHEN I REACHED THIS POINT IN THE FIRST DRAFT I JUST REALLY REALLY WANTED TO MOVE ON TO THE FINAL SECTION. This isn’t the first time I’ve skipped forward to the end, but when I’ve done it before, I’ve been much closer to end. Oh well. Whatever works. This book will be done eventually. I’m looking forward to handing a solid draft off to beta readers, because after that, I get to work on short fiction!

In the meantime, here’s an interesting article on near-future science fiction (sadly, no mention of the Red Trilogy): The Future is Almost Now. I have more thoughts related to this topic, but will save that for another post.


Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Back on April 21 I wrote a blog post about my intention to spend a lot less time and worry on social media, and focus instead on writing. Pretty radical agenda, huh? The tactic I used was to avoid Twitter, Facebook, SFWA forum, Book View Cafe forum, etc., as well as answering most emails, until after noon my time (6pm on the east coast). Mornings were devoted to writing. I get up pretty early, so this gave me a lot of time. I also managed some work most afternoons, and several evenings. In short, this strategy proved amazingly successful and I’ve made a lot of progress.

But I’ve begun to slip. I’m overly involved in Twitter again, in part because of the book club gig…and involvement with Twitter has led to squandering too much time online. Being immersed in a writing project does not mix well with promotional activities, at least for me! Which is fairly awkward when you’re trying to make a living as a writer.

Anyway, the writing really slowed down this week, and then yesterday I took the entire day off to hike in Haleakala Crater. The hike had the positive effect of getting me away from social media, though that wasn’t the reason we went. Ron is leading a volunteer group into the crater in a couple of days, and we were dropping supplies off at the cabin where they’ll be staying. So we enjoyed a twelve-mile roundtrip hike, with a 2600′ elevation change. The day was misty when we started. The mist was soon joined by a light rain that fell for most of the day, creating spectacular scenes on the crater floor. Here’s a shot Ron took of the ground steaming even as a light rain is falling. Click the image to see a stitched panorama:
(The panorama’s not great, but it’s the best I could manage…)
crater fog 2-500x209 - 2016.5.11 1316
When we climbed out of the crater, we were surprised to find the summit gloriously clear:
(click the image to see a larger version)


Anyway, I’m resolved to get back to my write-until-noon schedule and get this book done. Onward! Book Club and Progress Report

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

King ProteasHappy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

I’m continuing to revise the new novel, and the word count is growing steadily. My target, when I start a novel, is 100,000 words. Epic fantasy writers would laugh at that as being so short, but to my mind it’s a good, solid length. Of course, I almost always overshoot that goal, and I’m sure it’s going to happen again with the new book. Right now I’m at 95,000 words, and I have no doubt at all that I’ll be well past the 100K mark before I’m done.

In other news, has decided to reboot the io9 Book Club. I was thrilled when I found out yesterday that the first book to read and discuss is The Red. The idea is to encourage people to read the book over the next month, and then to talk about it online. In early June I’ll stop by at to answer reader questions. More information here. I’m hoping for some interesting discussion.

Work-In-Progress Report

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

owlWhen I look back over the past year, I’m a little perplexed at what I’ve done with the time. I feel like I’ve been frantically busy, but I don’t have a lot of new material to show for it. Since turning in Going Dark, I’ve managed to finish only one short story, and a really rough draft of a new novel.

Part of the issue, of course, was that all three novels in The Red trilogy were released last year, and that meant a lot of time spent on publicity (and anxiety… I’m good at anxiety). I also had a really hard time letting go emotionally of the trilogy and moving on to the new novel. It’s a situation I’ve faced before. After finishing my novel Vast, it took a long time for me to really get into writing Limit of Vision. But I got there eventually, and I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride with the new novel.

What turned things around for me was getting an outside opinion. I don’t think I’ve ever before shown a partial manuscript to anyone, on the grounds that I don’t want to be so discouraged by a negative response that I abandon the project. But I’m older now, more experienced, thicker skinned — and besides, I’d reached the point where I was spinning my wheels. So in early March I sent the manuscript off to Judith Tarr, who edited all three volumes of The Red trilogy. She evaluated what I had, made some nice comments, and pointed out where she thought the story was most lacking — and the feedback has really helped. I’ve been writing steadily since then. I went back to the beginning, and started filling out the lean parts, and dealing with all the figure-this-out-later notes, and progress is being made.

Some of this involves new scenes, but some is just detail work. A few days ago I was dealing with the question of what size helicopter was needed, how many seats were available, and who was sitting where. Today I’ve been racking my brain to get the timeline right. Since I’ve got characters operating on opposite sides of the planet, I need to know the day/night cycles, and how long it takes to get from point A to point B. I’m not sure how concerned readers are with this sort of thing, but it matters to me. 🙂

Anyway, I’ve been making changes in my writing routine in the hope of writing more, and writing faster. One of those changes is to try to do frequent Work-In-Progress Reports like this one. Maybe that will keep me accountable to myself!

Edit: Speaking of Judith Tarr…I just found out she’s holding a sale on editorial services, among other things. Find the details here.

The Heroine Question

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

I wrote this last year, as part of a series hosted by writer Alyx Dellamonica called The Heroine Question. Participants are asked three standard questions, and one bonus. I meant to re-post this on my own blog LAST YEAR, but…I seem to have forgotten. Here it is now.

(1) Is there a literary heroine on whom you imprinted as a child? A first love, a person you wanted to become as an adult, a heroic girl or woman you pretended to be on the playground at recess? Who was she?

So many details of childhood have faded into the mists of time, but one literary heroine I clearly remember is Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved the Little House On The Prairie books and read every volume our library had on the shelf. These were adventure stories, telling of a life alien to me but one that I could understand—and I’m still drawn to adventure stories. But I didn’t dream of being Laura. Though the Little House books were based on real life, it was another real-life woman who truly captured my young imagination.

On the pages of National Geographic and in Time/Life nature books I read about the biologist Jane Goodall and her work studying chimpanzees in their natural habitat—living in the rainforest and becoming accepted by these creatures that were so much like us but so different. That, I decided, was what I wanted to do as an adult. And while I ultimately went in a different direction, Jane Goodall’s presence in my imagination surely encouraged an interest in biology and natural history that I still possess.

(2) Can you remember what it was she did or what qualities she had that captured your affections and your imagination so strongly? (more…)

Story Contest:
Envisioning the Third Offset

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Last fall I participated in a free ebook anthology sponsored by The Atlantic Council’s Art of Future War Project. Now I get to be a judge in the next Art of Future War Project story challenge. If you like to write short stories, this might be for you.

The competition is looking for unpublished short stories on themes relating to the US Department of Defense’s “Third Offset Strategy” which is concerned with human-machine collaboration within the military. Check out the website for all the contest details, and note that “The winners of the best written and best visual art entries will receive a $500 honorarium.” Not bad, for a 4,000-word story.

The due date is April 18, less than a month away, so no procrastinating…

Other judges in the contest are Chris Martin, author of Engines of Extinction and Modern American Snipers, and Andrew Liptak who edited the War Stories anthology. Max Brooks, the author of World War Z, will be the final judge.