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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Microstory 994: Research and Planning

I once estimated that, using my own personal style, writing requires 83% research and planning, 11% actual writing, and 6% marketing. These numbers were chosen mostly because of their symbolic value, but the general ratio holds up. When I know where a story is going, typing it up doesn’t take all that long, and until I started this website, I didn’t do all that much of it. I also didn’t market my work before, so those last two numbers should have probably been even lower. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve spent years working on my canon, sometimes to an outrageous extent. Before I started writing the third major arc for this year’s volume of The Advancement of Leona Matic, I used an architecture program to design the basic layout of the arcology they would be spending a lot of their time in. The other day, several weeks after the arc ended, I came up with what I believe to be a superior design, and reworked the whole thing. Will my characters ever return to one of these structures, and if they do, does it matter exactly how far the 3D printer would be placed from the door? The answers are maybe, and not at all. My attention to detail has benefited my stories greatly. You could ask me what a miacid is, and I would be able to explain it to you, even though I only mentioned the animal two or three times, and mostly only in passing. I know all the names of the fictional uninhabited planets that share the solar system with the habitable ones my characters live on, and at some point, I’ll probably number and name the moons. The idea is that, if I can spout random trivia about the worlds in my stories, then you can better suspend your disbelief that this is real. Hopefully it will feel less like a made up tale, and more of an account of actual events. I think it makes it easier to empathize with my characters when you can imagine them actually existing.

Of course, all this work comes at cost. The target date for what was originally meant to be my first book was Christmas of 2004. As the years passed me by, I altered the storyline accordingly, working in time jumps to 2008, and later another one to 2012. I would be doing the book a disservice if I wrote longer or more time jumps now that we’re coming up on 2019, so if I ever manage to get it published, you’re just going to be reading it without an understanding why I wrote it as a period piece. The truth is that the main character’s parents have their own stories to tell, which take place in a fixed time period, as does stories that come after. So I can’t just find and replace every date reference to bring them closer to present day. Just think how absurdly old Tony Stark’s father would had to have been when he conceived him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his and Steve Rogers’ stories are inextricably linked to the Second Great War, so the timeline can’t ever work out as perfectly as it did when the comic books were first being written. I don’t like jacking with narrative timelines, so that story ends with an epilogue in 2013, and the hint of a follow-up, and readers will just have to be okay with that. It’s not the only one like that either. All of my researching and planning has also contributed to a profound lack of progress, which again, was only recently alleviated by this website. I’m basically my own worst enemy when it comes to producing content that’s both good, and timely. I would like to think that this all works out for me, and the entertainment chapter of my life will end on a high note in the late 21st century, like I had always intended, but I can’t say that for sure. I’m only now recognizing how dumb some of my stories will seem if I wait too long to release them. Self-driving cars were a futuristic concept when I first came up with Detectives of Science, but I can’t treat them as a new technological development if it doesn’t come out for another twenty years, can I?

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