The Hardest Part Of Writing A Novel So Far


Mike Ferrell as Jerry Robinson on the set of Gene Roddenberry’s “The Questor Tapes” (1974)

Admittedly, I’m just starting out, so I can’t say my analysis is at all comprehensive. That said, I am working on it.

I mentioned previously that I’ve been writing a high level outline of the TOC (Table of Contents) as well as chapter summaries. I’ve stopped that for a moment because I realize I have to drill down into the definition of my characters and my concepts. I’ll need all that before I can even re-write the currently existing material, let alone create new chapters.

Since I’m getting rid of anything “Asimovian” including “Three Laws” and “Positronics,” I need to do a lot of renaming. I have to invent names for the corporation creating these “intelligences,” the underlying science that allows AI entities to “come alive,” and what to call them. The word “robots” is totally inadequate and I only used it in my previous short stories as an homage to Asimov.

These entities are more closely related to Data from Star Trek: the Next Generation or his predecessor Questor. Even then, both of them are basically machines with hardware (wires, diodes, blinky lights) and programmable software (Questor was programmed via data tape uploads and Data says he was programmed and that his programming can even be changed, although he doesn’t say how). A true artificial life form has to be so much more.

I’ve been reading everything I can on Artificial Intelligence and its related technology to get a handle on how to create a fictionalized science that sounds halfway plausible. As I reword names, definitions, and concepts, the original stories will have to be more heavily edited than I once thought. Hopefully, they’ll mature somewhere along the way.

Also, although I had thumbnail sketches of the bios of each main character, I have to find out (make up) a lot more about them. For instance, I wrote a fair amount about Abramson’s great-grandchildren and some about his grandkids, but whatever happened to his children? I don’t know. The stories just sort of worked out that way. Now I have to solve a mystery about my main (human) character.

The hardest part about writing a novel so far is just constructing the framework upon which I’ll actually do the writing, creating characters, situations, dialog, along with suspense, intrigue, and maybe even a surprise or two.

When writing a short story, you might be able to skimp on some of the details, but in novel writing, at least from my very inexperienced perspective, you have to know everything from beginning to end.

Oh, another hard part is prioritizing and organizing. Should I rewrite the first chapter, work on character bios, outline the book’s chapters, or what? Decisions, decisions. Now I know what attention deficit disorder feels like (and before anyone accuses me of being insensitive to ADD folks, I raised a son with that diagnosis, so I’ve lived through it).

This is a very different kind of writing than what I’m used to.


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